It’s inevitable. At some point in time, you, as a homeowner and do-it-yourselfer, will have to call a plumber. While the going hourly rate for plumbers can be a bit pricey, remember they earn their fee because they are the professionals, especially in really icky situations. However, that doesn’t mean you have to throw your money away either. There are several helpful hints to follow to ensure you find a reputable plumber and get the most bang for your buck.
1. Do not focus on the hourly rate alone when calling around for a plumber. Talk to several plumbing companies and narrow down your choices to those with comparable rates. Then, you need to determine whether they have an upstanding reputation or a bad track record. The plumbing company with the largest yellow page ad, the biggest website or the most commercials on the radio or television is not necessarily the best choice just because they are visible.
Get references from neighbors who were pleased with their plumbers. Consider using a service that prescreens contractors in advance so you know your choices are reputable. Look to the Better Business Bureau for plumbers who are members and in good standing with no unresolved complaints or issues.
2. Ask about travel time expenses, cost of supplies and any other “extras” you might find on your final bill. Often times, there are ways to reduce the price you pay. For instance, you can purchase the plumbing pipes, fixtures and supplies in advance at a cheaper rate than what a plumber would charge you. This is particularly helpful when you know what the problem is but cannot fix it yourself.
To save on the hourly rate, have a list of items to be worked on in advance and relay it to the plumber. That way, they will pack the correct tools and parts so they do not have to return to their workshop for them, thus accumulating extra travel and time charges. Consider clearing or prepping the plumbing work area to save time for the plumber and expense for you. Offer to do the clean-up yourself to save a little more.
3. Preventative maintenance is important as it can reduce your dependency on a plumber thereby keeping money in your pocket. Clear the drains of hair and other debris. Clean grease buildup with a solution of boiling water and soap and pour it down sluggish drains on occasion. Invest in a plunger or “snake” tool to remove clogs on your own.
Word of mouth and referrals are the best ways to hire a plumber that is both reputable and affordable. If you trust in your neighbor’s opinions and the price is comparable to other quotes you received, go with that recommendation. You are likely going to get better service and better pricing when you mention a referral more often than not. Repeat business is what keeps them in business.