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Top 5 SCAMS in the plumbing industry (and how to avoid them)

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Being a good plumber requires certain levels of passion, a lot of precision and a lot of knowledge. If you have a leaky faucet, you call the plumber. Is your sink draining slowly? Do you have a low water pressure all of a sudden? Call the plumber. It’s safe to say that life would become a nightmare if there were no plumbers in this world.

There are over half a million Americans working as plumbers, pipelayers, steam and pipefitters and just just like in every business, there are a lot of scams in the plumbing industry.

It seems that scammers are always a few steps ahead of everybody else and if you aren’t careful enough you can lose your nerves and hard earned money in a heartbeat.

Luckily there are a few things you can learn to minimize the possibility of being scammed. But before we talk about those things take a look at the 6 most common scams that are going on in the plumbing industry.


SCAM 1: Bait and switch

A good service costs more money than a bad service. If you want the plumber to use the best materials possible, you will pay more. But are you sure that you’re getting the best materials for which you paid for? Some plumbers will use low-cost materials and charge you the top-quality materials. The difference is often over 200% and a shady plumber will be more than happy to put the price difference in his pocket.

SCAM 2: Overcharging

Most plumbers don’t have a fixed hourly rate and the law allows them to charge as much as they want for their service. Is there a nice car parked outside your house and you live in an upper-class neighborhood? If so, there’s a good chance that some plumbers will automatically increase their hourly even rate up to 100% because they think you can afford it and you won’t make a big deal out of it.

SCAM 3: When the final cost dwarfs the estimate

Before you hire a plumber, you should get a cost estimate. And the estimate should be as close to the number on the final bill as possible. Period. However, some plumbers like to avoid questions about estimated costs, especially those who are smooth talkers. Everything you want is “no problem” and when you ask for an estimate in writing, you get all sorts of excuses. But when you get the invoice after the job is finished, it can be even two to three times higher than you hoped it would be.

The fact is that an estimate over the phone is worth nothing. If you don’t have a paper estimate, there’s nothing you can do but pay the invoice and go on with your life.

SCAM 4: It’s getting crowded

Sometimes you hire the plumber for a job. He starts working at hour house the next day and before you realize it, your house is filled with people you’ve never seen before and you have no idea what are they doing. Before you start panicking, some of these people might be plumber’s apprentices. Apprentices need to be monitored by a licensed plumber so if the plumber is there with them, there’s no problem. But sometimes plumbers want to ramp up their profits and hire a subcontractors to do certain parts of the job. This also isn’t a problem in most cases but sometimes plumbers ramp up the price on their invoice and claim they have no control over rates of the subcontractors and it’s their fault that the invoice gave you a mild heart attack.

SCAM 5: Too much money upfront

Most states in the U.S. have laws that prohibit plumbers to ask for more than 10% of the price upfront. If the plumber is asking for more than that (sometimes even up to 50%), hire another plumber because you don’t want anyone to run away with your hard earned money.

How to avoid getting scammed by a plumber?

install a kitchen faucet

Now that you know what are the most common scams in the plumbing industry, it’s time to learn a few steps that will make you safer.

  1. Ask for credentials. Before you hire the plumber, ask them for their plumbing license. If they got none, who knows if they have enough skills to work on your project. In worse case scenario they can do more harm than good in the long run.
  2. Never let anyone inside your house unless they have a license to show. Some criminals might claim to be plumbers and when you let them inside your house, both your belongings and life might be in danger.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good plumber has nothing to hide and will be more than happy to answer on all of your questions. A shady plumber on the other hand will try to avoid certain questions like the plaque.

The bottom line

Most plumbers in this world are great people. They will be more than happy to do the job because a happy customer is a repeat customer. Whether you are installing a new toilet, a stand-alone bathtub, or fixing the kitchen sink, the plumber is there for the rescue.

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