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Latest Articles

7 Plumbing Scam Alerts You Should Be Aware Of

Posted by Keana Madden on June 18, 2014

As you know, it’s plumbing month at HPM! Our plumbing specials are still good until this Saturday, June 21. It’s not too late to find your necessary plumbing materials to begin your next project!

But if you've already acquired your materials, you’re probably thinking about hiring a licensed professional to help with installation or repairs. Before you begin your search, here are a few tips to help you avoid unnecessary plumbing costs and recognize whether or not you’re being scammed:

1. No identification or credentials

Sure, unlicensed and uninsured professionals may charge less, but you’re probably taking a big risk by hiring them.

“Of the major trades, only two are required by law for the individual to be licensed: electricians and plumbers. Why? Because shoddy work by any of these two trades can kill you. Think about improperly vented hot water tank powered by propane gas. In no time you have a home filled with deadly fumes.” Source: Mongolia Voice. Yikes!

2. Estimating a quote without a home inspection

Can a plumber realistically estimate his price for a job if he hasn't seen it? The answer is no, he can’t. They can however, tell you their hourly rate and if they have a minimum charge, they can also give you an estimate of time involved in a small, predictable job – for example, installing a new faucet or maybe clearing a plugged kitchen sink. Don’t accept a quote without an in-person inspection and be sure to get it in writing.

3. Significantly lower plumbing costs

You receive a surprisingly cheap bid and you’re thinking it’s too good to be true? Then it probably is and something’s wrong. If one contractor agrees to perform the same plumbing services for far less than other plumbing companies, you should be suspicious. If you collect several competing bids, you’ll definitely get a better idea of what’s a reasonable cost for your plumbing job.

4. Making contract changes mid-job

If you encounter any significant additions or unusual increased plumbing costs in the middle of the job, it is a definite red flag. Either your plumber doesn't know what he’s doing, has taken on too big of a project, or is trying to get away with something.

5. Pushing you to pay before the work is done

It’s pretty reasonable for plumbers to ask for a down payment of up to half of the estimate to cover parts and give assurance that you’ll pay up. (Some states only allow plumbers to request 10-percent of a job upfront) However, it’s not reasonable to ask you to pay for the full bill before the job is completely finished – plumbers that do, are most likely going to take the money and run.

6. Requiring you to pay cash

A plumber may ask you to pay cash under the table and forgo a receipt – maybe with a discounted offer. Chances are he’s probably cheating on his taxes or doesn't carry appropriate insurance either. Whatever you do, get a written receipt for the work done in case something goes wrong.

7. Showing up uninvited

If a plumber shows up uninvited and tries to convince you to hire him, do not let them into your home and make sure to call the police! This is usually a tip-off to fraud or to a burglar checking for valuables in your home.

“Many people – elderly homeowners in particular – are targeted by con artists. An 81-year-old woman from Los Angeles, California told a local news station that two men appeared at her home pretending to work for a local plumbing company. She saw through them and called the police.”

With any repair situation or upgrading plumbing equipment, these projects should begin with a plumbing consultation. A plumber will come to your home and talk to you about your needs and expectations, while performing a visual inspection of the project. He will then follow up with a written quote explaining all of your plumbing services and materials required.

Luckily, if you’re searching for a plumber, we have a resource tool made just for you! Our Better Builder Directory has a list of reputable licensed professionals throughout the State of Hawaii. We initially screen all participating contractors for valid contractor licenses and a good HPM account credit standing, so you don’t have to worry!

Sources: atomicplumbing.com, moneytalksnews.com