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How do I Choose a Plumbing Contractor?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 June 2018
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Choosing a plumbing contractor is like hiring any other professional to work on a home. Homeowners want to make sure they’re getting someone who is experienced, licensed and competent. There are other things to consider too, like the way a plumber presents him or herself, their satisfaction guarantees, prices they charge, and proven satisfaction of other customers.

For very small jobs like unclogging a drain or fixing a leaky faucet, it may not be necessary to go through extensive background checking to get someone to fix the problem. In fact, most homeowners can save money if they have a good book on home repairs and can make these repairs themselves. Yet there are jobs like re-piping or changing pipes that will require the skill of a knowledgeable plumbing contractor, and this is when it’s important to make decisions carefully.

Any plumbing contractor hired should have an active license. Ask each plumber visiting the home to provide a license number and check with the agency in your country or state that maintains these licenses to make sure the license is current and in good order. While doing this check, be sure to look up the name of the plumber with organizations like the Better Business Bureau. If there are numerous complaints pending against the plumbing contractor, eliminate this person from the list of possible plumbers to use.

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Homeowners should also ask a plumber for personal references, and plumbers who routinely do good work will probably have several of these to provide. Another way to go here is to ask other homeowners which plumbers they’ve used. Building contractors also have plumbers and electricians they routinely work with. Get recommendations in addition to getting references.

Some home improvement experts recommend getting at least three quotes before hiring a plumping contractor. That’s an excellent idea, although sometimes quotes can be somewhat “soft” or flexible if all aspects of the work can’t be visualized. Still contractors should be able to provide a rough estimate, and may be able to stay within a certain price range. Obviously price is a consideration, but cheapest isn’t always best, particularly if a person is inexperienced, doesn’t have an active license or has complaints lodged against him.

Most plumbing contractors can offer a guarantee or warranty on their work. Be wary of those that don’t, because any fine-tuning to the work or problems would then cost more money. Especially with large jobs, a plumber should be able to assure customers that he’ll be back to fix any small problems that might occur, and a warranty should last for a considerable time.

There are recommendations that people only work with plumbers who maintain full staffs and who don’t work out of their home. Lots of home improvement websites warn that people should be wary when a plumber answers from his home phone, or worse yet if a child answers the phone while the plumber is out. This is really a judgment call. A lot of plumbing contractors save money by operating out of their homes, and decision to save money there, may save the homeowner money.

Nevertheless, examine the professionalism of any plumbing contractor that arrives at the home. Do they appear well dressed (for plumbing work), is the truck and equipment they use clean and in good repair, and do they seem professional? Be wary of those that aren't professional looking. Most contractors end up with more work than they can handle, and a plumber who looks like he/she hasn’t worked in a while should signal that this is perhaps not the best worker for the job.

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