Help! I Need A Plumber!

Sink pipesWhat do you do when your plumbing is out of order and you need help now? The good news is that there are a lot of plumbers out there who can assist you the same day you call. The bad news is there are a lot of plumbers out there so who can you trust to get the job done right and how much is it going to cost you?
Our plumbing issue started on Christmas, yes I know, on Christmas Day 2011. And it started in the evening, of course, when all the stores in my town were closed. Ugh! We used some drain clogging products I had on hand but when that didn’t work, we knew we had to call the plumber.
My husband ended up calling Mr. Rooter and they showed up within 30 minutes. It was a flat rate fee, which was great since it took about 4 hours to tackle the clog & get the snake through the twists and turns of the pipe. The young plumber was professional, polite and took care to wear shoe covers in my house. The only bad thing about using Mr. Rooter is the expense. They are more expensive than other local companies but they could get to our house the quickest. They do have coupons online that you can print and if you sign up for their Advantage Plan, you can receive discounted rates and priority service. We bought the one year Advantage Plan which actually brought down the price of our total bill (but it was still expensive).
So, we think we are in the clear until the toilet and tub back-up again the next day. We call Mr. Rooter to snake the pipes again (they return for free one time) and it only took the older plumber 15 minutes. This time we pay to have the camera snake and discover that our pipes have collapsed. We get the repair estimate and it is not good. The pipes are 6 feet below ground which means a city inspection of the work and a digging machine rental and a more expensive estimate.
At this point, we felt obligated to just go with Mr. Rooter since we had a good experience thus far but my gut told me we should get more estimates. My husband called around and we had plumber after plumber come to the house and offer their estimates. We soon discovered that Mr. Rooter’s estimate was on average $2,000 more than the rest so we took them off our list. A friend of mine offered a great referral like Paris Plumbing but unfortunately they did not service our area. We ended up going with Bob Oates Plumbing due to their knowledgeable, professional staff and good online reviews. There was another estimate that was cheaper but when that plumber had no idea that a city inspection was needed, we knew that would end up costing us in the end.
Bob Oates Plumbing showed up a few hours late without a phone call (their tire blew out). But when they did show up, they worked promptly with minimal interruption and minimal mess (except for the cigarette butts and pistachio shells in my cul-de-sac). And our plumbing is back in working order. Hallelujah!!

The lessons we learned from this experience:

  • have several estimates in writing
  • look out for hourly charges (because inexperienced plumbers will spend more time & cost you more money)
  • the cheapest estimate is not always the best
  • check online for reviews (angie’s list, yelp, better business bureau) & ask your friends for referrals
  • check online for printable coupons and check your entertainment book for coupons
  • you can still take showers & wash dishes by using a wet vac to suck up the water
  • you can do laundry by hooking it up to the garden hose to let the water drain outside
  • be nice to your neighbors because you never know when you will need to use their bathroom
  • humans use a lot of water on a daily basis but can survive using a lot less when circumstances require it

*P.S.- Wouldn’t you know it when I received my Advantage Plan package in the mail from Mr. Rooter, they sent me EXPIRED coupons?!  omg.