Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Today is a good day to find myself a plumber.”
Instead, what usually happens is that you have guests over when the garbage disposal finally gives out, and you’re stuck with a clogged, messy kitchen sink. Perhaps a running, leaking toilet puts you over the edge in the middle of the night. Even worse, a pipe bursts in your home, leaving you with a flooded kitchen or bathroom.
When that happens, you want a reliable, trustworthy professional who will give you a reasonable price and stand behind their work. But in a moment of panic, you call a random plumbing company in Port St. Lucie that comes up in your Google search.
Since they quoted you a cheap rate over the phone, you decide to give them a try. But not only do they show up late, do sloppy work, and leave a mess in your home, you’re stuck paying a bill that is much higher than their “estimate”. Not to mention, you spend the next year wondering if you paid too much or if you’re going to need to hire someone else to fix whatever they did.
If you take a minute to consider a few critical factors, you can be sure that you make the right decision. You’ll have confidence in the work that has been done, and you’ll know that you got a fair price for the job. Best of all, you will know who to call the next time you have a problem with your plumbing.
Finding that trusted plumbing partner for your home takes a little effort, but you can rest assured that you have hired the right company for the job if you consider these seven factors when looking for a plumber:
- Customer service
Doing the research ahead of time to answer these seven questions will help you to know that the work was done well and that you have a trusted partner for all of your plumbing work for years to come.
Credentials: Is the Plumber Appropriately Licensed and Insured?
Whenever you allow a contractor or a repair person into your home, you need to be sure that they are adequately insured. As a homeowner, your first concern will probably be about any damage to your home. However, if a contractor isn’t licensed or insured and work that is attempted in your home results in bodily harm, you could very well be liable. If you are dealing with an unethical, unlicensed worker, it can cause trouble for you down the road.
Given that, it is of utmost importance that you hire a licensed plumber. Most plumbers will list their license number and insurance on their website. If you can’t find it easily, make sure you ask for copies before any work begins.
Plumbers in Port St. Lucie, like plumbers throughout Florida, are required to have a license. Several vital prerequisites are involved in gaining a license, including passing a criminal background check, as well as having current liability and property insurance.
There is also a battery of difficult exams that a plumber must pass before s/he can operate a plumbing business. Once a plumber is licensed, he or she must renew their license every two years. If you are dealing with a plumbing company that can’t show you a license, you should definitely find another one to do the job.
Although proper insurance is necessary for licensing in Florida, it is still essential to ask your plumber for documentation of their insurance policies. They must have both liability insurance to cover property damage and injuries that occur on your property during the course of their work and workers’ compensation insurance, which will pay an injured worker for lost wages and medical bills incurred for any injuries obtained while doing the job.
Another level of protection can be given through a surety bond. There are many protections attached to a surety bond, and they can be particularly important if you are hiring a plumber for a larger job. Bonds must be renewed regularly by the plumber, but in doing so, they protect you from what can turn into major headaches. You are protected if the plumber:
- Does not pull the proper permits
- Does not finish the work properly
- Does not pay technicians or other subcontractors who work on your job
- Does harm or damage to your property
If any of these things occur, you can contact the surety company and demonstrate that the job was done poorly, wasn’t finished, or was performed outside of the stipulations of the contract.
Plumbing work can be dangerous to your property and to the individuals that are doing the work. Make sure that you are safe and secure from the events that can cause real damage.
Experience: How Long Has the Plumber Been in Business?
Your home is your most important asset. If you are not confident in all of your house’s systems, it is tough to be comfortable at home. Many things can go wrong if a plumbing repair job isn’t handled correctly.
A plumber with a long track record of successful work is going to allow you to rest assured that all is shipshape in your home.
Because large companies employ hundreds of technicians, they can sometimes act as a training ground for young plumbers that have recently gained their certifications. Feel free to ask how long your serviceperson has been a plumber before agreeing to have them do the work.
You may want to ask about specific types of experience when discussing the job. If you own one of Port St. Lucie’s older homes, it might be reassuring to know that your plumber has experience with older pipes. Galvanized pipes in particular can cause problems.
You might feel confident with a less-experienced plumber if you have a basic problem like a leaky toilet or broken garbage disposal. But if you’re having problems with leaking pipes, water damage, and mold, make sure your plumber is trained to handle these issues.
Cost: How Much Confidence Do You Have in the Plumber’s Pricing?
One of the most intimidating aspects of dealing with plumbers in Port St. Lucie is cost. With so much economic uncertainty in the world, it’s tempting to try to find the cheapest possible fix for a plumbing problem and be done with it. But cheap plumbers are usually cheap for a reason – they do shoddy work and cut corners in order to get the job done as fast as possible. You’re likely to end up with more problems and headaches if plumbing work isn’t done correctly, and, in the long run, you’ll end up spending more because you had to hire another company to redo the job.
If a plumber is adequately certified and insured, then you can move forward with confidence. A good rule of thumb for pricing is to look for a plumber who is as transparent as possible about their rates for service.
For most homeowners, flat-rate pricing brings a sense of security. There’s nothing more comforting than being able to say, “I know what I’m getting, and I know how much it will cost me.”
When you find a reputable company that offers flat-rate pricing, they typically will not offer a quote over the phone. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is actually normal and a good thing for you as the homeowner. Instead of low-balling you over the phone, like a less reputable company, they will send a plumber to your home to fully diagnose the issue before providing a price.
That means the level of complexity your job may or may not require gets factored into the final price you pay. For instance, if the plumber has to cut into the wall or finds something outdated (or not up to code) s/he will, a) make you aware of it, and b) factor it into the exact price you are quoted so that there are no surprises.
Warranties: What Guarantees Come with the Job?
All plumbers should guarantee their work for at least a year. If a plumber does not offer a guarantee on their work, move on.
But there are other considerations beyond just the work they are doing. Suppose the job involves installing an appliance, such as a dishwasher or a water heater. It is crucial to ensure your plumber is qualified and certified to do the installation because most manufacturers will void a warranty if you cannot prove that the installer met their criteria. Unqualified work can also void warranties from your home builder and extended home warranties.
References: What Do Others Say About This Plumber?
It’s easier than ever to get a sense of a plumber’s reputation in the broader community through the Internet. Google, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau can all be great resources for making sure that your plumber has a good track record in the community. In the end, though, it’s always better to talk to a real person to get their opinion.
Check-in with your neighbors. If Jon and Sally next door had a bad experience with a plumber, you’ll at least know who to stay away from. On the other hand, if they had a plumber who showed up quickly in a crisis, did great work, and charged a fair price, they’ll give you a great recommendation.
If you can’t get guidance from a neighbor, ask the plumber for a list of references. Taking the time to call a few of the plumber’s previous clients can be quite revealing. Even if they had a good experience, they might warn you of minor shortcomings that you need to track if you do indeed make a hire.
One thing to ask about is cleanup. It’s an often overlooked but essential part of a plumber’s job to leave a worksite as clean as they found it. That’s not just hauling out scraps and residue from the job, but also sweeping up and wiping down all surfaces. In the age of COVID, this is especially important.
If a plumber can’t offer a couple of references, you should probably move on. Make sure you ask for clients that have had similar work to the job that you are pricing.
Plumbers in Port St. Lucie: Where is Your Plumber Based?
Location matters when it comes to choosing a contractor or a plumber. Hiring a plumber that is 45 minutes or more away is just going to cause you a lot of headaches. It’ll make scheduling harder, and it’s likely that the vendor will find a way to make you pay for the time it takes for their crew to arrive at your home. There are a lot of reasons to hire a plumber with a very local presence.
First and foremost, local plumbers will be able to respond to your emergency calls more quickly. Having a professional 5 or 10 minutes away can make a world of difference if you have a burst pipe and your house is flooding.
Also, if the plumber needs a particular part to finish your job, they can get from your home to their warehouse very quickly without wasting their time and yours.
Since plumbers in Port St. Lucie tend to count on word-of-mouth to drive their business, they know their business will suffer if they do shoddy work.
It’s not unusual for there to be plumbing concerns that are specific to your local market. Suppose you are one of the many Port St. Lucie households that use well water. In that case, the plumber needs to be familiar with the specific challenges that your neighborhood’s geology can present, particularly around mineral deposits that can build up in pipes.
It is quite common for developers and builders to consistently use the same brand manufacturers and plumbing methods in the houses they build, and a local plumber may be more familiar with any quirks associated with these kinds of materials. They will also be much more likely to stock any parts specific to your fixtures. If the plumber spends less time getting to your job and retrieving materials, you save money.
Some people prefer to go with a national chain that has name recognition. You can usually be confident that a company like that will have all the proper insurance and licensing. Still, it’s doubtful that you’ll have the same service person show up for different jobs so you won’t build up any trust with the vendor. Also, national advertising campaigns are expensive and most companies pass those costs on to the customer.
Customer Service: How Easy is This Plumber to Deal With?
For most plumbers in Port St. Lucie, their website is their virtual office and showroom. Paying attention to the details, showing that they are concerned with getting things right, and making it easy for the customer to get needed information easily and quickly is a sign that they’ll also pay attention to the details at your home while they’re performing the work.
A good website should have more than a phone number and a picture-it should also have helpful information about things you can do on your own to avoid more extensive problems, such as tips for regular plumbing maintenance.
Furthermore, the way you are treated when you call for your service is a crucial indicator. Did you have to wait for a long time to speak with a real person? Is the customer service representative knowledgeable and polite? Were they familiar with the area in which you live?
Having a 24-hour customer service line is an integral part of any plumber’s operation. Unfortunately, burst pipes and broken water heaters do not show up only during business hours. If a plumbing leak isn’t dealt with promptly, problems such as rot, mold, damaged wood, and mildew can arise and persist for years to come. Knowing that you have the right plumbing solution at your disposal 24/7 means you have one less thing to worry about.
Other Services Offered by the Plumbing Company
Many plumbing companies–even local ones–have expanded their services beyond plumbing needs. Some offer electrical services, while others have dedicated staff on hand to handle your heating and air conditioning needs.
There are many advantages to having one company that you can trust to handle multiple systems in your home. Knowing that they’ll do the job right, that they’re responsible, insured, and certified, and that you can count on them when you have an emergency can make all the difference in the world when your AC cuts out during one of those sweltering summer seasons in Port St. Lucie.