How to Hire the Best Plumber, Plumbing Tips

Updated January 9, 2009

Plumbers either charge by the hour or job. For basic plumbing services, plumbers tell us that the average hourly service charge ranges from $70 - $160 depending on the area you live in.

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Make a list of specific plumbing issues you want addressed. Any way you can be organized will save the plumber time and will also save you money. If you’re not sure what the problem is, have a list of symptoms.

Getting three estimates can be difficult if the plumber charges a service call just to come out and inspect the problem. If it's possible to explain the issue over the phone and get a ballpark estimate, that will help you compare prices across a few different plumbers.

Of course, if it's a plumbing emergency, you may not have time to have three different plumbers come to the house. Use consumer reviews on Angie's List to find the best local plumbers. Find out how long a plumber has been in business; typically choose a plumber that’s been in business at least 5 to 10 years. This will give you insight into how experienced they are and how well the company is doing.

Licensed & insured

Different states require different plumbing licenses. If your state requires a license, check that it is current and look to see if there are any complaints against the license.

Any plumber you hire should have a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance and a current workers’ compensation policy.

Ask about rates: Plumbers either charge by the hour or job. For basic plumbing services, plumbers tell us that the average hourly service charge ranges from $70 - $160 depending on the area you live in. For weekend or after hour calls, expect to pay time and a half.

If you must replace a plumbing fixture, save some dollars by buying your own plumbing equipment.  Be aware of added costs: Plumbers may have to cut through walls or ceilings to get to a leak, adding to the cost of the job. Spell out the project in the contract: The quote should provide a written estimate that includes payment terms, a materials list and any additional agreements related to the project. You got a permit for that? Are there certain permits required to do the work? If so, check with your plumber that he/she will obtain these permits.

Service guaranteed

If a plumber near you comes in to fix your toilet and then the problem returns, is the work guaranteed? Who’s cleaning up? Ask the plumber how he/she will leave the work area once the job is complete.

Preventative maintenance: It’s a good idea to ask how your plumber to prevent any problems from recurring. Once you find a good plumber, keep him/her: In an emergency, it’s better to call someone who already knows you. Once you find a plumber you are satisfied with, keep his/her number handy.

If you have an emergency plumbing issue, it’s best to shut the water off while waiting for a plumber to arrive, to prevent further damage.

Get more tips for hiring during a holiday plumbing emergency.

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