We spend countless hours in our lives planning family vacations, the birth of our children, parties, shopping lists, you name it! We usually know down to the smallest side dish what is going to be on our table for Christmas Dinner.
But how much time have you spent planning what you’re going to do when your sewer backs up? When the water heater leaks? When your boiler heat goes out? The definition of an emergency is: a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. By definition, it is difficult to plan for an emergency.
The first thing to cross my mind when I have an emergency repair at my home is generally: “How much is this going to cost me?” I can’t be alone here. I think what happens when we combine a lack of forethought with an emergency situation is that we throw out everything that is hard-wired into us as planners and we resort to the important, but often risky, the response of: “I have to find the cheapest way possible to fix this right now!”
When you’re dealing with a plumbing emergency, you can’t afford a cheap fix. A cheap fix today often results in an expensive repair tomorrow. Most people can’t afford to go with the cheapest plumber. So, if not price, what should you look for in a plumber to take care of your emergency? Here are a few rules of thumb to help determine your best option:
- Know who you’re talking with. Pay attention to who you talk with when you call to schedule a plumber to come to your home. Are you talking with an answering machine or does the person on the other end of the line care about you and genuinely want to help fix your problem? You can tell a lot about a company by how they answer the phone.
- Be wary of over-the-phone pricing. I learned this one the hard way. The price you get over the phone is generally a base price and it can increase significantly once someone gets to your house and really sees what’s going on. Plumbing problems simply cannot be diagnosed over the phone – especially if you aren’t talking with an actual plumber when you call.
- Look for a plumber who offers 24-hour emergency service. If the problem arises again, it is good to know that you will be able to get someone out to look at it again. No one wants to wait for the weekend without hot water or heat.
- Check online reviews. You’re probably not the first person in town to need a plumber. Rely on Google reviews and other websites that have a bank of real reviews written by real people in your community.
- Check the background. Ask if the technician coming to your home is drug-tested and background-checked. Your home and your family are your priority. A company that invests significant dollars in making sure that employees are trustworthy and safe in your home tells you that your home and family are a priority to them, too.
I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to pick a vacation destination and then say: I don’t care where it is or what it looks like, as long as it is the cheapest. I’m pretty sure I would never buy a car sight-unseen by getting a price over the phone. And no one would call the detention center to find a last-minute babysitter.
There are honest, reputable, trained, trustworthy plumbing companies out there. Are they the cheapest? Probably not. Knowing what is important to you before you invite someone into your home is essential, especially in an emergency. If you know what you want in a plumber before you pick up the phone, you don’t have to worry about being bound by the cheapest option.