Complete Hiring a Plumber Checklist (Includes Questions to Ask)

Hiring a plumber

Hiring a plumber is one of the most important homeowner decisions you’ll make. Choosing the wrong plumber can lead to botched jobs, unnecessary expenses, and total chaos. Select the right plumber, however, and you’ve found a reliable partner who can expertly handle any plumbing emergency or project.

This comprehensive guide walks you through the entire process of vetting, selecting, and hiring the ideal plumber for your needs. Follow these steps and you’ll find a skilled, professional plumber you can trust for years to come.

Step 1: Create a Shortlist of Prospective Plumbers

The first step is gathering a list of potential plumbers to research further. This information is provided by our team of plumbers in Princeton New Jersey.


Here are some ways to compile your prospects list:

  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, realtors, and other contractors for referrals. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best way to find a quality plumber.
  • Search online directories like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google for highly rated local plumbers. Be sure to read the reviews closely.
  • Check industry association websites like the National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors. Member plumbers adhere to a code of ethics.
  • Search plumbing supply retailer websites. Many list their network of professional plumbers.

As you research, look for licensed plumbers who have been in business for 5+ years and offer a wide range of services. Add any promising candidates to your shortlist.

Step 2: Vet the Plumbers Thoroughly

With your prospects list created, now it’s time to vet each plumber in depth. Follow these tips:

  • Verify licenses and insurance. Confirm the plumber is licensed in your state and carries general liability insurance and workers’ comp coverage. Lack of licenses and insurance is a red flag.
  • Look up online reviews. Read through online reviews on multiple sites. Look for plumbers with overwhelmingly positive ratings and reviews. Beware of plumbers with no reviews or consistently negative feedback.
  • Check for complaints. Search your state consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the plumber. Complaints may indicate poor service.
  • Contact references. Ask the plumber for 2-3 recent customer references. Contact them and ask if they were satisfied with the plumber’s work and professionalism.

Vetting thoroughly weeds out any clearly unqualified candidates from your list.

Step 3: Interview Your Top Choices

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to 3-4 well-qualified plumbers, it’s time to interview them. Schedule in-person consultations and come prepared with questions, including:

  • How long have you been a licensed plumber? Look for 5+ years of experience.
  • What professional associations and organizations do you belong to? Membership indicates professionalism.
  • What types of plumbing services do you offer? Look for full-service capabilities.
  • Are you available for emergency repairs 24/7? Availability for emergencies is crucial.
  • Do you provide a written warranty for parts and labor? Warranties protect against defects.
  • What are your rates/fees for services? Get quotes from each plumber to compare.
  • Can you provide 2-3 references from recent customers? Ask for recent references.

Pay attention not only to the plumbers’ answers, but how professional, knowledgeable and courteous they are as well. The interview will help you gauge which plumbers seem like the best fit.

Step 4: Request Estimates

Once you’ve interviewed your top plumber choices, ask each to provide a written estimate for the specific work you need done. The estimate should include:

  • Detailed scope of work
  • Timeline for completing the job
  • Itemized materials and labor costs
  • Payment plan and policy

Thoroughly review each plumber’s estimate and do an apples-to-apples comparison. Be wary of estimates that seem unusually high or low. Also make sure you understand exactly what is covered in the estimate, and what could potentially increase the final cost.

Choose the estimate that is the most clear, comprehensive, and cost-effective.

Step 5: Conduct a Background Check

Before making a final hiring decision, take one last step to dig into the plumber’s background. Specifically:

  • Search court records for any lawsuits against the plumber. Lawsuits may indicate issues with previous work.
  • Ask for and verify the plumber’s business structure. How long have they been incorporated?
  • Search business records to confirm their listed address. Fake addresses can be a red flag.
  • Re-verify their license status and insurance policies are active and valid. This double check is worth it.

If anything seems off in the background check, reconsider hiring that plumber. Otherwise, you’re ready to make your hire!

Step 6: Hire Your Plumber!

Following this rigorous process will give you total confidence you’ve hired the very best plumber for your project or repair. Be sure to get your agreement in writing and schedule the work. Maintain open communication throughout the job to ensure everything goes smoothly. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from partnering with a true plumbing professional!


Hiring a plumber is a major decision that requires diligent research and vetting to get right. Following the steps in this guide will help you identify and hire a truly professional, qualified plumber.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Gather recommendations and create a prospects list
  • Thoroughly vet each candidate’s licenses, insurance, reviews, complaints, and references
  • Interview top choices in person with a list of questions
  • Compare detailed written estimates from multiple plumbers
  • Conduct final background checks on your top choice
  • Make your hiring decision and get the agreement in writing

Taking the time upfront to find the perfect plumber will give you confidence as you embark on plumbing projects. Partnering with a true expert makes the entire process smoother, easier, and more successful. Use this guide to find the honest, experienced plumber your home deserves!

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