Everyone hopes to never need the services of a plumber but odds are that eventually you will. It's best to fine a good plumber long before any specific problems arise. Having a reputable plumbing contractor in the cue allows you to rectify any plumbing issues in your home or business more quickly and with relative ease.
That being said, many people only begin looking for a plumber after a pipe has broken or when their basement has begun filling with water. Such emergencies leave minimal time for properly researching and screening plumbing candidates. It can be difficult to ensure you get the right person for the job when you're working against the clock.
Even if you're accustomed to doing various home improvements or repair projects yourself, there are times when hiring a qualified, trained professional is the right course of action. More often than not, any kind of plumbing issue is one of the times that you should hire someone else to do the job. As trained professionals, plumbers are generally capable of handling most any sort of plumbing problems that may come up. That being said, not all plumbers are equal. Some are better qualified than others, and there are a number of details you should consider before hiring a plumber.
The process you should go through to choose a plumber is the same no matter if you're searching before or after a problem arises. Sticking to this process as much as possible will lessen your chances of getting the wrong person for the job or getting a plumber that is simply not reliable.
Many people get information on good plumbers by asking other people they know for referrals. Homeowners, building contractors and rental property owners, and real estate professionals are all excellent sources of referral information. You can also find some great online resources for locating plumbers.
Whether you find a plumber through a personal referral or a third party listing service like those online, you'll need to conduct an interview and some research on the individual or plumbing company to ensure that you get someone who is capable of completing work effectively and efficiently. Your interview and research will reveal the plumber's reputation, pricing, education and experience.
Skills and Abilities
You'll know the kinds of plumbing work they are capable of handling. You'll know if they are able to do only smaller scale plumbing repairs or if they possess the knowledge and experience to complete large scale installation projects or complex systemic repairs.
Experience and Expertise
In order to be licensed as a plumber and insured as a contractor, a plumber must have some significant experience. Some plumbers work with a crew, bringing other contractors to work on your home or business repair or improvement project. You'll need to ensure that all members of the crew have the appropriate experience to handle the project at hand.
Getting an Estimate
Most plumbers charge an hourly fee for work completed. Many people make the mistake of hiring the plumber with the lowest hourly rate. Though this may seem the cheapest route to take, it can often backfire, resulting in higher charges for the entire project. The best way to make a hiring decision is to get a detailed estimate from several plumbers and compare the hourly rates, any additional labor expenses, cost of materials required, and the timeframe for completing the work.
Some plumbers charge a flat fee for specific kinds of jobs. This type of fee schedule can often be less expensive than hiring a contractor that charges an hourly fee. Regardless of the kind of fee schedule a plumber employs, you'll need to get a written estimate from each plumber you're considering and compare those estimates in order to get the best person for the job and the most competitive pricing, with no hidden charges.
Reputation and References
One of the best ways to find a good plumber is to ask for referrals from other homeowners or business operators. Searching online service directories is another method of finding a number of contractors and to determine if any other customers have provided feedback on the plumber regarding previous jobs completed. If you receive a referral then you already know the individual has served someone else well enough to warrant that referral, but if you learn about a plumber through an online service directory or the like, then you'll want to check their reputation.
Once you've found a list of plumbers to consider, you'll want to ask for references. They should be able to provide you with the names and contact information for previous customers who are willing to speak to their qualifications and professionalism. You should also check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the plumber is in good standing with the organization and that no complaints have been filed against him.
Guarantees and Warranties
A professional plumber who does quality work will be able to guarantee that work for a sufficient period of time and offer you a warranty. Most contractors offer a 30 to 90 day warranty, though some plumbing services will extend that time frame up to several years. If the individual does not offer a guarantee, then you should think twice before contracting his services. A good plumber will always offer to fix a problem that may result from his error.
Licensed and Insured Plumbing Contractors
Before you hire a plumber, you should ensure that they are properly licensed and insured. A licensed plumber is guaranteed to have the professional training and expertise to effectively complete any plumbing or repair work needed in your home or business. They have sat for a state licensing exam and passed that test in order to obtain their credentials.
Insurance is extremely important, as accidents do occasionally occur during plumbing projects. You want to make sure that any accident or injury will be covered by the plumbers own insurance and not by your own homeowners or business property insurance.
Get the plumber's license number during the interview. It is essential that the individual who completes any repairs to your home or business plumbing be properly licensed and bonded or insured. This helps you ensure that work is done right but also allows you to file claims with your homeowners insurance.