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What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 24 Oct 2020 | 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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My plumber replaced shower outlet with a design which quickly blocks and is difficult to clean. Should he return to correct this or have I made an expensive error?
Helen - 12-Oct-20 @ 4:29 PM
We had a brand new bathroom fitted with new shower etc. The cost was just over £6000 and it was 2 years ago. Since then we've called the plumber back on so many occasions due to toilet continually running water in bowl after flushing, toilet not filling up, shower continually blocked with water not running away and the sealant around the shower has now been re done 4 times now with the first one being redone again due to the wrong colour being used and when removed left dark Mark's on the tiles. The toilet has leaked at the bottom 3 times now. Is there anything I can do this far down the line?
Teaspoon - 22-Sep-20 @ 8:55 PM
I had an outside water pipe fixed but in the process of the repair,a couple of paving slabs got damaged. Should I request a discount from my invoice?
Beebs - 17-Sep-20 @ 11:24 PM
We had a tiled roof and replaced it with colorbondby a well credentialed company 18 months ago.We have had endless problems with persistent leaks in a particular area (which presents itself as drips through wood panelled ceiling) whenever it rains.Company has been very quick to respond and “fix” several times but we are still experiencing the same problem.Incredibly frustrating and leaves us anxious whenever we know rain is on the way. Where do we go from here to have this problem resolved?
Us - 9-Aug-20 @ 7:32 AM
My Dad had a new hot water system fitted at the end of last year, after a few weeks we noticed thatthe water wasn’t getting hot so we contacted the plumber and he told us we had to prime the system, he really wasn’t very helpful and didn’t want to know, fortunately we worked it out for ourselves, however, we were having to prime the system every couple of weeks.After a few months we noticed an amount of water along the bottom of the cupboards in the kitchen, this was just as lockdown for Corona happened and with my dad having copd he was paranoid about letting anyone into the house, we then noticed fungi growing near the leak and as lockdown restrictions were being lifted we contacted the plumber to explain the problem, he said he would come around the next day to have a look, he never turned up, I contacted him again and he said that he had forgotten, we agreed that he would come round again but again he didn’t turn up, after a few weeks of not showing up and not hearing from him, I contacted him again, he said that he had been around twice and nobody was home, I explained that my dad hasn’t left the house for over 6 months! We arranged that he would come around today, I have sent him two messages today, one to ask what time he would be here and one to ask if he was still coming, both of my messages have been ignored and I’ve had no reply.What are the next steps that we should take???
Laine - 18-Jul-20 @ 3:38 PM
My Dad had a new hot water system fitted at the end of last year, after a few weeks we noticed thatthe water wasn’t getting hot so we contacted the plumber and he told us we had to prime the system, he really wasn’t very helpful and didn’t want to know, fortunately we worked it out for ourselves, however, we were having to prime the system every couple of weeks.After a few months we noticed an amount of water along the bottom of the cupboards in the kitchen, this was just as lockdown for Corona happened and with my dad having copd he was paranoid about letting anyone into the house, we then noticed fungi growing near the leak and as lockdown restrictions were being lifted we contacted the plumber to explain the problem, he said he would come around the next day to have a look, he never turned up, I contacted him again and he said that he had forgotten, we agreed that he would come round again but again he didn’t turn up, after a few weeks of not showing up and not hearing from him, I contacted him again, he said that he had been around twice and nobody was home, I explained that my dad hasn’t left the house for over 6 months! We arranged that he would come around today, I have sent him two messages today, one to ask what time he would be here and one to ask if he was still coming, both of my messages have been ignored and I’ve had no reply.What are the next steps that we should take???
Laine - 18-Jul-20 @ 1:21 PM
I am bought a in wall hung toilet.I was asked by the plumber to show him what hight to set it. This wasnt an area l was expertice at as it isnt some thing when pointing in mid air l tend to need to know about. I thought about 'so high" the plumber said thats to high. Im disabled and wanted it a bit higher so l can stand back up just a little easyer. I wasnt able to put my weight on the toilet wilst trying to work out the hight so had to put books on the bath edge and sit on those to get the hight. His apprentice at one point said you want your feet to not be off the ground. I agreed , and came to what seemed right. Now its set in on the frame with 7 hours of what was serious work by the plumber and on all accounts l respect him and his work. The toilet still needs more work for the water to be re- connected to it, its an old house. The issue is after the plumber left , and the silicone dryed around the wall edging, l sat on my toilet to see how it was and my feet are 6 to 7 inches of the ground . This is horrible and an increadibly expensive mistake. I realise now when working out the hight, l was sitting on the edge not back and in the centre of the hole, which requires a different position and affects the height greatly. The toilet including seat with lid open 60 centermeters or just on 24 inches from the ground. I would have thought, in hindsight, the plumber should have been more aware of the issues involved in hight details and reasoning. He did say getting it right was important becose there was no changeing it once it was done. And believe me its not cheap doing it. Who is responsible please.
Netty - 4-Apr-20 @ 7:48 PM
This entire post should be printed off and flushed down the nearest toilet.
David - 15-Feb-20 @ 9:20 AM
Hello, Recently we had an emergent situation where our main sewage line was blocked with tree roots, verified by a video scope.This morning the company came and performed a hydro flush on our clay pipes and collapsed our main sewage line.Due to it being more emergent they brought an excavation crew and dug up our front yard and walkway.The cost of this to us is $6400 and the company is saying they aren’t liable at all since it’s a complication- however this was never discussed with me or my husband.I had requested a copy of the video scope, for peace of mind that the line was intact prior to their flush, however they are obviously dragging their feet on it.Since I didn’t have the video I couldn’t get any second opinions (nobody is going to touch that now).Is this something that happens commonplace and should I be pursuing more of a legal action on this?
Jenny - 9-Jan-20 @ 1:54 AM
Plumer put new tap on got him back hot water runningslowfixed it charged £20 is that right
Marls - 10-Oct-19 @ 1:00 PM
Got a plumber to refit my bathroom. After a week the flat downstairs came back from holiday and said there was a leak in their room directly below. Got the Plumber to come back out. He stopped the leak and said he will repair their ceiling once it's dried. The plumber has checked the room now its dry but flat below want him to replace the plasterboard, he only wants to fill the cracks and paint, said it does not need a new plaster board.. Both parties are now putting pressure on me to pay for the repairs as Plumber is not willing to repair the ceiling extensively and will not deal with each other directly.. What should I do??
Ap - 9-Sep-19 @ 9:41 PM
We bought a very old house that had been fully renovated internally less than a month ago. The toilet is leaking from the back. Is the renovator liable to repair it as he fitted it and it is less than a month old? Thanks
Gill - 8-Jul-19 @ 7:26 PM
Had some taps fitted two months ago by a handyman. He fitted my kitchen taps and bathroom taps. All seemed fine but I had a leak yesterday and soaked the floors and flat below. Can I blame someone who fitted new taps 2 months ago when it hasn't been a problem since the work was done?
Web - 6-Jul-19 @ 6:12 PM
I have called plumber for faulty valve on hot cylinders, Something went wrong, the hot water came from hot cylinders, and flooded some area of my house. They have to replace a hot cylinder, but now I received a bill of 1,188 bill for the plumber ‘s fault. Do you think I they asked too much?
Tina - 13-May-19 @ 11:49 PM
Hi we have had a bathroom ripped out and bath replaced with a shower. Quote was for 8.5 days two fitters 300.00 per day. Plumber left us with no basin and incomplete tiled shower that did work and a toilet that was not secured to the wall and wouldn’t flush whilst he went on holiday for a week. The job took 16 days but I’d not finished!! The bathroom is tiny. He initially said because he delayed two start dates if it went over he would swallow the cost. Fitting was 2550 he had now invoiced us with a new bill consisting of 3600 labour! No point did he say he wanted more money. Whilst he did work late some days he hadn’t started the works until late morning. He also stated shower tray glass doors etc were cheaper that original quote. Whilst he quoted for two fitters for 4 days initially he was on his own and the first two days it was his nephew of school age who was on study leave who helped ripped out the bathroom. There have been several others issues but everything is getting acrimonious and we have lost all confidence in him. We have asked him to reduce the bill. Any advise anyone how to proceed? We have been accommodating the whole time but it had been a nightmare. We have never ever had issues with workmen before and we have had numerous building projects completed on our house. Our first bathroom from Rip out to fitting and tiling took 5 days from start to finish one plumber and one tiler.
Exasperated - 12-May-19 @ 3:19 PM
I have a completely new bathroom fitted and everything seems to be wrong and all the other bathroom companies who have inspected it have suggested it should be all done again. One of the main issues is the shower tray is not level with the water flowing away from the waste pipe. I am hoping to take the original bathroom fitter to court, will a report from a new bathroom company with my photographic evidence be enough to prove my claim or do I need a professional accessor to give written evidence.
Kath - 20-Mar-19 @ 1:46 PM
We bought a new build 3 years ago and we have just had a leak coming through our living room ceiling. We contacted the plumbing company who installed it as we had their details from our house details. The plumper had to cut into our ceiling in several places to identify where the leak was coming from. When her found the sauce he said that the pipe hadn’t been fitted properly in the first place. The only reason it’s took so long to leak is because we rarely use the upstairs heating.. he took photos and contacted his boss and told us he would send a report in. We contacted the building company who had built our house and they said they had received the report and said they it was a faulty connection were taking no further as we were not covered anymore. And advised us to contact the manufacturerWho is responsible for the damage? Do,we have any legal rights as we have been in the house 3 years
Shell - 28-Feb-19 @ 6:02 PM
We have just had a plumber come round and unblock a blocked drain. He insisted he needed to see behind the toilet first, even though we knew the issue was a blocked drain.He then proceeded to saw a very large hole into the plasterboard behind the toilet, had a very quick look and said "yep, everything fine here", went downstairs and unblocked the drain in a matter of minutes. Is he liable to pay for the damage to our wall, considering he never needed to do this in the first place?
CJ - 31-Jan-19 @ 5:08 PM
I had some plumbers move a radiator and now 3months later a leak has occurred I called another emergency plumber out to stop and fix the leak. Can I claim off the original plumber?For the emergency plumbers time and the damage to my property I did not contact them at the time to fix it, just got another plumber to come out
Alicat - 6-Dec-18 @ 7:59 PM
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
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
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
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
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
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
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