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Tips for hiring a plumber

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It’s 11 p.m., and it’s Saturday night.

You turn on the taps and nothing happens. Or maybe it’s Thanksgiving and you’re hosting dinner for 20 when the kitchen sink won’t stop spurting water.

Can’t find the water main shut off valve? Had a plumbing crisis? Gathering together contractors for a minor – or major – planned home renovation involving plumbing? If you have a dependable, responsive plumber you can call in a pinch and for a schedule project, it’s as good as having cash in the bank.

Do your homework, first

While it may feel harder than ever to find a great plumber there are plenty of resources to tap.

Your real estate professional is a great source for vendor information – from home inspectors and roofers to plumbers and more.

“Our team and Doylestown office have vendor lists because when we come across someone who has done work for our clients or our client recommends someone that is gold, and we track it,” said Jaimie Meehan, a Realtor at Melissa Healy Group at Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown.

Understand your set up and utility services

What kind of water and sewer service does your property include?

Is your home fed by a private, onsite well? Do you have a septic system, field or sand mound, or does your home receive public utilities, in the form of water and sewer service?

In many rural townships throughout Bucks County private wells are the norm for water service.

When searching for a plumber, it’s a good idea to include the word well or onsite system in your search; for example, a broad private well plumbers website search is a place to begin.

You’ll want to speak to someone who is knowledgeable and specializes in your particular type of water service.

Private well systems

Do you know where your well is located on the property? Is it accessible? Well pumps – even high quality units – eventually wear out and need to be replaced.

As this type of plumbing job is a subset or niche specialty, and it requires a plumber with specific knowledge and expertise.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov) breaks down the physical components of water and sewer supply systems as well as material types used in residential plumbing applications.

Public water services

Public water service means there is a service line that runs from the water main into your home by way of a lateral pipe.

Water fixtures in the home may fail, even though you have water being delivered from the water main. An experienced residential plumber should know how to work with any problem that arises with fixtures inside the home.

During a real estate inspection for a home sale, there probably won’t be information about the age of the public water infrastructure – the piping and water mains buried in the ground to deliver water to your home – and already serving the property.

Municipal water authorities are required to release annual testing data regarding the health, safety and quality of the water they distribute to customers and that information should be readily available, said Dennis Gehman, president of Gehman Design Remodeling in Harleysville, Montgomery County.

Call municipal offices to request information regarding the age of public water infrastructure, as well as any timetables they’ve released for plans to upgrade or replace it.

“Much of the infrastructure [across Bucks County] is old some communities may even have terra cotta” pipes in their infrastructure, said Leigh Nunno, a Realtor and associate broker at Melissa Healy Group at Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown.

Even when municipal public improvements are made to service main lines, the service lines themselves – or lateral pipes serving individual homes from the water main – may or may not have been upgraded.

Nunno said insurance for service line pipes is available through some home and property insurance carriers. Speak with your agent or representative to see if that’s an appropriate option for you.

In addition to local municipal offices, the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority in Warrington may have information about your municipal service. Visit buckscounty.gov for a complete listing of service departments.

If you have a relationship with a contractor or general contractor, ask their advice for plumbing professional recommendations.

Friends, family and neighbors who have used plumbers are another resource for finding a good plumber. Once you’ve found a plumber or narrowed your search to a few businesses, check reviews.

Ask for proof of insurance and licensing, training, certifications and any continuing education or professional organizations of which the plumber may be a member.


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