Finding a Quality Plumber
The best time to look for a plumber is before a plumbing emergency arises. Unluckily, most people who have an emergency have almost no time to know more about a plumber. A leaking toilet or a basement ceiling that is wet from a broken pipe above it, requires immediate help.
First talk to someone you trust – maybe a friend or acquaintance who owns a home. Most people, at one time or another, have used a plumber and can recommend someone with a good reputation.
If you know a builder or contractor, call them too. These people deal with plumbers from time to time and generally have accurate opinions about many local plumbers, their work quality and the competitiveness of their pricing.
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Also speak to the real estate agent who helped you buy your home. Most agents are glad to help.
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When calling a plumber, unless after hours, don’t just leave your name and phone number on their answering machine. If a child picks up the phone, be suspicious. There are reputable plumbers who work out of their homes, typically in rural areas or small communities, but most are professional enough to invest in a virtual receptionist or at least answer calls themselves.
When talking to the plumber, ask for their license number. Don’t feel nervous – say you need it to claim homeowner’s insurance.
Also remember to ask if they are insured, and ask for proof. The best plumbers are human too, and they can also accidentally damage plumbing structures or systems. They may even cause accidental injury to themselves while performing their task, so you need them to have worker’s compensation as well. In case you or anyone in your household is accidentally injured, that will fall under their liability insurance.
Of course, before the job starts, you have to set things straight regarding the price. Most reliable plumbers will give you a written quote, or at least a quote that indicates a ceiling price, unless the plumbing problem concerns a ceiling or a closed wall. In that scenario, the plumber may hesitate to quote a firm bid until he has actually inspected the structures. This is when you might have to ask for a “worst-case scenario” price.
Finally, check if the plumber offers a service warranty. Anyone who can’t stand behind his own work for an acceptable period is a complete waste of your cash and time. Except when your pipes and fixtures are already too old, a reliable plumber will always return to solve any problems he may have failed to detect, or those that may have come up after his first visit.