Looking for a good plumber or plumbing contractor that offers good quality plumbing services can seem a little difficult at first but with a little work it can be done if you follow some key steps.  First off, you should ask for referrals from people you trust, friends, neighbors, co-workers or if you have a good carpenter, heating repairman or roofer, ask them. Many times they’ll know of someone that’ll be competent to do your plumbing work.    

Once you have a name, check to be sure they are licensed. Here in the state of Michigan not only does a person need to have a master plumber license to be in business they must also have a plumbing contractor’s license. Also ask the plumber if he is insured, have him present a
copy of his certificate of insurance to you whenever he is about to start a project for you.

Check to see how long they have been in business, this will tell you if at the very least if their stable. Also ask for references and check for on-line reviews. Another thing to ask the plumber or plumbing
contractor is to show you his or her current work if possible. Sometimes going to their job site to inspect their work could be a good thing. Not only can you see their workmanship but you also can see how well they keep their job site clean and organized.

Ask the plumber or the plumbing contractor about their warranty or guarantee’s.  How long will they stand behind their work, whether it be a small plumbing repair job or a large commercial
plumbing project, warranties should always be discuss.

Your next plumbing job should always have a quote. If it’s a big plumbing job such as plumbing a new residential home or remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, you should always get at least three quotes. Even when comparing the bids you have to be careful because some plumbing
companies will strip their bids back to the bare minimum to get the job, but by just quoting the bare minimum to get by can leave you with a problem later on down the road if there is ever is a issue that occurs later on with your plumbing system. Sometimes getting them to respond to a “call back” can be next to impossible with some plumbers. And speaking of call backs, when talking to
other clients that have used your perspective plumber, ask them how he responded to a “call back”, did he response quickly, was he courteous? Or was he nonchalant and rude? His response can tell you quite a bit on how he values his customers.  Just remember the saying, “you get what you pay for”,  this is true in all jobs being quoted whether it is plumbing, heating, electrical, building and etc. just be careful and make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed and that you’re
comparing apples to apples in the quote. Even if you have a small plumbing repair job, you should always have your plumber give you a quote so that there won’t be any surprises at the end. And please, don’t take a quote over the phone, many times there is something else that you might not see or the plumber quoting over the phone won’t see either which could frustrate both you in the
end because of some unforeseen problem. Have the plumber quote the plumbing job by actually looking at it, that way they can get it 100% correct for both you and them. You’ll both be happy in the end and it’ll be beneficial for both parties.  

If you follow these basic steps you should be able to find a good quality plumber that will last you for a very long time.

 
The one thing everyone should know about plumbing is what to do in an event of a plumbing emergency. And by that I mean everyone should know where the water main shut off valve is located in the house or place of business. Knowing where the main shut off is and how to operate it could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on water damage.

For those who are on a city or municipal water system, the water main shut off valve is located right by the water meter which is normally located right where the main water main enters the house itself. It could be located in the basement, crawl space, or in the case of some that live in warm
weather climates; it could be located in a box outside by the curb stop.

In most cases here in Michigan, its either located in the basement or if the house is on a crawl or slab, would be located in a utility room or closet. If you have trouble locating the main shut off and how to operate it, have your plumber show you the location and how to open and close it. While they’re there, your plumber should also make sure that the water main shut off valve it is good working order. With some of the older style gate valves, they become inoperable by not closing all the way. If that’s the case then have your plumber install a new shut off valve, and preferably a ball
valve.

Along with knowing where the water main shut off is located and how to operate it, you should have your plumber’s phone number handy along with the emergency phone number for the water department or municipality just in case you need to shut the curb stop off at the street.

For those who have a private well system, you should also know how to shut off the power to the well pump. In many cases its located right by the well tank itself, but in all cases it should be located in the main fuse box or electrical panel. Again if in doubt or if you’re unsure how it do this, have
your plumber show you how to operate it in case of an emergency.

With all the above said and knowing how to shut your water off, I always tell my clients to shut the water off to their house if they’re going to be away for more than a couple of days, especially if you have a seasonal home, as a plumbing emergency can happen at any time. Examples would be; a washing machine hose could burst or a supply line for a toilet or lavatory sink could fail, pouring water through the house. Or if it’s winter time, a ice storm could hit, knocking the power out for days and having no heat in your house for days  could freeze the pipes, and if you’re gone, it’ll be a real mess coming back to see that mayhem has struck when you open the door.  So I always advise my clients that if their going be gone for more the a couple of days always shut the water off as a
precaution. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

 
If your house is equipped with a sump pump now is the time to ensure
it's working properly before the springs rains come. You can conduct a test by
pouring water into the sump pit. Shortly after, the pump should kick on, release
all the water and then shut off automatically. If this doesn't happen, call a
plumber and have your sump pump looked at immediately. You want more insurance? To
be even more efficient this spring, have a power generator handy so that your
sump pump will work properly during a power outage.

Spring time is also a good time to check your outside faucet to make
sure you didn’t leave the hose attached. If you forgot to disconnect the hose
last fall you’ll have to make sure the copper tube didn’t split. Inspecting this
will require either a visual inspection by running the faucet or testing it by
placing a cap on the hose connection or better yet, attach a pressure gauge.
Turn the faucet handle on briefly to pressurize it then watch to see that the
pressure remain constant without dropping. A decrease in pressure means there is
a leak and the outside faucet needs to be replaced. Sometimes the outside faucet
is easily accessible in the basement or crawl space but it can also be concealed
in a wall which means that wall would have be cut opened unless there’s an
access panel to get at it. If unsure then have a qualified plumber inspect it
then give you an estimate on the repairs.

If you have a private well then spring time is a good time to get your
water tested as the snow has melted and there is a fair amount of rain at this time of year which
washes the contaminates through the soil into the ground water. This is usually
the best time to test for coli form bacteria, nitrate, and if you live anywhere near a farm or an orchard you should also test for pesticides. Just to note: that these tests are also recommended anytime after repairing or replacing a well, pump, or plumbing system.

Tom
Thomas Plumbing