Beware of DIYConsider this scenario: You purchase a fixer-upper and decide you completely need to renovate the powder room. You’re feeling pretty confident in your handyman skills and decide to replace the sink and the toilet yourself. Easy-peasy, in no time you’ve got a beautiful new bathroom.One day you flush the toilet and leave the house after completing the remodeling of the first-floor powder room. What you don’t realize is the lever on the toilet never returns to its original position. As the overflow tube in the tank wasn’t installed at the correct height, water continues to run and leaks through where the handle is attached to the tank.When you come home hours later, your basement is flooded with water all because you didn’t correctly install the overflow tube in the tank of the toilet. And though you thought that you had followed that YouTube video step-by-step, your inexperience results in a nice new swimming pool in your basement.Not only are the flooring and the vanity in your powder room ruined, but now you need to:
- File a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company
- Pay the deductible
- Get someone to your home as soon as possible to start pumping the water out of your basement
Two Different Types of PlumbersDepending on the type of plumbing job you need, you may either want an emergency plumber or a plumber who will work with projects that involve remodeling. No matter what type of plumber you hire, you will need to make sure the plumber is properly licensed.Sometimes a simple search on Google of the name of a particular plumber or plumbing business can give you a good idea of what type of plumbing work they specialize in. It can also be extremely helpful to read reviews of previous customers online, but be wary that not all reviews are from real customers.Another aspect to look at when considering how to find a plumber is how long the plumber has been in business. Your local Better Business Bureau site is particularly useful in determining how long a plumber has been in business, whether there have been any complaints against them, and what the customer reviews say. Additionally, ask the plumber about their liability insurance, as they should have a liability insurance policy of at least $500,000 and should have worker’s compensation insurance.
Which Type is Right for You?The two types of plumbers can be described as follows:
- Emergency plumber: Get recommendations from family, friends or realtors about the names of plumbers who are great for repair jobs. You may want to have this plumber in your home to repair some non-emergency plumbing problems so you can get an idea of their prices and the type of work that they do. You can also consider having them do a preventative plumbing inspection. This can show you how they treat you and your home. That way, when you have a true emergency, you will have their number handy and be able to give them a call. Don’t be surprised if the emergency rates are much higher.
- Plumber for remodeling jobs: The best source of recommendations for a plumber who can assist with remodeling is a general contractor. General contractors want to use capable, top-notch plumbers since they often sub-contract out for plumbers in their line of work and can’t afford to have a plumber who does a poor job reflect on their overall building project. The plumber you hire should be comfortable working with a General Contractor. One warning sign to look out for is a plumber who becomes defensive or refuses to coordinate with a General Contractor. While they too want to work with a top-notch general contractor, they should be comfortable when you ask them to do so. Always make sure to talk to both parties beforehand and ask them to show you some projects they have already done. Seeing proof of good work can ease the process and make all three parties comfortable, ensuring a better work environment.
Let’s Get Down to Business: The Important QuestionsSo you’ve done the first steps of your research, and at this point you have a list of a few plumbers narrowed down. Ask these key questions to finalize your decision:
- What is the total cost of the plumbing job? Be leery of the plumber who gives you a quote over the phone without actually looking at the prospective plumbing job. And make sure when you do receive an in-person quote that it includes the cost of labor and materials as well as built-in costs for unanticipated circumstances.
- Is the rate for the job hourly or fixed? If it is hourly, that means that if the job takes longer than anticipated in the estimate, you will need to continue to pay labor costs until the job is finished. If the costs are fixed, the rate will remain the same no matter the labor costs.
- When does the plumber expect payment? If they expect all of the payment up front, do not even consider hiring them. You will have no control over the quality of the work being performed if you have already paid for everything. If the plumber has a system of milestones, meaning that they expect payment after certain pieces of the project are completed, that is a more reasonable system.
- Is the cleanup included in your price quote? Though it may seem like cleanup is a given when work is quoted, some plumbers will actually charge more for cleanup. If the additional clean-up fees are a problem for you, you may want to either find another plumber or consider doing the cleanup yourself.
- How long is the work guaranteed for and exactly what is guaranteed? While some plumbers will agree to fix problems associated with the work they complete for a certain period of time, others will only agree to fix certain items that they install. No matter what type of warranty you receive, make sure it is in writing and the plumber is insured and bonded.
- Can they provide you with names of references from previous jobs as well as their contact information? Contacting former customers of the plumber you are thinking of hiring is one of the best ways to determine the quality of the plumber’s work. Make sure you have a list of questions to ask the reference before calling.
- Ask another home service company, such as an HVAC professional, to give you referrals of good plumbers to work with. Even if that company or professional doesn’t provide plumbing, they may be able to refer you to a reputable company that does.
Who Does the Plumbing Work?If the plumber you have hired is a master plumber but their workers have significantly less experience and much fewer qualifications than their boss, you may not be comfortable employing this plumber. While you may be initially more attracted to the plumber who can offer you a lower price, consider the fact that they may not be as qualified as someone who charges more. Though you may be paying less up front by going with the cheaper plumber, you might end up paying more in the long run.For example, in Pennsylvania, an apprentice plumber is not licensed. These license requirements vary somewhat from city and county as they are set by local municipalities and not at the state level. A journeyman and master plumber are both licensed.In order for an apprentice to receive a license as a journeyman plumber, they need to complete approximately 224 hours of instruction in a classroom, and 2,000 hours of training on the job. Generally speaking, the training for a journeyman takes between four and five years. You may notice, that’s a little longer than the time it takes to watch a YouTube video.One of the biggest differences between an apprentice plumber and a journeyman is the journeyman is able to take work without any supervision from a master plumber. Journeymen also have the ability to hire apprentices to work under them. Journeymen are able to work independently or for a company but are not able to own their own plumbing business.To become a master plumber, a plumber must be able to show they have had a minimum of four years of experience working as a plumber under the supervision of a master plumber and they have worked for at least one year as a journeyman. They must also pass an exam to become licensed as a master plumber.
How Much Should You Pay for a Plumber?The cost of plumbing work can vary greatly because it depends on what type of plumbing job is being completed and your location. Price isn’t always necessarily as good of an indicator of a plumber’s quality as their customer referrals, reviews, or how long they’ve been in business.If you get bids from a number of plumbers who you believe are reputable based upon reviews, the length of time they have been in business, and the number of master plumbers who will be working on your job, you should consider all of those factors when deciding whether you think the estimate is reasonable.Remember, you’re looking for quality work so be thorough in your research. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. You may want to go with the lowest bid you receive – or even the highest if you’re determined to have the best quality, but how does that price line up with their reviews?Remember, too, that if you have a remodel job that includes other factors such as carpet installation or repair of drywall, you will need to add those costs into the estimate for the plumbing to arrive at your total out of pocket costs.
Choose Haller Enterprises to Get Your Job Done RightNow that you understand what qualifications to look for when you are deciding to hire a plumber, whether it is a plumber for regular repairs, an emergency call, or a remodeling project, look no further than Haller Enterprises, Inc.With headquarters in Lancaster County, Haller serves customers central and eastern Pennsylvania with six locations in Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Harrisburg, Chester County and Quakertown. Haller offers both commercial and residential options.Haller can help you with a variety of plumbing needs including:
- Clogged drains
- Water heaters
- Sewage systems