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What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 14 Nov 2018 | 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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I had a leak in the piping for a re-circulation pump for hot water heater which caused minor flooring in my condo on Thursday afternoon. I called in a professional plumbing company to fix the leak. The plumber came out and spliced the leak in the pipe but did not address the re-circulation pump. These pumps are not designed to run dry and in fact the company had replaced several of the units in the condo building.The next day the pump locked up because it ran dry during the break, which is typical as noted in the documentation from the manufacturer. As a result of the pump locking up, the piping swelled and broke flooding my entire condo unit,2 units below and the lobby area. The plumbing company returned and this time bypassed the failed pump to resolve the matter. Seems they should have replaced the pump on the initial repair ,understanding that it ran dry on the first call out or at minimum , bypassed the pump at that time. Additionally, they encountered this exact failure previously in another unit within the complex.I assert they were negligent in their repair and caused the subsequent and catastrophic water damage to all units and therefore liable. They are statingthe pump failure to be a separate unrelated incident and therefore no culpability on their part. What are your thoughts on this?
Greg - 14-Nov-18 @ 10:00 AM
We have a plumber in to re do our ensuite. We have emptied our bedroom to give him more space. He has damaged a wall- he said the tiles were rotten and it caused the wall is split on the otherside -hallway. He doesn’t seem to want to fix it unless we pay. There are also four leaks in the room downstairs. What are our rights please
Smithy - 24-Sep-18 @ 8:48 PM
We had a loft conversion competed in May 2015 and as part of this I had our old 28kw Combi,which was already in the loft space, replaced with a new 38kw Combi to a new position to suit our loft layout.I obviously had a Gas Safe cert provided on completion and since then haven’t had the boiler serviced until now as we are moving to a new build and need to provide a valid Gas Safe Cert.I’ve had an engineer along today who tells me that he can’t issue a certificate because the pressure is border line having to disconnect the boiler as it’s classes unsafe!The boiler is fine and still within its warranty but he tells me that the engineer that installed it during our loft conversion has piped it with 22mm instead of 28mm hence the pressure drop is reading 14.4 mbar - he tells me below 14 he’d Need to disconnect the boiler - this would likely drop below 14 if we used our gas hob.My question is am I within my right to insist the original engineer pay to fix the issue as it clearly hasn’t been installed correctly/safely?? We are wanting to exchange contracts on our new house in the next week so it’s a hold up!
CC81 - 7-Sep-18 @ 7:01 PM
Li3a - Your Question:
I had a plumber come out on Friday to repair the valve inside my toilet. However on Sunday night (2 days later) I had a leak that brought some of my ceiling down. The plumber cane straight out at 9.30pmAnd isolated the issue and was really good about it but blamed a stop valve that has been in my house since new (11 years) saying it has just been wedged in. However I had never had any problems with it and he was the last one to touch it. He has offers to come back and resolve the issue (no mention of costs) I did ask and he said not to worry? Is he liable for the plaster work and electrician. I had to shut all my electrics down as the fuse tripped. Thanks

Our Response:
We don't know enough about the job that he did. You should wait and see what he offers to do to make reparations before deciding what to do next. An independent plumber will be able to look at the work and assess whether your plumber was at fault.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 14-Aug-18 @ 11:00 AM
I had a plumber come out on Friday to repair the valve inside my toilet. However on Sunday night (2 days later) I had a leak that brought some of my ceiling down. The plumber cane straight out at 9.30pm And isolated the issue and was really good about it but blamed a stop valve that has been in my house since new (11 years) saying it has just been wedged in. However I had never had any problems with it and he was the last one to touch it. He has offers to come back and resolve the issue (no mention of costs) I did ask and he said not to worry? Is he liable for the plaster work and electrician. I had to shut all my electrics down as the fuse tripped. Thanks
Li3a - 13-Aug-18 @ 2:29 PM
Woozle - Your Question:
We had a complete bathroom refit done last year which involved old bathroom being ripped out a wall knocked down (as it was a sep loo before) a new wall and all new stuff put in and floor tiled. We had several problems during the job as it was one guy doing all the work and he was rushed and made mistakes. We had various leaks which he had to fix during the job and then after he came back twice to fix a leak under the sink. It damaged our sink unit and when we contacted them about it they said they would decide what to do and get back to us. They never did despite repeated requests. Cut to a week ago when we found out a pipe under the bath has been leaking slowly for the past year or so. Also possibly due to a shift in the floor from previous water damage, a tile has broken and the toilet waste pipe is now leaking. We contacted them again and they blamed us for buying items without the British standard kite mark. They were all bought from Soak and I've gone back to them to request confirmation about kite marks. They eventually agreed to come back today to pull up the floor and check the extent of the damage, fix the leaks and repair the floor under the tiles. However they did not state they would pull up all the floor (as there has been leaks from loo, sink and bath) and when they arrived today had a big argument with my partner and have refused to take up any flooring at all.Our insurers won't cover faulty workmanship. We are going to contact APHC (who the plumbers are registered with) but what will they be able to do? Any advice is appreciated. Feel so stressed.

Our Response:
If you feel the plumbers are to blame, you may need to take this to the small claims courts for compensation. The plumber should have liability insurance which should cover this.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Jul-18 @ 11:43 AM
We had a complete bathroom refit done last year which involved old bathroom being ripped out a wall knocked down (as it was a sep loo before) a new wall and all new stuff put in and floor tiled. We had several problems during the job as it was one guy doing all the work and he was rushed and made mistakes. We had various leaks which he had to fix during the job and then after he came back twice to fix a leak under the sink. It damaged our sink unit and when we contacted them about it they said they would decide what to do and get back to us. They never did despite repeated requests. Cut to a week ago when we found out a pipe under the bath has been leaking slowly for the past year or so. Also possibly due to a shift in the floor from previous water damage, a tile has broken and the toilet waste pipe is now leaking. We contacted them again and they blamed us for buying items without the British standard kite mark. They were all bought from Soak and I've gone back to them to request confirmation about kite marks. They eventually agreed to come back today to pull up the floor and check the extent of the damage, fix the leaks and repair the floor under the tiles. However they did not state they would pull up all the floor (as there has been leaks from loo, sink and bath) and when they arrived today had a big argument with my partner and have refused to take up any flooring at all. Our insurers won't cover faulty workmanship. We are going to contact APHC (who the plumbers are registered with) but what will they be able to do? Any advice is appreciated. Feel so stressed.
Woozle - 26-Jul-18 @ 10:11 AM
Hello I had a plumber coming in he overcharged me he bought a new shower kit he took the new parts with him he used the old shower parts old shower hose old bracket. I did paid for the materials he did not fix the new parts. I used local plumbing company never pick up the phone they called themself local plumbing company thats they num +443301331428. I dont recommend anyone to call up this company.
Ed1988 - 1-Jun-18 @ 6:57 PM
Hi, I had my bathroom ripped out and had visions of a lovely new bathroom but sadly the plumber did a terrible job and much of it is not fitted properly, the shower is wonky and leaks through the ceiling, the bath taps were not fitted properly and move back and forth, the toilet is not fitted properly and so on. I've been waiting nearly a year for him to come back, he hasn't, and keeps saying it's the shower trays fault, not his, that it's wonky, it was never level and moves when you step on it. I am beside myself and have a small child and feel it's dangerous. I paid part of it upfront, £1000, he now tells me he is stopping working for himself and has a new job so can't do it.....he's never finished it. Can I take him to court I took pictures of it and of him fitting the toilet lol.
MrsCross - 27-Apr-18 @ 8:24 AM
Had a problem with the hot water sensor on my boiler . Plumber came out said it was the hot water sensor . He changed that then said it needed a heat exchange plate which he fitted . The night he did the job it started doing the same thing as before . Msgd the plumber to which he ignored the msg . Persevered with the fault as it was hit an miss thinking it would settle probably due to the new part settling . The boiler is still no better infact worse . So sent him a video of the fault and a msg . This time he replied saying he would ring in an hour .how am I fixed as a customer
Lis - 25-Apr-18 @ 9:40 AM
Baz - Your Question:
I have British gas plumbing cover, and they have been out to repair my shower fixture which is a bat tap/shower mixer located above my bath.Two weeks after the job was complete I have a brown damp patch on ceiling in room below bath. Called them back out and they say problem is seal around bath is faulty and not covered by their insurance as it's not a "plumbing problem". However I never had this problem before the plumber worked on the bath, are they liable for repair of bath seal and water damage to ceiling below?

Our Response:
You would have to be able to prove that the problem wasn't there before. Check the terms and conditions of the cover that you with British Gas.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Mar-18 @ 3:13 PM
Davros - Your Question:
I have an ongoing issue that requires some advice. About 6 months ago I had a plumber come and fit a new boiler and upgrade my heating system to a pressurised system. On completion of the install the system has never properly worked with an ongoing issue where the boiler keeps overheating and tripping the safety reset switch. I contacted the plumber immediately and he came out and inspected the boiler and claimed there may be a fault with the boiler and that I should call the boiler manufacturer. I did this and over the course of three or more outcalls the manufacturer has determined that there is no fault with the boiler. I have then managed to get the boiler manufacturer engineer and my plumber to meet on site where they then suggested it may be a system design issue. The plumber has since then tried to solve this on several occasions without fail. My question is where do I go from here as I cannot continue like this indefinitely. I also paid for a working system. Who is ultimately responsible and how should I proceed?

Our Response:
Assuming it is the system design installation, the contract is with your plumber and he/she should resolve it. If you cannot resolve this satisfactorily, you could consider mediation via an alternative dispute resolution service. If that fails or is not possible, your last resort is the small claims court.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 26-Mar-18 @ 11:31 AM
I have British gas plumbing cover, and they have been out to repair my shower fixture which is a bat tap/shower mixer located above my bath. Two weeks after the job was complete I have a brown damp patch on ceiling in room below bath. Called them back out and they say problem is seal around bath is faulty and not covered by their insurance as it's not a "plumbing problem". However I never had this problem before the plumber worked on the bath, are they liable for repair of bath seal and water damage to ceiling below?
Baz - 25-Mar-18 @ 7:22 PM
I am a tenant in a property that has just been fully refurbished and has a new boiler fitted. Initially the heating worked fine but then I was told the landlord was fitting a thermostat. The thermostat was fitted, and then the timer would not work. The plumber came back and admitted that he hadnt read the instructions when fitting the thermostat but had 'guessed'. He refitted it and since then I have had some recurrent problems with the system. Every 4-5 days the heating does not come on at 5am. When we wake at 7am the radiators are very slightly warmbut the temperature on the thermostat is only showing 15 degrees when it is set at 19 degrees and the house is really cold. Sometimes when the heating comes on with the timer in the evening as requestedand it will start heating up nicely but then just switch off, even though the target temperature has not been reached. I have reported the problem 5 times but the plumber hadn't fixed it. He now suggests that 'the heat is too low' ?? and I should turn the thermostat down and back up again and it should work. I'm sure this is true but surely this shouldn't be a persistent problem? Has anyone had this problem before and can it be fixed?
Rach23 - 23-Mar-18 @ 8:56 PM
I have an ongoing issue that requires some advice.About 6 months ago I had a plumber come and fit a new boiler and upgrade my heating system to a pressurised system.On completion of the install the system has never properly worked with an ongoing issue where the boiler keeps overheating and tripping the safety reset switch.I contacted the plumber immediately and he came out and inspected the boiler and claimed there may be a fault with the boiler and that I should call the boiler manufacturer.I did this and over the course of three or more outcalls the manufacturer has determined that there is no fault with the boiler.I have then managed to get the boiler manufacturer engineer and my plumber to meet on site where they then suggested it may be a system design issue.The plumber has since then tried to solve this on several occasions without fail.My question is where do I go from here as I cannot continue like this indefinitely.I also paid for a working system.Who is ultimately responsible and how should I proceed?
Davros - 23-Mar-18 @ 5:02 PM
Annabo - Your Question:
Plumber fitted a new Vaillant boiler four months ago. During the installation the first plumber dropped the boiler on the hard tiled floor! He injured his face and was taken off the job. A second plumber completed the installation. Now the boiler has developed a water leak so it must either be a faulty boikerborvavfaulty fitting. The plumbing form is arguing that any work to put it right will be chargeable. What are my rights? What can I do?

Our Response:
If you paid the plumber for both the boiler and the installation, your contract is with the plumber and he is responsible for a repair or replacement within the first 6months. See our Guide to the consumer rights act for more information.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 23-Mar-18 @ 2:21 PM
Plumber fitted a new Vaillant boiler four months ago.During the installation the first plumber dropped the boiler on the hard tiled floor!He injured his face and was taken off the job.A second plumber completed the installation.Now the boiler has developed a water leak so it must either be a faulty boikerborvavfaulty fitting.The plumbing form is arguing that any work to put it right will be chargeable. What are my rights?What can I do?
Annabo - 20-Mar-18 @ 7:26 PM
My ensuite shower tray, door and tiling was replaced two years ago as it leaked and caused damage to the ceiling below. The same problem has occurred today. Can I claim from the plumber who undertook the work two years ago.
LJ - 5-Mar-18 @ 11:06 PM
nlhome - Your Question:
A Vola kitchen tap, worth £800 of my rental property was leaking, and my tenant called Pimlico, who replaced the tap with an £80 tap. The tenant made it clear that this was a rental property. The plumber took the Vola tab away, and 'disposed of it'. Pimlico claims no responsibility for the financial loss, as the tap could have been repaired. On what basis can I make a legal challenge against Pimlico?

Our Response:
You'd need to seek legal advice. It's almost certainly "theft" of the tap though, if the tenant didn't give permission for its removal/disposal.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 2-Feb-18 @ 10:23 AM
A Vola kitchen tap, worth £800 of my rental property was leaking, and my tenant called Pimlico, who replaced the tap with an £80 tap. The tenant made it clear that this was a rental property. The plumber took the Vola tab away, and 'disposed of it'. Pimlico claims no responsibility for the financial loss, as the tap could have been repaired. On what basis can I make a legal challenge against Pimlico?
nlhome - 31-Jan-18 @ 12:55 PM
Erin - Your Question:
I had a boiler fitted Sept 2016. it developed a leak last week, couldn't call out original gas engineer as he has died, new engineer has condemned boiler as fitted incorrectly flue not vented property, new boiler I now found out was never registered with gas safe and no benchmark paperwork filled in! can I claim on original gas engineer insurance?

Our Response:
Contact this company he worked for and find out. You'll need to get all the paperwork out that you were given at the time. What checks did you make>? Did you see a guarantee etc?
ConsumerRightsExpert - 31-Jan-18 @ 12:03 PM
Yellowsun - Your Question:
Hello I had a plumber out for 20 mins last week to check if we still had a leak as my hubby had been trying to fix problem. The plumber said there was no leak. Paid 165, we pull up kitchen floor and let it dry out a week later and its still leaking. Ring plumbers bk the guy was supposed to b coming out no call bk in 24 hours. I get someone else to fix it as I have 2 small children and cant have a soaking floor. Its now fixed. Ive rang for my money bk but I keep getting passed to operatives with no luck. How can I escalate this complaint? Is there some sort of plumbing board?

Our Response:
There are various associations but it's only relevant if the plumber in question was a member. You could threaten him with the small claims court?
ConsumerRightsExpert - 30-Jan-18 @ 3:42 PM
i had a boiler fitted Sept 2016. itdeveloped a leak last week, couldn't call out original gas engineer as he has died, new engineer has condemned boiler as fitted incorrectly flue not vented property, new boiler i now found out was never registered with gas safe and no benchmark paperwork filled in! can I claim on original gas engineer insurance?
Erin - 30-Jan-18 @ 9:35 AM
Hello i had a plumber out for 20 mins last week to check if we still had a leak as my hubby had been trying to fix problem. The plumber said there was no leak. Paid 165, we pull up kitchen floor and let it dry out a week later and its still leaking. Ring plumbers bk the guy was supposed to b coming out no call bk in 24 hours. I get someone else to fix it as i have 2 small children and cant have a soaking floor. Its now fixed. Ive rang for my money bk but i keep getting passed to operatives with no luck. How can i escalate this complaint? Is there some sort of plumbing board?
Yellowsun - 29-Jan-18 @ 5:03 PM
We had a new boiler fitted 8 months ago. Now the heating exchange has to be replaced next week. The boiler engineer said the boiler is a 24 ? which is too small. Our small bungalow is a two bedder and we have 8 rads. Is the heating engineer in the wrong for advising us the smaller boiler rather than a 28. Where do we stand?
Redbird - 24-Jan-18 @ 9:38 PM
Hi I need some advice please, I had my boiler serviced yesterday and after the plumber had done it he said the boiler wouldn’t turn back on, he then went on to say there had been a bit of a leak and maybe a bit of water had got into the circuit board, now we have to buy a new circuit board and pay for him to do the plus the extra time he took yesterday, resulting in nearly £400! And no heating or hot water for the weekend! Who is liable for this? As it was working perfectly fine before he touched it? Thanks
Becky - 21-Jan-18 @ 9:59 AM
EastofDulwich - Your Question:
It was corgi homeplan insurance. It covered boiler breakdowns and any issues with pipes.

Our Response:
Sounds like you should pursue this with Corgi, we'd say they are responsible from what you've told us.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 16-Jan-18 @ 3:01 PM
Hi. I called last week emergency boiler repair. Engineer from bigger company came and fixed it but because the boiler old water pressure sensor fall apart and needed change. Today came other engineer from that company change the pressure sensor, but as he left boiler is leaking (from part just next to the sensor, which I'm not sure what is it- my opinion is: engineer heavy hands caused this) and he told my wife it was leaking before. When I called the company, I was told that he done good job and it was leaking before - no will to check it or do something. What should I do, please? I don't think I can somehow prove that the leak is engineer fault. Also could someone tell me if water pressure sensor should turn off boiler when is water pressure low and high? Please some advice. Thanks
JJ - 15-Jan-18 @ 6:55 PM
It was corgi homeplan insurance. It covered boiler breakdowns and any issues with pipes.
EastofDulwich - 13-Jan-18 @ 11:35 PM
Cross - Your Question:
We had a plumber come into to look at our boiler. It's old and had stopped working. He said it needed replacing and quoted reasonably floor the work. It's old and we knew that we would replace it at some point. The works for a company that out neighbour uses so we trusted him. Our insurance company got it working the next day with wd40! we'd paid him for the parts but found out that he had taken the work on himself even though he told us the company were quoting. We had quite a few problems with him. He didn't test the gas before fitting the boiler, it turned out that the gas was fluctuating and he should have called in the right agency to correct this before starting the works. He carried on and fitted the boiler and told us not to report the fault or we'd be left without gas over Christmas because we'd be cut off. After getting advice we realised that he'd left us in an unsafe situation. We got this sorted at at no charge to us within one hour by have a valve repaced!!!! He hit a gas pipe in the wall which he told us isn't usually in a residential building.we've since been told he should know that they are in residential buildings and it was common sense to a plumber as to the location. He didn't make good leaving us with exposed pipes where he'd cut into the boxing in. He didn't fill any holes and didn't seal the flue!!! He didn't sign the works off telling us that we needed new gas pipes because they were blocked or beeded to change the gas hob to electronic.we were told by the emergency team that gas pipes can't be blocked and we don't need to change the hob. He harassed us for payment from the day he walked away, we had to call him back 2 weeks later to fix a pipe that water flooded from, he'd over tightened it. It was at this point that he signed the boiler off. We have had it checked by someone else who has sealed the flue and corrected the position of the condersir pipe, this was today. We are trying to highlight his errors with not checking the gas to the gas safety team. We haven't settled the balance. What should we do about this please.

Our Response:
You should raise this with the company he works for first of all to ensure that he isn't putting other people's lives at risks. To recover any costs of rectifying this, you may need to take the plumber to the small claims court.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 12-Jan-18 @ 3:31 PM
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