Deciding on a plumber back in the day used to be either very easy, or very hard. If you lived in a small town, you might have been lucky to have two choices. If you lived in a big city, you had plenty to choose from, but the only information you had to refer to was the phone book. How could you tell a good plumber from a bad plumber? The only way to go was to get a reference from a friend or family member.
Nowadays, Yelp, Google, and even Facebook give you access to hundreds or even thousands of plumbing businesses, and tens of thousands of reviews. (As of October 2017, a Yelp search for “plumbers” near Sacramento yields 940 results). Now we have the opposite problem: Once you’ve narrowed down the search results to a few dozen plumbers with good reviews, how do you decide which one to choose? How do you ensure that you get good service at a fair price?
First, know when it’s a time to call a plumber. Give yourself time to do research.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to point out that an important part of keeping your plumbing repairs costs down is knowing when you’re in over your head. There are plenty of minor plumbing issues that you can take care of yourself, such as dealing with a minor plumbing clog, or even installing a new kitchen faucet.
But when you’ve been at it for an hour or two and haven’t seen any positive results, and you’ve got a wrench in hand and you’re about to start cranking on a PVC pipe, stop. Do you know what you’re doing? Too much tension on a pipe running into your wall can cause pipe damage that requires doing demo work in order to get at the damaged plumbing. Or you might cause a flood of water that results in severe water damage to floors, walls, and elsewhere.
Take a moment to consider whether you’re confident in what you’re doing. This is especially the case if you’re working on something outside of business hours. You do not want to have to call an emergency plumber out at 10 PM on Sunday night because you busted something and your kitchen floor is flooding. You’re going to pay a fortune repairing the damage—just the call-out will run you $50 to $100, and they’ll tack on an extra $50 or even $75 per hour onto their normal rates—the repair work will be much more extensive and costly than it would have been otherwise, and you’re not going to have the time necessary to do research and pick a good plumber.
When in doubt, stop, and start looking for an expert.
Ask friends and family if there are any plumbers they have had good experiences with. Then do your own research.
We may live in the age of the Internet, but personal recommendations are still worth considering. See if your loved ones have had positive experiences with local plumbers. You can also try asking relevant businesses that you have worked with, such as contractors, gardeners, realtors, property managers, and so on.
If you’re lucky, they may have some names. If so, start looking online. Make sure that their reviews online are good. If they aren’t, then maybe your family members just got lucky.
Once you’ve got a short list of plumbers that are well recommended by friends and/or have solid reviews, start making phone calls. First of all, ask for their license numbers. In California, independent contractors and businesses that offer plumbing services must have a current C-36 Plumbing Contractor license. Any trustworthy plumber will be more than happy to provide their license number, which you can then verify on the California Contractors State License Board’s page for checking contractor’s licenses. In fact, you can find Gilmore’s current license here. That page will also show you the licenses relevant to our other professional services as well.
There are a lot of reasons not to choose a plumber. Don’t ignore these signs.
If they aren’t licensed, don’t work with them. It doesn’t matter how great a deal they offer you, if they aren’t licensed, then they probably aren’t properly bonded either, and don’t have an insurance policy to cover any damage they cause.
Ask them how long they have been in business. When possible, always hire a plumber who is well-established, and is unlikely to disappear into the night if you need further assistance.
Secondly, ask them if they guarantee their work. If they don’t, don’t hire them. And don’t just take their word for it. (Check out our Gilmore Guarantee on our website’s homepage.) Make sure that they provide that guarantee in writing. Also, this is why it’s important to ask them about their work history. A guarantee doesn’t matter if the business isn’t around to honor it.
Third, get a price quote. They won’t be able to give you a price quote without coming out first—at least they shouldn’t—but you can at least get a ballpark estimate so that you can shop around for prices. Don’t just choose the lowest bidder. But you can at least weed out anyone that seems particularly pricey.
Lastly, once you have chosen and called a plumber, don’t stop asking questions. Ask them what they’re doing, and why. It’s your home, be involved in the process. If they refuse to be open and honest about their process, that’s a red flag. Watch how they use their tools, and what tools they’re using. If they’re a pro, they should have the right tools for the job. If it seems like they’re really winging it because their tools aren’t quite right, that’s another red flag. Again, it’s your home. Don’t be afraid to tell someone to stop if it appears that they’re in over your head. But if they seem competent, judge their judgment. You may not like what they have to say, but if the only reason you don’t like their opinion is because it’s expensive, and they can show evidence for their opinion, then they probably know what they’re talking about.
It can be really tough to find a plumber you can trust. That’s why we always invite anyone considering hiring Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing to check out our website and read our many blog posts, which contains a ton of handy tips that can help you avoid having to call out someone to repair your plumbing, heater, or air conditioner. Also, we invite you to check out the several hundred reviews that have been left for us on Google.
If you’re facing a challenging plumbing issue, give the experts at Gilmore a call or use our online appointment form. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have, and give you the best possible service. Check us out, and find out why thousands of long-time customers swear by Gilmore!