It often seems that plumbers are a necessary evil. They sort out your faulty plumbing. They also fix and service things like your central heating boiler which – like most essentials – always seems to go wrong at the worst possible time. But if your regular plumber is always promising to turn up “tomorrow” or just never returns your calls because he is too busy, how do you choose a new plumber and make sure they are more reliable?
1. Word of mouth
Asking friends and neighbors who they use when they have a plumbing problem can be a good way to find a reliable plumber. Your friends will know first hand whether their call was answered and returned, whether the plumber turned up somewhere close to the agreed time and whether the charge was reasonable.
Ideally you should go for someone who has been used for several years in a row. That will increase your chance of getting good service that is worth the money you pay for it.
2. Check they are registered
In Canada, the Government Gas Safe site has details of all plumbers who have passed their certification requirements. This at least means that your chosen plumber has been tested by an organization that has a reputation to protect.
If there’s any doubt – or if this is the first time you are using this particular plumber – don’t just take their reassurance that they are registered, spend a minute or two online doing your own due diligence.
3. Check how long they have been trading
- The longer the plumber has been trading, the better.
- Ideally from the same address.
- If you’ve got some old copies of Yellow Pages or the Phone Book acting as makeshift doorstops, you can flick through those.
If not – and assuming the plumber has a website – you can easily find out how long their domain name has been registered. Just enter it in one of the many online “WhoIs” tools, enter the domain name and you can find when their domain was first registered. This will give you a good idea of the minimum length of time they have been trading. Always assuming that they have got round to registering a domain name – not always a given with this trade.
4. Check their reviews
- There isn’t a Tripadvisor equivalent for plumbers but there are sometimes reviews of plumbers on other sites and even in the Google results.
- As with any review, the chances of someone taking time to post a positive review is a lot slimmer than a bugged customer posting a negative review.
- There will almost always be the occasional negative review. Just beware if you find too many of them!
- And beware if you find too many positive reviews with no negative ones interspersed.
You’ll instinctively know what looks natural – go with that first reaction rather than making the facts fit your overwhelming desire to use the first plumber who actually answers their phone or calls you back.
If you live in western Canada then take a close look at Pioneer Plumbing. They have a good reputation online and a professional looking website. This is a good indication that they are one of the best Vancouver plumbers in this local area.
5. If time permits, get a second quote
OK, this isn’t always possible in the real world. Especially for a profession that is notorious for being poor to respond.
But especially for larger jobs such as replacing an entire central heating system, it’s worth getting more than one quote for the work.
And if it’s a larger job, check what kind of guarantee you get. At a minimum, you need the manufacturer’s guarantee, so check that you get the completed card before you let your plumber leave. Don’t go as far as laying a stinger on your drive but do make sure they’ve legibly completed the card including their (checked!) Gas Safe number if appropriate.