The Questions You Need to Ask a Plumber

15February 2022

When you are choosing a plumber to hire, it’s important to understand what type of questions to ask that will ensure you choose the best candidate for the job. Interviewing anyone you want to hire is an important part in making good decisions. However, it can be difficult to know what to ask when you know nothing about plumbing. Here are some questions you can ask, with the answers you hope to get.

Is your license current?

Not only should you ask if your plumber is licensed but you should ensure that they have the right licenses. A business license is different from a plumbing license that permits the plumber to call him or herself a plumber. Each state will have a different requirement. It is a good idea to ensure that your plumber has every license that they need. It is dangerous to agree to work with an unlicensed plumber.

Are you bonded?

This means that the company has money secured with a third party usually in control of the state and not under control of the company that can be used to pay out certain types of claims like theft. For the company’s employees to be bonded is a bit different. They have to get fingerprinted, and a background check is done to ensure that they do not have a background of crime. This is a safety precaution that a lot of businesses take when their workers have to be around a large amount of money. You want the company to be bonded, whether each individual employee should be bonded is up to you.

Do you have workman’s comp for contractors?

If your plumber has employees or higher contractors do they pay workman’s comp insurance for them? In the case of plumbing businesses day laborers, contractors, and those that aren’t employees may be considered employees only for the purposes of workman’s comp in some states. If employees according to your state, then it’s best that the company provide for workman’s comp insurance. 

Do you have liability insurance?

It’s very important that your plumber answer this question in the affirmative. Typically liability insurance is purchased based on the average cost of the jobs that the plumber will do over the course of a year. There are a number of different types of liability insurance that the plumber or contractor has to choose from. Ask them for details to ensure that they are covered in the event something goes wrong on your job.

Do you offer free written estimates?

Many plumbers will offer free estimates but still charge a travel fee to go to the site. Be sure to ask whether or not the estimate and travel to the site is free so that you’re not surprised and taken off guard by getting a bill for something when you thought it would be free. Make sure to specify what you mean by free.

Do you charge a fixed rate for a job or do you use some other method?

Some plumbers charge hourly and some charge a fixed rate. An hourly fee can be scary because you don’t know how long it is going to take the plumber to do the job. If your plumber charges hourly you can ask them if they can limit the number of hours it will take. For instance: Work will be billed at XXX dollars per hour, no more than 10 hours. This can help you avoid invoice shock.

Do you charge extra fees for emergency situations?

You never know what is going to happen. Your drains could get clogged up 5 hours before a big party. You need a plumber now. Ask them if they charge for emergency situations and how much. More than likely they will charge extra, which is understandable since they are on call. Knowing the emergency fee can help you determine whether you really need it fixed now, or if you can wait.

Is your work guaranteed? 

Asking the plumber if their work is guaranteed and if they offer any warranties is an important question to ask. This way you know whether or not they stand by their work. Typically the work should be guaranteed for a certain amount of time and the materials used should come with their own warranties from the manufacturer.

Can you provide three references?

You need to have at least three references that you can call on if you did not hear about this plumber from a friend or family member. If you did hear about them from friends or family you can ask for just one more reference to be safe.

What is your schedule like?

Once you’ve pretty much decided on a particular plumber it’s important to inquire about their availability. They might be really busy right now and unable to work with you for months, or they might need to start work on it sooner than you want to get started. 

Asking the right questions and then listening for the right answer is an important part in ensuring that you find the right plumber to do your job. Without knowing what to ask you might end up with problems that could have been avoided.