Photo and Article by Emily Jankauski: Tim Culver of Classic Plumbing Systems has operated out of the Tin Cup Road location for the past four years, but he has been a Mahomet-based business since 2009.
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Within the first week of January, cold temperatures kept the Village of Mahomet’s Water/Sewer Department phone lines busy with eight calls from area residents who requested the department shut off their water.
According to the Water/Sewer Superintendent Jason Heid, the remarks included furnaces that stopped working, outside faucets that burst due to garden hoses remaining connected and cold air exposure to plumbing in garages, basements and crawl spaces.
With temperatures in the single digits continuing, Tim Culver of Classic Plumbing Systems, 2012 Tin Cup Road, answered nearly 50 calls last week concerning frozen pipes and leaky water heaters.
“It’s fun to help people with their emergencies,” Culver said. “It’s nice to be the hero every once and awhile.”
Servicing the Mahomet, Mansfield and Champaign-Urbana areas, Culver said he has seen several emergency plumbing situations already this winter. The plumber wishes to help educate people so that they may avoid the all-too-often plumbing nightmares.
One of this week’s emergency situations included a call from a customer who said his daughter was at home and began noticing water spraying out of the water heater.
“I got a plumber out there immediately,” Culver said. “I have amazing technicians.”
Prevention is key for the plumber and his five-member team of technicians.
“I try to be objective, upfront and open,” Culver said. “What we’re selling here is trust.”
The experienced plumber recommends homeowners place a space heater in the coldest part of their homes to prevent plumbing from freezing.
“Once the outside wall freezes, then it becomes like a cold insulator,” Culver said.
He also suggests area residents keep their garage doors closed if the space holds any kind of pipes or water heaters.
“People hear that, but they still open the garage door,” Culver said. “When the wind is colder than the air, mostly around 5 degrees, they’ve just sealed in their enemy and they may cause their pipes to freeze.”
The plumber recommends Mahomet residents with older homes let their pipes drip once the temperature drops below 5 degrees.
“That’s where you really have to watch it,” Culver said. “If that water’s not moving, then it’s going to freeze a lot easier.”
Culver strongly cautions the removal of hoses from outside faucets to prevent bursts. Yearly precautions include having the water heater checked and flushed by a technician.
“Water heaters can get a buildup of lime, calcium and iron,” he said.
The nearly 16-year Farmer City resident also suggests insulating any areas with pipes.
“Insulating hot water pipes saves on the energy bill,” he said.
Culver also recommends residents in the market for a new water heater research water heaters with built-in freezing prevention.
“In my opinion, Navien is the best water heater on the market,” he said. “It offers small ceramic heaters on the edge of it.”
The eldest of four boys, Culver grew up on a farm inherited by his parents, who were both teachers. Despite his upbringing, the California native wanted to get a job outside of the farm as an electrician, but only one thing stood in his way.
“At the time, I had a speech problem,” he said.
During his first interview for an electrician position, Culver was instantly rejected, though not for his inability to do the job.
“The interviewer felt as though it was more an issue of the mind than one of the tongue,” he said. “The disappointment and rejection fueled my fire.”
Turning the other cheek, the 19-year-old decided to become a plumber, and he landed his first job at Thorsens Plumbing in Turlock, Cal.
“I told the guy I was willing to outwork anyone he had in his company,” Culver said.
Not long after landing his dream job in Monterey, Cal., Culver set his sights on another dream.
“I always wanted to see America,” he said. “My boss gave me a leave of absence.”
Making his way to Illinois through his church network and working as a plumber to pay his bills, Culver eventually set up shop in Mahomet in 2009, though he and his family have lived in Farmer City since 2002.
Culver began Classic Plumbing Systems after having been previously employed with an area plumbing service.
“They weren’t providing the level of services that people expect,” he said.
At Classic Plumbing Systems, Culver feels he offers high-quality service with his two-year warranty on his technicians’ work.
“We’re the only outfit in the area that I’m aware of that has that,” he said.
Culver takes pride in his work and leaves the office each day knowing that he has done his absolute best to meet customers’ needs and contribute to the greater good.
“I go home at the end of day knowing I made a positive impact in the world,” he said. “I love being able to bring that caliber of plumbing service to Mahomet. It’s my greatest accomplishment.”