Are you facing a stopped-up toilet, clogged kitchen sink, or drain that is frustratingly slow? If so, you have considered taking the DIY approach by heading to the hardware store and stocking up on chemical products that promise to undo all sorts of plumbing ailments. In fact, that method can sometimes yield good results.
But, what if it does not? What if you try everything you know, and the problem remains? Then, it is time to get serious and hire a professional plumber. Where do you begin if you have never had to bring in expert help before? Many of today’s homeowners are happy to do things like painting and minor remodeling but call pros for plumbing challenges.
If this is the first time you have needed to look for a plumber Chantilly residents trust and rely upon, it is essential to follow a seven-step approach for locating a qualified pro.
How to Hire a Plumber When You Really Need One
Just as you would do when choosing a new doctor, dentist, or real estate agent, it is important to use a comprehensive process for locating a reliable plumber for your home.
For starters, you will need to consider the following seven items to make sure you find a professional who offers competitive prices, does excellent work, and has the right kind of experience for the job at hand.
1. Ask about Experience: Be frank when asking about experience when you speak with prospective plumbers over the phone. Honest ones will be happy to tell you all the details about what they have done, how many years they have been in business, and what kind of jobs they specialize in.
2. Ask for a List of References: Before hiring anyone, an independent contractor, or a large contracting company, ask for at least three recent references for residential jobs. If they cannot or will not provide the information, move on to the next name on your list.
The fact is every reputable plumber in the business will have at least three references and will encourage you to contact those former clients.
3. Read Online Reviews: In the digital age, every plumbing professional has their own website. The internet is a great way to check out what other customers think about the pros you are doing research on.
But, beware fake review sites that include hundreds of five-star reviews and that are not known for posting honest information. Stick with the well-known review websites that post honest, unpaid reviews about local contractors. Do not expect anyone to have 100 percent positive reviews across the board.
Any service provider will have a mix of excellent and so-so reviews, especially if they have been in business a long time and dealt with hundreds of customers. Keep in mind that people who have complaints are more apt to post reviews than those who are happy with a plumber’s work.
However, too many one-star or two-star reviews can signal trouble. Aim to hire a plumber that has mostly fours and fives, on a five-star scale.
4. Discuss Charges and Fees: Here’s where a few extra minutes of phone time can save you a bundle. Some contractors are reluctant to discuss specific pricing policies over the phone. That is usually a bad omen, because reputable service providers will typically tell you exactly what they charge per hour, for special jobs, and for a visit. Check average rates in your area and read up on typical fees.
Remember to write down what they tell you unless you can gather detailed pricing data from their websites. Then, when they arrive at your home, verify that the price information you have is correct and make sure it is written into any contract you sign.
5. Use Your Personal Network: Ask friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, and neighbors who they use for plumbing work. Do not jump at the first recommendation because you are likely to get several. Instead, try to collect about three or four personal recommendations. Then, add those names to your master list for later vetting.
6. Ask about Equipment: One way to save a significant amount of money on a typical plumbing job is to buy your own supplies, like toilets, pipes, faucets, and related items. However, some plumbers will balk at using supplies you have purchased yourself and might say that they cannot guarantee the work unless they use their own supplies.
It is up to you to decide in this case, but most professionals will have no problem if you hire them to install items you have already bought.
7. Research “BRIL”: BRIL is shorthand for “bonding, registration, insurance, and license.” Whoever comes into your home to do plumbing work should have all four. You can usually check with a state agency’s online site to find out about all these details.
If you are unable to get all the data from a state site, ask the plumber to provide it for you.
Get Help Before the Problem Gets Worse
There is nothing worse than finding out that you could have saved hundreds of dollars, or more, just by calling a professional contractor sooner, rather than later. Sometimes drips and clogs are nothing more than minor matters, and you can take care of them yourself.
But in far too many cases, they can quickly turn into much larger, pricier problems. That is why it is wise to call a plumber at the first sign of real trouble. Most of today’s professionals charge a modest house-call fee in addition to a per-hour cost based on the complexity of the work, parts needed, and other factors.
The lesson for homeowners is to take no chances. If you have any plumbing-related difficulties, contact a respected local pro, and tell them what is going on. Chances are, you will be able to find out whether it is a DIY job or one that calls for expert assistance.