No matter how faithful you are to your yearly home maintenance routines, sometimes accidents that require immediate attention are still bound to happen. Oftentimes, homeowners are tempted to go the DIY route in the hopes of saving money.
However, depending on the problem, a DIY job may end up costing more than simply hiring a professional from the start. This is especially true for plumbing issues.
Shopping for Plumbing Services: What Do You Need to Ask?
Although it’s practical for homeowners to know a few DIY plumbing tricks, most issues are best left to the hands of experts. But, not all plumbing professionals stand on equal footing; some are a lot more skilled compared to others.
Of course, you want to hire someone who fully deserves the price that you can pay for the job. Listed below are the questions you should ask to determine whether a particular plumber’s services are worth getting or not:
- What’s Your Plumber Training Level?
The 3 training levels are:
- Apprentice Plumber: This plumber is usually an on-the-job trainee who’s apprenticing for a licensed plumber. Through apprenticeship, they’re learning the plumbing industry’s best practices.
- Journeyman Plumber: This plumber has spent the last 4 to 5 years working as an apprentice plumber. To achieve the journeyman plumber status, plumbers must pass an exam and sometimes enroll in further education to be eligible for license renewal.
- Master Plumber: This is the highest level for plumbers. Depending on the state, a plumber must work for a set number of years as a journeyman plumber to finally become a master plumber.
Once they complete this requirement, they become eligible for master plumber application, which they have to take a written and a practical knowledge exam.
The training level may not be so important for minor repairs since all trained plumbers will know the basics. However, the more complex the task becomes, the more competent your plumber should be.
- What are Your Credentials?
“Registered” and “licensed” plumbers may sound like they’re the same thing, but there’s actually a huge difference between them. A registered plumber is simply a plumber who has informed the state that he wishes to work in the plumbing industry. However, he hasn’t taken any exams that would confirm his competency.
Aside from validating a plumber’s skills, a license also indicates that the plumber and the company he works for are legitimate.
- Are You Insured and Bonded?
Insurance and bonds cover costs related to property damage, accidents, and even poor workmanship. It also covers damages related to illegal practices and stolen items.
A reputable plumbing company has both to protect the company and its customers.
- Can You Give Me a Cost Estimate?
The general rule when it comes to repairing and installation services is to collect at least 3 quotes before settling with one that seems like the best deal. Some plumbing contractors, like DM Select Services – NOVA Plumbers, provide free quotes via their website, though a more accurate assessment is usually given upon site visit.
- Will I Be Paying a Flat Rate or an Hourly Rate?
Basic plumbing tasks, like installations, usually charge a flat rate, while more complex jobs require an hourly rate because they’re not as straightforward.
Before you proceed, make sure that you know what your payment arrangements will be.
- When Should I Pay You?
Depending on the task, a plumber may require 10 to 15% of the payment upfront, or perhaps 50% once the task has begun. It’s a good idea to know your plumber’s payment expectations right from the start to avoid any money-related issues later on.
However, when someone asks for 100% payment upfront, that’s a red flag and you should eliminate them immediately from your shortlist.
- Who Will Be Performing the Task?
Sometimes, the person who’s assessing the cost estimates isn’t the same person who’ll actually perform the job. In any case, make sure that you ask about their training levels and certifications. This can give you a clear idea if they actually have what it takes to properly perform the job.
- How Long Have You Been in the Business?
Being experienced is especially essential if the task is more complicated than usual. Although someone who’s new should be given a chance to prove their skills. A company that has been in the business for a long time has definitely encountered various issues that a newcomer would take longer to solve.
- Do You Have Any References?
Established plumbing companies will always have a list of loyal customers who are satisfied with their services. Although it can be a bit awkward to ask about references, you should definitely ask your plumber for it. If they’ve been doing their jobs well, they’d have no problems showing you their references.
Besides, confirming those references is a lot easier these days because of the internet. Since testimonials on company pages may be biased, you can search for feedback on third-party review websites.
Researching on different kinds of customer reviews will definitely help you arrive at a more informed decision regarding your plumber.
- How Soon Can You Work on the Issue?
Some plumbers may be able to work on their jobs on the spot, while tasks that require more parts and equipment may have to be scheduled for another day. The urgency of your case will dictate how soon you should have things done or if you can actually afford to wait.
This is worth noting since your chosen plumber may not be available when you need them, while your second choice may be able to do it sooner.
Conclusion: Ask the Necessary Questions Before Hiring a Plumber
A professional plumber knows a lot more about plumbing systems than the average DIY enthusiast. However, it doesn’t mean that you should just hire anyone who presents themselves to be plumbing experts.
To ensure that you’ll be hiring someone who’s trained, skilled, and licensed, you must perform the necessary research to determine whether a particular plumber is qualified for the task.