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The leak from a pipe fitting that costs less than a dollar can easily cause thousands of dollars in water damage and can disrupt your household for weeks. But not all plumbers handle all types of work. Their duties break out into two categories: plumbers who handle basic repairs (often in emergency situations), and plumbers who specialize in remodeling projects and additions.
According to project data from HomeAdvisor members, the average cost to hire a plumber ranges between $170 and $458. The average cost per hour for a plumber ranges from $45 to $150 per hour depending on the job, timing and location. Services may include drain cleaning, faucet replacement or installation, and toilet repair.
"Plumbing" is a pretty broad category. Plumbers can do anything from fixing leaky faucets to installing sump pumps. They can repair or install your water heater or add a sink to your garage. They work everywhere in your home - kitchen, bathroom - wherever you need them. The biggest thing is to make sure they are insured or this can cost you in the long run. Also, if they have to cut into drywall to repair your plumbing, make sure this is included in the bid and that they have someone working for them that can fix this when completed.
Plumbing isn't necessarily difficult, but it requires a lot of knowledge. Code requirements are just a small part; you also need parts knowledge and experience with the materials. For instance, knowing how hard you can crank on PVC before it cracks takes time to master. Not having a feel for this can turn a $10 repair into a flood of problems.
Be prepared for a more urgent situation by establishing a relationship with a plumber before you actually need him. If possible, hire him to do non emergency repairs or fixture installations during normal hours. It's easier to get a plumber's attention if you're a regular customer and not a panicked stranger calling at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night asking him to fix a gushing waste pipe in your basement.
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Choosing a Plumber
When making a selection, ask for proof of a license. Most states require plumbers to be licensed, and they typically provide a number you can call to verify that the license is current and that there are no active complaints against it. Any plumber you consider should also hold a current workers' compensation policy and a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance. All states issue plumbing-contractor licenses, and the licensing board can confirm a plumber's legitimacy. Yet only 24 states require journeyman certification, meaning that the plumber has passed competency exams. Ask the plumber whether he has received certification or updated training through a professional association.
Difficulty of Repair
A rule of thumb for all projects requiring labor is that the more difficult the job, the longer it will take and the more labor costs you will need to pay. Depending on the project, you can sometimes get by with less experienced plumbers. Other jobs will require a Master Plumber in order to be sure that the job is done right. Be prepared to not only spend money in labor and trip charges, but the supplies needed in order to complete your job will be an additional charge.
Most of the time when you need a plumber for a repair, it's an emergency situation. Off-hour repairs are absolutely more expensive than if you make an appointment during regular business hours.
Other Cost Factors
In addition to labor and supplies, you may need to hire someone to repair your water damage. You may need new carpeting, drywall repairs or electrical work done on your home to get it back to where it was before you had your plumbing problem.
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If you had a sewer problem, there is the additional cost of cleanup and getting your home back to code to ensure that it's safe for your family to be around. You also may need to remove tree roots (which means digging up your yard and landscaping expenses) or replacing pipe that's difficult to get to.
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