Take a look online and you’re bound to see a horror story (or two or three) about an inexperienced plumber who either didn’t fix a plumbing problem right the first time, or actually made the problem even worse.
Or – maybe the plumber did fix the problem, but then presented the unlucky person that hired them with an enormous bill that they weren’t expecting.
When this happens, it is usually because the person who hired the plumber didn’t really do their due diligence before they brought them in to work on their plumbing problem.
In other words, they didn’t ask the right questions before they hired the plumber, so it wasn’t someone they could really trust.
Below are 10 questions to ask BEFORE hiring a plumber. These can help to ensure that you’re hiring the right person for your plumbing job.
#1 Is the Plumbing Company Licensed?
The first question to ask before hiring a plumber – Are you licensed?!
Plumbing companies need to be licensed in two different ways, so this is a two-part question for you to research. First, you want to make sure that they have a business license with the county they reside in and that they are registered with the state. In Georgia, you can find this out if they are licensed by doing a simple search on the official Georgia Secretary of State website.
Second, the plumbing company should have at least one licensed master plumber (this can be checked for validity on the Secretary of State’s website as well). If there is a problem with either license, this is a red flag that something may be off with the company and you should investigate further.
#2 Is the Plumbing Company Adequately Insured?
This one is huge. A plumbing company should have liability insurance with coverage that is adequate enough to cover any potential loss for the property they are working in.
For example: A high rise office space may only be 1000 square feet, but it’s on the 15th floor. A water loss on this type of space could easily cost $1,000,000 once it’s flooded the floors below it. If the company isn’t adequately insured for general liability, you could find yourself left with paying for the water damage and subsequent repairs.
The second insurance a company needs is Workman’s Compensation (often called Worker’s Comp). This insurance covers an employee if they are injured while they are on the job. If a company has an improperly categorized employee (meaning they are paid under the table) they may not be covered in the event of injury. So, if the worker were to fall off a ladder in your kitchen and becomes injured, they may pursue compensation from you, the property owner.
Note: You can ask for a certificate of insurance to have proof that the company has the correct insurance coverage and it is valid. This should come from their insurance provider. This is very common and can be asked for without any trouble.
#3 Does the Company Do a Background Check and/or Screening of its Employees?
The people you hire are the people you will be letting into your house with your family and your possessions.
Sadly, these days you never know what someone may be up to, especially if they have access to your home unsupervised. Make sure the people you hire have been drug screened and had a background check before you allow them into your home.
#4 Do the Plumbing Company’s Employees Actually Have the Right Experience?
Everyone has to start somewhere, but when you have a plumbing issue that is rare or extra tricky, you want a company that employs highly experienced plumbers that have dealt with a similar issue, not the guy who just installed his first faucet this week.
#5 How Does the Plumbing Company Protect Your Assets?
Will they use drop cloths and shoe covers to protect your floors? What steps will they take to prevent unnecessary damage to your property during a repair? Will they clean up after they are finished or will you have greasy handprints all over your toilet or bathroom sink?
While this is one of several questions to ask before hiring a plumber, know that it’s ok to ask the plumber standing in your doorway to put on shoe covers before entering your home.
#6 Can the Plumbing Company Provide You with Local References?
It may feel a little uncomfortable asking for some references, but do it anyway. This is an important question to ask before hiring a plumber.
Once you have the contact information, don’t hesitate to call the references and ask them any questions that you may have about the company. Most people are happy to tell you whether they had a great experience or if there was a problem — how it was handled.
#7 Does the Plumbing Company Have the Right Equipment for the Job?
There is nothing worse than having to hire a second plumber to finish a job because the first one didn’t have the proper equipment.
For instance – do they have camera equipment to find the clogs in a drain line or are they still relying on just snaking a drain and hoping for the best? If there is a problem with the sewer line running across your yard, can they make the repairs with minimum damage to your landscape or are they saying they will have to dig up your entire yard?
“What kind of equipment do you have for this type of plumbing issue?”, is an important question to ask before hiring a plumber.
#8 Does the Plumbing Company Offer a Warranty And a Guarantee to Stand Behind Their Work?
If a company is new, they may not have a track record yet. What happens if you have an issue in six months, but they are no longer even in business? This is why you want an established plumbing company that will answer the phone and stand behind what they do.
So one of the questions to ask before hiring a plumber is “Do you offer a written Warranty or Guarantee?”
#9 How are the Plumbing Company’s Customer Reviews?
Nowadays, it’s to find reviews about a company’s performance, but what if you look and there aren’t any anywhere? What if they don’t even have a website?
While there are still a few older established plumbing companies that may not have a website, it is rare. If they don’t have a website and you can’t find any reviews at all, this could mean they either aren’t very reputable or could even be someone trying to scam you out of your money. Being able to see what other customer’s experiences have been with the plumber is a great way to gain trust and confidence before you hire.
#10 Do They Offer Upfront Pricing?
Many plumbing companies and other service companies charge a service or trip charge. This charge can range from $50 to $150 and its purpose is to cover the cost of having a technician come to your property and properly assess the issue. When this is the case, they not only should tell you that there is a charge for someone to come out, they should also completely explain what you will be charged for before any repairs are made.
So the last, but certainly not least, question to ask before hiring a plumber – “Do you offer upfront pricing?”
Many times, there will be several different options for you to consider about how something can be repaired. It is important that you understand these options because they can all help you to decide what will work best for your budget and your future needs.
As an added note to this – never pay up front. If a company needs money up front (with some exceptions for larger projects and then you should only be providing ¼ to ½ the amount up front as a gesture of goodwill for both sides), they are not a good choice. You should never pay ahead for work that has not been completed. We have heard of way too many stories where people lost their hard-earned money as a result of a contractor taking money and then not finishing the work.
We hope this list of “10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber” helps you hire the right person for your plumbing needs. (If you are in need of a commercial plumbing, we have a list of 3 questions to ask before hiring commercial plumber.)
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Our goal is to be Your Plumber for Life. When you have a plumbing problem, we want to be the one you think of calling first every time.
Robert, owner & Master Plumber, guarantees your full satisfaction with the highest degree of customer service. We fix your plumbing woes without draining your wallet.