Woodrow Aames | Improvement Center Columnist | July 25, 2011
What most people assume about plumbing contractors is that you can't find one on weekends and holidays. That's not true. You just may have to pay a premium rate for a visit. Having a local plumber's number on your phone list can be a genuine blessing when what appear to be simple problems grow beyond your ability to contain them. The best time to evaluate plumbing contractors is before you have an emergency.
Know when you need a local plumber
Many do-it-yourself, weekend warriors can swap out sink fixtures and put in a new showerhead. Some of you may even wrap your own pipes in the winter. But when it comes to jobs that must be done quickly and efficiently to prevent extensive home damage, plumbing contractors have the know-how, certifications and experience to spare you long-term cost and misery.
Plumbers are best qualified to handle:
- Emergency plumbing: flooding, burst pipes, blocked drain systems and sewer backflows
- Water heaters: repair, inspection, replacement, fine-tuning pilots and setting thermostats
- Leak detection: excessive water bills, mildew, sewer backups, wall and ceiling stains
- Basement maintenance: sump pump installation, inspection and repair
- Gas lines: leak detection, line installation and repair
How to find a plumbing contractor
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are more than 358,000 plumbers in the country. Somewhere in your hometown, you'll be able to find just the right one. Ask a local real estate office or chamber of commerce for a list of prospects. Ask about them at the local plumbing or home improvement store. Search for their records at the Better Business Bureau and check for consumer complaints or legal actions.
A local plumber's rates may not always be the best indicator of service level. Ask prospective contractors to show their state and local licenses, a list of local references, proof of insurance and manufacturers' certifications (if applicable).
Doing your homework before you have an emergency repair can pay off when you're under stress.
How much do plumbing contractors charge?
Rates will vary by geographic location, the kind of job you need, and the experience level of your plumbing contractor. Average national rates for journeyman plumbers are between $17.59 and $26.49 an hour, while a master plumber may charge from $19.56 to $30.14 an hour.
It pays to compare bids. To get an estimate from a local plumbing company now, fill out the form on this page.