The most common plumbing problems are clogged toilets, sinks, and drains. These usually happen at the worst possible time: in the evening or over the weekend.
When you’re under the gun in an emergency situation, how do you find a good plumber on Staten Island or in one of the boroughs? Unless you’ve worked with a Staten Island plumber before, you don’t have one on speed dial.
In this post we look at finding a good, responsive plumber or plumbing contractor — there is a difference between the two, which we will look at an upcoming post — on Staten Island and provide a few basic questions to ask.
In the next post, we’ll examine types of plumbers, and the differences between them, to meet your specific needs. Not all plumbers are created equal.
How to Find a Staten Island Plumber
- Existing plumber. If you have used a plumber or plumbing contractor in the past on Staten Island or in one of the neighboring boroughs and liked the service/repair received, great. If not, most homeowners or apartment dwellers search . . .
- The Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages used to be the first stop for people needing to find businesses in any area. But “letting your fingers do the walking” is so 1980s. People today . . .
- Search the Internet. The Internet has replaced the Yellow Pages or phone book as the go-to information destination with search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! The problem: There is so much information and so many companies that claim they do it all, whatever you need, how do you decipher the good from the bad?
- Call, Email, Text, Neighbors. The best way to weed through the noise on the Internet, and in the Yellow Pages for that matter, is to ask your Staten Island neighbors, friends, and acquaintances for names, opinions, experiences, and advice when using local plumbers. “Word of mouth is the absolutely best way to find good service people,” says one Staten Island plumber. “If they’ve had a good experience with a local plumber, they tell their friends and neighbors. Who keeps a plumber on speed dial? Not many. So when they need one, they check with family, friends, and neighbors first.”
- Visit a Home Improvement Center or Plumbing Fixtures Store on Staten Island or in one of the boroughs. This is another good way to weed through the noise and too many confusing choices. Home improvement centers often employ customer service reps who have worked in a particular industry, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, and construction, and he or she may have recommendations or practical advice. It never hurts to ask — and learn in the process.
Taking A Closer Look at Finding a Good Plumber
Scam artists have been around since the beginning of time. With the advent of the digital age, it’s even easier for companies to influence and dupe homeowners, apartment dwellers, and business owners.
The Yellow Pages
Most plumbers recommend not using the Yellow Pages.
Consider: Just because a company buys a large ad, it doesn’t mean the company is any better than one who purchased a smaller ad. As one Staten Island plumber says, “It’s like guessing lottery numbers. Anyone can make an appealing ad, but that doesn’t mean they are legitimate.”
Use the Yellow Pages as a reference, a place to gather names and contact information quickly, then follow-up with other resources and do your due diligence.
Today’s main source of information is the Internet. Homeowners, apartment dwellers, and small business owners use the Web to find names and check out a company’s website. Read or at least pay attention to the entire site, no matter if it’s large or small, but keep in mind that many small plumbing businesses don’t have fancy sites because they are plumbers, not web developers. No matter. Does the company present itself in a friendly, forthright manner, offering consumers intelligent information? Or is the site just marketing fluff?
Websites are places to start and can provide a sense of the company, the services/repair it offers, its people, the work it has completed, and its desire to help people understand plumbing, a subject most people know little about.
Review Sites and Noise
Once you have company names, a deeper dive may be necessary using other internet resources like customer review sites (HomeAdvisor.com, AngiesList.com, Yellow Pages for the Web, or even Yelp or Craigslist, narrowing your search to Staten Island. There are also sites that aggregate (collect) local business info, “subject matter” blogs and other Web resources, social media, social networks like Facebook, plumbing professional associations, government sites, and better business bureaus. Some examples: CAPHCC, PHCC, PHCC-national, ASPE.
Again, use these sites for reference. For every positive review on the Web there is a negative one. Sift through the comments, get a sense of how reviewers feel about a company, and take it from there. It’s not much different than looking at reviewer comments on Amazon.
In the end, finding a plumber or plumbing contractor on Staten Island comes down to the individual homeowner, apartment dweller, or small business owner asking questions, doing their own research, and checking up on any information received no matter if it comes from an existing company, a display ad in the Yellow Pages, a Web search, an online recommendation.
And don’t forget: always, always check references.
Here are a few basic questions to ask when searching for a plumber or plumbing contractor on Staten Island.
Is the company or individual licensed?
Any worthwhile plumber will not only be licensed but also fully insured. He should freely present his credentials, insurance and licensing when asked (most plumbers carry a portfolio in their vehicles these days — turning the cabs of their trucks into mobile offices); these credentials should be prominently on display if a customer visits the company’s actual Staten Island-area office.
How long has the company been in business?
Is it family-owned? A well-respected franchise?
Generational, family owned businesses — large or small — and well-respected franchises with adequate resources are considered the best in most professional circles. These tell customers that the company owner is as invested in the business as his father and/or grandfather was before him or that the company meets the stringent requirements of being a part of a well-known franchise.
The longer the company has been in business, providing sales, installation, service, and repair, the better its portfolio will be and chances are it has the experience to meet your specific needs — from unclogging drains to a complete bathroom renovation.
How much do you cost?
It’s always advisable to get quotes from more than one or two plumbers in the Staten Island area. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better. If a plumber seems expensive, it’s perfectly OK to ask him why. Are you paying a premium for his years of experience or the resources of a larger franchise?
As always, avoid the plumber who gives over-the-phone quotes. Most professionals want to see the situation firsthand before giving a price.
Is the work guaranteed?
If a plumber believes he is the best for the job, he will not hesitate to guarantee his work. Is it a limited guarantee? Can you get your money back? And so on.
Plumbers vs. plumbing contractors: What’s the difference? What services do each provide?