How to Find a Great Plumber
If you own a house or manage a property, chances are good that one day you will have to call a plumber. Do you know where to start in finding a good one?
Small towns may only have one plumber. In that case, your choice is simple.
Large towns and cities have many plumbers. You need to know how to avoid the crooks and how to find the contractors that you can call back for all your plumbing needs over the years.
In this guide, we’ll tell you:
- How to find a good plumber
- How to evaluate a plumber on the job
- What services a good plumber typically provides
Steps to Finding a Good Plumber
People are typically happy to recommend tradespeople, and this can be the best way to find a great local plumber. Ask neighbors and local friends and co-workers for names of plumbers they hired and were happy with. It can also be worth it to ask for names of plumbers that should be avoided.
Use discernment with referrals that are family members. Those will be somewhat biased. The more objective the recommendation the better.
Calling your local Chamber of Commerce can also yield a list of prospects.
Search Online for “Plumber Near Me”
Most plumbers have an online presence. You can find them by typing “plumber near me” in your browser.
Your search engine will produce a list of plumbers in your area. Google searches also produce contractors’ Google business pages and reviews. Simply scanning each contractor’s star rating plus number of reviews will give a sense of the quality of each plumber. It’s not foolproof because some great plumbers do not have a Google business page and therefore do not have Google reviews, but it is a good starting point.
Customer reviews left on a Google business page cannot be altered by the page owner. They can be answered, however. Answers to poor reviews can provide a fuller picture of complaints and also indicate a company’s desire to resolve problems.
Read Google Reviews and Other Reviews
In addition to reading plumbing contractors’ Google business reviews, look at other feedback sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau.
Visit Plumbing Contractors’ Websites
Visit the website of each plumbing contractor that looks like a potential candidate. You can learn a lot about a company by assessing its site.
- Is it a local company? (Look for a physical address)
- Is it family owned?
- Is it a franchise?
- Are workers background checked? (They may be inside your home.)
- Does the company offer 24-hour emergency services?
- Does the company offer a full range of plumbing services?
- Can you contact a representative through a form on the website?
Call Three Prospects
When you’ve assembled a list of potential plumbers, narrow it down to three, and call each one. In the phone call, describe the plumbing problem you are experiencing and ask the cost of the company’s services to resolve the issue. If it’s a smaller job, you will likely be quoted a service call price plus a cost range for the service being performed. An in-person estimate would only be needed for a larger job such as repiping, sewer line repair, new shower installation, etc.
Let the rep know you’re gathering information and will call them back after you get data from other companies.
After you have spoken with representatives of three companies, select one. Call the selected plumbing company to set up an estimate visit or a service call.
How to Evaluate a Plumbing Company’s Performance
Pay attention to how your interactions go with every person you encounter in the plumbing company you have chosen. Start with the person who picked up the phone the first time you called, or the person who answered your email. Did that person respond quickly and was he or she courteous and knowledgeable?
Next note how it went to set up the estimate visit or service call. Was it easy?
Now look at the service call or estimate visit.
- Did the plumber arrive on time?
- Did the plumber confirm with you why you set up the appointment?
- Did the plumber communicate clearly with you about the problem and the solution?
- Were the costs stated clearly and upfront, and was there any discussion with you before work was done?
- How long did the job take?
- Did the plumber demonstrate to you that the problem was fixed?
- Did the plumber clean up any messes generated by the work?
- Was it easy to pay the bill, and how did you receive a receipt?
- Were you emailed an opportunity to leave the company a review?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide if you will call the plumbing contractor again in the future. If you decide to call out a different plumber, evaluate that company the same way to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
What Services Does a Plumber Provide?
Your search for a great plumber should be influenced by the range of services the contractor provides. This is especially true if you want to find a plumber that will be your go-to for many years. This year you may only need a plumber to unclog a drain, but in coming years, you may need faucets replaced, water heater maintenance, and sewer line repairs. It’s good to find a plumber that provides comprehensive services.
Plumbers get water flowing freely again by removing clogs and obstacles from drainpipes. Whereas homeowners and property maintenance staff can often free drains of clogs using chemicals and plungers, plumbers can access blockages deep down inside pipes.
Clogs are formed when water exiting sinks, showers, dishwashers, and washing machines carries oils, soap scum, hair, food pieces, and debris. Over time these particles stick to the sides of pipes and adhere to each other, accumulating into globs that reduce or stop water flow.
Professional plumbers have the equipment to locate and break apart the deepest obstacles, getting water to drain properly again.
Sewer Line Clearing and Repair
Sewer lines are underground pipes that carry used water away from houses and buildings and out to septic tanks or city sewage systems. Because they are buried, sewer lines are vulnerable to damage from tree roots, freezing ground, shifting ground, and shovel strikes.
On the inside, sewer lines are vulnerable to clogs from sludge, oil, dirt, hair, soap, toilet paper, leaves, chemicals, and even bugs.
Professional plumbers repair damaged sewer lines and clear sewer line blockages. Many plumbers use video technology to identify clogs. By sending a tiny camera into the line, they can see where obstacles are located and what constitutes the blocks. This information allows plumbers to conduct trenchless sewer line repairs—that is, they don’t have to dig up long stretches of line and instead can make targeted repairs.
Some plumbers use hydro-jet technology to clear out sewer lines with streams of highly pressurized water. Even solidified sludge and tree root masses can be safely disintegrated using hydro jetting.
Slab Leak Detection and Repair
Slab leak detection requires a plumber’s expertise. Most plumbers use special leak detection equipment that “listens” to soundwaves inside pipes and analyzes pipe conditions based on the soundwave information.
Today’s advanced leak detection technology allows plumbers to find slab leaks without tearing apart large areas of flooring, walls, and foundation.
The same equipment helps plumbers find leaks in above-ground pipes of various kinds—standard homeowner water supply pipes, commercial steam pipes, industrial oil pipes, drains, toilet outlets, and the like.
Water Heater Installation and Repair
Ever wonder which trade professionals are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining water heaters?
Common water heater styles include standard tank models and space-conserving tankless models.
Standard tank water heaters vary in size according to household size and usage. Elements inside the tanks heat water and keep it at a set temperature. Supply pipes carry unheated water into the tank and exit pipes take hot water out for distribution throughout the house.
Tankless water heaters are smaller units that heat water on demand rather than storing hot water in a large reservoir for later use. Tankless water heaters cost more initially than standard tank heaters but usually pay for themselves in the long run because of their efficient, on-demand production. They are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners because they take up much less space than their traditional counterparts.
Water Softener and Conditioner Installation and Maintenance
Water conditioner system installation is the province of the plumbing contractor.
Water conditioners do different things in different geographic areas. Where water contains iron and sulfur, homeowners and property managers install conditioners that remove those elements.
Water softeners work to remove minerals and particles that make water “hard” and leave deposits on clothes, dishes, and hair.
Some water treatment systems deliver conditioned water throughout a house or building. Other systems deliver water to specific fixtures. The latter are called point-of-use systems.
Repiping is the replacing of old pipes with new ones. This process happens most often in older homes and buildings whose pipes have deteriorated extensively due to age and exposure.
Plumbers understand that different materials are used for pipes that perform different functions. For example, copper pipes often deliver water to sinks and toilets. PVC pipes comprise the bulk of a system’s vent and drainpipes. Other materials such as PEX tubing are used in areas subject to freezing temperatures.
Repiping a structure requires professional knowledge of what materials must be used in every location, and what materials can be safe substitutes.
In this guide, we’ve given you the steps to follow to find a good plumbing contractor. We’ve also provided a list of questions to ask yourself to assess your experience with a plumbing company and help determine if you’ll stick with that company or try out another one.
Lastly, we described the services that you should look for in a plumbing contractor. While you may never need all the services, it’s good to have a provider capable of handling any plumbing need that arises.
With the information in this guide, you can confidently search for, evaluate, and employ a great plumber.