When it comes to finding a plumber, it can be intimidating. There are so many different types of contractors out there, all with different specialties and rates of service. There are even plumber schools that offer certification programs and promise to teach you everything necessary to become a licensed plumber. However, not all of them are created equal. Some offer substandard services at inflated prices and others are downright dangerous. There are, however, a few standards all good plumbers follow. Here is what you should look for when hiring a contractor for your next project. Depending on the scale of your project and your specific needs, some tips may not apply. For example, if you need a septic tank pumped out, you don’t want to be looking at your local plumbing contractor in the same way you’d want to meet with your general contractor for a new kitchen or bathroom installation. Keep reading for advice on how to find a reliable contractor for your next plumbing project.

Ask for recommendations.

Word of mouth is the best way to find a reliable plumber, especially if you live in a remote area where there aren’t many contractors. If your friends or family members have had a good experience with a plumber, you can be sure that they will be recommending that same contractor to you. However, you should be mindful that recommendations are not always the most reliable source. People can be biased and may have little to no idea how good or bad a particular plumber is. You should take any recommendations you receive with a grain of salt, and do some research on your own. You can also try to find a local trade organization that has a list of certified contractors. Many of these organizations are affiliated with the National Association of Plumbing and Drainage Contractors (NAPDC).

Be wary of vague or suspicious ads.

Advertisements that promise “affordable” rates and “affordable” service are often red flags. As we’ve already mentioned, plumbing work is not cheap. Even if a contractor tries to up-solicit their services by offering cheap rates, they’ll probably end up disappointing their customers. Don’t be fooled by ads that claim their services are “affordable” or “affordable for everyone”, because they almost always end up being scams. If the contractor doesn’t accept credit cards, you’ll have to pay in cash. If you’re not comfortable with that, then the contractor certainly isn’t legitimate. Be even more cautious if the ad or website is overly flashy or difficult to navigate. There are plenty of legitimate plumbing companies out there, but they don’t tend to spend a lot of time and money on fancy websites.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

When you are interviewing potential plumbing contractors, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get all the information you need. It’s not always easy to ask a contractor if they have liability insurance and what their rates are. However, this is your home and you deserve to know what you’re getting into. Make sure you ask about their experience and qualifications. You can also try asking what type of insurance they carry. Generally, plumbing contractors are required to carry $1 million in liability insurance. Make sure that’s the case for both your general contractor and plumbing contractor. Ask them to provide you with a written estimate so that you have everything in writing. When you receive the estimate, make sure you read everything and ask all the questions you have. It’s okay to ask for extra copies so that you can make notes.

Check for licenses and insurance.

Aside from asking about their experience and qualifications, you should also make sure that your contractor has the proper licenses and insurance. You may not think about it until after the fact, but if your contractor is unlicensed or doesn’t have insurance, you could be liable for any work they do. You can check with the state’s contracting board to see if your contractor is licensed. Be aware that some states require contractors to be licensed, while others require only certain types of contractors to be licensed. You can find a full list of state contracting boards at the National Association of State Contracting Officers website.

Confirm the rates and services provided.

Before you sign a contract, be sure to ask the contractor to confirm their rates and what services they provide. There is no shortage of dishonest contractors who will charge exorbitant rates or provide services that they don’t actually provide. It’s not uncommon for a contractor to charge more than they should or provide more services than they need. A reputable contractor should be willing to be transparent and up-front about their rates, services provided, and any extra costs that may not be included in their quote. You should also be sure that the contract you sign is in writing and includes all the necessary details.

Check for reviews and references.

While you should be wary of ads and quotes that don’t include information about rates and services, you should also be wary of contractors who are too secretive. It’s important to ask the contractor for references, and then to follow up with those references. You should ask the contractor for the names and contact information for past customers. Then, you should call those customers and ask them about their experience with the contractor. It’s also important to check online reviews. While you should always take reviews with a grain of salt, they can be helpful in identifying unscrupulous contractors. Remember that reviews are not always accurate and people are often too quick to share their negative experiences. However, a lack of reviews can also be a sign that a contractor is dishonest.


Finding a trustworthy and reliable plumber can be a challenge, but it’s worth it. It can be pricey to hire a plumber, but it’s also an expense that must be budgeted for. There are a lot of unscrupulous contractors who will take advantage of your lack of knowledge and experience. It’s up to you to be diligent and do your homework. Whether you’re in the process of finding a new home or just want to make sure your home’s pipes are in good shape, it’s important to have a plumber come out and take a look at your pipes. It’s never a bad idea to hire a plumber, but it’s also important to do your research and find a reliable contractor. It’s your home and you have a right to expect good service and high quality work from your contractor.

Frequently Asked Question

  • Keeping the Water On During an Emergency
  • Overusing Drain Cleaners
  • Fixing Plumbing Issues on Your Own
  • Ignoring a Plumbing Issue
  • Using a Handyman Instead of a Licensed Plumber
  • Turning Off Your Heater in the Winter
  • Not Scheduling Plumbing Service
  • Have the Right Tools for the Job
  • Turn off All Water Before You Start
  • Use Natural Methods to Unclog Your Drains
  • Don't Put Trash in Your Garbage Disposal
  • Don't Overtighten Plumbing Connections
  • Don't Hesitate to Call for Help
Maintenance may also include inspection of your garbage disposal lines (and unit), dishwasher, and washing machine hoses and lines. Maintenance sometimes consists of a drain and flush of the water heater. If you've purchased a plumbing maintenance plan, read the fine print and always ask for clarification.
  • Over Tightening Plumbing Connections
  • Using Inappropriate Tape or Wrapping a Thread Tape Backwards
  • Using Drain Line Cleaners as the First Option
  • Handling Plumbing Jobs without the Necessary Spare Parts
  • Failing to Turn Off Water
  • Using Excessive Force on Valves Stuck on Shut Off