Don’t let a plumbing emergency wash out your holidays

With family gathering to celebrate the holidays this Christmas, consumers may find their plumbing systems are not up to the task of entertaining.

In addition to clogged toilets and drains, all that rich holiday food sometimes chokes garbage disposals and causes build up in kitchen pipes. Finding a plumber willing to cut his or her own holiday short to assist you might prove difficult, and you can expect to pay a premium for the service.

However, there may also be less than stellar businesses and scammers out there waiting to take advantage of an already stressful situation.

In 2012, Better Business Bureau received more than 4,100 complaints against plumbers. Most complaints alleged that the actual cost greatly exceeded the estimate or work was not done properly. Some consumers alleged that the plumber they hired caused additional damages while performing the work. Many said they had trouble getting someone to repair the work or refund the cost of the work.

To avoid getting cleaned out by a plumber this Christmas, BBB offers the following tips:

  • Do your research. View the company’s BBB Business Review to see its accreditation status, the length of time the plumber has been in business, its complaint resolution efforts and any past advertising concerns BBB may have found. Also check complaints with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiner’s Enforcement Division by calling 800-845-6584, ext. 65249.
  • Check licensing and insurance. Ask for the Responsible Master Plumber’s name and license number. Master Plumber license numbers begin with the letter “M”. License numbers which begin with “A”, “T”, “J” or any other letter are not Master Plumber license numbers. You can verify the license and insurance status at the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiner’s website.
  • Understand the price up-front. Determine whether you will be billed hourly or a flat rate for the job, exactly what work will be performed, how the plumber will contact you if further work is needed and acceptable payment methods.

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About Amy Fowler

As an investigator for BBB, Amy reviews local businesses who have been accused of bad customer service, poor ethics or downright illegal behavior. When she finds examples of bad business practices that harm consumers, she reports them to the public. Sometimes those reports are simply added to a company’s BBB Business Review so consumers can make informed decisions. In more serious cases, she will write a press release for the BBB website, alert the local news media or write a post for, the blog for BBB Serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. She started her career in customer service while earning a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. She moved on to work as a reporter and editor for several local newspapers before coming to BBB. She is passionate both about writing and giving people the information they need to make smart choices for themselves and their families — two passions that blend perfectly in her work at BBB.