Most of the time, you know how much goods and services are going to cost. A trip to the Coles or Woolies, a tank full of petrol — after years of completing these errands, you know how much to expect to pay (and what price tags would be totally out of the ordinary).
But what about the price of your service?
The cost of plumbing repairs and maintenance can get much more confusing.This is particularly true when it comes to home services that have a range of variables. After all, the average person doesn’t call the plumber or get home repairs done regularly, so they may not be as familiar with what to expect, what to look out for, and what falls within the realm of “normal.”
Here, we break down how to calculate plumbing costs and what to keep your eye out for. Read on to find out what you should be paying for piping services in Melbourne and how to avoid being ripped off.
Start by preparing for a piping situation
The first step to controlling and calculating your plumbing costs? Knowing what situation you’re dealing with. Common reasons you’ll need to call a plumber include:
- You don’t have any water: This could be a major emergency, as total loss of water can signify frozen pipes, a major leak, a problem with the water main, or a backed up pipe. This can get costly, so you should turn off your water right away, check with your neighbours to see if they have similar issues, and look for other signs of damage.
- You don’t have hot water: This (as you might expect) could indicate an issue with your water heater, a broken pilot light, or a blown breaker. No one wants to start their Melbourne morning with a chilly shower, so be on the lookout for temperature problems.
- Low water pressure: If you have your sink or your shower on full blast and the pressure is still low, it could indicate a clogged aerator (at best) or a clogged pipe at worst. If you notice the issue on only one sink, you may be fine. However, if you have low water pressure throughout the house, it could be the pipes — a more costly fix.
- Clogged drains: Notice that the water isn’t going down in your sink or shower drains? This could be a simple issue caused by paper, hair, or too much product. That said, it could also be indicative of a bigger problem like roots in your underground system or a septic pipe issue. To get a better idea of which you’re dealing with, figure out how long you’ve been dealing with the problem and if it resolves with a plunger or a snake. If it does, then you might be dealing with the former, less costly build-up issue.
- An overflowing toilet: We’ve all dealt with a clogged or overflowing toilet at one point or another. This is usually not an extremely costly fix, but you should be more concerned if it starts overflowing on its own (not directly after a flush).
Knowing what problems to watch out for can help you spot small problems before they spiral into much bigger concerns. If you’ve identified the issue, you can also take certain steps to mitigate the problem and stop the damage. This includes:
- Using towels and buckets to stop further leaks or mop up standing water.
- Turning off your local water valve, your main valve, or your gas line to prevent further damage.
- Tightening or taping a loose pipe to try to slow dripping
4 factors that influence your plumbing costs
With all the above tips in mind, there are many other factors that can influence your plumbing costs. While piping isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ service, you can start to estimate a rough ballpark figure by taking into account these key variables.
#1 – Labour Costs
First, you have the cost of labour. Here, it’s important to keep in mind the nature of your request. A routine repair, for example, will be far less costly than an after-hours emergency request. Other factors that impact labour cost include the type of job and the safety concerns at hand.
#2 – Complexity of Piping Problem
Common jobs — like unclogging a toilet or repairing a leaky pipe — are much more predictable in price, and you can generally get a fixed-price quote. That said, if you’re dealing with a complex problem like a sagging ceiling with no clear cause, that’s much more complex. In such instances, the plumber might have to:
- Cut into your walls
- Use special technology to figure out where the leak is
- Conduct repairs in multiple areas of your house
The complexity of the problem, then, can majorly impact the cost.
#3 – Materials Used
You must also factor in the cost of materials. If you have a broken faucet, for example, you will need to buy the replacement for the plumber to install. If you have a broken pipe, the plumber may need to bring his own pipes and materials that are up to code. You must factor these costs into the overall service.
#4 – Quality of Service
There are short-term plumbing solutions and long-term solutions. If you have a house full of old and rusted pipes, for example, you can call a plumber to fix an immediate leak, or you can call them to repair and replace all the bad piping. The latter will certainly be more costly in the short term, but it may save you long-term costs that come from energy efficiency and water utilisation. You’ll need to consider the longevity of your solution when calculating costs
What “red flag” costs should you keep an eye out for?
With that in mind, you may also encounter plumbers that are trying to add costs to the service and rip you off. Be especially wary of plumbers that:
- Are unlicensed (and try to convince you that’s OK)
- Don’t offer verifiable references (but still try to convince you they’re the best)
- Provide you an estimate without seeing the problem firsthand
- Offer a quote that “expires” in a short amount of time
- Provide an overwhelming number of options without clear advice about what you should do
- Bring in “extra help” for a simple job so they can overcharge
- Offers “substitute” products or “bundle offers” that you never approved
And remember – the more you know what to expect and what’s going on in your home, the more wary you can be about these classic bait-and-switch tricks.
Looking to save money on your next plumbing service?
Plumbing costs can often be hard to calculate — especially if you don’t know what you’re looking at or how extensive the problem really is. That said, you can always minimise the costs and increase your awareness by:
- Making sure you have an idea of what you’re looking at and where the source problems lie
- Vetting your plumber ahead of time to ensure you have a reputable, skilled professional
- Understanding all the factors that can contribute to your costs
- Looking out for common “red flags” that a plumber is trying to rip you off.
Want to get a better idea of how your pipes look or what maintenance you might need? Give us a call and we’ll inspect your home!