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How to Hire a Reputable Plumber

Many homeowners find themselves in the situation of needing a plumber at some point to perform plumbing work in their home, but like most of us, we find hiring a plumber a daunting task. How do you find a reputable plumber? What questions should you ask regarding their credentials and experience?

For everyday drips and clogs, you can save the cost of a plumber by doing the work yourself. Most everyday problems can be resolved easily by the homeowner, but what happens when you have major problems on your hands that require professional help?

One good way to find a reputable plumber is to ask friends, neighbors, remodeling contractors, and real estate agents. Nothing stalls a home sale faster than plumbing problems, so realtors often have a list of reliable, fast-response plumbers.

Here are some basic questions you want to ask a candidate when considering hiring a professional plumber that you can feel confident about to handle the work in a timely, efficient, well trained and expedient manner.

Are you licensed?

This is a must question. Many operate without a license, so this question is always worth asking. Being licensed means that the plumber is registered with a governing body at the state or local level. What's the problem with a great plumber who isn't licensed? His work may not pass inspection, and you'll have little recourse because you chose to hire him.

What is the Total Cost?

Getting free estimates is quite ordinary, but never accept estimates over the phone. Always have the plumber visit the site and inspect the problem before giving an estimate. Once your plumber has provided you with a cost, ask if what he has quoted you includes materials, labor and a contingency for any problems.

Hourly or Flat Rate?

Many plumbers build clauses into contracts that say homeowners will bear any reasonable costs to complete the job. When getting an estimate, make sure to ask if the total you're being quoted is a flat rate and will not change due to labor costs. Avoid hourly rates because while materials are a fixed price, the job could run longer than originally thought which could increase your costs.

Do You Want a Deposit?

The plumber may ask for a deposit towards the cost of the work. Always ask the plumber when they expect their payments and the amount that they require upfront.

Never pay 100 percent of the cost before the job starts. Some plumbers may use an increment payment plan with a system of milestones. Once a certain piece of work is completed, a percentage of the total cost is paid. Some plumbers may use a time system. After a specified number of weeks, a certain portion of the total cost is paid.

Who Does the Work?

Always ask if the plumber giving you the quote is the one doing the work. If outside contractors are performing the task, be sure to ask what level of experience and qualifications the outside person has to complete the work.

Who Cleans Up the Mess?

Some plumbing companies don't clean up when they're finished, leaving a homeowner with old parts, boxes, and a huge mess. Always ask if the cleanup is included in the quote.

Who is Responsible if Something Breaks?

Ask what kind of guarantee or warranty comes with the plumber's work before you sign any contract. If there is damage along the way, make sure that the repair is in the guarantee or warranty and that the contractor is bonded and insured.

Due Diligence

It’s up to the homeowner to perform the research, ask questions and understand the contract before any work is initiated, but if you do your due diligence, your chance of hiring a reputable plumber is greatly improved.