10 Sneaky Plumber Tricks of the Trade

You shouldn't have to dread calling a plumber. Here is how to find a good one and get the most value for your money.

7. Pushing you for cash

A plumber may ask you to pay under the table in cash and forgo a receipt, maybe with the offer of a discounted price. It’s a sign he’s cheating on his taxes. It’s your decision, of course, but how fair is this to the rest of the taxpayers? Also, a worker who is dishonest in one area may well be dishonest in others.

Whatever you do, get a written receipt for the work done in case something goes wrong and also for possibly deducting the work at tax time. If a plumber won’t provide a receipt, find another plumber.

8. Bringing in extra workers

Occasionally, a plumbing company may send out more workers than are needed for your job. It’s a way of charging extra for a one-person job.

If your job is a complex one, a second plumber may truly be justified. So when you order the work, ask how many plumbers will be coming, how long the work should take, the hourly rate charged and any other fees.

9. Charging high rates for the first hour

Many service providers have a minimum charge for the first hour on the job. Nothing wrong with that. It takes them time and money to get out the door.

But if your job is a small one and the plumber finishes before the hour is up, ask him or her to take care of other small jobs to fill out the hour.

“Ask him to replace washers, gaskets or O-rings, tighten faucet stems or other small tasks around the home, or ask him for a quick inspection so you’ll be able to identify where wear and tear might indicate future problems will develop,” Care2.com suggests.

Another solution: Rather than paying by the hour, ask a plumber to charge you by the job.

10. Pushing you to pay before the work is done

It’s reasonable for a plumber to ask for a down payment of up to half of the estimate to cover parts and give assurance that you’ll pay up.

It’s not reasonable to ask you to pay the full bill before the job is finished and you are satisfied.

Have you run into a plumber’s trick? Warn the rest of us about it. Post a comment in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Marilyn Lewis
Marilyn Lewis
After a career in daily newspapers I moved to the world of online news in 2001. I specialize in writing about personal finance, real estate and retirement. I love how the Internet ... More

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