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Hiring a Plumber

 


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Hiring a Plumber

As a licensed master plumber in New York, I am often asked for tips on choosing a local plumber. Regardless if own your own home or rent an apartment, eventually you will need the services of a licensed and insured plumber. Here are a few easy steps to follow when choosing a local plumber to service your plumbing.

1. Make your plumbing accessible

I can recall countless times where I arrive to a house or apartment to fix a leak under the kitchen sink or address a bathroom lav sink leak, only to find the cabinet literally packed with everything under the sun! Not only will this save you money and time, but the plumber will deeply appreciate its clean under the sink. Even if the local plumber does not need to access below the faucet or sink, he will still appreciate the kindness and it will give you an opportunity to clean up!

One other great tip: schedule your entire local plumbing issues for the same service call. Take care of all those running toilets, faucet leaks and leaks in the basement all at the same time.

2. Rate schedules of plumbers:

Plumbers charge by two methods. The first method is called a “Flat-Rate". Basically your local plumber will estimate the job and give you a price before any work is done. If it takes the plumber 30 minutes or 3 hours, the price is the same. The alternative to flat rate plumbing is “Time and Material". If the plumber worked for 2 hours, you are billed for 2 hours. If he used $75 in material to repair your toilet, you are billed for the $75 plus a reasonable mark-up. The disadvantage to this method is the “unknown" variable. If a plumbing issue was estimated to take 2 hours to resolve and your plumber ends up spending 3 1/2 hours, your stuck paying for the 3 1/2 hours (Almost double your initial estimate)

The hourly rate a local plumber charges can vary by $75-$150+ per hour. A large 24 hour plumbing company may charge in excess of $300/hr. while a “penny saver plumber" who operates out of his 2-car garage may charge $75/hr. Additionally, travel time needs to be taken into consideration. local plumber A may charge a flat-rate travel fee while local plumber B may charge for actual travel time and expenses. In any case, they are always compensated for their travel time. A plumber who performs 2,000 service calls a year, on average, will spend over 3 1/2 weeks driving!

3. Purchase your own material

In recent years, and likely due to the current global economy, I've noticed that many clients are purchasing their own material. Whether it’s a new kitchen faucet, a new water closet (AKA toilet) or a frost-free outside hose faucet, consumers are being more diligent with their money. Years ago I would never consider installing a “customer supplied faucet, toilet, etc. " It's becoming an effective way for homeowners to save money on plumbing service repair calls. Traditionally your local plumber would provide (sell) you the kitchen faucet, toilet, etc. that they install. It’s customary for the plumber to purchase the item at wholesale and resell or supply it at full retail value.

While homeowners can save a lot of money by purchasing their own material, it can have a costly side effect. Perfect example: the new toilet has a hidden crack and now the plumber needs to remove it, wait for you to get a replacement and then reinstall it. Your bill went from 1 hour to over 3 hours! Or, the bathroom faucet you purchased from the home improvement super center does not fit - you bought 4" spread and you need a wide spread faucet. Guess what? The plumber charged you for coming to you twice! Therefore, be certain that the fixture you are purchasing is free from defects and is practical for your application.

4. Minimize Plumbing Needs

A great way to avoid calling on the local plumber is to take some precaution, being diligent and performing some basic maintenance on your plumbing systems. One of the most common service calls for local plumbers are sewer and drain related stoppages / slow drains. These stoppages are usually caused by hair and a build up of grease.

To avoid these common issues, refrain from brushing or combing your hair over the bathroom sink and clean up any loose hair after taking a shower that accumulate near the drain. There are great products available that will even help with grease buildup. One product, like Bio Clean, is an enzyme that eats anything organic in nature. Also, a pot of boiling water down the drain will also help break up grease deposits.

Another frequent service call request are frozen pipes. Carefully inspect all the accessible plumbing in your home to see if they are properly insulated and are located in heated parts of your home. During the fall, remove garden hoses from the outside spigot and turn off the valve from inside the house. Then open the spigot outside to release any pressure. If you do not have a shut off valve, consider having one installed by a local plumber.

5. Make your plumbing accessible

I can recall countless times where I arrive to a house or apartment to fix a leak under the kitchen sink or address a bathroom lav sink leak, only to find the cabinet literally packed with everything under the sun! Not only will this save you money and time, but the plumber will deeply appreciate its clean under the sink. Even if the local plumber does not need to access below the faucet or sink, he will still appreciate the kindness and it will give you an opportunity to clean up!

One other great tip: schedule your entire local plumbing issues for the same service call. Take care of all those running toilets, faucet leaks and leaks in the basement all at the same time.

6. Update to energy saving appliances and environmentally friendly toilets

Did you know that the average life expediency of a natural gas water heater is 7-15 years? In any case, a water heater installed 15 years ago will need replacing soon, so why not install an energy efficient model or hybrid water heater. A few models even approach 95% efficiency - saving you hundreds of dollars a year in energy expenses. Added bonus: you may qualify for a rebate from your energy company and receive a tax credit! Ask you local plumber for details and more information.

Prior to 1950, water closets, on average, used 7 gallons of water per flush. By the mid-1960’s, toilets were reengineered to use only 5.5 gallons and it 1995 the EPA mandated 1.6 gallons per flush. In 2011, there are models available that use less than a gallon of water per flush. Some even have a button for liquid waste and a button for solid waste! Talk about water efficiency. Since water and sewage treatment cost money, its makes perfect sense to do our part. When you reduce water consumption, you can save on both counts. If you have an older toilet and the local plumber tells you its time to replace, give serious consideration on upgrading to a water saver model.

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