Educational Consumer Tips

Plumbing - How to Choose a Company

Author: Better Business Bureau
Published:

Selecting the right plumbing company can take the stress and worry out of your repair needs, whether they are large or small. Proper plumbing design is a science. Providing adequate water pressure and keeping various toxins out of your water lines are only two of many concerns a plumber must address when designing a system.
What To Look For:
*Ask to see the state license- all plumbers, including sub-contractors and journeymen, are required to be licensed by the state.
*Check proof of insurance- for your own protection; check proof of both workman's compensation and general liability.
*Business stability- Find out how long the company has been in business and how long it has been at its present location.
*Building codes- in certain municipalities you'll need to see that all building codes are met.
When looking for a reliable plumbing company, you cannot simply rely on hourly rates. Plumbing companies' billing systems vary. While some will charge according to "time and material", other companies will charge a "flat rate". When you get an estimate from a company, be sure to ask what will be provided for the price quoted.
Recognize that there are several variables in developing the price. These include:
*Time that it takes to complete the installation or perform the repair.
*Quality of the fixtures.
*Number of fixtures.
Remember, the company quoting a low rate may not necessarily be the right company for you. Some plumbing companies may offer low hourly rates, but then charge additional "equipment fees" for certain tools needed on the job. Ask if there are any additional charges for equipment, truck or trip costs. Basically, when evaluating quotes, be sure you are comparing apples to apples.
You may also need to consider that most companies charge a higher rate for overtime, weekends, holidays and emergency calls. These charges vary from company to company.
Also ask about the types of fixtures and pipes that are to be installed. Make sure you are comparing similar quality products when seeking estimates. It is not uncommon for companies to require a deposit for special orders on fixtures.
If you are purchasing products yourself to be installed by a plumber, check with your plumber first. Many will not install customer-purchased products. If the plumber will install customer-purchased products, check the quality of the product. Look for an approval stamp, such as the Uniform Plumbing Code stamp (UPC). The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) also places stamps on products. These stamps are similar to the familiar UL approval on electronic products. You should also make sure the product is right for your building and meets all codes. Remember, if the product fails and the problem is not with the installation, then you may have to pay for the removal of the item.
It is common to receive a warranty on the services provided. This may include 30 days on stoppage and as many as 90 days on installation. Be aware that material may have a longer warranty than labor. For example, a part may be under a warranty for five years and the labor for only one.
Check for membership in trade organizations, such as the local chapter of The National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors and the Association of Master Plumbers. Companies who participate in these organizations are more likely to keep up-to-date on new regulations and codes.

Your home's plumbing system is important to your family's health, safety, and comfort. Don't gamble with them by selecting a contractor by chance. Remember, your plumber should always:

Listen to you attentively when you explain your problem.
Diagnose the problem and explain what needs to be done in terms you understand.
Use drop sheets or service mats to protect the floor in the area where they are working.
Comply with manufacturers' specifications so warranties remain valid.
Show you the work they have done, explain it in detail, and ask if you have any questions.
Explain their written guarantee.
Re-check their work.
This information is general in nature and is not a reliability report on any particular company.