Why Is Plumbing So Expensive? (Explained)

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There’s nothing worse than a plumbing emergency. From clogged toilets to broken pipes, a plumbing problem can quickly become a disaster for your home. But plumbing problems don’t just affect your peace of mind. They can also be expensive.

Plumbing is a specialized trade where plumbers have to do many hours of practice and skilled labor. They also have to consider the costs of driving to homes to do repairs, including gas, the parts they need to buy beforehand, and the tools they’ll use.


How Much Do Plumbers Charge per Hour?

The amount that plumbers charge depends on many factors. Their hourly rates may differ based on experience, qualifications, and whether it is a private plumber or a plumber that works with a company.

On average, plumbers charge an hourly rate between $50 up to $200. Obviously, the more experienced they are, the higher the hourly rate that they will charge. The rate they charge also depends on whether they are doing emergency work or work that had been arranged in advance.

Plumbers charge higher rates when they are called out on emergencies. Their rate may also differ depending on the nature and size of the job. For example, they are likely to charge less for basic services and more for complex jobs requiring more skill and manpower.

Why Do Plumbers Charge So Much?

Many of us wonder why plumbing is so expensive. That’s because the plumbing issues that people experience are unforeseen and may happen at the worst time. That also means that they are not always financially prepared.

Insurances don’t usually cover basic plumbing costs and sometimes they are reluctant to cover emergency situations. It’s no wonder you’d want to know why plumbing is so expensive. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons.

A Lot of Their Work Is on an Emergency Basis

Plumbing is one of the most important functions of any building. Without it, we would not have good sanitation because water is vital for cleaning, flushing toilets, and more. It is nearly impossible to function long term without running water.

Additionally, when water bodies burst, such as pipes or geysers, it usually causes a lot of damage and leaves a big mess – all things plumbers deal with. So, it is not uncommon for plumbers to get panicked calls where something has gone wrong with the plumbing in someone’s house or business.

This means they spend a lot of time tending to emergencies. This means they constantly have to tend to call-outs which don’t only cost when it comes to gas and supplies, but it also means their family or personal time is often interrupted.

Most professionals charge higher rates when this is the case. And, many of these emergencies happen after work hours, on weekends, or even on holidays. All of these would mean a more expensive rate.

Plumbers Constantly Need to Carry Stock on Hand

Many businesses that work in a trade quote their clients before buying stock. They don’t need to carry a large amount of stock on hand, whereas plumbers do. This is called inventory and includes things like pipe fittings and basic working tools.

A plumber doesn’t want to make their client wait 3 days for the leaking pipe in their kitchen to be fixed because they can’t get a basic part. The rule of thumb is that a plumber always keeps a 30 day supply.

This means that they often have to carry stock on hand and that means buying those parts before doing the work. That’s why plumbers need to carefully plan financially and is one reason why they can be expensive.

Plumbing Parts Can be Expensive

Plumbers may differ in their hourly rate when it comes to the quality of the parts that they buy. A plumber using copper for example will have more costs than one using PVC piping. That’s a basic example, but plumbers who go for the best brands and quality will need to charge more.

Plumbing parts can be pretty expensive. This is why replacing old pipes in a 1,500 square foot, two-bathroom home costs $4,000. It is also important that the plumber bases their hourly rate on the quality of the products they use. We’ll go into this in more detail when we talk about negotiating with your plumber.

They Have to Be Qualified and Gain Many Hours of Experience

It goes without saying that getting a trade is sought after because it is specialized and means you get paid well for your skills. Plumbing is a highly specialized trade because it’s not always about fixing a leaking pipe or burst geyser. Some jobs require an immense amount of skill and specialization.

The minimum time it takes someone to become qualified as a plumber is three years. They then need around five years of experience or apprenticeship. This is a long time of studying and gaining experience, which is also why plumbers charge higher rates.

Again, the more specialized, skilled, and experienced a plumber is, the more they are likely to charge per hour. Plumbers or plumbing companies with great reputations for doing superb work may also charge higher rates.

When it comes to jobs that need special skills, it is certainly worth the while paying for a more experienced plumber.

However, some plumbers or plumbing companies overcharge. So let’s discuss how to determine if their price is worth it and how to negotiate the price in the next section of this article.


Can You Negotiate With Plumbers?

Negotiating is a fine art between getting the right price without trying to get a plumber to agree to do the work for a lower amount than they’re worth.

Highly skilled and experienced plumbers will cost more. However, there are a few key things to consider for negotiating with your plumber. Let’s discuss it here.

When negotiating with your plumber, find out:

How Experienced Are Your Plumber and Their Assistants?

For basic jobs like fixing leaking pipes, then the cost of the plumber shouldn’t differ that much. You can research market rates to determine if your plumber is charging fairly.

However, when it comes to specialized jobs, your plumber may be more expensive. It also gets trickier to negotiate. Although it is worth asking your plumber for a fair rate. Especially when the job is very expensive.

How Long Will the Job Take?

You’ll want to find out how long the job will take the plumber to complete. If you’re pushing them to do the work in a shorter time frame then it is likely to cost more.

However, if there are delays in the delivery or the plumber takes longer than average because of reasons on their part then you can negotiate a reasonable price.

The Quality and Costs of the Materials Being Used

A plumber who is using PEX or PVC piping should not be charging a higher than average rate. This is because plastic piping is much cheaper and is easier and quicker to install.

A plumber who is using copper piping will charge more because these pipes are a lot more expensive and require more skill and time to install or repair. So with negotiating, knowing which materials they are using is key.

You can also question the quality of the products or brands that they are using when you are negotiating with them for a fair price.

Ask for a Cost Breakdown

If you want to negotiate a fair rate with your plumber, you could ask them for a cost breakdown, including the hourly rate of the plumber and their assistants if they have any. As well as the cost of the materials, and the overhead costs.

You can also compare these prices with some market research to determine if they are charging fair rates.

In Conclusion

With plumbing services, it could cost a lot, depending on the size of the job, the experience, and skills of the plumber, and the quality of the materials they are using, and whether or not it is an emergency call out.

Ultimately, you want to make sure that when your plumber is charging a higher hourly rate, that they are very experienced and using high-quality products.