How to avoid common Plumbing scams.

Here are four of the most common plumbing scams to watch out for and how to avoid them.

Plumbing is a complex task requiring both precision and knowledge. Page through any city phonebook, however, and you'll find a host of plumbers claiming they do work not just fast, but cheap.

Unfortunately, some are in the business just to make a quick buck and aren't shy about running a scam! Here are four of the most common plumbing scams … and how to avoid them.

The 'three dressed up as a nine'

This scam revolves around materials. High-quality, cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) piping or copper tubing comes with a high cost, and many homeowners aren't shy about shelling out for products that will keep a home's plumbing in good condition for the next decade. Unscrupulous plumbers, however, tell you they're using only the best materials, charge you as if they were and then use lower-cost alternatives.

There are two ways to beat this scam. First, ask for a list of parts your contractor plans to use, then take the list to your local hardware or home-improvement store. If the plumber is using high-end materials but overcharging, call his/her bluff. If she's using low-end products but making a massive profit, find another contractor.

Second, check to make sure what's on the invoice matches what's behind your walls. If your plumber says she's using a particular brand of PEX tubing, examine it before installation and make sure she isn't trying a bait-and-switch.

The 'busy beaver'

For this scam, your plumber sets to work as soon as the ink dries on his contract, but within a week you notice there are more people in your home than necessary. In some cases, "extra" workers may be apprentices, but some contractors try to ramp up their profits by subcontracting parts of the job they could finish themselves out to friends or family, and then claiming they have no control over hourly rates except their own. 

Always ask exactly why each person is needed. If you aren't sure who's doing what in your home, stop the work and make sure extra costs aren't being incurred from unnecessary labor.

The 'golden spoon'

If you live in an affluent neighborhood, you may be getting overcharged. Plumbers aren't required to have a fixed hourly rate, meaning they can charge whatever you're willing to pay. Some contractors who see nice cars in your driveway, a hot tub in the backyard or a high-end flatscreen TV in your living room may assume you have deep pockets and will up hourly rates by as much as 50 or even 100 percent.

The 'evasive estimator'

This guy is a smooth talker. Everything you want is "no problem" and he's keeping a "running total" of costs in his head as he moves through your house. When you ask for an estimate in writing, he says he needs to sit down and itemize everything and that he'll get back to you. When he does, he's offers a great-sounding final budget, but only over the phone — there's no paperwork. He promises you'll see some paperwork right away but seems eager to get to work, so you let him. Weeks go by, and still no paper estimate. But when the job's finally done, you get an invoice at two or three times the original price and no sympathy from the contractor when you protest. 

Always get a quote in writing and sign a contract specifying how much will be paid, and when. That way, if the quality of the work is suspect or the job doesn't get done on time, you have a fighting chance in civil court.

How to identify a scam

The easiest way to avoid plumbing scams is always hiring a reputable professional. But how do you tell him apart from scammers? Start by asking questions — lots of questions. If she wants your business, she shouldn't mind answering and should be willing to produce his/her license and business registration on demand.

Too many homeowners worry about being polite instead of to the point: It's your money, your house and you're the one who has to live with the results. If a contractor gets offended or angry about your demands for high-quality work and written estimates, she's a scammer, plain and simple. Know your budget and know your rights.

5 Things to consider before hiring a water heater repair service.

Water heaters are a tricky business. Water heater repair services do not always require the same technical training or licensing as plumbers and other contractors. It is also sometimes difficult to distinguish between a company simply on the hunt to sell water heaters instead of repair them. It is important to carefully select a water heater repair service for your home needs. Here are five things to consider before you hire a water heater repair service:

  1. Avoid Door-to-Door Representatives – You get a knock at the door, and someone wearing a uniform tells you they need to check your water heater. If you let them, they will likely tell you the water heater is old and inefficient and should be replaced, even if that’s not true. You should not invite door-to-door salesmen into your home; there are much better ways to find a reliable water heater repair company.
  2. Reputation – The internet allows you to easily find out which water heater repair companies have the best reputations. By checking water heater repair services out online, you are able to access customer reviews and ratings. It is advisable to check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints, as well.
  3. Certification – While they do not require the same amount of technical training as other contractors, water heater repair service technicians still require certification. It is important to check their certification before allowing them to repair or replace your water heater.
  4. Experience – Experience is extremely important when it comes to water heater repair services. Generally, the more experienced the technician, the higher the quality of the work.
  5. Price – At the end of the day, price is always a deciding factor. However, it shouldn’t be the only factor—you should be very wary of a company that gives you an estimate that seems too good to be true.  You will probably end up paying more in the long run to fix their poor-quality work or to repair or replace the water heater again just a few short months or years later.

By following these simple steps, you will be able to distinguish which water heater repair service is the most reliable, the most experienced, and executes quality work.

Winter Water Heater Maintenance

It's that time of the year again; Winter, when you inflict more wear and tear on your water heater than ever due to the cold causing it to work harder to heat your water. So what better a time than now to perform maintenance on your old water heater whether it be replacing old insulation, fixing corroded anode rods, or just draining it to wash out years of built up sediment Big John's Plumbing's helpful servicemen can do all that and even more to keep your water heater lasting longer and running more efficiently. And for the rest of December use code: BJPWH for 15% off of all water heater maintenance service.

Successful Re-pipe near Cal Baptist University

Today (Nov. 23) Big John's plumbing employees completed a full house re-pipe in Riverside near Cal Baptist University for client Donna Tears. The three Big John's Plumbing employees lead by plumber Mario Carrara arrived at 8 a.m. and completed the job around 9 p.m. leaving the client satisfied with her residence completely re-piped with PEX, a superior alternative to her outdated copper piping.