Since leaving college, Paul has worked in a variety of roles, including: painter and decorator, general handyman, and freelance writer.
Almost all of us will find ourselves in need of a plumber at some point in our lives. It could be a major catastrophe involving major water damage and major expense, or just be minor, relatively inexpensive issue like fixing a dripping faucet. Finding a plumber that you can trust to do the job well for a fair price is very important for your peace of mind, as well as bank balance.
Having managed properties both domestically and commercially, I've learned some valuable lessons over the years about maximizing the chances of finding a plumber who will be skilled, reliable, professional, and fairly priced. Below is a list of the nine main approaches that you need to consider and employ.
9 Tips for Finding a Good Plumber in Your Area
- Don't Leave Problems Until the Last Minute
- Word of mouth.
- Research Online
- Ask Your Local Hardware Store.
- Ask a Professional That You Trust.
- Make Sure They are Licensed and Insured.
- Get Multiple Quotes and Compare.
- Length of Time in Business.
- Ask for a Warranty.
I will examine each of the above tips in more detail below.
1. Don't Leave Problems Until Last the Minute
Tackling a problem before it develops into a full-blown emergency is always advisable. If you are in a panic, the temptation is to call the first plumber that you find and just wish for the best. Calling any plumber during out of office hours is also more expensive. Allow yourself time to do some research. In fact, it's a good idea to make a list of all the professional help that you might need (roofer, A/C repair, etc.) and have contact details for each.
2. Word of Mouth
Obtaining the firsthand experiences of friends, coworkers, and neighbors can be invaluable in choosing a plumber. If you have the time, it's always worth asking, calling, knocking on doors, or requesting recommendations from friends on social media. The opinions of people that you know and trust is difficult to beat. They can often also tell you who to avoid as well as who to pick.
3. Research Online
Some dedicated research of online reviews can be useful for assessing the relative merits of local plumbers, especially if used in conjunction with referrals from friends and others. Online directories, such as the Better Business Bureau, can be useful for checking out if plumbers have complaints against them, as well as for finding reviews. Also check out each company's Facebook page, if they have one, to see how they interact with their customers.
4. Ask Your Local Hardware Store
Another useful source of knowledge is often your local hardware store. The employees will usually know local contractors and handymen and can give you a recommendation. Hardware stores are also great places to find traditional print adverts, business cards, and contact information for local companies.
5. Ask Another Professional That You Trust
If you have had a good experience from another professional, such as the person who fixed your A/C unit, washing machine, or roof, ask them if they can recommend any plumbers. If they work for an established business, it's likely that they will have some good contacts to share.
6. Make Sure They Are Licensed and Insured
Most US states require plumbers to be licensed. If you want to check if a plumber is licensed, you can try using the Angie's list license check. Insurance is important too, as you don't want to deal with the expense of a flooded home if a catastrophe happens.
7. Get Multiple Quotes and Compare
Determine the nature of the problem as best as you can, so that you can explain it to a plumber. Taking photos may also be useful, depending on the problem. Then contact several plumbers and ask them for estimates. Obtaining more than one estimate will give you a better idea of what needs doing and how much it should cost. To give an accurate estimate will often require the plumber to see the job in person to determine if there are any complications.
Picking the plumber with the cheapest quote is not always the best idea. You need to ask them what exactly they plan to do. Some plumbers will offer a minimum service so that they can offer a smaller estimate, but that may not be the best fix. It may be worth paying more for a more thorough and long-lasting repair.
8. Length of Time in Business
Generally speaking, the longer that a company has been in business, the more reliable they are. The idea is that the bad companies fail and the good ones progress. While this is true in many cases, it can't always be fully relied upon, so treat it as just a general indicator.
9. Ask for a Warranty
It's advisable to ask plumbers about warranties. A responsible one will guarantee his or her work and the parts used for at least a year. You don't want to pay out again for the recurrence of the same problem.
Plumbers are of varying competence and experience. They are generally defined by one of three categories: apprentice, journeyman, or master plumber.
- Apprentice plumber: Apprenticeship programs usually give comprehensive training for novice plumbers. The training is typically administered by either union locals and their affiliated companies or nonunion contractors. Apprenticeships usually consist of three or four years of paid, on-the-job training, as well as some classroom learning.
- Journeyman plumber: After an apprenticeship, a person can apply for a journeyman license. Obtaining a journeyman's license involves paying a fee and the passing of an exam. Licensing varies from state to state in the US; not all of them require that a journeyman is licensed.
- Master plumber: This requires years of experience as a journeyman plumber, plus an associate's degree or training at a vocational school. A master plumber must pass an exam that usually involves both written and practical knowledge. The master plumber is often the business owner, and as well as being subject to inspection, he or she also ensures that all company journeyman plumbers comply with plumbing regulations.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Paul Goodman
Abby Slutsky from America on July 21, 2020:
This was informative. Although I have a good plumber at the moment, I did use one of your suggestions to get him. He is a friend of a contractor that I used for something else. Thanks for sharing.