Educational Consumer Tips

Hiring a plumber

Author: Better Business Bureau

Most consumers give little thought to calling a plumber unless a major problem is involved. Even small plumbing problems can turn into large ones so it is important to do some research in advance on plumbing
contractors. There are two levels of plumbers, journeyman and master. A journeyman must have a high school diploma, 4 years of verifiable plumbing experience, and pass an exam given by the state board of
plumbing. A master plumber must have 2 years experience as a journeyman and also pass a state examination. Plumbers must have a state license if they operate in cities of 5,000 or more. Make sure the plumber is licensed. The service truck should have the name and icense number displayed. Consumers can request the license number of the master plumber and contact the Complaint Department of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (1-800-845-6584) to verify the license and to determine if any complaints have been filed against the
plumber and for what reason. Plumbers should be able to produce their licenses when requested by consumers. Plumbing licenses expire annually, and the expiration date is clearly marked on each license. Each plumbing company must have one master plumber who is responsible for the company's jobs. On each job there must be either a licensed journeyman or master plumber present, although they may be supervising rather than actually doing the work.

If a major plumbing project is involved, solicit two or more bids and get a written contract. The contract should specify the type of work to be performed, total charges, warranty coverage, the completion date, and the condition in which the plumber will leave the house. This last point is especially important since the plumber may have to do some structural or cosmetic damage to do the job. In some cases it is not possible to come up with a
firm price for repairs in advance; in such a case, the consumer should get a written estimate of the extent of the work to be performed, a firm confirmation of the hourly rate to be charged, and the extent of the warranty before repairs begin. Depending on the work required, it may be necessary to obtain a plumbing permit from the city prior to the work being performed. If a permit is required, the work will be reviewed by a plumbing inspector also licensed by the state. You can contact the BBB for a list of plumbing contractors who are members. These
contractors have pledged to uphold our standards, including answering complaints presented by the Bureau.