Hiring a Plumber

Let’s face it, when things go south with your plumbing, you’re in for a heck of a quandary, not to mention an unholy mess. Plumbing disasters are a subject few of us would broach at the dinner table or in polite conversation. Consequently, when accidents do happen, they tend to find most of us completely unprepared for them. We don’t spend our time conversing over the best plumbing techniques or inquiring even of a plumber friend about the precise details of what he does for a living, so most of us don’t even know how to react to a plumbing disaster when it occurs.

Granted that plumbing is the last thing we tend to concern ourselves with (at least when everything is flowing smoothly), there are a few do’s and don’ts which it is wise to bear in mind well before a possible breakdown (or backup) occurs. For one, when your toilet overflows and leaves unspeakable substances all over the floor, don’t just call the first person in the phone book or the first name that pops up after a fifteen second internet search.

Remember, plumbers are licensed, fully trained, professionals that don’t just get hired and go to work, learning as they go. The average American plumber serves an apprenticeship of anywhere from six months to a year. Some inherit the job, training with their fathers. Others go to specialized industrial schools to learn their trade. Regardless, make sure the person you hire is fully qualified for the job. Ask a friend or a relative for the name of an excellent plumber who they have dealt with in the past. This is one trade in which a man’s reputation counts for everything. Bad reputation? Bad service. It’s as simple as that.

Search the internet to see if your local plumber or plumbing service has any customer service reviews on the internet or, better yet, is listed with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau. Again, reputation counts for everything in the plumbing business. Don’t get stuck with a crooked, incompetent, dunce, who will overcharge you and leave the job botched or half finished!

When you make that phone call to the plumber you’ve chosen for the job, make sure to give him as accurate a picture of your problem as you possibly can. Don’t leave out even the tiniest little detail. Make sure before you pay for him to come out to your home that he knows more than he could possibly ever forget about every last little feature of your current emergency. The more details you give him, the better informed he’ll be about the precise nature of your problem. And, furthermore, the more knowledge he has in advance of the issue, the less he’ll have to “guesstimate” concerning that problem when he gets to your home. The better prepared he is to put out the fire, the more efficiently he’ll labor – and the sooner he’ll be through.

Which brings us to the next issue: make sure to inquire of your potential plumber well in advance whether there is a minimum charge for the time he spends at your house. After all, you certainly don’t want to pay for an hour’s worth of work if he only spends five minutes fixing your problem. Make sure you know in advance whether there is such a minimum charge, as well as what his precise charges for his time are. For example, if he spends two or three hours fixing your problem, you ought to be informed by him well in advance of just exactly how much money you are going to owe him for his services once he has completed the job. Don’t fall victim to “special fix” fees and “overtime” charges! Work all of the details ought before he lifts his wrench to start the job!

Speaking of wrenches, does he have on hand all the tools of the trade that he’ll need for the job? It’s one thing to make a few trips out to the truck to get a tool that he didn’t think he’d need when he first got started. However, it’s a whole other thing to suddenly announce that he’ll have to make a special trip to a parts store to buy a specific tool that the job requires. How bad does he really need this tool, and will he charge you to buy it? And will he add the gas he used to go to the store to your bill as well? These are all questions you should have worked out between you well in advance of him starting any work in your house.

Suppose he injures himself on the job? Has he got insurance which covers him in such events? If the answer is no, it’s a bad sign. For all you know, he could be a crook who merely masquerades as a plumber, then “injures” himself on the job in order to sue you for every penny you’ve got. Make sure he’s covered by his employer’s or his own personal insurance plan before you trust him to labor on your behalf. The last thing you need is to be held liable for a fat five figure fee that this charlatan has racked up in hospital time!

Maybe the real issue here is not so much your potential, but you. Perhaps you’re…a cheapskate, pure and simple, and don’t care to pay big bills to get your problem fixed. Maybe you’ve got a friend or a friend of a friend who’s a plumber, and wouldn’t mind earning a few extra bucks under the counter, off the clock, and off the company radar? Why not make that call, get connected, and let a few bucks change hands outside the IRS’s jurisdiction? He makes a few extra bucks, and you save a few!

Regardless of how you do it, be careful when you bring an unknown individual into your home. Make sure he’s fully vetted, and understands exactly what he needs to do. Make doubly sure that you understand how much the job will cost you! Good luck, and happy plumbing!

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