Four Tips on Hiring a Plumber

One of the least appreciated but best advances that modern civilization has provided is the moving of water, for both delivery and disposal, from outside of our homes to the inside.  Our society’s ability to put good, clean potable water, under pressure, and deliver it safely and under full control to any room in our houses has made life so much easier.

But our advanced hydraulic technology, as infallible as it may seem, still springs leaks once in a while, often at the most inconvenient times.  And the results from these watery mishaps can range from irritating to a total disaster.

These liquid emergencies have created one of the most common household conundrums we all must face at one time or another – the hiring a competent, professional plumber.

Here are four tips to remember every time you are faced with watery misfortune and have to hire someone to fix it.

Tip #1, Make Sure the Plumber Is Licensed

You wouldn’t fly in a plane with an unlicensed pilot, or ride in a bus with an unlicensed driver, or turn your root canal over to an unlicensed dentist.  But many people are not that concerned about whether the plumber they’re hiring is licensed, and most importantly, bonded.

One of the most important criteria that states require of a plumber before a license is issued is whether that plumber is insured, or not.  Most likely, an uninsured plumber is a careless one who has had so many accidents that insurance companies will no longer underwrite his work.

This is the simplest way for the authorities to protect consumers from reckless and irresponsible plumbers.  Don’t defeat this safeguard. Make sure that any plumber who you hire is licensed and bonded by the state in which you live – no matter how much of a bargain his low rates might seem to be.

Tip #2, Check Crowd-Sourced Websites for Plumbing Reviews

Unless water is gushing out of control, take the time to check the crowd-sourced review websites like Yelp or Angie’s List where you can read customer reviews of a particular plumber’s work by someone who has actually hired this person.  

Of course, on these review websites you’ve got to be careful about some of the reviewers who just may have another agenda when they’re writing about a specific professional and/or service.

If you read a glowing review of a plumber’s work, and when you check the history of this particular reviewer and see nothing but other glowing reviews for all sorts of services; you probably have a paid public relations writer here and not a real customer.  Avoid this reviewer.

Conversely, if there’s a particularly negative review, check some of that critic’s other assessments.  If there’s a unwavering negativity to most or all of the reviews, you probably have an Internet troll here, a lonely person who enjoys creating disquiet online, and probably hasn’t even hired this plumber.  Trolls are easy to spot.

Tip #3, Get at Least Three Bids

While you’re searching for your plumber, keep in mind that you are not looking for just one good plumber; you are looking for three of them.  That’s because you should get at least three competitive bids for every plumbing job, if possible.

And don’t let the plumber coerce you into describing the job over the phone so that he can give you a “guesstimate” without actually seeing the problem in person.

As Richard Foster, an operations manager at the Fix It Right Plumbing company explains, “It is almost impossible to give a price over the phone or otherwise without actually seeing the job.  Any plumber that tries to do this is doing you a disservice.”

The rule is: three bids from three different personal inspections of your problem.  Then decide which plumber to hire.

Tip #4, Hire the Right Kind of Plumber for the Job

There are basically three types of plumbers: commercial plumbers, residential plumbers and service and repair plumbers.  Make sure you hire the right type of plumber for your particular job.

A commercial plumber is trained and experienced in large public plumbing systems such as schools, large shopping centers, hospitals and public buildings.  They are mainly tasked with installation of major plumbing systems, usually on large construction sites.

Residential plumbers are ones who have trained and gain experience by working on smaller, more specialized, residential jobs, particularly family homes.

Service and repair plumbers are ones trained and experienced at solving problems and making repairs on pipes and drains that they, very likely, did not initially install.  They have to be able to easily adapt to all kinds of different plumbing systems – and be personable enough to explain problems to consumers who are not necessarily well versed in plumbing technology.