Hiring a home service professional can be a little intimidating, especially if your home has never needed major (or even minor) repairs before. And if you don’t know that much about plumbing (or residential electrical code, or roofing, or flooring installation—you get the idea), you might worry that you’re at risk for getting scammed.

First, take comfort in knowing that if you’re working with a Best Pick plumbing pro, we can guarantee that you’ll have a great experience. If your plumber isn’t a Best Pick, however, there are some questions you can ask to help you make informed decisions about how the repair should be handled.

Check out our list of four important questions you should ask your plumber (and scroll to the end to find out when to call a plumber for help)!

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4 Important Plumbing Questions

plumber fixing kitchen sink

1. What will happen if I delay this repair?

If you’re skeptical that an immediate fix is the only answer, or if you’d like a second opinion (and perhaps a few more quotes), this is a good question to ask. Some plumbing issues will cause major damage, while others will simply be annoying until you finally have the problem fixed.

Your plumber should be honest with you without exaggerating the consequences. Is your home likely to fall apart at the seams because of a leaking faucet or a running toilet? Probably not. But the noise will eventually drive you crazy, and you’re likely to see an increase in your water bill.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t delay replacing a failing water heater. Water heaters hold a lot of water, and that water can do a lot of damage to your basement (or your entire home, if your water heater is installed in the attic).

2. What’s the cause of this problem?

Understanding the root of a problem is essential to preventing it from happening again.

If hard water is causing clogs in your home’s plumbing system or damaging your water heater, for example, unclogging or replacing pipes and installing a new water heater every few years won’t permanently fix the problem. The best long-term solution in this case is to install a whole-house water softening system.

Make sure that your plumber can fully explain to you why the problem is happening and how their proposed fix will be a long-term solution.

3. How can I prevent this problem from reoccurring?

Don’t be shy about asking your plumber to show you how to fix simple plumbing problems on your own. Clearing a clogged drain, for instance, can be frustrating, but plumbers often have useful tips and tricks that can help you avoid a service call for a bathtub that won’t drain.

4. Do I have other repair options?

In most cases, your plumber will outline the fix that they think will work the best. Depending on the scope of the problem, however, considering a couple of alternatives is a smart move. Ask your plumber if they can provide you with a few options—perhaps a “good,” “better,” and “best” set of solutions and associated costs for you to think about

Even if the situation feels urgent, you do have time to sit down and think carefully through the choices you need to make. A house is a big investment, and ten minutes of weighing your options isn’t likely to make anything worse.

When to Call a Plumber

modern faucet dripping water

Some plumbing issues are clear emergencies and warrant an immediate call to a plumber, but there are other, smaller problems that you might be tempted to try to tackle on your own first.

DIY home repairs can be rewarding, but remember that even the most committed DIYers know when to step back and let the pros take the wheel. So how do you know when to call a plumber for help? Take a look at the following clues:

1. There’s water everywhere.

A flood inside the house is every homeowner’s nightmare, but if it happens to you, get your plumber on the phone while you shut off your home’s water supply. If you don’t know where the main water supply valve is in your house (or if you’re unable to close the valve), be sure to give your plumber that information.

Floods in a house can have many causes, so this isn’t something you should try to handle alone. Shutting off the water supply will prevent the problem from worsening while you wait for the plumber to arrive.

2. You just cleared that drain, and it’s completely backed up again.

Drains clog periodically—it’s annoying but totally normal. But if you find yourself taking a shower/bath combo just days after clearing out your bathtub drain, a larger problem is probably at play.

Clogs in your home’s main drainpipe or sewer line can impact the drains in the rest of the house, but you won’t be able to remove those types of clogs on your own. A licensed plumber should inspect your home’s drains and exterior sewer cleanouts, preferably using video technology, to locate the blockages.

3. Your new faucet is dripping.

A dripping faucet can be the result of a few different causes, but worn or corroded internal parts are the most common. A new faucet shouldn’t have these problems, however, so if you hear that telltale slow drip, it’s likely that the faucet wasn’t installed correctly.

Call a plumber to reinstall the fixture correctly and ensure that there aren’t any underlying problems with your home’s plumbing system.

4. You’ve noticed a sudden increase in water pressure.

A noticeable increase in water pressure at the faucets and showerheads in your house is a sign that you may have a failed pressure regulator valve. This valve is important because it brings the pressure of your water supply down to a level that won’t damage your plumbing fixtures. Ask your plumber to investigate and replace the pressure regulator valve if necessary.

5. You suspect you have lead pipes.

If your home was built prior to 1986, there is an increased chance that its plumbing system contains lead pipes or metal pipes connected with lead-containing solder. The plumbing system could have been updated if your home has undergone renovations, but if you’re not sure, defer to the experts.

Don’t attempt any DIY plumbing work if you think (or know for certain) that your home has lead pipes or solder. Err on the safe side and call a plumber.

The Bottom Line

Having work done on your house doesn’t have to be stressful and overwhelming. Hiring the right professional makes a big difference, as does knowing the right questions to ask.

When you work with a Best Pick company, you can rest easy knowing that your home is in the hands of a qualified, licensed, and insured professional. Use our list of questions to make sure that you fully understand your plumbing problem and its solution, and remember that you can always ask for time to think through your options.

Plumbing problems are inconvenient, but a qualified plumber can get your home back up and running with a minimum of stress on your part.