Knowing what to ask when you hire a plumber will save you time and money in the long run. Do yourself an enormous favor and start a relationship with a good plumber before an emergency strikes. Having their name and phone number on file before a pipe leaks in the middle of the night will give you peace of mind. Likewise, knowing what plumber you’d choose when you add on to your home or do some renovations will give you one less thing to worry about.

Here are five important questions to ask a plumber to ensure you’re getting the best service possible:

Ask about prices, but keep in mind that the cheapest plumber isn’t always the best.

Knowing what you’ll be charged ahead of time will lessen the stress of handling an emergency. An emergency call is almost always going to be a shock to your system because you’re paying for driving time and emergency service charges on top of regular fees and compensation for parts. You’ll want to know a ballpark of these fees, and ask about regular rates and if there are any other service charges.

Ask if your plumber has experience with the job you need done.

This is important for two reasons. First, if you hire a plumber who is inexperienced with what you need done, you’ll probably need to hire another plumber to fix what the first one attempted to do. Second, plumbers come in two basic varieties: ones that handle emergencies, and ones that do plumbing renovations and installations. A competent family plumber that focuses on emergencies may not be qualified to put an addition onto your home.

Find out if they are licensed, insured, and state-certified.

Call to check if their license and certification are current and if there are any filed complaints against them. Not having any complaints filed may be good, or it may mean the unsatisfied customer hasn’t filed yet’that’s why it’s important to check references. For insurance, your plumber should carry at least $500,000 minimum liability insurance and have workman’s compensation. This will protect you in the event of injury.

Ask about getting a written estimate.

If your plumber won’t give you one, it may not be the right plumber for you. Most states protect consumers from being charged a certain percentage above a written estimate without signed consent from the consumer. Getting a written estimate will ensure you won’t be surprised with a huge bill at the end of the job.

Ask for references.

A good plumber takes pride in his or her work, and won’t mind giving you clients’ names. Avoid plumbers that won’t give references or don’t have any, as they may be hiding something. If you do get a list of references, follow through with a phone call to verify the plumber’s quality of services. Ask if the reference was satisfied with the workmanship, price, and if there were any communication problems.

Asking these five simple questions will help you to find the best plumber for your needs, be it emergency services and family plumbing, or renovations to your existing home. You’ll end up saving time, money and headaches that can happen when hiring an incompetent plumber.

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