The Art of Choosing the Best Plumber

As much as one wants to be self - sufficient and handy around the home, there is one area no one but the best plumber feels comfortable in: under the sink or the toilet.  Thats why most homeowners have to pony up the money that a plumber demands (and rightly so) for his services, and that means finding the best man, usually as soon as possible.   When a plumber is needed, the situation usually isnt a leisurely one.

Finding a plumber isnt quite the same as finding a great contractor or house painter; with those, one could take a few days searching websites and checking certification and licensure, as well as portfolios and customer reviews.   No one thinks about researching and double - checking while theyre finding the best plumbers, because they dont call one until they desperately need one.  Thats why the plumber can charge the emergency - level fees that he sometimes charges.   But, there are some preliminary questions to answer before one makes that commitment to hire. 

The first question: is the guy licensed?  A quick trip to the Internet (most customers were going there to find local listings anyway anyone remember the Yellow Pages?) will show not only a plumbers website (and probably the best ones, and the ones making the most money, will have the most customer - friendly sites) but also his credentials, his license and his certifications, all prominently displayed.   If theyre not, one should definitely move on to the next professional.

The next question: how does he stand with the BBB?  His certification, if not on the plumbers website (and its hard to imagine why he wouldnt display it prominently), can be found at the License Board for State Contractors for whatever state one lives in.  It should display not only the jobs for which the plumber is qualified, but how long hes been in business (issue date v. expiration).   In addition, the license number should be verifiable with the Better Business Bureau, and that plumber should certainly be a member of that body.

The BBB website should be the best tool for immediate verification of his quality as (hopefully) one of the best plumbers out there (and no one wants second best).  The BBB website should give him a grade and list any complaints against him or any recent jobs he did.  The Better Business Bureau is a prime website for such information, and, while they cannot prosecute or bring legal action against plumbers who screw up, they can make their complaint records public. 

The third question: whats he charge?  The search for a good plumber should have taken the customer to several websites, all of which will take very little time, even in an emergency.  And one of the great things about such a search is that it presents the customer with competitive prices for different services from different plumbers.  That way, when the plumber gives an over - the - phone quote or estimate, the customer will have a frame of reference to see that this professional isnt over - charging for his services.

The final question: can anyone out there recommend him?  Nothing is better for a professional than a referral, and if a customer has the patience to make some quick calls to friends, business associates and family to see if theres someone they recommend, he probably will get a much better picture of the professional hes planning to hire.  Referrals are priceless because they offer not so much the qualifications of the individual plumber, as much as the experience:  how satisfied were they with the work, and how well did it all hold up after he left?

That, in brief, includes the four questions one asks in finding the best plumber in an emergency.  Hopefully theyll never get asked.

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