6 Methods for Finding Your Expert Plumber

Every homeowner needs to know the name of a reliable plumber or plumbing company they can reach out to when something goes wrong. Even if you have a decent grasp of the trade, and you’re able to do some DIY repairs here and there, some jobs are best left to an expert.

However, any longtime homeowner will tell you that you can’t call just anyone when your plumbing is in need of repair. You need to know that you’re hiring a professional who you can trust to assess the problem accurately, get the job done right, and do it all at a fair and reasonable rate. Unfortunately, that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

How Do I Find the Best Plumbers Near Me?

Maybe you’ve been burned before by an unsatisfactory plumbing job, or maybe you’re just a new homeowner who hasn’t had to hire anyone for repairs before. Either way, it can be tricky sifting through all the options you’ll find online for the one that best suits your particular needs.

The good news is, a little research can go a long way in finding the best fit for a plumbing job in your home. Here’s a guide to help you find the expert plumber you’re looking for.

In this guide you will find the answers to the following questions and more:

  • Who should I ask about plumbers near me?
  • What are the best resources for finding an expert plumber?
  • What are the licensing requirements for plumbers near me?
  • What does a plumber near me typically cost?
  • What do I do if my plumbing situation is an emergency?

Ask for a Recommendation

One of the most reliable ways to find an expert plumber is also one of the easiest. Reach out to friends, family, or neighbors to see if they have a plumber or plumbing company that they have experience with. Anyone who has been a homeowner long enough has had to have repairs done, and they’re likely to have a plumbing service saved in their phone contacts.

While it is likely that you’ll find a plumbing service by asking friends or family, it’s also possible that the service will not be a good one. Sometimes poor plumbing, or bad prices, can sneak by a homeowner undetected. Be aware of this fact and verify your recommendation by going online and checking some reviews. While not a perfect resource for business recommendations, online reviews can help give you a general feel for the community’s experience with the company.

Sometimes the best recommendations you’ll find come from simply entering, “best plumber near me” into whichever search engine you prefer. Online directories allow you to locate nearby plumbing services and look at their reviews.

You can also reach deeper into your personal network and seek recommendations from building contractors, real estate agents, or your insurance company. People in these professions are not only connected to plumbing services by necessity, they have a more intimate knowledge of the trade than pretty much anyone outside of plumbers themselves.

With your insurance company, you may even be able to look at reviews they’ve performed on the companies they recommend.

Look into the Qualifications of Plumbers Near Me

Every plumber has a different level of experience and qualification. Ask your plumber about theirs before you hire them for a job to give you a better idea of the level of work they are capable of and whether or not their rates are reasonable.  

There are three levels of qualification a plumber can have based on their level of training and the amount of experience they have in the trade.

Apprentice

These are new plumbers who are in the process of on-the-job training overseen by a plumbing company or a local union. This training, otherwise known as an apprenticeship program, lasts about 4 or 5 years. Apprenticeship programs require not only field training, but classroom education.

It’s important to note that an apprentice should never perform a job without the supervision of a more experienced, qualified plumber.

Journeyman

Once an apprentice has completed their training, they can apply for their journeyman license. The application process includes an exam the apprentice must pass in order to receive their license. A journeyman is an experienced plumber, but they are still limited in the jobs they can perform.

Be wary of any plumber who tells you they’ve completed their apprenticeship but do not have their journeyman license. This could signal a number of issues with their professionalism, and with the quality of care they put into their work.

Master 

A master plumber has at least 7 to 10 years of plumbing experience and education. In order to become a master, you must work as a licensed journeyman for at least two years, receive academic credentials from an accredited school, and pass multiple written exams. The education of a master is ongoing, they are required to pass annual courses in order to maintain their credentials.

A master’s level of experience and accreditation is valuable, which will be reflected in their rates.

Ask About Licensing 

Each state has different requirements for working plumbers. 44 of them require all contractors to hold licenses, but the licensing process varies depending on location; some states only require registration, while others have a more complicated process.

If you want to know what your state’s licensing requirements are, you can look online, or you can contact your state’s consumer protection agency, or your local building department.

In general, a licensed plumber has passed background checks and a licensing exam, and had their fingerprint taken. In other words, sometimes your state does a fair amount of the work for you in ensuring a plumber is qualified for the job they’ve been hired for.   

It’s also important that you ensure your plumber, or any contractor you hire, has a license that is up-to-date before hiring them for a job. If it’s not, that should be a red flag.

Some plumbing companies are members of trade organizations, such as the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. A membership with any of these organizations is a sign that your plumbing company is committed to staying informed about their industry.  

Make Sure They’re Insured and Bonded

Things can go wrong no matter how highly experienced a plumber may be, or how highly recommended they come; it’s imperative that any plumber you hire is both insured and bonded.

When a plumber is bonded, they are insured against issues that may arise with the work they’ve done. This includes, among other things, issues with permits, a job that was left unfinished, or a job that was not performed to the specifications of the homeowner. In the event of any of these situations, a surety bond ensures that the homeowner is compensated.

Insurance protects against any accidents or damage that might occur as a result of the plumbing company’s work. For example: if a pipe bursts and creates a flood that damages the homeowner’s property, insurance will cover the costs.  

Always ask to see proof that a plumber is insured and bonded before allowing them to do any work on your plumbing system. If they fail to provide proof, search for “insured and bonded plumber near me” online.

Be Aware of Average Rates 

Getting overcharged for repairs is an easy mistake to make if you don’t have a grasp of what is considered fair pricing for the services your seeking. Be sure to equip yourself with this knowledge before agreeing to any price, or having any repairs done.

If you’re asking yourself, “What is the average cost of a plumber near me?”, consider these factors:

Time Needed to Complete Repairs

Most plumbers charge an hourly rate of anywhere from $45 to $200. This constitutes the base rate before any other factors are considered. Whether they’re doing a simple repair or a complex job, you will be charged by the hour at whatever rate they offer.

Cost of Materials

You will cover the costs of whatever materials are required for the job. Prices of these materials are available online, so these charges should be fairly transparent provided you acquire a full list of what materials your plumbing job is going to require.

Services Required

Different services have different requirements, so the cost of each one is going to vary. A clogged drain or drippy fixture is usually a simple fix, so the rates are relatively low, while finding a slab leak or replacing a water heater are much bigger, more complex jobs, causing rates to be significantly higher.

Level of Experience

An experienced plumber is going to cost you more than one that is new to the field. This is based on the fact that the quality of work from someone with many years of experience is almost invariably going to be higher than that of someone with only a few years under their belt.

Level of Urgency

Repairs done outside of regular working hours come at a premium, so if your plumbing job is an emergency fix, you’re going to pay a higher rate. In the event of a plumbing emergency, remain cautious about the plumber you hire for the job. Hasty decision making may only lead to more plumbing issues down the road. In other words, don’t just search “best plumber near me” and pick the first result that pops up.

When considering a plumber’s rates, it can be useful to seek out multiple quotes that you can compare before committing to anything. If you find that one quote is unusually higher than another, it’s safe to assume it isn’t based on the quality of the work performed. The disparity shouldn’t be too high, or you may be getting overcharged.

Remember that cheap work can sometimes wind up being the costlier option in the end. It’s best to prioritize getting the job done right over saving money.

Reviews, References, and Background Checks 

You should always look into any plumbing contractor’s background, or make sure their company has done so, before allowing them into your home. Sometimes a glance at their track record on the job is far more telling than any licenses, memberships, or qualifications they may tout.

As previously mentioned, online reviews can help you get a feel for the company you’re seeking to hire. It’s important to not only consider the ratings they’ve received, but to read the reviews themselves. A poor rating can be based on any number of incidents: an unsatisfactory job, a rude or unaccommodating technician, a monetary dispute, or even an instance of theft or misconduct. Make sure to read several reviews, as individual opinions can often be misleading.

You can also ask the plumber for references of their own, someone you can contact to get reassurance that the technician is qualified and competent. Any plumber unwilling to give you references should not be hired for the job.

When looking for the best plumber near me, you’re going to want to know if they’ve got any sort of criminal history that might make them a threat to your safety. Any good plumbing company does background checks on their employees before sending them to your home to perform a job. Ask the company about this before you agree to having any work done. If they don’t perform background checks, look elsewhere.

It’s also important to make sure any plumber you hire offers a guarantee on their work. Make sure you confirm in writing to the specific details of the job, the materials required, and the agreed upon rate.

How Do I Find the Best Plumber Near Me? 

This is a question you can now answer yourself! With all of this information in mind, you should feel confident in your ability to seek out the best plumber for the job. Just remember that every individual plumber has aspects of the trade that they specialize in, so even if they’re highly experienced, licensed, bonded, and insured, they still might not be the right hire. Be thorough and diligent, and your plumbing issues will competently be fixed for a fair price in no time.

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