Most people assume that all plumbing companies are the same, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Highly qualified plumbers can be hard to find, as there are many out there who have little experience and are operating without a license. There are different skill levels to the trade that you should be aware of. These levels are listed below, as well as questions you should ask when hiring a plumbing company.
- Apprentice Plumber: This type of training is comprehensive and geared towards novice plumbers. Apprentice training can be administered by union locals or nonunion contractor organizations. Apprenticeships are paid, on-the-job programs that generally last 3-4 years. They also include classroom training.
- Journeyman Plumber: A plumber can apply for his journeyman license once he’s completed his apprenticeship program. This is the most common type of plumber in America. To get this license, the plumber must pay a fee and pass an exam.
- Master Plumber: To obtain this status, a plumber needs a certain number of years of experience and an associates degree or training at a vocational school. They also have to pass a difficult exam that tests both their written and practical knowledge. They are required to complete continuing education hours annually.
Questions to Ask
- Are you officially licensed?
- -This is the most important question you can ask when hiring a plumbing company. Homeowners often assume that a plumber is automatically licensed, which simply isn’t the case. A licensed plumber is one who is registered with a state or local organization. Hiring a plumber that isn’t licensed can lead to problems down the road.
- Do you charge an hourly or flat rate?
-When you receive an estimate, ask the plumber if he charges a flat rate or by the hour. They can either charge you a flat rate that doesn’t change due to labor costs, or they’ll use an hourly rate in addition to the cost of materials. If they charge hourly, a longer job means that the price will increase because you’re paying for the labor.
- Will you clean up?
- -While you may think every plumber will clean up their mess afterwards, this isn’t always the case. Some plumbers will leave behind boxes, parts, and dirt that you’ll be stuck with having to clean up. It’s important to ask if the clean up is part of the quote they give you, as this is a common practice.
- Ask for references
- –An experienced plumber will be able to give you examples of recent clients that were satisfied with their services, perhaps even someone in your part of town. Be sure to get a good idea of their background and how long they’ve been operating.
- Who’s doing the plumbing?
- –Always ask the plumber you’re talking to if he is the one who will be doing the job or if it’s someone else. Some jobs require one or two people, while others require a team of laborers. If someone else is doing the job, ask for their qualifications and experience.