Leith formed a partnership with the plumbing shop secretary, Lillian
Schide, and together they purchased the business from Rhodes. For
the next few years, the two would run the business together, but
then in 1950 Leith became the sole proprietor of the shop.
For 60 years now, the business has been family-owned. When Dean
Leith retired over a dozen years ago, his sons Phil and Mark stepped
The two Leith sons grew up in the business, learning the trade as
they followed their father and developing their own skills along the
To be a plumber journeyman, one first has to become an
apprentice. During apprenticeship the would-be journeyman will study
and work a total of five years while learning the trade through
education and experience.
Once the apprenticeship is complete, a state exam
is required before the apprentice can become a licensed journeyman.
Leith offers a wide variety of products and services in the
Lincoln and Logan County area. Not only are they available for
clogged sewers and broken water lines; the business also sells and
installs Weil-McLain steam and hot water heating systems.
Hot water systems use water boilers and slowly circulate heat
throughout the home. One of the advantages of hot water heat is that
it causes less turbulence inside the home, thus helping to cut down
on dust. The systems are also quieter, with no blower system, plus
the life span of hot water boilers is about 25 years, which is 10 to
15 years longer than a traditional forced-air furnace.
In addition to hot water heat, the business also offers water
softeners, water heaters, well pumps and water filtering systems.
The Leiths say that over the years the mechanics behind plumbing
have not changed as much as the materials used. In the beginning,
plumbing systems were constructed primarily of cast iron, then it
progressed to the use of copper, and now much of what is done in
newer homes is PVC.
For the homeowner, one of the worst things he or she can hear is
that there is a break in their sewer line. According to Phil Leith,
the cost of digging up and repairing or replacing a sewer line can
run into the thousands of dollars.
Typically the sewer main for the city will be located in the
middle of the street in front of the home. The location where the
home sewer enters the main is called the tap. Anything that breaks
between the tap and the home is the homeowner's responsibility.
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Leith says that once the break in the line is located, he hires
contractors to dig out the line, and then he does the repair. If the
break is under the street, that's when the big bucks can really
start adding up.
The homeowner is responsible for the expense of tearing out the
street where the break has occurred. They are also responsible for
rebuilding the street once the work is completed, and that has to be
done according to street department specifications.
Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot a homeowner can do to
keep their sewer line from breaking.
Many of the problems, though, are associated with older sewers
where tile was used rather than PVC. Leith explained that with the
old-style tile, the joints break loose and, among other things,
allow for tree roots to infiltrate.
On the bright side, once a homeowner knows that they have the
potential for this kind of problem, they can treat their sewer line
with copper sulfate to keep roots at bay.
In addition to the plumbing work the Leiths do, their secondary
business is water softener systems and softener salt. The name
brands they offer are Autotrol softener systems and Dura Cube
The Leith plumbing shop is located at 410 Broadway. According to
Phil they have been in the same location since their dad bought the
business. The business has a staff of five: the two brothers, Donnie
Wheeler, Michael Horn and Dawn Jones.
While Phil and Mark today have established their own mark as
successful businessmen in Lincoln, they had a good teacher and
example in their father.
Phil laughs and says about his dad: "This July he's going to be
90 years old, but he still stops in and checks on us once in a
Considering that, perhaps the Leith brothers won't mind sharing
their spotlight with their dad.
[By NILA SMITH]