Experts Explain How to Find a Plumber

expert tips to find a plumber

Experts Explain How to Find a Plumber

(Last Updated On: January 24, 2018)

Everyone homes needs a reliable and trustworthy plumber. However, the problem for many homeowners (whether new or experienced) remains finding a plumber. Therefore, learn from the experts about how to find a plumber.

  • How do you find a local professional?
  • How do you determine the proper qualifications?
  • What are the proper costs for standard service?
  • What to expect during a plumbing crisis?

From Discovering Plumbers and Plumbing Companies Serving Your Area to Evaluating and Comparing Plumbers and Plumbing Companies, the experts shares quotes and tips, which will help identify and find a plumber that meets your specific home needs.

Discovering Plumbers and Plumbing Companies Serving Your Area

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1. Use your network.

“Ask friends and neighbors who they use for their plumbing needs. Referrals are the lifeblood of many businesses, so if your neighbor has faith in a reputable plumber, or if one name or company is recommended several times, that plumber or company has likely worked hard to earn that trust. If you are new to an area, knocking on your neighbors’ doors is a good way to introduce yourself while you find out their recommendations. Additionally, look for user-reviewed websites that chronicle recommendations and frustrations of local service providers.” – Kristie Brown, Demand Media, Tips on Finding a Good Plumber, SFGate; Twitter: @SFGate

2. Try to get at least three referrals or recommendations for a plumbing professional, either from family and friends or from online review sources.

“You’ll need at least three solid referrals though. If you can’t get three or more from friends and family this website is going to be your next best bet. Only consider contractors with an overall grade of B or better and that have glowing reviews written about them by at least 3 members of the community. The more the better.” – How To Find A Local Contractor That’s Honest and Inexpensive… Without Feeling Intimidated, Countertop Investigator

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3. Figure out your needs, as many plumbers and plumbing companies offer varied services.

“Plumbing companies offer a host of services including installation, repair, and maintenance services. Most companies offer all the services or may specialize in any one or two. Approach a company that deals with your problems. Call the plumber you are considering and discuss your requirements before you call him home.” – Norman Owens, Plumbing: Tips to Hire the Best Plumber, Netwas Group Homes

4. Check online directories to find a plumber via listings of plumbing companies and plumbing contractors in your area.

“Ask your friends, building contractors you know, or your real estate agent for their recommendations. Be sure to find out what kind of work they had done, whether they were happy with the quality, and if the job was completed in a timely and cost-effective manner. Tales of satisfaction or woe, from someone you trust, carry a lot of weight when looking for a reliable tradesman. An additional method of finding a good plumber is to check online for a local directory of plumbing contractors and then examine the customer reviews and ratings. You may be able to get a feel for the size and scope of a company’s work from their website. Review sites can assist you in comparing several local plumbers, and some can even offer recommendations for specific types of work.” – Nick Domino, Tips on Hiring a Plumber, DIY Home Maintenance; Twitter: @H2Odefense

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5. Preparation! Find a plumber before a dire emergency occurs.

“You don’t want to be forced to pick a contractor or repair man hastily just because an emergency repair is breathing down your neck, so your best defense is to check for problems before they crop up. You’ll have time to carefully pick someone to do the work instead of hoping for the best. Now would be a great time to make a list of all the ‘systems’ in your house and their age. How old is your furnace? When was the AC unit last serviced? That 25 year old furnace might still be going strong today, but it’s well into its end of life. A checkup from a qualified professional on the major parts of your home like the roof and the heating/cooling system is radically cheaper than an emergency visit when they fail.” – Jason Fitzpatrick, How to Hire a Contractor Without Getting Hosed, Lifehacker; Twitter: @lifehacker

6. Even if your plumbing problem is an emergency, calling the first plumber can be a mistake.

“Please do not pick up your Yellow Pages and call the first plumbing company that you see. You need to do some research. You can start by calling a friend. Do you know someone who might be able to recommend a plumber that they know? If your friend doesn’t know anyone or she is too busy putting Harry to bed, then do some research on the Internet. Look for a local company to begin with. You might type in ‘Plumber in Chiswick’ or ‘Gas Engineer in Chiswick,’ and a whole stack of companies will come up in the search. Take your time and look at some websites.

“You are looking for a plumbing company that has been in operation for a long time, has a number of experienced engineers and explains how it charges. Check that the company has experience in the problem that you are trying to solve. Write a short list of the plumbing companies and check the reputations of each company. Type in the name of the company e.g., ‘My Plumber’ and ‘reviews,’ and as if by magic, you will see what people are saying about that company. If most of the reviews are good, then you can be pretty confident that you will be dealt with honestly. Good companies care about their reputation, which means that they want you to be happy. These are the companies you should consider calling to help you.” – Girl’s Guide to Plumbing: Top Tips on Choosing a Good Plumber in London, My Plumber

7. Online customer reviews are often a good starting point to find a plumber.

“While you may hear of a good contractor through word of mouth, online customer reviews are also a good place to start. On its website, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has compiled more than 100,000 reviews of general home contractors, many of which are accredited by the BBB — meaning they exhibit a good-faith effort to resolve consumer complaints. You can also read customer reviews on AngiesList.com to gauge a contractor’s work ethic, but the site charges a monthly membership fee ranging from $2.60 to $6.80 depending on where you live, plus a $5 to $10 initiation fee. Unlike other websites, Angie’s List doesn’t allow anonymous reviews, which founder Angie Hicks says ‘enhances the accuracy’ of its reviews.” – Daniel Bortz, How to Find the Right Contractor for the Job, U.S. News Money; Twitter: @USNews

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8. Ask your insurance company for recommendations (even if they are not paying for the repairs).

“If you are unsure of which contractor to choose, ask your insurance company. You can do this even if they are not paying for the work. Most insurance companies have agreements with reputable local contractors. Not only can you take advantage of the review process your insurance company has performed on these companies, but you might even get a price break based on the relationship between the contractor and your insurance company.” – Sandra Parker, How to Find a Good Contractor for Home Improvement Repairs, Money Crashers; Twitter: @MoneyCrashers

9. Look for plumbers and plumbing companies with experience working with the specific sort of problem you’re experiencing.

“Choose the right contractor for the right project. Someone who did a good job tiling your neighbor’s bathroom isn’t necessarily the right person to build an addition to your home. You want to find a company that routinely does the kind of project you want done. ‘You don’t want them to use you as a guinea pig,’ Hicks says.” – Teresa Mears, 18 Tips for Finding a Reliable Home Contractor, U.S. News Money; Twitter: @USNews

Evaluating and Comparing Plumbers and Plumbing Companies

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10. Find out what the licensing requirements are for plumbing professionals in your state and local region.

“Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area. Licensing can range from simple registration to a detailed qualification process. If your state or locality has licensing laws, make sure the contractor’s license is current.” – Hiring a Contractor, Federal Trade Commission; Twitter: @FTC

11. Ask about licenses and bonding, plus background checks, technical certifications and work history.

“Prioritize customer service and safety by going above and beyond the typical professional certifications and work history. All of our technicians go through strenuous background checks as well as ongoing mandatory training. This ensures that our company never sends a technician into a home who has been convicted of a serious crime or could potentially be unsafe to be around children. Every technician at SolvIt is a top-notch professional offering the best customer service in the industry.” – Scott Bilodeau, President, Connecticut’s Best Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical Company, SolvIt Home Services; Twitter: @solvithomesvcs

12. Check for a license.

“When you develop a good list of plumbers, we usually recommend you prequalify the plumbers to make sure you want them bidding on your repair job. One of the first steps in the process is checking to see if the plumber has a license to operate in the state. In states that require a plumbing license, the state will typically finger print the plumber, check his background and test him for general competency in plumbing. All of this amounts to a pretty good start to the pre-qualification process if you ask us.” – Daniel Cruz, 5 Tips for Finding a Great Plumber, QuizzleWire; Twitter: @Quizzle

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13. Inquire about a warranty on the plumber’s or company’s work.

“All plumbers should guarantee their work, including the parts. Many warranties cover the plumber’s work for up to one year. If the plumber refuses to guarantee his or her work, move on.” – John E. Derossett, 6 Tips For Hiring a Plumber, Angie’s List; Twitter: @AngiesList

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14. Ask for an estimate over the phone.

“Ask for an estimate over the phone. Phone estimates are not always possible, especially when you don’t know the exact source of the problem. For the more common repairs, however, you should be able to get the established prices over the phone. Asking for this is also a good way to gauge customer service. If they refuse to give you prices (or at least a range) or if they insist on an in-home estimate, they may be more focused on the sale than the customer. Look for strong customer service which can lead to a long relationship with a trustworthy plumber.” – Aaron Stickley, Top Five Tips for Pricing Plumbers, About.com; Twitter: @AboutAtHome

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15. Find out how long the plumber or plumbing company has been in business. This indicates experience and a proven track record.

“While a brand new plumber can do a wonderful job, it’s better to hire someone with plenty of experience. If a [company’s plumbers, or the individual plumber], has years in the industry, that probably means they have a proven track record in the business. This is always something to look for.” – 7 Tips for Hiring a Plumber in Chico, The Hignell Companies; Twitter: @HignellCompany

16. Ask for references and recommendations. 

“If you are thinking about hiring a new plumbing service company, you should be sure to check out their references and recommendations from the local community. A quality plumber will come highly recommended from other clients in your local area. Once you have done your research and you feel fully informed, you will be ready to schedule plumbing repairs for your home.” – Top Tips for Hiring a Plumbing Service Company, Eagerton Plumbing; Twitter: @Plumbing_FL

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17. Plumbing professionals may have different levels of experience and qualifications. Ask about the type of training and certifications of your contractor.

“There are also journeyman plumbers that are a level higher than apprentice plumbers. Some states or cities may not require an exam to be a journeyman plumber. Master plumbers are the best of the best when it comes to plumbing. The exam to be considered a master plumber involves a written and a practical exam. Continuing education is also required in order to retain such [a] license.” – David Jhonson, Practical Tips When Hiring Plumbing Services: What to Look For?, Bigger Pockets; Twitter: @BiggerPockets

18. Check for membership in trade organizations.

“Check for membership in trade organizations, such as the local chapter of The National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors. Companies who participate in these organizations are more likely to keep up-to-date on new regulations and codes.” – Choosing a Plumbing Contractor, Better Business Bureau; Twitter: @BBBUpstateNY

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19. Understand the variables that factor into a price quote and may influence the total cost of repairs.

“Recognize that there are several variables in developing the price. These include:

• Time that it takes to complete the installation or perform the repair.
• Quality of the fixtures.
• Number of fixtures.

“Remember, the company quoting a low rate may not necessarily be the right company for you. Some plumbing companies may offer low hourly rates, but then charge additional ‘equipment fees’ for certain tools needed on the job. Ask if there are any additional charges for equipment, truck or trip costs. Basically, when evaluating quotes, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. You may also need to consider that most companies charge a higher rate for overtime, weekends, holidays, and emergency calls. These charges vary from company to company. – How To Choose A Plumbing Company, Better Business Bureau; Twitter: @BBB_Houston

20. Ask about the plumber’s or company’s prior experience with plumbing problems similar to yours.

“Ask about their previous experience with your problem. Some contractors specialize in low flushing toilets while others have more experience with clogged pipes. If a plumber has had previous experience with a problem similar to yours, the less likely the problem will have to be fixed again by a second plumber.” – Finding a Plumber: Things to Look for in a Plumber, CID Network

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21. A plumbing contractor or plumbing company should have both liability and worker’s compensation insurance to cover all potential mishaps.

“In addition to choosing a licensed plumber, you should also choose one who is insured. Be sure they have both liability and workman’s compensation insurance. Without this coverage, should an accident happen, you do not have to worry about being responsible for costs!” – Advice For Choosing The Right Plumber, Terri Jean Contractors

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22. Ask if the plumber or plumbing company offers free estimates. Plus, ask for written estimates from a few professionals for comparison.

“Those who have gotten multiple quotes from their potential plumbers have often found a higher rate of success and stratification in the plumbers that they hire. Whenever you’re looking for a contractor of any kind, getting numerous free estimates is simply how you shop. It’s an important part of the procedure and not something you want to overlook.” – Mike Jonson, Evaluating Calgary Plumbing Professionals, prsync; Twitter: @prsync

23. When comparing estimates, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

“Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief when requesting quotes. Get more than one and, ideally, at least three quotes, but make sure you are comparing apples with apples. Some companies strip their jobs back to the absolute minimum so they can come in at the lowest price, but the work won’t last the longest possible time. Ask the company that is more expensive why their price is at that level, so you can determine if there is a difference.” – Amy Andrew, Don’t get caught out by a rogue plumber or builder: How to find the best people to work on your home, This is MONEY; Twitter: @amyandrew2

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24. Knowing what could go wrong helps identify the most reputable plumbing contractor for your needs.

“A million things can go wrong — from poor workmanship to simply not finishing the job. Sometimes there is actual fraud, such as a contractor taking part of the money for a project up front and never returning. Sometimes the problems are less obvious, such as a contractor using substandard materials or neglecting to comply with local building regulations, both of which can lower the resale value of your home even if you decide to live with the substandard workmanship or materials. However, it’s also true that there are plenty of highly skilled, reliable, trustworthy contractors out there.” – How to Find a Contractor, Zillow; Twitter: @zillow

25. Conduct a phone interview.

“Once you’ve assembled a list…make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following questions:

• Do they take on projects of your size?
• Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
• Can they give you a list of previous clients?
• How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
• How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

“The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project, and how smoothly the work will go.” – Tom Silva, Top 8 Pro Tips on How to Hire a Contractor, This Old House; Twitter: @ThisOldHouse

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26. Plumbers, like electricians, generally have stricter licensing requirements than general contractors do.

“This varies from one location to another and one profession to another. Plumbers and electricians typically have strict licensing requirements. General home contractors usually face fewer licensing requirements. If a contractor has a license, however, you can usually assume he has:

• A certain level of education or training.
• A minimum level of experience.
• Passed an examination.
• Kept up with changes in code.

“There is no absolute guarantee, but with a licensed professional you’re far more likely to have your project turn out well, and a better chance of redress if it doesn’t.” – Gwen Moran, Tips for Resolving a Contractor Dispute, HouseLogic; Twitter: @HouseLogic

27. Know whether you need help with a common problem or require a specialized contractor capable of handling a bigger job.

“In fact, [certified plumbers] are less likely to take on small jobs such as backed-up shower drains or leaky sinks. Contact these professionals if you have larger issues such as removing or replacing faulty septic systems, complete reconstruction of your radiator heating systems, or total/near total replacement of piping.

“That being said, we don’t mean that smaller plumbing companies lack the resource to take on such big projects. In fact, such companies are often headed by certified plumbing contractors and can take care of all your needs. For example, a certified plumber Downers Grove whom you have been working [with] for years for smaller plumbing tasks can also be a good candidate for resolving larger issues. Here you need to understand if your local plumbing company has the required experience and skills to deal with the issue at hand — whether or not they have the man power and tools to complete the job effectively and on-time.” – Greg Hannah, Hiring Plumbing Contractors: It’s More Than Just Plumbing, Fine Homebuilding; Twitter: @fhbweb

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28. Ask how long the plumber needs to complete the work. Ask for guaranteed work.

“Many plumbers offer service guarantees on work performed to provide you with assurance that you’ll be satisfied with the job. Ask about a warranty or guarantee period on the contracted work. It’s also reasonable to find out what time period the plumber will need to perform the work and whether the plumber will guarantee this work period for you.” – 10 Expectations From a Good Plumbing Service, RedBeacon; Twitter: @redbeacon

29. Make sure that the plumbing professional not only has insurance, but the proper amount of insurance. 

“Master plumbers might need to carry liability insurance, depending on state laws. For example, in Texas, a master plumber must have a minimum of $300,000 in general liability coverage. In some states, the dollar value of the job determines the type of license needed. In West Virginia, for instance, a company or individual must hold a plumbing contractor’s license for jobs over $2,500; the contractor’s license requires passing the master plumber’s exam as well as the West Virginia Business and Law exam. Some states permit plumbers to specialize in areas such as residential plumbing, irrigation, or backflow assemblies. Certification typically takes the form of an endorsement and requires additional testing.” – Jeffrey Joyner, Demand Media, Journeyman Plumber vs. Master Plumber, Chron.com; Twitter: @HoustonChron

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30. A general quote over the phone helps, but obtain a written quote based on a physical inspection of the job.

Here’s what to expect from a reputable plumber, according to Atomic Plumbing, a Virginia company:

A plumber will come to your home and talk to you about your needs and expectations. Then the contractor will perform a visual inspection to determine the scope of the project. This should be followed up by a written quote detailing all of the plumbing services required and the associated costs. The plumber will hopefully walk you through the quote and discuss any payment options.” – Money Talks News, 10 Sneaky Plumber Tricks of the Trade, Xfinity Lifestyle Blog; Twitter: @XFINITY

 

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