Looking for a Plumber?
When you have a leaky faucet or some other plumbing issue, “Who you gonna call?” The answer isn’t Ghostbusters; it’s the right plumber near you, to ensure a quick response and expedited repairs.
But what makes a plumber the “right” plumber?
Glad you asked. Here are the key characteristics of the right plumber for whenever you need to call one:
- Licensed and insured
- Gets great reviews
- You live in the plumber’s service area
- Reasonable rates and estimates
- Independent vs. large company
- Guaranteed service
- Longevity and community roots
Let’s plunge into each of these factors in more detail.
A licensed plumbing contractor lends an assurance of competency. Check the plumber’s website to see if they are licensed; you can also visit the website of the state licensing board to check a plumber’s credentials. In most cases, a licensed plumber carries state-mandated insurance and bonding, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the plumber for proof of insurance. That way, if the plumber falls on your property or is otherwise harmed in the course of providing services, you aren’t liable. There’s really no reason why a reputable plumber wouldn’t carry insurance. If for some reason a plumber can’t provide proof of insurance, go back and re-read the previous sentence.
Best advice: Don’t hire a plumber who is not licensed and insured.
Check to see if the plumber has certifications. An established company probably belongs to the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), a nationally recognized plumbing association that provides technician education and certification. Plumbers with this certification provide you with an extra level of confidence that they offer the professionalism combined with the necessary skill set to competently and expeditiously perform work in your home.
There are any number of online resources to consult in choosing the right plumber. Frequently, plumbers post reviews on their own websites, though of course, they are going to post the most favorable reviews. So dig a little deeper and look at review sites such as Yelp (which in many cases also verifies that the plumbing contractor is licensed). One word of caution: there are always going to be some negative reviews. Check to see if the plumber has a 100% satisfaction guarantee and whether, in the past, the plumber reached out to try to correct whatever the issue was. Also consider whether the favorable reviews outweigh a few negative reviews. On the other hand, if you see mostly negative reviews, this is probably a red flag.
Like the reviews posted on the plumber’s website, any references (with contact information) provided by the plumber are likely positive. However, it does give you the opportunity to probe the reference more about the plumber’s pricing, responsiveness, and type of work performed. A plumber without references is probably not the right plumber for you.
You want a local plumber for two reasons. One, a plumbing contractor isn’t going to travel outside of their service area. The other is that a local plumber has roots in the local area, so you can more easily check references and get recommendations.
Say, for example, you live in Sonoma County. Type “plumber Sonoma County” into your search engine. You’re likely to find a number of listings, but probably the top three to five listings are a good place to start. You would do the same kind of search for Sonoma County as you would for Marin County, Santa Rosa, San Anselmo or North Bay.
Fun fact: The ancient Romans invented the concept of using pipes to transport water and waste as a local service. These pipes were made out of lead, the Latin word for which is plumbun. Hence, “plumber” is a worker in lead. Unfortunately for the Romans, today we know that contamination from lead piping is not good for your health. Some historians believe the maladies caused by lead piping was an underlying cause for the fall of the Roman Empire.
Cost is of course an important consideration, but it’s not the only consideration. There’s something to be said for the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” So be certain that what you are getting is what you are paying for.
Any reputable plumber provides estimates. If, out of, say, three estimates, one is much lower than the other two are, another adage to remember is, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.”
Cheaper isn’t always the best option. There are any number of reasons why a plumber is significantly cheaper in comparison to other contractors. While this is not always the case, cheap contractors can keep costs down by using more inexperienced technicians whom they can pay less, and can rely on inexpensive replacement parts. Remember, one definition of cheap is shoddy quality.
At the very least, get some details about exactly what the plumber is providing and what guarantees are involved. Then weigh those details along with the other considerations we’ve already listed.
Larger companies with guaranteed service are likely more expensive than small, independent plumbing contractors. That’s because they have more overhead. They are also likely more responsive to your needs, and will probably guarantee the work to your complete satisfaction.
Generally speaking, a flat-rate quote to perform service is preferable to an hourly rate quote. An experienced plumber knows how long a job takes to complete, which figures into the flat-rate estimate. An hourly rate leaves open the question of just how many hours the job is going to take. If the plumber can’t tell you that, perhaps another plumber can.
Keep in mind that the plumber’s travel time is a factor included in pricing estimates. This is yet another reason why the right plumber is a plumber near you. A closer plumber charges less travel time than one farther away.
Needless to say, get the estimate in writing to ensure both you and the plumber are clear on the service expectations. Also, check to see if the plumbing company has any special offers.
In some situations, a plumber may require a down payment for a service, both as an extension of good faith and commitment on your part, and possibly also to help cover the initial expenses of acquiring parts. A reputable plumber never asks for total upfront payment for any proposed work.
Larger plumbing companies have more plumbers on staff; therefore, they are more likely to respond to your plumbing situation quickly and at a time of your convenience. The solo plumber or even the two- or three-person shop takes on as much as they can handle, sometimes taking on too much, so that your particular job gets put on the back burner when resources are strained.
Some people think dealing with a larger company results in more impersonal service. It is nice to know your plumber on a first-name basis, but there’s no reason you can’t do that with a larger company. In fact, reputable large companies aspire to build long-term, trustworthy relationships with their customers.
What aspects of the work does the plumbing company guarantee? Look for specifics, such as that the company guarantees that:
- Technicians are clean, courteous, attentive, factor-trained and certified, and pass a national criminal background search
- Protective shoe covers and hall runners are used in all work and traffic areas
- Contractor assumes all liability if any property is damaged inside the scope of work
- Work is not complete until you are 100% satisfied
Last but not least, a plumbing company with longstanding roots in your community, particularly a family-owned business comprising multiple generations, has a reputation to uphold. The benefits of a family-owned business include:
- Commitment from a consistent, unified leader concerned with preserving reputation and community standing
- Greater sense of trust and authenticity
- Direct ownership investment in the success of the company and its employees, and the offer of optimum customer service
The Right Plumber Near You—Ongaro and Sons
Ongaro & Sons is a third-generation, family-owned business originally founded in 1932 by Ernest V. Ongaro in Fairfax, California. As a family-owned business, we understand better than anyone the importance of good plumbing to ensure safety and convenience for your family.
A fixture in the North Bay community for nearly a century, the Ongaro & Sons service area also includes Sonoma County, Marin County, Santa Rosa and San Anselmo. Our fully licensed plumbers are literally just a phone call away.
Contact us with any questions about maintaining your plumbing needs or to schedule an appointment. Our experienced technicians offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee and peace of mind that you’ve chosen the right plumber near you.