Top 7 Tips to Save Money on Plumbing Repairs

1. An Ounce of Prevention. Save money by preventing problems from showing up in the first place, or from getting worse because of neglect. Some of the most common (preventable) problems that a plumber gets called out for:

  • Dripping taps
  • Blocked drains
  • Problems with the hot water system

Many little problems can be prevented from turning into big problems by simple measures. A dripping tap left unchecked will get worse and cause further damage due to over-tightening, necessitating the replacement of the tap--an expensive repair. When you notice a tap dripping, act immediately by replacing the washer or cartridge yourself; it is an easy job that should only take you 20 minutes.

Check that your plug holes and waste outlets are clear of hair and solidified soap. Also check the "U" bends or traps under your sinks for potential blockages. Occasionally pour boiling water down your sinks and shower wastes, not forgetting the washing machine trap. Look outside, too, for any weeds or leaves that may be blocking gutters, gullies and waste outlets.

2. Buy any parts yourself. Buying the parts yourself for any major works in your kitchen or bathroom could save you money. Most plumbers will be happy to work for a labor charge only and will supply you a list of the materials needed for the job.

3. Use a qualified plumber. Using a qualified reputable plumber could save you money in the long run, as you may have to hire one anyway should you first employ a "cowboy" who botches the job. Get a few quotes and ask for hourly rate charges. You may be able to get recommendations from friends.

4. Save your plumber valuable plumbing time. You don't want to be paying your plumber to clear the area before they start work, particularly if you are paying an hourly rate. Empty cupboards and make sure there is nothing that may cost the plumber time, and you money, while he gains access to the job.

5. Combine a few small tasks to make use of your plumber’s time. Your plumber may charge a minimum call-out time of, for example, 30 minutes. If he finishes the job in 10 minutes, he may as well fix that dripping tap in his remaining 20 minutes.

6. Don't run afoul of the planning department. If you are undertaking major works, make sure you clear it with your planning department, as permission may be required. You could end up with a fine should you go ahead without permission.

7. Get quotes. It will pay to get three written quotes, particularly for major works. Carefully compare each quote as to what is included, and don't immediately accept the cheapest. If possible, ask your plumbers for references from previous and recent jobs, and follow them up.