It’s important in life to get in good with people in a varying array of services and talents. For example, a trusted ‘car guy’ will save you hundreds of dollars in repairs over the years and your ‘radio contest call-in friend’ is a great source of free concert tickets and band tour t-shirts. As far as your home goes, there’s perhaps nobody more important than a quality plumber. Once you find a plumber you can trust you know they’ll be there in a drop of the hat in emergency situations and will teach you the tips and tricks for DIY that won’t require their services.
Unfortunately you may have to go through a few lemons before settling on the ultimate plumbing service. Here are some tips and suggestions to limit the time spent courting a plumber and instead start focusing on getting your house’s pipes up to par.
Check If They’re Licensed
Making sure a contractor is licensed is a no-brainer whether you’re looking for a plumber, electrician, roofer, etc. Being licensed shows that the plumber is well-versed on the most recent codes and practices and has passed a test to prove it. Hiring a licensed contractor is the homeowner’s responsibility and failing to do so could leave you liable from your insurance company or building code department.
Ask If They’re Insured
Most municipalities require contractors to be licensed before they can get insured so checking for contractor’s insurance essentially kills two birds with one stone. Make sure to ask questions about the insurance to as it pertains to what they’re liable for and what their limits are. It’s not inconceivable to think that a plumbing catastrophe could cause upwards of $500,000 or more if a whole house receives water damage and priceless heirlooms are lost forever. A plumber with minimal insurance would only be responsible for a fraction of that leaving the homeowner over their head in water, literally.
What Is Their Experience?
All the licenses and insurance coverage in the world still doesn’t make up for cold, hard, experience. Granted a company that is only a year or two old still needs to get their break somehow but save them for minimal jobs until they get their name built up. Even if a greenhorn company hasn’t had an issue in their first two years in the industry, it doesn’t mean there’s not one lying in wait. As unfortunate as it sounds, there really is no substitute for a hardened plumber that’s seen it all in his 25 grizzled years in the field. You’ll pay a premium labor price for these individuals but you’ll rest easy in their work.
Read Online Reviews or Ask Around Town
Even though some Yelp or Angie’s List reviewers are impossible to please, there’s always an inkling of truth in the word of the majority. It’s only being a responsible consumer to check out what others are saying before you hire a service, whether it be a plumber, pizza delivery, or cab company. Likewise a neighbor who stands tried and true with a company for all their plumbing needs is a voice you can trust…unless they’re related to the shop owner but that’s a chance you have to take.
Get Extra Quotes and Bids for Your Own Good
Even if you’re leaning towards a plumber that has said and done everything right so far in the bidding process, get a couple extra quotes just to be sure. Bringing in another company or two to do an estimate will give you a good idea that they’re all diagnosing the same problem and solution. Ideally the price range of the quality plumber will fall right in the middle of the other quotes but what you’ll likely find out is that there’s a premium for quality work.
Do Their Rates Vary (Time & Materials Only or Fixed Quotes)
Another sign of a quality plumber is if they give you options in their bid. A company that only works based on time and materials is a little skeptical because they could legitimately milk the clock to drive up your bill. Most homeowners like seeing a fixed price both so they have an estimate on what the service will cost them and for something to show the insurance company or bank before the work starts.
Do They Back Their Work
A quality plumber will always stand by their work, mostly because they’re arrogant in the fact that ‘nothing ever goes wrong when I’m on the job.’ Insurance will cover major catastrophes but if a plumber comes to the house to fix a leak and the pipe still drips water after they leave, return calls should be free until the problem is fixed. A homeowner shouldn’t have to pay for every trip back to the house just because the plumber did it wrong in the first place.
There are other ways to find a good plumber like asking other professionals such as an electrician or roofer who may have worked on a job site with them. Unfortunately the best way might be the trial and error process – hopefully the trial ends before too many errors are committed.
Photos by University of the Fraser Valley,