plumber writing on clipboard

There are many exciting aspects of becoming a homeowner, from undertaking weekend DIY projects to selecting paint and furniture for your new home. However, when something goes wrong with your home’s plumbing, many homeowners are unprepared to take care of the issue themselves. Luckily, there’s no shortage of skilled plumbers out there who combine many years of experience with affordable prices. These plumbers can be located via their stellar reviews, recommendations from neighbors, or online searches.

That being said, finding suitable plumbers in your area might be much trickier than it seems. In truth, many homeowners are unlucky enough to run into scammers when searching for a plumber to care for their home’s drainage issues. To do what’s right for your home and avoid getting scammed, it’s best to hire only insured plumbers with years of experience and plenty of references, per Petro. However, when shopping around for plumbers, you are bound to see some of the following dishonest tactics that are designed to pry you away from your hard-earned money.

Unrealistic quotes

plumber writing quote on paper

Whether you’re calling on a professional plumber to repair your garbage disposal or to replace large portions of your home’s plumbing, it’s always a good idea to request quotes from a number of competing businesses. For one thing, this can help save you hundreds of dollars on the project; however, it can also let you know which companies are wildly out of step with their competitor’s pricing, which is definitely a red flag to be heeded.

According to The Washington Post, getting quotes from prospective plumbers may be even more critical when undertaking a large, demanding plumbing job, such as remodeling an enormous bathroom. This is because the degree that competing businesses vary in asking price for work is greater for major than routine tasks. However, be wary of plumbers that quote prices much more expensive than their peers. While one may conclude that these plumbers have more expertise than less costly alternatives, this is often not the case. Per The Washington Post, the best-ranked plumbers are often those with the most affordable prices.

Demands payment up front

contractor demanding payment from couple

If you’ve always relied on your landlord to take care of plumbing repairs in the past, having a plumber ask you for an up-front payment for a job might not sound so concerning. However, according to C&W Plumbing, there are very few circumstances where it’s appropriate for a professional plumber to ask for an up-front payment. Just think about it, most of a job’s cost will be for labor, which is charged by the hour. Why would you prepay for hourly delivery that hasn’t occurred?

Unfortunately, many homeowners who fall for up-front payment scams will find out that the plumber they hire to fix their plumbing issue never shows up at their home. This is why most states prohibit large up-front payments (per C&W plumbing) for professional plumbers. While a plumber may have you prepay for a necessary part or two, the most reliable plumbers in the business will only charge you after the work is done and you are entirely satisfied with their provided services.

No online record of business

plumber working under kitchen sink

Nowadays, nearly every reputable business has an online presence, whether a Google Business Profile or an active Yelp account with numerous reviews. Of course, most companies also have a professional-looking website where prospective clients can learn about their services and contact them for a timely quote. If the plumber you’re about to hire lacks any online presence for their business, you are justified in feeling skeptical about their abilities and legitimacy.

According to Plumbing Solutions, some of these "fake plumbers" even go door-to-door to search for easy prey. They may offer free pipe inspections or other phony services, which is why it’s so important to ask to see credentials. Remember, though, that even a fake plumber (if they’re smart enough) can direct you to a real, highly-rated plumber’s website. For this reason, it’s also wise to ask to see the person’s business license or plumbing certification since most real plumbers should have no issue providing proof of legitimacy, per C&W Plumbing.

Shady business practices

plumber laying equipment on bathroom floor

There are a number of shady business practices that you should always keep an eye out for when hiring a plumber or any contractor. For instance, per Lindus Construction, some contractors send more people to a job site than necessary to double or triple the total amount you pay. Many basic plumbing jobs only require a single plumber, so confirming the number of workers needed for a job before the project commences is always a good idea.

Another tell-tale sign of a shady plumber may only be evident after services have been rendered. According to C&W Plumbing, cash-only payments of an under-the-table nature are definitely not a good sign if you want to do business with a legitimate entity. Even worse, many companies accepting these types of payments aren’t insured, which can be awful news for you if something goes wrong with their plumbing handiwork. Naturally, these practices can be pulled by total scammers or quasi-legitimate service providers, so it’s worth confirming acceptable payment methods and a plumber’s insurance status before signing the dotted line.

Uses scare tactics

woman calling plumber for leaking pipe

If you call a plumber to fix a leaky pipe, only to be told that your entire home is at risk of being lost without immediate intervention and a hefty payment, you should have cause for concern. According to My Professional Plumber, scare tactics are common when dealing with dishonest plumbers who care more about their bottom line than your home’s plumbing situation. If you feel uncomfortable with a plumber’s recommended project, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from a trusted plumber or contractor.

Of course, your home will sometimes require extensive plumbing work that is bound to put a dent in your wallet. However, when these situations occur, a reputable plumber should be able to show you the issue that they are addressing instead of leaving you in the dark, per Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. If a plumber tries to get you to pay them thousands of dollars for fixing an unseen emergency, you are likely dealing with a con artist.