If you've ever hired a plumber for an hour or two of work, you know how expensive their services can be. What seems like a quick tightening of a pipe and a simple leaky faucet repair ends up costing you over $300, and if you're like many homeowners, you've probably wondered why plumber prices are so high.
Read ahead to learn why plumbing contractors charge so much for their services and a few tips you can follow to keep your costs low (and hopefully avoid needing to call an expensive plumber).
Why Are Plumbers So Expensive?
Many people have the perception that plumbing work is easy or that anyone could do it. They wonder why a plumber would charge such outrageous prices for work that takes less than an hour: If it was such a simple fix, why was it so expensive?
In reality, plumbers are tradespeople who receive specialized education, training, and certifications to do what they do. Their services are in high demand—everyone needs to hire a plumber at some point—and they often have to respond to plumbing issues as soon as possible to prevent big problems from worsening.
Let's break down how each of these factors affects the overall high cost of plumbing services.
Plumbing Education Isn't Cheap
You may think that plumbers receive most of their training on the job or after their company has hired them. While some plumbers learn primarily through an apprenticeship program, many receive their education from a technical school or community college. And often, these educational costs aren't cheap.
According to Vocational Training HQ, an Associate's Degree in Plumbing Technology can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $23,000. Students may then pay between $500 and $10,000 in additional educational fees for books, tools, housing, and uniforms.
On top of their education and training, plumbers also need to pay a fee to maintain state licensing. Though licenses vary in price from state to state, plumbers can expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars every two years to renew them.
While plumbing education may not cost as much as a Bachelor's degree, receiving quality training in this field can be pricey. When you hire a plumber, some of your payment goes toward the extensive education your professional plumber has received.
Plumbers Are Highly Skilled
Just as not everyone could do your job, not everyone can be a plumber. Professional plumbing requires a set of unique skills and knowledge that come more naturally to some people than others, and when you hire a plumber, you're paying for their expertise in their field.
To be successful at their jobs, plumbers need to have skills such as:
- Manual dexterity
- Physical strength
- Ability to work under pressure
- Algebra, geometry, and other math skills
- Excellent problem-solving abilities
- Deductive reasoning
- Business and administrative skills
- Interpersonal skills
Many plumbers complete house calls alone, so they need to know how to identify and fix everything themselves. When you call a plumber for an emergency repair project, they need to identify the problem from an exhaustive list of possible issues, work quickly to fix it, prevent future damage, and know the right parts and methods necessary to complete the job.
Similarly, plumber mistakes can lead to significant problems in your home. When a plumber repairs a laundry room pipe problem, bathroom water leak, or kitchen sink clog incorrectly, a homeowner may experience severe, expensive issues as a result. These risks also result in a high liability insurance rate for the profession. Plumbers need to work quickly, but they also need to make sure that they complete every plumbing project to top-quality standards.
When you hire a plumber, you are paying for their expertise and specialized knowledge. If you could fix the problem yourself and feel confident the job would suffice, you probably would. Instead, you trust a qualified professional to take the burden off your shoulders and complete the plumbing job correctly.
Master Plumber Training
Some plumbers go through additional training and education to receive master plumber certification. Master plumbers can complete big, complex projects involving sump pumps, waste systems, septic tanks, and other major plumbing systems. They also create blueprints for repairs, manage teams, and make complicated decisions daily.
In most states, plumbers need at least five years of experience to qualify for master plumber training. To receive this certification, they need to pass an exam covering state and local codes, specialty tasks, and a wide range of information.
Master plumbers tend to charge higher prices per hour than journeyman plumbers, but their additional cost reflects their extensive expertise.
Plumbing Services Are in High Demand
Another reason plumbers are so expensive is that the demand for plumbers is higher than the supply. If you know a thing or two about business, you've probably heard that supply and demand are some of the most significant determiners of price. When demand is high, and supply is low, prices increase to balance these two factors.
Plumbing is a high-demand profession. Every homeowner hires a plumber from time to time because almost every home across America utilizes indoor plumbing. Similarly, because you use your plumbing system every day, the likelihood that a problem will occur eventually is high.
Think about how many people experience a water heater, sink, or toilet problem every day, and then consider how many plumbers service your area. Plumbers are able to charge high prices to meet the demand they face from the public—that's just how business works.
Plumbing Problems Are Urgent and Time-Sensitive
Let's say a pipe bursts in your crawl space at 11 p.m., spewing hundreds of gallons of water into your house every hour. You probably don't want to wait until morning to call a plumber—instead, you need someone to come as soon as possible to stop the leak, clean up the mess, and repair the plumbing issue.
Most plumbers offer emergency services, which means that you can call them to complete time-sensitive repairs at any time of day. As a result, they or someone on their team need to be available 24/7 to respond to emergencies. When a plumber receives an emergency service call, they need to drop everything to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible.
When you call a local company about a plumbing job, you expect them to treat the issue as seriously as you do and respond promptly. As a result, a large portion of your service fee goes toward the plumbing industry's time-sensitive, urgent nature.
On top of emergency services, many plumbers also offer evening and weekend plumbing service calls to accommodate homeowners who work during the day. A plumber who works the second shift and is on-call for emergencies probably cannot spend as much time with their family, but customers pay them to have this kind of availability.
Four Ways To Lower Expensive Plumber Costs
Now that we've answered the question, "Why are plumbers so expensive?" it's time to answer an even more pressing question: "What can I do about it?" You may feel like you have no choice but to pay hundreds of dollars for a minor plumber project because that's just how the industry works.
However, you may be surprised to learn that you can take several steps to lower your yearly plumber costs and prevent significant problems from occurring. Here are four reliable ways to save money on a plumber.
- Learn To Fix Small Problems Yourself
One of the easiest ways to save money on a plumber is to learn to fix minor problems yourself.
Many people feel intimidated by plumbing tasks because they do not want to risk making a big, expensive mistake. However, some repair projects are easier than you think, and with the extensive resources available on the Internet, you can learn to fix small leaks, clogs, and broken parts yourself.
Before you call a plumbing company to fix a small problem, try Googling your specific issue and reading through the results. Most home improvement stores sell the supplies necessary to fix leaks and clogs, and you can probably find a YouTube video that walks you through each step.
Fixing toilet or sink problems yourself can save you a lot of money in the long run. But if you don't feel confident fixing the plumbing problem or think that your repair job could lead to a more expensive issue, it may be cheaper just to hire a plumber.
- Schedule Routine Water Heater & Septic Tank Maintenance
Another way to save money on costly plumber visits is to schedule regular maintenance appointments to keep your pipes, water heater, and other appliances in working order.
Some of the highest-cost plumber projects involve water heaters, septic tanks, and other large fixtures in and around your home. However, most people do not realize that these systems aren't working correctly until an expensive problem occurs.
Calling a local company to inspect your plumbing system every year can help you make sure that everything is working well and that no surprise plumbing disasters occur in your home. Maintenance appointments tend to be more affordable than service projects, so scheduling one every year or so won't break the bank.
During a routine inspection, a plumber will check for everything from leaks and clogs to small issues that could worsen down the road. Fixing these minor inconveniences now will prevent them from turning into expensive, messy problems, and stopping small leaks can even save you money on your water bill.
- Get Flat Rate and Per-Hour Quotes From Several Plumbers
Most plumbers offer free quotes to help customers understand how much a specific repair project will cost.
Getting a quote from a few different plumbers in your area can help you find the most affordable company, saving you money on the service job. Some plumbers may even lower their price if they know you're asking for quotes from several companies.
Receiving quotes from a few companies also gives you several professional perspectives about the issue your home is facing. You don't have to take a plumber's word as gospel immediately—shopping around allows you to make an informed decision about the plumbing project.
If your issue isn't urgent, talking to several companies can save you money in the long run.
- Take Preventative Measures
One of the most effective ways to save money on plumber costs is to prevent routine issues from occurring. At The Shroom Company, our revolutionary Shroom products can help you avoid and fix clogs throughout your home, saving you time and money on plumber service fees.
Some of our most popular products are our TubShroom, ToiletShroom, and DrainShroom--all of which help prevent or clear clogged drains.
Your bathtub drain probably experiences more clogs than any other drain in your house, especially if your family members have long, thick hair. Hair is the #1 cause of drain clogs, and our TubShroom prevents hair from ever getting stuck in your drain.
Our TubShroom device fits securely inside your bathtub drain, collecting every hair that threatens to create a clog. The product is easy to clean and fits in any standard tub drain, so you can feel confident that it will work correctly for your home.
Toilet clogs can be messy and hard to fix, leading many people to call in professional help. Fortunately, our ToiletShroom offers an affordable, effective solution for tough toilet clogs.
The ToiletShroom plunger features a unique, innovative design that pushes out any clog in one step. Better yet, this tool doubles as a squeegee, so you can use it to keep the inside of your toilet squeaky clean.
If you're already struggling with bathtub and shower clogs due to hair, the DrainShroom is an excellent solution for your house. This 42-inch drain snake attaches to any power drill, giving you a powerful, innovative way to clear the toughest hair clogs.
Hiring the right plumber means that you can feel confident about your faucet, toilet, or sink working appropriately after their visit. These service people go through years of costly training and education, have specialized, unique skills, and respond to service calls at all hours of the day. When you think about it, it makes sense that their prices are so high.
But even if you understand why plumbers are so expensive, you may still be reluctant to pay such high prices per hour or per job for their services. Thankfully, our revolutionary drain products from The Shroom Company can save you hundreds of dollars on plumber bills, giving you and your family the peace of mind that your drains will work properly.
Plumbers are expensive, and rightfully so. However, taking steps to avoid plumbing problems can save you the hassle and cost of hiring a professional. As a result, when you do need to call for help, your appointment won't break the bank.