Frequently asked questions about plumbers
Plumbing is a skilled trade that deals with installing or repairing systems and components that move liquids throughout a home or place of business.
Depending on the job, plumbers typically install, repair, or maintain various pipes and fittings, drainage systems, and fixtures. They work closely with general contractors, electricians, and other construction professionals during new home construction or home renovations. Plumbers must be able to follow building plans and blueprints, and they must be able to diagnose and fix a wide range of plumbing issues and emergencies. They also perform routine inspections of plumbing and drainage systems. Plumbing contractors also prepare bids and provide customer cost estimates while keeping an accurate record of the work performed and the materials used.
There may be several reasons that you need to contact a local plumber, including:
- The installation of new faucets, showers, tubs, and toilets
- Repairing a leaky toilet or leaking/burst pipes
- Replacing cracked or clogged sewage pipes
- Water heater repair or replacement
- Upgrading old or existing plumbing pipes throughout the home
- Installing appliances that use water like dishwashers and washing machines
- Fixing faulty garbage disposals
- Unclogging sinks or drains
- Helping to assess and repair gas leaks
When looking for local plumbers, it’s always best to ask for an estimate from at least three companies. This will give you a better idea of how much you can expect to pay for the job. You can also ask friends and family members for referrals or go online to read customer reviews. If you’re dealing with an emergency, make sure that the plumbers near you offer these services and can assist you after hours.
There are several ways you can find a reliable, high-quality local plumber. Use Porch.com to find handyman services for over 1,100 different types of home projects, including plumbing. We’ll connect you with independent pros that can help you with any job, large or small.Here are some tips to help you find a reliable local plumber in your area:
Always read reviews of several plumbers before you make a decision. Most customers will happily post a review of their experience online, whether it’s positive or negative. Reading reviews is a great way to get a clear picture of the skills and abilities of plumbing contractors, their customer service, and how well the service matches the price.
Make sure that you get a clear, written estimate of the work before you hire a plumber. The estimate should include both material and labor costs. Remember that an estimate is just that – an estimated cost, and your total cost could be higher or lower depending on the outcome.
Ensure that your plumber is fully licensed for the job. Most states have specific licensing requirements for plumbers, so check to ensure that the plumber near you has a state-issued license and is current and up to date. Professional plumbers must typically also have between one to three years of experience as journeyman plumbers.
There are several red flags when searching for plumbers near you. Always avoid unlicensed and uninsured plumbing contractors. Plumbers who show up without tools or don’t have the right tools for the job is another red flag. If a plumber provides you with a quick estimate over the phone without physically looking at the issue, you may want to reconsider.
Most plumbers charge an hourly rate that ranges from as little as $45 to as much as $150 per hour or more. However, some plumbing companies may charge a flat rate depending on the job. If you pay a flat rate, you’ll have a better chance at negotiating the price than you will if you pay by labor hour. The average plumbing job costs between $125 to $450, including labor and materials. Many plumbing contractors have a minimum service fee of $50 to $200, regardless of what needs to be done. If you’re dealing with an emergency and need a plumber, prepare to pay two to three times more for jobs performed after hours, on weekends, or holidays. On average, most emergency plumbing rates are $125 to $170 per hour.
Of course, several factors may determine how much a plumber costs. Your area and the current demand for qualified, skilled plumbers are one factor. The cost of materials also plays a big role since certain items like copper piping or specialized components tend to cost more than standard parts. Simple repairs or minor jobs like cleaning a drain or unclogging a sink can cost $75 to $250. More complex jobs like fixing a sump pump or replacing pipes cost more, typically between $500 and $800.
To determine the price of a plumber, remember to:
- Get your bid in writing, so you have an estimated cost on paper.
- Find out how long the project will take to better understand the total hours required.
- Ask how many people are needed for the job since it could affect your total cost.
- Determine whether or not special parts or materials are needed since this may also make your final cost higher.
Maintaining your water heater is important to avoid costly repairs and damage to your home later. Leaking water heaters can wreak havoc on the structure of your home and make a massive mess. Overall, most tank-style electric water heaters should last between 8 to 12 years. Gas water heaters tend to have a shorter lifespan that is closer to 6 and 8 years. Tankless water heaters are a popular choice for many homeowners since there’s no additional holding tank to contend with. If you have a tankless water heater, these units typically last between 20 and 25 years, making them a wise long-term investment.
Whichever type of water heater you have, proper maintenance is important to extend its lifespan and keep your water running at a prime temperature. For gas and electric tank-style water heaters, make sure that you flush the tank regularly. This will prevent sediment buildup from forming inside the tank, which is a common cause of water heater issues. While you could flush the tank yourself, it’s best to look for a professional local plumber who can do the job and ensure it’s done right. You should also maintain the pump attached to your water heater and look for signs of distress, including loud noises, failure to heat water, or signs of rust in the water or on and around the pump and tank. Rust is a common sign that your water heater needs professional attention. It usually indicates a faulty or broken part and water leaking from around the unit or the pipes attached to it. Check the heater inlet valve frequently to ensure it’s not showing any signs of rust or corrosion. In most cases, serious rust or corrosion near the pressure release valve or other major parts signifies that your water heater may need to be replaced.
The cost of a new water heater varies depending on the type, the size (capacity), and the brand. Most electric tank-style water heaters cost the least (around $100-$200 less than gas), while tankless water heaters are usually the most expensive. Keep in mind that while a tankless water heater costs more upfront, it uses less water, so you’ll save money on water usage and your total energy usage in the long run.
You’ll need to determine which size tank you need for your new water heater if you choose a gas or electric tank-style model. A home with one to two people generally requires a 20-to-30-gallon tank. Households with three to four people should choose a tank that can hold between 30 to 50 gallons, and homes with five people or more will need a tank with a minimum of 50 gallons. Tankless water heaters measure water by flow ratings of between 2 and 6 gallons per minute, or GPM. Tankless water heaters with higher flow rates of 4-6 GPM are best for the average-sized household.
The average cost of a new water heater is approximately $1,200, including the new heater and the labor for installation. A gas or electric water heater costs between $650 to $2,100, including all materials and labor. On average, tankless water heaters cost more, with a total price of between $1,000 to $3,500. Tankless water heaters can be powered by electricity or gas, depending on which type of connection you have available.
Most plumbing contractors can install water heaters and charge their hourly rate in addition to the heater and other necessary materials.
Operating costs depend on the style you have. Electric water heaters cost about $36.50 per month, while gas costs less at about $18.70 per month. Tankless water heaters cost between 24-36 percent less to run overall, regardless of whether they’re gas or electric.
If you are not getting any hot water in your house, you may have an issue with the water heater. Always consult a local plumber if you’re concerned about your water heater, if it’s leaking, or if you notice any signs of rust or corrosion. There are several reasons your water heater might not produce hot water. Here are some common issues that homeowners may face:
If there is a gas leak in your home, your gas water heater may not work. Make sure you turn off all the gas shutoff valves immediately if you suspect you have a gas leak, then contact your local gas company for help.
Look for leaks if you have a gas or electric-powered water heater. Any signs of water leakage indicate that there’s a serious problem. Look for a plumbing contractor as soon as you see a leak so they can troubleshoot the issue and make any necessary repairs or replacements as required.
Sometimes, you may not have hot water in your home if the pilot light goes out on your gas water heater. Check to confirm that the pilot light is on; if not, light it and confirm that you’re getting hot water.
A loose connection or an issue with the wiring may cause a malfunctioning electric water heater, so check that all wiring is securely attached and that there is power going to the unit. Contact an electrician if the issue is too complex or unsafe for you to solve on your own.
A malfunctioning thermostat can affect tankless, electric, and gas water heaters. Confirm that the thermostat is in good working order to ensure that it’s not causing the lack of hot water in your home.
Mineral and sediment buildup can cause your tankless water heater to malfunction, especially if you have hard water or well water. Make sure you regularly change the filter to your tankless water heater to prevent buildup.