Depending on the report you check, the plumbing industry always seem to be at the top of the list for customer complaints. It can be hard to find a plumbing company you can trust. It can be hard for the average home or business owner to know what services are really needed and if the work was actually performed or done properly or for a fair price.
There are few ways to help avoid getting, “burned,” when hiring a service plumbing contractor.
Make sure your plumber has a contractor’s license and is bonded and insured:
Being licensed (or not) is your first indication of trust and if something does go wrong, you have some recourse. Licensed plumbers are required to complete work in compliance with state laws designed to protect consumers from shoddy workmanship and potential serious problems. Make sure your plumbing company is licensed, it’s OK ask to see their insurance certificate. In Washington State, you can easily verify their contractor’s license and bond here.
Think twice about hiring a company paying for a significant amount advertising:
Advertising can be very expensive. That money has to come from somewhere and it’s usually in the form of higher prices or upsells. It is not unheard of for some plumbing companies in the greater Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma area to pay up to $500 for an online water heater replacement lead. That means that before the plumber even arrives, he has to make up that $500 from you, the customer.
Never agree to “Flat-rate pricing” without explanation:
Some plumbers will provide a flat rate price can’t easily be divided into labor, materials and equipment costs. Plumbers often use flat-rate pricing to hide excessive labor rates or inflated materials and equipment mark-ups. Every plumbing contractor has an hourly rate for jobs prices. If they are reluctant to provide that rate, send them on their way.
Don't get talked into an open-ended, “Time and Materials,” bid:
You could pay a lot more than you expect if you agree to this. The plumber can downplay (or not know) how long the job will take and get you to agree to an hourly rate which may seem quite reasonable - but for an unspecified length of time. You should at least get a “not to exceed” quote, which any professional, qualified plumber will be able to provide, which includes a limit on the amount you can be charged for a repair. A time and materials bid with no limit is a typical method for unnecessarily driving the price of repairs higher.
Try to avoid scheduling work on holidays and weekends:
Sometimes a plumbing emergency comes up that requires immediate attention. Just keep in mind plumbers usually charge a premium for working on weekends and holidays or after normal business hours. If you can, always try to schedule your plumber on a weekday.
Watch out for, “Flaky Jake”:
Simply because a contractor is a licensed plumber doesn’t guarantee you can trust his company. If he is slow to answer his phone or return messages, consider it a warning sign. There are plumbers who have smaller crews and may answer the phones themselves, but that is no excuse for ‘full voicemail’ or non- returned calls. If you can’t reach them to hire them, what makes you think they’ll show up on time to complete the work or be reachable once they’ve been paid? And what if there is a problem after the repair.
Ask your friends:
This won’t guarantee you’ll hire the right company, but if you ask several friends and there is a common name among those recommended, that’s a good indication they can be trusted (just be sure to check on their licensing).
Be sure you are hiring a plumber you can trust and whose price for the service needed is reasonable. Don’t just go with the biggest name or the company with the nicest ads. Our best advice is to do your homework.