Over the past few years, the plumbing industry has taken a few unexpected hits. New trade tariffs have changed plumbing supply costs for HVAC and other service industries. The Tariffs were originally aimed at a temporary change to encourage companies to leave China. Then came 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak, which has affected nearly every industry around the globe.


The Impact of U.S. Tariffs on Consumers

Since President Trump first proposed tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, HVAC and plumbing industries have feared a negative impact and sky-high prices. While some business owners and contractors have struggled to maintain business as usual, consumers are taking a different approach. Instead of hiring the best contractor for the job, many customers look for ways to cut corners to get the best price.


In an article on PHCPpros.com, Air Conditioning Contractors of America president Paul T. Stalknecht explains, “When the price of HVACR equipment increases, consumers who are in need of a new system trend toward cut-rate and unqualified individuals to service or replace their equipment.” This isn’t the only poor decision consumers are making. Stalknecht also explains that higher prices tempt consumers to, “opt for putting band-aids on aging systems instead of replacing them with today’s more efficient products.” 


Coronavirus is Adding to the Problems

The Coronavirus has made the debates over tariffs much murkier. Some believe the Trump administration should lift the tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum and other Chinese goods–if even just temporarily. This would help U.S. businesses and consumers better navigate the troubles and restrictions COVID-19 has already placed on our country.


On March 13th, The American Apparel and Footwear Association, the National Retail Federation and other trade groups sent a letter to the White House. In it, the trade groups requested the immediate elimination of tariffs on China. In part, the letter read, “We can think of no other policy tool at the administration’s disposal that would have such a fast and beneficial impact as the immediate and retroactive removal of these tariffs. Such a move would instantly put billions of dollars back into the U.S. economy.”


This might seem like a clear-cut decision, but others worry that it could provide China with an economic advantage. Factories in China are slowly restarting while the U.S. only continues to worsen. Some economists are concerned that the Chinese government will take advantage, changing their course for years to come, but China still faces a major challenge in restarting its economy. Though factories may be restarting, global demand for products will continue to be weakened–at least for the time being.



The Takeaway for 2020 Home Improvement

While industries around the country are struggling, one undeniable fact remains: You get what you pay for. Temporary price hikes might make quality work more expensive, but cutting these costs will only put a band-aid on your home improvement needs, or cause you to buy sub-par equipment.


Inevitably, we will get through these strange times and see the other side, but for now, please direct any questions you might have to the experts at Minnesota Home Improvements