This is a tough question. You hear so many horror stories about people’s experiences hiring “skilled experts”. (I’m using quotes here because sometimes we mistakenly hire someone who is “skilled” or “expert” only in his or her own mind – it’s easy to do) Often homeowners choose not to think about the “how” until faced with an emergency and then its an emergency and the “how” gets pushed aside and you just search for a “who” that is available immediately!
This has happened to me…
We bought our home five years ago. Plumbing was the furthest thing from our minds until one afternoon three years ago when my 5 year old announced that there was water in the hallway! What??? Turns out our hot water heater had sprung a leak. Yay! After shutting it off in a panic I called the only plumber I knew, in another town, an hour away to ask for advice. Luckily, he knew someone, local, and would get me in touch with him.
The problem was resolved relatively painlessly, the plumber arrived and resolved the problem quickly, knowledgeably and without totally draining my bank account! After the repairs were complete, I made sure to get his contact information. Having a local plumber was, obviously, important (thanks water heater for the reminder!) I refused to be stuck in panic mode when another emergency struck. Nope, not me. Next time I would know exactly who to call.
Of course an emergency did strike again.
And again, it was our water heater. Not to panic, I was prepared, or so I thought. I contacted the plumber who had come to the rescue before, but to my dismay he was not available – but he knew someone and would call for me and send him over right away. Phew! Again, the problem was resolved and the water heater was repaired and my bank account was spared!
Unfortunately, emergency struck a third time, and you guess it, it was the water heater. Yikes, a pin-sized hole was spraying water all over the closet. The only positive this third time was that I was now an expert at shutting off the water into the water heater as well as draining the water heater. (Oh, the joys of homeownership!)
As I was running through the steps of stopping the spread of water I started thinking….not only was this the third leak in the water heater but all the leaks had been in the same section of pipes. What I really wanted to do was call and give someone a hard time and say “Why, why does this keep happening?” but the problem was the previous repairs hadn’t been made by the same person, and while I knew that the new leak was in the same general area, I couldn’t be certain that it was in either of the two previous spots. And I had no documentation other than a hand written receipt as to what had been done and the receipts weren’t very specific.
I decided I needed a different approach this time.
I called an established plumbing company in town. I was hesitant to do so; I worried that I would be paying more for their name and not necessarily for better service. But I also knew I couldn’t continue this cycle of endless water heater repairs.
While speaking with them , I learned that they had worked previously at our home for the previous owners. The representative was able to give me a starting point for what fees would be charged. Right off the bat I knew this repair would be documented so if anything happened again all parties would have information as to what exactly was done. I knew this repair would be documented so if anything happened again all parties would have information as to what exactly was done. I knew the base where the fees for the repair would build. I felt informed and prepared!
If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t wait for an emergency to familiarize myself with my plumbing options. Take my advice plan ahead. On that note, here are a few pointers for finding a good plumber/ plumbing company you can trust:
- Ask for References: A reputable and experienced plumbing company should be able to give you the names of recent customers in your part of town.
- Get Estimates: Get a couple written estimates from different plumbers. Documentation is important to have if something goes wrong. (Obviously, this isn’t applicable in emergency scenarios).
- Are they licensed, bonded and insured: While licensing and bonding requirements vary state to state, all plumbers should have insurance to cover accidents that may happen while on your property.
- Where the company is located: Does the company you’re hiring have a physical address? Helpful should something go wrong and you are trying to contact the company.
- Look at their history: How long have they been in business? Are they well established in your community? Is it a name you recognize and have heard of? Perhaps you have seen them working in your community. This means they have a reputation and will work to provide you with great service and keep their customers happy! It also means that you will be able to contact them later. You won’t be passed from one business to another like I was.
- Document the work: Whenever possible make sure that you have an itemized receipt and description of the work that’s been done.
- Do they offer a warranty: This might not apply to all jobs or vary depending on the work performed but it is important. It proves that they will stand behind their work!