A Simple Homeowner Checklist for Hiring a Qualified, Professional Plumber!

When you have a plumbing emergency at your home, you need to quickly find a qualified, professional plumber to fix the problem. Here are several ways to find a plumber:

Check with your family or friends for a referral.
Ask a local real estate agent for a good plumber she has used.
If you have used another contractor in your home, ask the contractor for a referral.
Check with the local plumbing supply store for a recommendation for a reputable plumbing company.
Go online and check the reviews of plumbers in your area. If you search for a plumber in your city on one of the popular search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, you will find the search engines "Local Listing" of plumbers geographically near you, links to their website, and customer reviews of their work.
After you find a plumber in your area, what do you look for before you hire them? Here is a checklist of items you need to ask a plumber ... BEFORE you hire them.

Are you licensed by the state to do plumbing?

Always check that you are working with a licensed plumber, ask to see his state license! Licensed plumbers have the work experience, training, and are familiar with current state and local plumbing codes. In addition to passing an exam to receive their license, they must take annual continuing education to keep abreast of changes to the codes, new products, and innovations in plumbing.

In Georgia, there are a lot of skills you need to succeed as a plumber. As a result, there are many steps an apprentice plumber needs to take to become a Journeyman or Master Plumber. These steps and the rules for obtaining the designation of master plumber are set by the state.

How many years have you been in business?

A good rule of thumb is look for plumber's that have been in business for 8-10 years. This gives you a gauge as to how viable and stable the business is and if they will be around to warrant the work they do on your home.

Are Service Technicians background checked?

Would you be comfortable having their Service Technicians working in your home? A plumber should conduct a complete background check and random drug testing on all employees. Further, professional Service Technicians working in your home should be uniformed and have name tags. These Service Technicians should be company employees and not sub-contractors.

What are your skills and experience in plumbing?

Plumbing demands specific technical skills and knowledge. Plumbing companies use specific tools not available to a homeowner or a local plumbing handyman. The benefit of dealing with an experienced, qualified plumbing company is ... they are equipped with all the necessary training, skills, plumbing tools, and experience to handle all sorts of plumbing emergencies in your home.

Does your plumbing company have insurance?

A plumbing company performing service in your home should have General Liability Insurance and a current Workman's Compensation insurance certificate. Upon request, the plumber should be able to provide you with a copy of his insurance.

General liability insurance covers damage that might occur to your home directly caused by the plumber. Any damages would be covered by your homeowners insurance if the plumber does not have his own general liability policy. Typically the plumber should carry a minimum of $500,000.00 in general liability insurance, but it is not uncommon for plumbers who do commercial plumbing to carry $3,000,000.00 in coverage.

Workman's compensation insurance covers an injury to the plumber while he is working in your home. So as a customer you do not need to worry about being responsible for a plumber having an accident while working in your home.

Do you offer Emergency Service after hours?

A plumbing company that advertises that they have "24/7" plumbing service should have a customer service person ready to take your call after hours. Further, the plumber should have on-call or after hours plumbers available to repair your plumbing emergency.

Does the plumber use Quality Materials?

Does the plumber install quality, recognizable, brand name fixtures and materials that offer manufacturer' warranties to the consumer? What brands does he stock and carry on their service trucks?The manufacturers of plumbing appliances, fixtures, and parts typically offer a limited replacement warranty on their products.

Will my work require a permit from the city or county where I live?

Typically, you must be a licensed Master Plumber to secure a plumbing permit. The city or county will inspect the plumbing at various times during the installation to insure that the project is done to the local and state plumbing codes. An unlicensed plumber is unable to pull the necessary permits when work is being done, and they probably are not adequately trained in current plumbing code requirements.

What are your plumbing rates?

Service Plumbers charge for their work one of two ways, Time & Materials Pricing or Flat Rate Pricing. Let me explain the difference, this is very important.

With the Time & Materials method; the plumber charges a small "Service Fee" to mobilize to the job, an hourly rate while he is on the job, and whatever materials were used to repair the plumbing. Usually there is a one hour minimum labor charge and then you are charged by the quarter hour. With this method you only pay for the actual time it takes and materials used on the job ... no more, no less.

A plumber using Flat Rate Pricing will charge a "Diagnostic Fee" to determine your plumbing problem and then will give you a flat rate quote to fix the problem. You know up front what it will cost for your repair. You are only obligated for the Diagnostic Fee if you do not want to proceed with the repair.

With Flat Rate pricing it is difficult to know how much the plumber is charging you per hour. I can tell you that the flat rate price you are given is based upon the worst case scenario for the plumbing company ... what is the most time it would take for a slow plumber to fix the problem. After the customer has taken off work, waits for the plumber to show up, and is already committed to the diagnostic fee, he is hit with a whopper cost to repair a small plumbing problem.

While the Flat Rate pricing method looks attractive, in most cases an experienced licensed plumber can fix your plumbing emergency on a Time & Material basis for less money. In addition, with Flat Rate pricing most Service Technicians are paid commission on the price of the ticket. Typically, the technicians have been trained by professionals to sell and close an expensive sale. This can lead to abuse as the technician in your home becomes more of a salesman instead of a plumber.

Do you guarantee or warrant your work?

A professional plumbing company is concerned with the safety and quality of their work. They should offer the homeowner a workmanship warranty and safety guarantee on their work.

Can you provide me with referrals from customers you have done work for?

A reputable plumbing company will have no problem giving references from their customers, business banker, or plumbing supply house. Also, ask them if they are a member of any state or national plumbing associations, local chamber of commerce, or have received any awards or recognitions in the community.


Licensed plumbers have the work experience, training, and are familiar with current state and local plumbing codes. As a result, there are many steps an apprentice plumber needs to take to become a Journeyman or Master Plumber. Typically the plumber should carry a minimum of $500,000.00 in general liability insurance, but it is not uncommon for plumbers who do commercial plumbing to carry $3,000,000.00 in coverage.

An unlicensed plumber is unable to pull the necessary permits when work is being done, and they probably are not adequately trained in current plumbing code requirements.

After the customer has taken off Pambula Plumber work, waits for the plumber to show up, and is already committed to the diagnostic fee, he is hit with a whopper cost to repair a small plumbing problem.

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