Choosing a company to service your residential plumbing needs is one of the most important decisions a homeowner can make. Picking the wrong plumbing company can be a disaster, as a lousy plumber can turn the most straightforward ten-dollar fix into a thousand-dollar problem with the single turn of a monkey wrench. Quite often, the company that can get the job done the cheapest will be the one who gets hired, which is the start of a story that rarely has a happy ending.
There’s a famous saying around the plumbing industry, “cheap plumbers aren’t good, and good plumbers aren’t cheap,” and there’s more than a note of truth to it. Plumbing companies that underbid for jobs are more likely to use inferior, lower-quality materials; or, worse, hire inexperienced apprentices to cut and install your pipes. Inexperienced plumbing assistants are more likely to cause damage to or get hurt on your property. Inferior plumbing companies will also lack the proper insurance to cover all these variables, which could leave the responsibility for damage and injuries on your shoulders.
The 3 R’s of Finding a Plumber – Research, Research, and Research!
Remember the “good old days” when finding a local plumber or TV repairman was as simple as asking a neighbor or the local grocer for a recommendation? Today, TVs are disposable, we avoid eye contact with our neighbors while we water the lawn, and we use self-checkouts at the supermarket. In other words, our interaction with other people is limited.
The modern version of cracking open the local phone book is logging on to the internet and doing a Google search of “plumbers near me,” which will deliver page upon page of local businesses vying for your attention and your cash. Unfortunately, the internet can often provide too much of anything, like cat videos and Kardashians, so the information you get needs to be filtered.
Check the ratings and read through the reviews of several plumbing companies on that list, both on the company’s website and service industry review sites like Angi.com or Yelp.com. Be wary of plumbing companies that don’t offer customer reviews on their website or that only have a few glowing, five-star reviews. There isn’t a home service business in existence that doesn’t have at least one less than stellar review attached to their name.
Read the responses from the owner when you encounter a bad review to understand how this company responds. Does the business owner professionally address the matter, or do they turn the blame back onto the customer with name-calling and insults? A single poor review should not make or break your decision to do business with a company, but you can get a good understanding of how they are going to handle things if you have a problem with their work.
The 3 E’s of Being a Plumber – Experience, Experience, and Experience.
The plumbing system in your home is a carefully engineered sub-structure designed to provide proper water pressure and adequate waste drainage while keeping as many toxins out of your pipes as possible. It sounds important because it is. Our modern, indoor plumbing systems provide us with clean water, hygiene and health, and sanitary drain functions to get rid of wastewater. Without the convenience of indoor plumbing, we’d be back to lugging buckets up from the river every day and shooing flies away in the outhouse.
Sure, just about anyone can replace a toilet tank flapper or fix a drippy faucet with a new washer, but experienced plumbers have a particular set of skills. These skills aren’t acquired from watching videos or reading textbooks; plumbers get their experience from hands-on work in the field.
Many folks consider the option of hiring a local handyman for small plumbing jobs, which is just fine for the flappers and faucet washers. Unfortunately, the local handy guy probably doesn’t have the refined soldering technique that ensures a leak-free copper pipe installation or the knowledge of how to repair a sewer line break without digging up your entire yard. City codes often apply to plumbing work, requiring the issue of a permit for larger jobs, and your licensed plumbing technician must be aware and up-to-date on these mandates. Ask the handyman where the permit office is. Go ahead; we’ll wait.
Are They Licensed and Insured?
In Texas, anyone who performs plumbing work must either hold a current state-issued license or be registered with the state as a Plumber’s Apprentice. There are several licenses a plumber can have, Tradesman, Journeyman, and Master Plumber, with each successive license issued being indicative of more experience in the field and textbook learning in the classroom.
Plumbing companies will usually be owned or operated by an individual that holds a Responsible Master Plumber’s (RMP) designation on their regular Masters’ license. The RMP designation allows the Master Plumber to own and operate a plumbing company using their license as an “umbrella license” for anyone performing work as an employee of the company. The RMP is responsible for the supervision and management of work performed and ensuring that each employee holds a current, applicable license of their own.
All plumbing companies operating in Texas must carry General Liability insurance, with $300,000 worth of coverage as an annual minimum. This policy will cover any claims against the plumbing company that may arise because of defective parts or poor workmanship. Other insurance policies a plumbing company will require are Commercial Property insurance to cover tool or equipment theft and Worker’s Compensation insurance, mainly because, while rare, employees have been seriously injured on the job.
How Long Have They Been in Business?
One of the best examples of a company’s businesses practices is its longevity. Another sign of the times is that, in an internet-connected universe, nothing remains a secret for very long. No company wants to be saddled with a reputation for taking advantage of their customers. Once multiple bad reviews start to appear, it won’t be long before that company goes out of business. Only 25% of companies make it to their tenth anniversary, with 45% of all new enterprises ceasing operations within two years of opening.
Is It an Emergency, Or a Renovation?
Emergencies are never a good time to make important decisions, but a plumbing issue that requires immediate attention at 2:00 am requires some quick thinking. Knowing where the main shut-off valve is in your home can buy you some time if the issue is a supply line leak but isn’t going to be of much value if your water heater tank has burst. Unless you’ve thought ahead and have vetted and chosen a plumbing company beforehand, you’re going to be somewhat limited in after-hours options.
For more complex, non-emergent jobs, take the time to solicit bids from at least three different plumbing companies. Older homes that still have galvanized pipe or PVC may want to consider installing PEX or copper supply pipes, and homeowners with sluggish drains may need to replace their main sewer line.
Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning has been in business since 1979, and we’ve been in the same location in the Houston Heights we started from. What began as a small, family-owned, and operated plumbing company has grown into one of the most trusted, highest-rated, and top-performing businesses in all of Houston.
Don’t trust your most important investment to any “Chuck in a Truck.” The experts at Nick’s are ready to tackle your emergency plumbing, air conditioning, and heating issues and to help you plan and execute the installation of your new bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room plumbing.
Call Nick’s Today; We’re on the Way!