How To Save Money On Plumbing Repairs

Do you want to learn how to save money on plumbing repairs?

Water is inherently corrosive. That’s why pipes, which are constantly exposed to water, require frequent repairs, albeit only for minor issues. These repairs can still pile up and take up a considerable chunk of your budget. They may not put as much dent in your wallet as other expenses, but the fact that plumbing repairs are unexpected expenses remains. 

For these reasons, having a set of rules or guidelines to follow to reduce your total expenditure on plumbing would go a long way. That’s why you’re here. 

However, before that, you should first know a few things about the subject matter. These include what variables affect plumbing repair costs and why they can get so high quickly. 

Adjusting plumbing lines

A Cost Breakdown Of Plumbing Repairs 

As with most repair services, several variables affect plumbing repair costs, including: 

Hourly Rate 

Most handymen and plumbers charge a fixed rate per hour for their services. The hourly rate may vary according to several factors. These may include the state you reside in, the ongoing demand for their service, and the plumber’s preference and education. The hourly rate of plumbers typically ranges from USD$70 to USD$120. 

Job Difficulty 

A fixed rate means the rate won’t change due to difficulty. However, some plumbers  prefer charging different rates depending on the job’s difficulty. 

If your sink requires more effort to repair, for example, the plumber may charge higher than they usually do. That’s why they often charge only after inspecting the problem. 

Call-out Fee/Minimum Charge 

A call-out fee is a fee you must pay a service provider regardless of the problem. It’s independent of the provider’s hourly rate and job difficulty, but it may be dependent on the job’s urgency. An alternative to the call-out fee is a minimum charge, which clients must pay regardless of whether they did the job. It creates minor issues that may not be profitable otherwise worth their while. 

Most plumbers will charge a fee of USD$80 to USD$160. Plumbers often have a higher call-out fee than handymen and their respective agencies, like Handyman Dallas

Emergencies 

If you need plumbing repairs urgently, you may have to call the plumbers late at night, during holidays, or on weekends. In these cases, they’ll charge a higher rate. 

There’s usually an additional USD$70 to 100 per hour when it’s an emergency repair. 

Emergency Plumbing repair

Needless to say, plumbing repairs are no more expensive than the repair of other utilities, like the roof or your HVAC system. However, many homeowners describe plumbing repairs as unpredictable. That’s mainly because there are countless different plumbing projects based on the damage and the component involved. Every project may vary vastly in terms of cost. 

A leaking pipe repair, for example, may cost USD$400, but a sewer main line repair may cost USD$3,000 or more. It also doesn’t help that not all repair services are transparent with their pricing. 

Nevertheless, one thing these projects have in common is that with the right tricks, you can reduce their costs and save money on repairs. That being said, here are some of those tricks. 

Leaking pipes

Tip #1: Find An Agency Near You 

As stated earlier, a service provider will almost always add the call-out fee in the total cost of repairs. This variable is crucial since you can’t really change their mind when it comes to their hourly rate. Similarly, you can’t do anything about the job difficulty unless you know a thing or two about the underlying plumbing issue. You only have control over the call-out fee. 

The call-out fee might be independent of the job itself, but it’s affected by other variables.  

What the call-out fee covers may vary from agency to agency. However, one variable that typically influences the fee is the amount of time or distance it took for them to arrive at your property. 

With that said, if you want to reduce the fee or the overall cost, a clever trick would be to find the agency nearest your area. But of course, it should at least be a decent service provider.

If you’re situated in Dallas, you should look into Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Dallas

Professional plumber

Tip #2: Call For A Plumber During The Work Hours In A Weekday 

Another factor that may affect the call-out fee is the amount of personal time the service provider devotes to repairing your plumbing. Personal time is only ever sacrificed if: 

  1. The service provider is using their free time (non-working hours) to do the job, or 
  2. It’s not their work day. 

That’s why if the plumbing issue isn’t necessarily urgent, it’s best if you waited until the work hours began before calling. It’s also a good idea to do so on a weekday. 

Professional plumber working up a bid

Tip #3: Do All The Necessary Repairs In One Visit 

The last trick to minimize the call-out fee is to reduce the times you call the provider. That way, instead of charging the call-out fee multiple times, they would only have to charge it once. 

To do so, simply call them when two or more repairs are needed, not when there’s only one required. Similar to tip #2, this is only applicable if the issue isn’t urgent and doesn’t affect your quality of life. Otherwise, it may not be worth a couple of bucks you can save. 

In addition, service providers often avoid charging too high, even if it’s still reasonable, as it may discourage the client from hiring them again. Therefore, if you pile up the work and let them do all of it at once, at some point, they’ll be hesitant to increase the total cost any further. Of course, it’s not always going to work, but it adds to the depth of this particular trick. 

Professional plumber working on a sink

Tip #4: Be Attentive Of Potential Signs Of Plumbing Issues 

Once a pipe sustains damage, it’ll only continue doing so. At some point, it may sustain too much damage that it affects other parts of your plumbing system. It may even affect the entirety of the house, like the walls, floor, and ceiling. This will only result in more repairs and, therefore, expenses. That’s why you must fix the plumbing issue as soon as possible. 

Below are some examples of potential signs that your house has a plumbing issue: 

  • Your faucets are dripping. 
  • There are screeching sounds out of nowhere. 
  • You find puddles of water randomly. 
  • There’s a lot less water coming out of your fixtures (e.g., faucet, sink, sprinkler). 
  • The toilet is running even when not in use. 
  • Your paintwork or wallpaper is showing signs of deterioration or discoloration. 
  • The water meter is moving quicker than it should be. 
  • Your floor or carpet is saggy. 

If you suspect that there’s a problem with your plumbing, it’s advisable to call a plumber or handyman immediately. That way, they can do the inspections and fix them right away. 

Leaking faucet

Tip #5: Use Gentler Products To Unclog Things 

Though there are ways to reduce plumbing repair costs, the best way to save money on plumbing repairs is to eliminate the need for them in the first place. 

Even if you’re only able to stall the need for repairs for a while, you’re still effectively saving money. There are several ways to go about it. One such method is using gentler products to unclog sinks, toilets, and parts of the house that may require unclogging. By doing so, you’re prolonging the lifespan of your pipes compared to using harsh chemicals to unclog them. 

Examples of gentler products to use include vinegar, baking soda, or hot water. Sure, it might make things harder for you, but it can save you money on plumbing repairs in the long run. 

Baking soda in sink drain

Tip #6: Don’t Pour Potentially Harmful Substances Down The Sink Or Drain 

Clogging is a common issue with a home’s piping system as it’s relatively difficult to prevent.  

Despite that, it has the potential to ruin a large portion of your plumbing system. When even one pipe gets clogged, the adjacent pipes will, too, and that can happen to the entire plumbing. 

Thankfully, there are several ways to avoid clogging your pipes. One of the most common methods is to simply refrain from pouring grease, starches, and oil down the sink or drain. 

That’s because when these substances come in contact with cold water or when their temperature goes down, they’ll solidify. When there are a lot of them in your pipes, they may form a buildup and completely prevent other forms of liquid from going to the other side. If you need to dispose of grease, oil, starch, and similar liquids, your best option would be to put them all in a separate container. 

When you do this for a while now without knowing its consequences, consider pouring relatively hot water down the sink. Cold water solidifies grease, and hot water liquefies them. 

However, make sure it’s not boiling. Contrary to common belief, it’s not advisable to pour boiling water down the sink as it may ever so slightly melt the PVC joints of the pipes. 

Clogged sink

Tip #7: Don’t Flush Anything Down The Toilet Other than Toilet Paper 

Another common practice among homeowners that they usually don’t know is harmful to their plumbing is flushing all sorts of things down the toilet. Keep in mind that while toilet paper is flushable, that doesn’t mean every kind of paper is, too. That even includes the wipes or other products that manufacturers often advertise as “flushable.” They’re typically not. 

If you continue with this practice, your toilet may eventually clog, affecting other parts of your plumbing system. Thankfully, a toilet clog is relatively easy to detect or spot. 

Clogged toilet

Tip #8: Invest In The Next Plumbing Re-Installation 

Though plumbing typically lasts for a few decades, there are still instances where you may have to reinstall or overhaul your plumbing. In this case, you shouldn’t hold back with the investments. You shouldn’t do it yourself (DIY), nor should you use low-quality materials. 

If you fail to do it right, it may affect the durability and efficiency of the plumbing system. As a result, plumbing issues may occur more frequently than when you get fully-functioning utilities. 

Of course, bargain-hunting is still a good idea, but at least ensure they’re decent. Below are some examples of plumbing fixtures that you must ensure are of at least reasonable quality: 

  • Showerhead 
  • Tub spouts 
  • Tub drain 
  • Faucets 
  • Toilet 
  • Sink 
New bathroom fixtures

Tip #9: Upgrade To More Efficient Utilities 

There are water-efficient plumbing fixtures, just as there are energy-efficient appliances that consume less power. These fixtures are made to limit the amount of water they dispense every minute or second. Most plumbing fixtures have a water-efficient version. 

Here are some examples of such fixtures: 

  • Low flush toilet 
  • Low flow sink faucet 
  • Low flow shower heads 
  • High-efficiency toilets 

The main reason you should invest in these utilities is that they reduce the additional costs associated with plumbing issues. If a pipe has holes and is leaking, for example, you can reduce the amount of water wasted through the leak. As a result, you’re effectively reducing the plumbing costs, though it doesn’t necessarily reduce the cost of plumbing repairs. 

Low flush toilet

Tip #10: Conduct Preventative Inspections 

Though it may seem counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve since it costs money, a preventive inspection saves you more money than it costs. With inspections, you’re able to detect underlying problems with your piping, which helps save money on repairs, as stated in tip #4. 

However, more importantly, it allows you to detect potential issues before they become a problem. As a result, you can completely avoid the need for a repair, saving you money. 

Plumber doing a pipe inspection

The Bottom Line 

Some of these tips might only make a small difference in reducing the cost of your plumbing repairs, but they can pile up. Eventually, you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on plumbing repairs. Not only will it save you money, but it’ll also improve your quality of life as you no longer have to deal with the inconvenience that common plumbing issues often cause.

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