Three Good Ways to Evaluate a Plumber

Is your faucet dripping? Your drain not draining? Your toilet not flushing? You’ve got a plumbing problem and it’s time to hire a professional to fix it.

It used to be that you just looked in the Yellow Pages, under plumber, and spotted the biggest, most expensive ad. The logic here was: if this plumber can afford this large of an ad, he’s probably doing pretty well. Which means he’s probably a good, reliable, non-leaky plumber. Nowadays, most people start at Google with a search, Local plumbers near me”.

Well, the Yellow Pages have gone the way of the Polaroid camera. We now have the Internet and Google to list every plumber within a 100-mile radius of your leaking pipes. You’ll not just know which plumbers are available in your area, but if they have websites, you’ll be able to learn about their special abilities and probably even a short biography about how they ended up in the plumbing field.

But it’s still up to you to figure out which one of these plumbers is the right one for your job. Based upon all the information you can glean from Internet sources, it will be up to you to determine who will do the best job for the least amount of money.

1. Make Sure the Plumber is Licensed

Make Sure the Plumber is Licensed

Most states require that plumbing subcontractors must be licensed by the state. Criteria for maintaining that license always includes an insurance certificate that is paid up and current and that has sufficient underwriting liability to cover any sort of emergency that may occur during, or after, that plumber’s session working on your pipes.

State licensing boards usually have a searchable website where you can enter the plumber’s name and check that he is licensed and, thus, bonded. Searching that database should be the first thing you do when considering any plumber, because accidents do happen, no matter how experienced and careful any contractor may be.

Also, if a part that your plumber installs, such as an angle stop, fails six months after he installs it, his insurance bond will cover what could be catastrophic flooding – not only of your apartment, but of the apartment(s) below you, as well. Pumbers don’t just deal with taps and pipes, they also have an interest in the heating of your home, may have a solution for you, let’s hope you’re within there operational area.

2. Do the Research and Read the Reviews

Research and Read the Reviews
Most plumbing contractors these days have formidable websites that cover all aspects of their work and experience, such as – a typical example. These sites usually have multiple testimonials from several satisfied customers, often with email addresses where you can write to customers and question them on a particular aspect of their hiring experience.

It’s also a good idea to investigate the review-oriented, third party sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, or even the Better Business Bureau.

Watch out for reviews that are overwhelmingly negative. Internet ‘trolls’, people who like starting quarrels online, often post these scathing critiques, just to cause trouble. Also, the plumber’s wife might be the anonymous reviewer writing the gushing praise of a job well done by the particular plumber, who happens to be the person paying her mortgage.

It’s a good idea when reading and evaluating online reviews to take a quick scan of some of the other reviews this particular person has written on the particular site that you’re using. If there’s a fairly long history of even handed reviews; then this person’s opinion should be considered trustworthy. And if s/he says that the plumber did a particularly bad, or good, job – then you should act accordingly.

3. Get at Least Three Bids

It’s a good practice to go into your search for the right plumber with the mindset that you are not looking for the single best plumber. No. You are looking for at least three of the best plumbers in your entire area. You want to find three plumbers because you will want to get at least three, different, competitive bids on your particular plumbing job. For example: if you find a local independent plumber, or a friend that has offered to do the job, you want to ensure you are getting the best price, and the best quality job as you can.

Don’t be embarrassed into thinking that you are taking up the plumber’s time unnecessarily, making him bid against other plumbers. If he’s really professional, and been in the business for a while, he will actually expect you to do this bidding process – and respect you for it.

But it is good manners to call all three plumbers after you have decided who will get the job – the winner as well as the losers – and inform each one of them of your decision. If, at this point, one of the bidders changes his bid? Be careful. This is bad business practice and could be an indication of a fault in this particular plumber’s methods that you, somehow, did not discover during your initial investigations.

You don’t change the rules after the fact – in plumbing, or anything else.

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