Plumbing leaks have a direct impact on your wallet. If you don’t locate and repair leaks, you could waste around 10,000 gallons of water every year.
Most homeowners don’t even realize they have a leak until their water bills skyrocket. Or they suffer water damage in their home.
Who do you turn to when you need help with a leak?
To help you figure out who to call, we’ve put together a guide for homeowners in the Austin area. Read on for tips on choosing the best plumber for leak detection and repair.
Whether it’s a pipe leak under your kitchen sink or a slab leak underneath the foundation, the call for help you make makes all the difference.
Type of Plumbing Leaks Austin Homeowners Encounter
When you own a home, it’s inevitable that eventually, you’ll experience a plumbing leak—even in brand new homes. Plumbers handle them all, including:
- Pipe leaks
- Toilet leaks.
- Water heater leaks.
- Leaks behind drywall
- Slab leaks
A rose by any other name may be a rose, but you can’t apply that theory to plumbing leaks. As you may already suspect, each type of leak has a unique source and repair technique.
While most plumbers can fix general plumbing issues, not all plumbers have extensive experience detecting and repairing every type of leak. If you need a leak repair specialist, you’ll need to do some detective work.
Types of Plumbing Services
Shopping for a plumber means doing due diligence before making that first phone call. Just like doctors, plumbers often choose specialties within the field of plumbing.
Searching for the best plumber for a leak detection project means you’ll want to know a few things about the different plumbing specialties.
These plumbers primarily handle new residential plumbing installations. They can usually do general repairs as well.
Residential service and repair specialists
Focus on repairing plumbing-related problems, such as leaky pipes and clogged drains. Some residential service and repair specialists handle commercial plumbing jobs as well.
Sanitary plumbers specialize in the service, repair, and maintenance of sanitary water systems. They perform work on bathroom pipes and fixtures.
A water supply plumber brings expertise to tasks related to installing or repairing water tanks or water lines that supply water to your home. While they can tackle the basic unclogging of bathroom and kitchen fixtures, they primarily work on the components of residential plumbing systems that ensure sinks, tanks, and pipes have access to consistent water flow.
General plumbing principles apply whether you need help with a leak in your private residence or a commercial building. However, there’s a difference between the complexity and scope of commercial plumbing jobs.
Like how a medical practice employs doctors with multiple specialties, most plumbing companies offer a range of plumbing services. They’ll know exactly which of their plumbing professionals is best suited to take care of leak detection and repair in your home.
Why DIY Is Not Always Your Best Solution
You might wonder if you could tackle some of these repairs without calling a specialized plumbing contractor.
Most people can take care of drippy sinks and the occasional minor drain clog. Beyond the basic plumbing repairs, most homeowners will need to know when to call in the professionals.
While YouTube and Facebook can be helpful (and entertaining) for showing you how to use a plunger or a homemade drain cleaning remedy, you might even run across someone talking about what permits you to need for a plumbing job.
You won’t find the extensive knowledge needed to address your home’s more severe plumbing problems.
It’s not only about understanding your city’s code requirements. You’ll also need a solid understanding of plumbing fixtures, parts, and materials.
For example, you likely don’t know how far you can bend a PVC pipe before it cracks unless you’ve trained in the plumbing field. Plumbers spend a lot of time getting a feel for this—it’s part of their basic training.
The average homeowner also doesn’t have access to modern leak detection technology. You can create a flood of problems by not using the correct tools and techniques.
Searching for a Plumbing Repair Service
We live in a digital world where the first place most people search for products and services is online. Is that the best place to find a plumber, especially when you’re in the middle of a plumbing emergency?
While an online search can be helpful when you’re narrowing down your choices, the best way to find the best plumber is to ask.
Reach out to friends and neighbors and ask who they’ve used in the past. Remodeling contractors always have a plumbing company in their contacts. So do real estate agents—nothing holds up a closing faster than a plumbing problem.
That’s not the end of your search. Even with recommendations in hand, you’ll still have plenty of questions to consider before hiring a plumber, even when they come with sparkling testimonials from friends and other acquaintances.
The following section will cover what you should know about licenses and insurance. At least when it comes to plumbers.
Avoid Amateur Plumbers
Who did you call last time your car broke down? Some people call a friend who works on cars as a side hustle. They may fix your car, but they’re not licensed, and they don’t carry liability insurance.
You might think about a few friends who enjoy amateur plumbing when you have a plumbing leak. It’s tempting to call everyone over for a plumbing party. You supply the burgers and brew—they bring the wrench.
You don’t want an amateur plumber working on your plumbing system any more than an amateur, a.k.a., shade-tree mechanic working on your ride.
Why Licenses and Insurance Are a Must
When you research plumbers, hire one who says they’re licensed and insured. It’s one of the first requirements you should pay attention to, and here’s why.
Most states require a license for contractors of all types. A plumbing license means a contractor is:
- Trained to do the job
- Understands state and local codes
- Bound to follow all state guidelines for plumbers
Hiring an unlicensed contractor puts you at risk because there’s little you can do if the contractor walks off the job without finishing it. You won’t have any protection if the plumber doesn’t do the job correctly.
A licensed plumber is accountable for finishing the job and finishing it properly.
In addition to licensing by the state, the plumber you hire should carry liability insurance. Insurance covers the following:
- Job-site accidents
- Property damage due to negligence
Liability insurance also protects the homeowner. Without it, you could be liable if the plumber or one of their employees sustained an injury while on your property.
Don’t risk your home or yourself by hiring a plumbing company that isn’t licensed and insured.
Find a Plumber with a Master Plumber Designation
While it’s not difficult to find a licensed and insured plumber, that doesn’t always guarantee they’ll know how to fix every plumbing problem in your home. In part, that’s due to experience.
As mentioned above, most states require licensing before a plumber can perform any work. A plumber’s license is much more than a piece of paper.
First, licensing is a process of working through at least three stages, including:
Most states don’t require licensing for an apprentice, but they do mandate that an apprentice works under the supervision of a journeyman or Master Plumber.
To get a journeyman license, a candidate must meet the requirements for education and experience. Candidates also must pass an exam. In most states, journeyman candidates need to work as an apprentice for four years before sitting for the journeyman exam.
A Master Plumber meets these requirements and more.
Once licensed, Master Plumbers can supervise the work of apprentices and journeymen. They’re also then authorized to pull permits.
It’s not difficult to understand why you want to work with a plumbing contractor with a Master Plumber license. The plumbers who come to your home will always have an experienced resource to rely on if they have trouble figuring out your unique plumbing problems.
Plumbing Service Estimates
The plumber you want is the one that offers an estimate or quote before starting the project. Most professional plumbers offer a free estimate, but not all do, so please make sure you have that conversation before you schedule the assessment of your plumbing problem.
What does an estimate include?
Before quoting an accurate price, the plumber should come to your home and assess the problem. At that point, they’ll put together a quote, which means you’ll know the estimated cost before the job begins.
Watch out for plumbing companies that quote a price over the phone without looking at the problem. That’s a recipe for an inaccurate quote!
When you review the estimate, make sure you understand what it includes. Some estimates only include the cost of materials. If the plumber doesn’t have labor in the estimate, you’ll want to discuss rates and average time to complete the job.
This is an essential conversation with the plumber, particularly when hiring them to detect a leak and make the repairs.
What Does Leak Detection and Repair Cost?
There are two parts to the equation when figuring out the cost of finding and repairing a water leak.
First, the cost for basic leak detection runs anywhere from $75 to $350 (and up). The price depends on the type of water leak, location, and the equipment needed to find it.
If you have a slab leak, detection can cost between $125 and $400 because plumbers must use specialized equipment.
Second, you’ll pay a separate price for leak repair. Using the slab leak as an example, you could pay anywhere from $500 to $4000 for the repair alone.
A Word about Slab Leaks
We’ve mentioned slab leaks several times. Slab refers to the concrete foundation under some homes. If your home doesn’t have a basement, you may have a slab.
Water and sewer lines often run below the slab. If a pipe breaks, water is released underneath the foundation, causing a leak.
Slab leaks, and pipe replacement, on average, cost more than a toilet leak because they’re more challenging to locate. In addition to detection, if the plumber finds the damaged pipe under a driveway or sidewalk, a slab leak repair may require the plumber to tear up and replace concrete.
Anytime your plumber needs to remove concrete or landscaping to get at a leak, the cost increases.
Speaking of Cost
Small leaks aren’t usually too costly. As you can see, if you need repairs on your main sewer pipe or a slab leak repair, you could face a severe dent in your home repair budget.
Figuring out how to pay for plumbing repairs can be a challenge for many homeowners.
When interviewing plumbing contractors, ask if they offer special pricing or discounts. You may qualify for savings based on military or senior citizen status.
Sometimes, plumbers feature savings coupons on their websites. If you don’t see anything there, don’t hesitate to ask. Even a 10% savings coupon can significantly reduce the final cost for your project.
Ask if the Plumber Offers a Warranty
The warranty is another aspect of looking for a plumber to perform leak detection and repair.
The best plumbers offer a guarantee on any plumbing repairs. Many plumbers will come back and make repairs or replacements for at least 30 days after completing the work.
Most plumbers offer a 12-month warranty on all parts and components for leak repairs. If you have pipes replaced under your sink and have a leak in the new pipe within the 12-month warranty period, the plumber should cover the replacement.
Regardless of the size of the plumbing job, always discuss warranties before the work gets started.
Permits and Inspections
You might have had plumbing problems if you lived in the Austin area during the major winter storm of 2021. If your pipes froze, you had some frightening issues with water leaks.
Last year, the city of Austin allowed residents to begin repairs and pull the permits later. That’s not the norm!
Under normal circumstances, your plumber would have needed a permit for the plumbing repairs before starting the project. The keyword here is a plumber.
What type of plumbing jobs need permits?
A homeowner replacing a toilet does not need a permit. If you need work done to the piping that comes into your home, you’ll need a permit. You could even need multiple permits.
Most cities require the company to perform the work to pull the permits. They go one step further and stipulate that the company pulling the permits must have a Master Plumber license and insurance.
A Master Plumber knows what jobs require permits and inspections. They make sure to pull permits before starting the project. They also schedule the required inspections.
If you’ve done your research and selected a plumber with a Master Plumber license, you’ll have nothing to worry about when it comes to permits. If not, and you hire an unlicensed contractor, you may end up on the wrong side of the city code enforcement department.
Who Will Clean Up the Mess?
The aftermath of most plumbing projects includes old parts and empty boxes. If you need a slab leak repair, there will be concrete or yard debris.
The last thing a homeowner wants to do is clean up the mess.
It might surprise you that some contractors don’t pick up after themselves. Instead, when they finish a job, they leave the trash behind.
It may sound like a random question, but always make sure that the plumber includes cleanup in your estimate. If cleanup is missing from your paperwork, ask why.
Some plumbing contractors charge for cleanup. The extra fee may be worth it, but you don’t want a surprise at the job’s end.
Know Who Will Do the Leak Detection and Repair
Most people don’t invite just anyone to come into their home. We like to know who’s at the door before opening it and extending a warm welcome.
Having a major plumbing problem can feel unsettling. After all, you rely on your plumbing system for clean, safe water. And then, there’s the worry about how much the repairs will cost.
You shouldn’t need to add to your worries by wondering who comes into your home to do the plumbing repairs. It shouldn’t be a mystery. Just ask the plumber’s scheduling representative for clarification.
Most plumbing contractors have a team of expert plumbers on staff. They not only train their team to complete work according to their standards, but they background check employees before hiring them.
What About Subcontractors?
Another aspect of working with plumbers is that some plumbing companies utilize sub-contractors. There are several reasons why finding a plumber that doesn’t sub out their jobs is preferable. Here are two:
Typically, the plumber will pay a higher cost per hour for a subcontractor. The increase gets passed along to the customer.
Subcontractors get in-house training, but it’s from their supervisor. They bring their supervisor’s style and methods to the job.
You hire a specific plumber because you get a good feel for how they do things. It’s much easier for a plumbing contractor to guarantee quality when the work gets done by the team they’ve trained.
When you’re looking for the best plumber in Austin, find one that keeps their team in-house. You’ll have a more consistent experience.
Look for a Local Plumbing Contractor
Whether you start with an online search or you get a referral from friends and neighbors, you’ll likely find multiple options for plumbers that specialize in leak detection and repair. Some of those options will not be in the Austin area.
While distance doesn’t mean you won’t get a great plumber, it does pose a few things to think about, including:
- Compliance with local codes and standards
A local plumber can be at your home within minutes. That’s a critical advantage if you have a plumbing emergency.
The plumber that does business in your local area understands common plumbing challenges in your neighborhood. Since they work in your area every day, they’re familiar with your city’s plumbing standards and codes.
Local plumbers don’t have the same overhead as those traveling from further away. They won’t have higher fuel charges or a higher tax rate to pass along to you.
The best local plumber invests time and soul in your community. They live there and raise families right alongside you and your neighbors.
Hiring local contractors helps keep the economy strong. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Make Sure Your Plumber Is Has a Future Mindset
Longevity in the plumbing business matters for a variety of reasons. A contractor that’s been in business for more than a few years will likely be there when you have another plumbing concern in the future.
Beyond needing their service later, you want their help to prevent future plumbing problems.
A great plumber should be happy to share tips on avoiding the same plumbing issue they just fixed. Unscrupulous contractors count on calls to come back and fix problems every few months.
If the plumber you hire allows you to pick their brain for a few minutes so that you don’t have as many future plumbing calls, you’ve found a gem.
Schedule Service Today with the Best Plumber in Austin
Knowing what to look for will save you time and money when hiring a plumbing contractor. We hope it helped you understand the different aspects of working with a plumber.
The team at L&P Plumbing, LLC stands ready to help. We’ll get things flowing smoothly again, whether you have a leaky pipe in the kitchen or a leak underneath your foundation.
Contact us today and schedule your plumbing service.