How do I hire a local plumber?

Nowadays it feels like most companies are big companies. From restaurant chains to grocery stores to hardware stores – the idea of a local company is becoming less and less common. The reason is obvious – big companies have economies of scale on their side and can deliver a cheaper product.

However, when it comes to plumbing – cheaper isn’t the same thing as better. Not only that, a lot of time these national plumbing companies aren’t even cheaper – after all, they have to recoup their huge marketing budgets somehow!

Today we’re going to explore why hiring a reputable, local plumber matters, and offer some tips for finding a good plumber near you.

Collage of different drain clogs

Why Choosing the Right Plumber Matters

When you need a plumber, whether it be for emergency services, renovations, or just to unclog a garbage disposal, it matters who you call. Not only are you trusting that the plumbing work they perform is done right, but you are trusting them to be honest and upfront with you about the problem and the cost for fixing it.

Instead of being sold unnecessary services or having work done that causes future plumbing problems, a reliable plumber will identify and fix your plumbing issues for a fair price.

National companies aren’t necessarily better or worse than local companies – but in our experience they often have inconsistent service and have a reputation for selling unnecessary services. Local plumbers aren’t immune to this – but as small businesses they are more reliant on word of mouth and work hard to maintain their reputation.

Additionally, franchises generally must pay a steep franchise fee, and this cost is passed onto the customer. By working with local businesses you will generally get a better rate and the knowledge that the money you spend will be reinvested into the local economy instead of being sent to a corporate headquarters out of state.

Where to Get Recommendations for a Plumber

The gold standard for plumbers, electricians, and any home service industry is personal referrals. Ask your friends, neighbors, or family if they have used a plumber who they recommend. Keep in mind that national brands are often franchises – which means that your mother-in-law’s recommendation of a branch of the company out of state is not guaranteed to provide the same service locally.

If you can’t get a recommendation from your personal network, there are other options. Google allows customers to post online reviews of businesses and this is a great way to find reputable plumbers.

Look for a local plumber who has a large number of recent good reviews. If you have time to dig deeper, look for any negative reviews and see how the business has responded to them – often this can be more revealing than dozens of positive customer reviews.

How to Choose a Professional Plumber

In most cases plumbers who come well recommended will be qualified plumbers. However, it always helps to check!
You should verify that you are choosing a licensed plumber who carries liability insurance. It isn’t uncommon for handymen to offer their services for small plumbing jobs – but if something goes wrong and a room floods, you might find yourself on the hook for major repair bills.

Some terms to look for when choosing a plumber are “master plumber” or “mechanical contractor.” Here in South Carolina, master plumbers are allowed to perform small and medium sized plumbing jobs, while mechanical contractors are allowed to handle the biggest plumbing jobs. Keep in mind that your state may use slightly different terminology or structure their certifications differently.

If possible, choose a plumber who offers a warranty on their work. Reputable plumbers will demonstrate their confidence in their plumbing repairs by guaranteeing their labor with a warranty. Certain types of repairs, like clog removal, are unlikely to include a warranty – but toilet, faucet, water heater, water line, and other plumbing system installations should include a warranty!

How Plumbing Service Pricing Works

Plumbers structure their pricing differently, but here are some trends in the industry:

The cost of plumbing emergency services

Plumbing emergency services are always going to cost more. It’s an unfortunate reality that when a pipe bursts in the middle of the night, you will need to pay extra to get it fixed fast. The reason for this is simple: during an emergency service call a highly trained professional will be missing their kid’s softball game or ending movie night with their family early.

We want to make sure your home’s plumbing is working great, but we also need to ensure that our crews are fairly compensated for their time.

Quotes over the phone

It is rare for plumbers to offer quotes sight unseen. It is nearly impossible to diagnose a problem over the phone!

Plumbing systems are all unique and this means that the problems each faces is unique. While an explanation of the problem over the phone or a few pictures can give us a general idea of the issue – ultimately a plumber will need to get up close and personal with your pipes before being able to provide an accurate diagnosis and cost estimate for a repair.

Paying for service calls

It is standard practice for plumbing professionals to charge homeowners for a diagnostic visit. We would love to be able to come out and assess problems for free – but the reality is that each service call costs plumbing companies money. The cost of a service call includes paying for at least an hour of a skilled technician’s time, as well as the very real cost of fuel.

Hourly rates versus flat rates

Fixed rate services are usually limited to simpler tasks like installing new faucets or water heaters, while more complex tasks like diagnosing clogged drains or repairing a cracked sewer line is probably going to be billed hourly.

Many plumbers simply use an hourly rate for all of their services – and usually this ends up costing the customer the same as a fixed rate service. We don’t think that customers should choose a plumber based on how their billing is done – as the invoice from two reputable companies using different billing strategies is likely to be very similar.

Remodeling plumbing projects may use either a fixed price or an hourly rate – but it is common practice to receive an estimate for the total cost before starting the project.

Finding the Best Plumber

When it comes to finding a good plumber, your best bet is simple: ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations. If none of them have someone they are happy to suggest, then online reviews are a good place to look. Be sure to find a business with lots of positive and recent reviews.

After you’ve found a company that looks good, dig a little deeper and see if they are licensed and insured, and whether or not they offer a labor warranty.

If you’re looking for a business which checks these boxes and you are located in the South Carolina Midlands, then you’ve already found one! While we don’t know if your friends have worked with Freedom Plumbing, our reviews show that our customers love working with us! Send us a message, we’d love to help you with all of your plumbing needs.

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