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What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 11 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Plumber Plumbing Plumbing Problems Pipes

Plumbers have a reputation not only for charging a lot, but doing most jobs very quickly and gleefully claiming their full money. Even if it’s something as simple as replacing a washer on a tap, you still end up paying for a full hour of their time.

That can seem frustrating, but the truth is that good plumbers are in short supply, and always busy (you’ll never see a poor plumber!). They’re very skilled, and the work can be demanding. When you have plumbing problems in your kitchen or bathroom, however, that’s a good thing. You don’t want some cowboy coming in and working on your pipes. A defect in that can leave leaking plumbing and a house deep in water.

Finding A Good Plumber

It’s not always easy to find a good plumber – all too often the first time we look for one is when we have an emergency plumbing problem, a leak or heavy drop, and then we want it fixed immediately.

You’ll find plenty of plumbers in the phone book, but that alone doesn’t mean they’re good. However, there are steps you can take to sort the plumbing wheat from the chaff.When you talk to the plumber there are several basic questions to ask. How long have they been in business – for obvious reasons, the longer the better. What references can they provide (and if it’s not an emergency, follow up on them). Are they insured? That’s vital, because it means that if a problem occurs, then your property – and those surrounding it – is covered. Is their work guaranteed, and preferably with a guarantee backed by insurance? Do they belong to any trade organisations? If they say yes, don’t simply take them at their word – check. If it’s the Association of Heating and Plumbing Contractors, that’s best of all. Not only do they have a code of practice (as do all trade bodies), but if for some reason your plumber vanishes or goes out of business whilst doing your work, another member will finish the job for you (but – and this is important – only if your original plumber followed their code of practice).

Find out their charges, not just the hourly rate, but also if there’s a call-out fee, which is the case with many plumbers. If the job isn’t urgent, solicit estimates from several plumbers. Likewise, find out when they would be able to begin and would expect to finish.

Where extensive materials are involved – in a new bathroom or kitchen, for instance – you might well have to pay some money upfront, at the very least a deposit. Beware, however, if the plumber demands the full fee before beginning work. Agree on a price for the job before any work begins.

You should also have a contract with the plumber, stating costs, time frame and guarantees. This works in your own interests, although it’s not mandatory to ensure your consumer rights with plumbers?

What If The Finished Plumbing Isn’t Good?

What do you do if the finished plumbing simply isn’t good enough, the pipes leak or you still experience plumbing problems? Talk to the plumber; if he’s reputable he’ll fix the problem at no extra cost.

What should you reasonably expect from a plumber? As with any tradesman, that the work is done within a “reasonable” time frame, with proper skill, and at a “reasonable” cost.

If that doesn’t work and he belongs to a trade body, complain to them, and they will work to find a resolution; that’s part of their job.

Ultimately, you can take the plumber to court – unless it’s a big job, small claims court should suffice, and the charge to file there is minimal. Keep records and take photographs of the job as it progresses that you can present as evidence.

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Plumber came to replace shower faucets and head. I purchased the set from Home Depot. After the plumber completed the job I find the shower head leaks.The plumber wants full payment and refused to fix the leak. And will charge me an extra fee for removing the new faucet and fixing the leak.What should I do
Worried - 11-Aug-17 @ 5:03 AM
I'm redoing my bathroom, put in a new toilet the drain pipe hole is not center in the drain pipe. Now my new toilet keeps leaking. My plumber says he's never seen this before. We built my house it is 29 years old. Can I go back the the company who did the plumbing?
Betz - 16-Jul-17 @ 1:56 PM
Hi there Recently refurbished my bathroom,there were issues about his work.First he mixed up wrong water pipes in shower bath and second there is bad smell coming through toilet. I made full payment to him by cash and now he is not responding to my phone. Please let me know what to do
Garry - 16-Jul-17 @ 1:20 AM
We moved into our house December of 2016, the house had previously been bought by a builder who had never lived in the property, but had completely renovated it, including commissioning a plumber to install a new gas central heating system and combi boiler, a gas hob, two bathrooms and a downstairs cloakroom (this work was done in August of 2016). The day after we moved in, I could smell gas, so called British Gas, who sent an engineer out immediately, and he found the the gas pipe that was connected to the gas hob was leaking, he fixed this free of charge. During our first week in the house water started leaking from the boiler, we called an emergency plumber who found that the water was coming from the central heating overflow (which was inside of the house next to the boiler and should have been on the outside of the house) also the water input tap was still attached to the heating system loop and turned on and the valve was faulty, he repaired this, and put the overflow pipe to the outside (which I understand is a legal requirement) however, within a few days the pressure started dropping on the combi boiler and therefore the heating would not come on until we topped up central heating with water. I rang the plumber who installed the system (who is based around 100 miles away from our house) and explained the situation and he just said that when he left the property the overflow was installed on the outside of the house (meaning that somebody must have altered this) and the heating system was fine, and that if there were any problems this must have been caused by somebody else after he installed it. (although the house was empty until we moved in, in December, so this seems very unlikely) he also said he was confident everything was fine with the system as it had been signed off by the gas safe people. He asked me to text him my email address and promised to email me with details of who I should contact in case the boiler was faulty as this was still under guarantee, Ihave never heard from him since! So,having got nowhere with the plumber who installed the system in the first place, we asked our local plumber to investigate the leak problem which causes the heating system to loose pressure, and he has twice added a sealant to the system which gave a limited improvement for a short time, however six months on we are still having problems, so our plumber now feels that there is no choice, but to start lifting carpets and floorboards in order to find the leak.Our carpets were all newly fitted just before we bought the house, and we have a large kitchen/diner which is tiled so this is going to cause major disruption and cost. We have also had a problem with a leak from a water pipe to an upstairs bathroom, which meant again that we had to call a plumber to fix this.In order to do this he has had to cut a hole in kitchen ceiling to access the pipe (as the bathroom is completely tiled, so no easy access from there) So far
ellabella - 11-Jul-17 @ 9:43 PM
We had a new bathroom fitted just over 2 years ago and at first it was fine.About 6 months ago it started leaking but I have an emergency insurance policy and the plumber called out fixed the issue but stated the run on the shower waste was wrong and may cause issues.Several months later the shower stopped draining and again another plumber stated it was down to the run on the shower waste pipe which in his opinion was a lazy job by the original plumber and required to be put under the floor and totally re plumbed.I cannot find any numbers to recontact the original plumber and do not know if he is even still trading.What can I do?
MikeA - 11-Jul-17 @ 1:28 PM
We live in a housing association property,we had a refit carried out on our disabled wet room which should have taken 10 days but took 2 months. on completion we kept finding wet patches onthehallway carpet. which at a later date we found out was from seals which they had neglected to put on the toilet waste pipe.resulting in the whole of the wet room having to be ripped out and the hallway carpet and floor. also they had left off seals on the electric shower which was nearlyfull of water and posed chances of electrocution. The smell was unbearable when the floor was taken up and it stunk out he whole property all three floors of the flats. I have asked for compensation was I right
johnno - 11-Jul-17 @ 9:56 AM
We had a bathroom fitted about 15 months ago.After it was fitted the plumber had to come back and rectify a number of issues, the shower door was on the wrong way, the bath screen had been cracked and the bath taps had a problem and it required the bath being removed to fix.Since then the sealant and grouting on the shower have cracked and worn away.The bath taps have started leaking again as they did before and the shower is now leaking, both into the kitchen.We have contacted the fitter and he is reluctant to help.He no longer lives in the area and thinks it has been too long.We feel that as the problem with the bath has reoccurred again and the shower has worn so quickly, he should accept some liability.Two separate plumbers have also told us they think we should be contacting him to have him pay for repairs.Are we being unreasonable in hoping forhim to pay for it?Thank you
M - 7-Jul-17 @ 7:56 PM
GG - Your Question:
I asked a plumber to install a electric water plumb for a power shower. He said he will work together with a electrician. He came to fix the water plumb under the bath and install a electric switch. When he opened the water, the trembling noise came out and non-stop. The noise stop when the water is turn off. He said it work with the loud noise.He said that the electrician will come to text the plumb and issue a safe certificate. He asked for cash but refused to give me a receipt. I paid him all the fees.He left and refused to answer my call or text. The electrician didn't come. There is not such electrician. The plumber do the electric himself and I am afraid to use the plumb as the switch is still hanging outside the wall. What can I do to get back the money. He is a Gas safe registered plumber but work like a " Cow Boy"

Our Response:
Unfortunately to get your money back now that you have paid (and without a receipt), you may need to consider court action via the small claims court.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 4-Jul-17 @ 2:25 PM
I asked a plumber to install a electric water plumb for a power shower. He said he will work together with a electrician. He came to fix the water plumb under the bath and install a electric switch. When he opened the water, the trembling noise came out and non-stop. The noise stop when the water is turn off. He said it work with the loud noise. He said that the electrician will come to text the plumb and issue a safe certificate. He asked for cash but refused to give me a receipt. I paid him all the fees. He left and refused to answer my call or text. The electrician didn't come. There is not such electrician. The plumber do the electric himself and I am afraid to use the plumb as the switch is still hanging outside the wall. What can I do to get back the money. He is a Gas safe registered plumber but work like a " Cow Boy"
GG - 3-Jul-17 @ 10:48 PM
JW - Your Question:
HiMy cellar was filling with water so I called an emergency plumber. He mis-diagnosed the problem as a broken hot water cylinder, although admitted it was difficult to ascertain, which I agreed as I couldn't see any source of the water. we agreed for him to change it. he completed the work, which appeared fine and more water came. The problem then got worse the next day (an overflow pipe started overflowing, possibly new from the initial work) and I had to call another plumber. He pumped the water out and the ball valve. The water is still going into the cellar and together they have now suggest another solution.What are my rights when they have misdiagnosed the issue but have completed work? I have paid for the previous work but the problem was not fixed.

Our Response:
We don't really have enough information to advise on this but sometimes if a problem cannot easily be spotted - various fixes have to be attempted to establish what the actual cause is.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 21-Jun-17 @ 12:31 PM
Hi My cellar was filling with water so I called an emergency plumber.He mis-diagnosed the problem as a broken hot water cylinder, although admitted it was difficult to ascertain, which I agreed as I couldn't see any source of the water.we agreed for him to change it.he completed the work, which appeared fine and more water came.The problem then got worse the next day (an overflow pipe started overflowing, possibly new from the initial work) and I had to call another plumber.He pumped the water out and the ball valve.The water is still going into the cellar and together they have nowsuggest another solution. What are my rights when they have misdiagnosed the issue but have completed work? I have paid for the previous work but the problem was not fixed.
JW - 19-Jun-17 @ 3:30 PM
We had 2 bathrooms fitted 18 months ago. Bathroom design by shop designers and they sub contract fitters to their customers! We've noticed a large increasing leak beneath one of the bathrooms which we cannot access as the bath is tiled all round the sides with no access in. The plumber is away on holiday but the shop said neither they or the plumbers will pay for repairs after 1 year! Any advice for is please?
Mols - 2-Jun-17 @ 10:44 PM
Hi I renovated my flat and my architect and I contracted a builder to do the project. His plumbers put in the bathroom which (after 2-3) years has caused a massive leak in the building due to it being incorrectly hooked up to the mains water pipes. Where do I stand in terms of the builder/his plumbers fixing it or footing the cost?
Confusedandleaking - 25-May-17 @ 6:14 AM
Maggie - Your Question:
I called a plumber do do couple of jobs for me. He came, went to order the parts and sent me a quote for both jobs. I agreed for the work to be done. I was told the parts were supposed to arrive within 24 hours. That was over a week ago. The plumber kept quiet and only replied to my texts with excuses like he didn't get parts on the next day, he had a flu. every time he would say he's going to call me on my he next day but he never does. I want to get someone else now. My question is: do I have to inform him first of my intentions (he never bothered to communicate with me unless prompted)? Can he claim the money back from me for ordered parts?

Our Response:
Just tell him you to cancel the order for the parts if they haven't arrived yet and you will ask someone else to do the work. If the parts have arrived, say you want him to fit them in the next 24 hours or you will just find another plumber.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 24-May-17 @ 11:25 AM
I called a plumber do do couple of jobs for me. He came, went to order the parts and sent me a quote for both jobs. I agreed for the work to be done. I was told the parts were supposed to arrive within 24 hours. That was over a week ago. The plumber kept quiet and only replied to my texts with excuses like he didn't get parts on the next day, he had a flu.. every time he would say he's going to call me on my he next day but he never does. I want to get someone else now. My question is: do I have to inform him first of my intentions (he never bothered to communicate with me unless prompted)? Can he claim the money back from me for ordered parts?
Maggie - 23-May-17 @ 5:56 PM
A plumber initially came when we had to call emergency home insurance when boiler wasn't working properly. It restarted but failed again few weeks later so we called him as we had his number. He took cash upfront and did job few days later with a new part that is needed. Then I agreed to change central heating controls for £150 and he collected £150 in cash. But now it's been few months and he is not coming to do the job or return the money. He always says he will come but never shows up or pick up his phone. Communication is only through texts and even then he doesn't always reply. I only has his first name and phone number. only evidence of money given is that he said in one of the text what would be price for job and in another he said he will return the money. What options do I have to recover my money back? Many thanks
Sanjeev - 14-May-17 @ 5:47 PM
El - Your Question:
Recently our combi did not have central heating but hot water was working fine, we called our local plumber identifying the diverter valve was the main problem. Fixed it for £190 but work only an hour then stopped, we called him back to check what wrong and were saying the manifold were leaking so it might be the problem. They are charging £300 to fix this but what happen if that was not the problem? my mum do not wish to pay additional after.The plumber at our local have the highest reviews that why we ask them to repair

Our Response:
It might be worth seeking a second opinion from someone else (an expert) on this. It could be a perfectly valid explanation but another plumber should be able to tell you how likely it is.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 2-May-17 @ 12:54 PM
Recently our combi did not have central heating but hot water was working fine, we called our local plumber identifying the diverter valve was the main problem. Fixed it for £190 but work only an hour then stopped, we called him back to check what wrong and were saying the manifold were leaking so it might be the problem. They are charging £300 to fix this butwhat happen if that was not the problem? my mum do not wish to pay additional after. The plumber at our local have the highest reviews that why we ask them to repair
El - 2-May-17 @ 12:54 AM
KM0607 - Your Question:
We've been in our house for 10 years now but have recently experienced leaks from pipework in our hallway and kitchen meaning the ceilings have needed to be cut open to assess damage resulting in two claims. The house was brand new when we bought it but we had an 8 year buildings insurance so we can't claim on this. We are working with our insurance company to resolve the damage but they are requesting we pay two sets of excess when the damage is caused by the same poor workmanship which has since been identified. As well as going through our insurance, do we have any rights in terms of contacting the original builder.?

Our Response:
If you have proof that the leaks are the result of poor workmanship it's definitely worth addressing it with the builder. If the home had NHBC cover, this usually lasts for 10 years Here is their website but doesn't always cover fixtures and fittings for that length of time.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Apr-17 @ 2:00 PM
We had a reputable plumbing company come out and give us an estimate on replacing all of our drain and supply lines. Drain lines were to be hung from floor joists to correct pitch for drainage and supply line were to be converted over from PVC to pex lines and also hung from the joists to allow room when crawling around in the crawlspace. A few months after the work was completed we noticed a smell of water. I called the company back to see what and were it was coming from. The same plumber stated that the drain line had come apart and that he was going to reglue the lines. Again, months later and we had the same smell of water. This time I crawled under the house to find that he had used electrical tape to hold the drain lines together, which did not hold. Also, found that not all supply lines were not replaced or hung up as charged. Drain lines were not hung either, but instead be I g held in place by old 2×4s and pieces of PVC pipe. So now, not only do I have a bad plumbing job but also a molded crawlspace from months of water draining into it. No wonder my family has been fighting illness.
Jay - 26-Apr-17 @ 9:56 PM
We've been in our house for 10 years now but have recently experienced leaks from pipework in our hallway and kitchen meaning the ceilings have needed to be cut open to assess damage resulting in two claims. The house was brand new when we bought it but we had an 8 year buildings insurance so we can't claim on this. We are working with our insurance company to resolve the damage but they are requesting we pay two sets of excess when the damage is caused by the same poor workmanship which has since been identified. As well as going through our insurance, do we have any rights in terms of contacting the original builder..?
KM0607 - 26-Apr-17 @ 5:40 PM
Issy09 - Your Question:
In January 2016 I employed a plumber to take out my bathroom suite and install it as a wet room, complete with tiling and wet room flooring. The man the plumber got to lay and glue the wet room flooring initially made an error and cut the diaphragm in the drain, causing water to leak through the kitchen ceiling which is directly below the bathroom, and had to cut a hole in the kitchen ceiling to correct this. Although he did return and filled in the hole, I have had to have some further work done to the ceiling, by someone else, at a cost to myself. I now find that when I release water from the wash hand basin it is coming up through the shower drain, and causing an unpleasant smell, which appears to be stagnant water I would say. I feel that either the pipe is blocked or there isn't enough fall in the pipe to take the water away, and this has only come to light recently. Is the plumber liable.

Our Response:
We can't say whether the plumber is liable as it's now a year later and the stagnant water could be the result of a blockage caused by something else. Get an expert to come and take at look at it. If it appears the original plumbing is faulty/ was not fitted correctly, then it's certainly worth making a claim against the original plumber (this will be easier once you've received the evidence from the subsequent "expert")
ConsumerRightsExpert - 19-Apr-17 @ 12:04 PM
In January 2016 I employed a plumber to take out my bathroom suite and install it as a wet room, complete with tiling and wet room flooring.The man the plumber got to lay and glue the wet room flooring initially made an error and cut the diaphragm in the drain, causing water to leak through the kitchen ceiling which is directly below the bathroom, and had to cut a hole in the kitchen ceiling to correct this.Although he did return and filled in the hole, I have had to have some further work done to the ceiling, by someone else, at a cost to myself.I now find that when I release water from the wash hand basin it is coming up through the shower drain, and causing an unpleasant smell, which appears to be stagnant water I would say.I feel that either the pipe is blocked or there isn't enough fall in the pipe to take the water away, and this has only come to light recently.Is the plumber liable.
Issy09 - 16-Apr-17 @ 10:46 PM
We have an ensuite toilet which is all tiled in and which started leaking into the kitchen ceiling below. The plasterboard became soggy and discoloured and the plumber was able to repair by removing this and accessing from below. The problem was a seal on the toilet waste. We paid the plumber and then also had to pay someone else to fit a new piece of plasterboard and redecorate. 18 months later we have just noticed that exactly the same thing is happening again in exactly the same place. My questions are, is the plumber liable to repair again without charge and also is the plumber also liable to pick up the costs to replanted and redecorate. It would seem unfair for us to have to pay anything if either the new seal has failed or has come away through poor fitting. Thanks
Andy - 13-Apr-17 @ 9:31 AM
Bighunk - Your Question:
Had a plumber do a copper re-use of house for 3,500.00 , he cut open walls and both bathrooms and sweated the pipes, after 1 month I started to redo both bathrooms, master bath had water damages from plastic piping, after cutting the floor to remove the bad wood, found the plumber used shark bite material to fit pipes together and did not sweat pipes as I would think that should be done?Then I called the plumber and he advised that those type of fittings are comparable to sweating pipes is this correct?

Our Response:
Many people use push fit/shark bite fittings with no problems. If you need a second opinion, it's worth asking other reputable plumbers about this. If your plumber's work is unsatisactory (regardless of the type of fittings used), your consumer rights still apply.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 11-Apr-17 @ 11:45 AM
Had a plumber do a copper re-use of house for 3,500.00 , he cut open walls and both bathrooms and sweated the pipes, after 1 month I started to redo both bathrooms, master bath had water damages from plastic piping, after cutting the floor to remove the bad wood, found the plumber used shark bite material to fit pipes together and did not sweat pipes as I would think that should be done? Then I called the plumber and he advised that those type of fittings are comparable to sweating pipes is this correct?
Bighunk - 9-Apr-17 @ 4:53 PM
A month ago we had a thermostatic mixer valve removed from underneath our bath by a plumbing company. This morning we noticed water leaking from our kitchen ceiling, below the bathroom. I removed the bath panel and the new pipe connection they inserted to replace the mixer valve was leaking slowly. We pulled back the flooring and it is totally soaked underneath and spread under the floor into at least 2 other rooms. I called the same company who came out immediately and sorted the leak. They said the leaking part was faulty. My question is, who is now accountable for the damage and repairs cost? We have house insurance with direct line that covers water damage. Many thanks
Eug - 8-Apr-17 @ 8:07 PM
Jeannie - Your Question:
2 weeks ago heating engineers fitting a new heating system I asked twice if it was compatible with my shower and twice answered yes, well it wasn't my house flooded that night after hit water feeding up the cold tank the tank being fed by high pressure the inevitable happened.I don't own my house so they came back with a top plumber got my heating and hot water on, now they are fighting between themselves who is going to put all this right.It has made me so ill I can't sleep in the house and can only do a few things in here during the day before my hands start to swell as I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis so I'm having to sleep in the summer house to get away from the house, our bedroom was badly damaged and we lost furniture and carpets it seems no one wants to pay for those and all the downstairs flooring is warped and getting worse the smell is awful.If it's taken up am I in the wrong no one is talking to us we have hard to huge dehumidifiers going but it has cost a fortune in electric where it all came through the drawers I have had to wash everything.Please someone help me I'm at my wits end, we are insured for contents but I'm loathe to use mine as it wasn't my fault

Our Response:
Contact your insurer for advice, they may be able to help tell you what you can do, even if it wasn't your fault. Unfortunately your choices are to take legal action to resolve the squabble between the heating engineer and the plumber and to get compensation or to make an insurance claim.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 5-Apr-17 @ 10:42 AM
2 weeks ago heating engineers fitting a new heating system I asked twice if it was compatible with my shower and twice answered yes, well it wasn't my house flooded that night after hit water feeding up the cold tank the tank being fed by high pressure the inevitable happened. I don't own my house so they came back with a top plumber got my heating and hot water on, now they are fighting between themselves who is going to put all this right. It has made me so ill I can't sleep in the house and can only do a few things in here during the day before my hands start to swell as I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis so I'm having to sleep in the summer house to get away from the house, our bedroom was badly damaged and we lost furniture and carpets it seems no one wants to pay for those and all the downstairs flooring is warped and getting worse the smell is awful. If it's taken up am I in the wrong no one is talking to us we have hard to huge dehumidifiers going but it has cost a fortune in electric where it all came through the drawers I have had to wash everything. Please someone help me I'm at my wits end, we are insured for contents but I'm loathe to use mine as it wasn't my fault
Jeannie - 3-Apr-17 @ 5:03 PM
Pat - Your Question:
Three years ago we converted our basement that involved putting a wet room and a huge siting room area (which had a wooden floor).About a year ago we started to notice a discoloured area in the middle of the floor in the sitting room. We ignored this at first thinking it might be something we have done, but over time the area of discolouration has grown at a rapid rate. We contacted the builder and over several inspections involving the plumber and damp proofer we have now identified the problem was a pipe behind the tiled wall in the wet room which was completely out of site. The problem was a very slow drip from a connecter. The support wood frame inside the wall is rotting showing the damage has occurred slowly over a long period of time.Both builder and the plumber have said they have checked their insurance and as the original work was done three years ago their insurance won't cover it and have suggested I should claim of my insurance (I am not sure my insurance would cover it). I strongly believe the builder and his subcontractor are 100% liable as the quality of the plumbing was clearly not fit for purpose. The builder has quoted me saying to repair the damage will cost £2500.I would really appreciate any advice on how I should proceed and what the legal situation is.Many thanks

Our Response:
As it's 3 years since the initial installation it may be difficult.There may be a case for compensation but you might need to pursue it via the courts unfortunately. Check your home insurance to see whether the damage is covered. If your policy includes legal protection you may be more successful.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 17-Mar-17 @ 10:42 AM
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