Why Do Plumbers Cost So Much?

By expertplumbing | Featured

Sep 08

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Why do some plumbers seem to cost so much, while cost much less? We explore the difference in plumbing pricing.

It’s not some great mystery. Usually the difference is training, actually carrying insurance, the overhead of having a place of business to store parts, employing back office staff, and park trucks, both so customers in their hour of need aren’t waiting and get their problems resolved correctly and promptly the first time.

Plumbers, real plumbers, cost. But just because you’re paying doesn’t mean you’re getting what you paid for. Experienced professionals are vanishing because people don’t want to pay for them. So many jobs I go to where I’m the 2nd or 3rd guy because we cost more. And when the cheaper guy can’t figure it out you end up paying both of us.
Jay Leno had a plumber on his show who had pulled a kitten from a sewer line. As Jay closed the show he asked, “Why do plumbers cost so much?”
Without missing a beat the plumber replied, “If you don’t like it Jay try fixing it yourself.”

As a 24/7 shop I see it all. Cell phones in urinals, army men in garbage disposals, toilets overflowing through ceiling fans, dead squirrels, swollen, and blocking drain lines. Once, many years ago in Chicago, we brought back a newborn on our sewer rod. I have rescued kittens, diamond rings, a Rolex, M-16 cartridges and chased out just about everything that walks or crawls in our state.

But I am a dying breed. For every ten plumbers who retire 1 takes their place. The older I get the more valuable I appear. Not just to myself but to the younger and inexperienced. The new generation of Plumber has rarely if ever worked with lead, though the word Plumber is from the Latin meaning “worker with lead”. They don’t know galvanized pipe, suds pressure zones, black malleable or all the little nuances that come with age. My guess is that I lost most of you with that last statement as well.

“The two smartest times in a tradesman’s life are as he walks out of school and as he retires.”

One day we were called out for a water main break. After hours of excavation we reached the water main. My plumbers were shocked to see a perfectly round hole about 3 inches across in the iron pipe. As if something cut by a laser. My guys were completely at a loss, and I have some really sharp plumbers in my employ. The two smartest times in a tradesman’s life are as he walks out of school and as he retires.

I took one look and turned to the building tenants, “Was your building struck by lightning last night?”

“Yes.” they replied.

That’s what you’re paying for with a good plumber. I have solved hundreds of plumbing mysteries and loved every one of them.

A dentist office called and said their main sewer was clogged. We rodded over 100 feet twice before a secretary came up and said, “So your having the same trouble as the last guy.”
“The last guy?” I said questioning. “How many plumbers have been here?”
“You’re the third.” She smiled. “I hope you can solve this.”
“I just did.” I smiled at her.

I told the dentist we needed to get on the roof. He was more than skeptical of this step. I tried to explain the physics of plumbing but he wasn’t getting it. He actually tried to argue my logic. So I said, “Look. If this doesn’t work you don’t have to pay the bill.” Ten minutes later my plumber pulled a dead squirrel from the plumbing vent on the roof and all the drains began the flow at once.

My point isn’t that I’m smarter. Any real plumber would have done what I did. My point is he paid two companies for plumbers but didn’t get one. And then he paid me on top of that. Just from a financial standpoint, going with the cheapest options are largely a gamble, while a long term relationship with a real plumber is the best bet long term.


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