How to Hire a Good Plumber in New Orleans
The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans encourages the citizens of the city to swiftly report water and sewer leaks. Leakages like this come at a very high cost to individuals and the city at large. An average leak in your house can waste over 10,000 gallons of water per year. That is enough water to wash 270 loads of laundry. However, if you cannot see any visible leak but seeing a spike in your monthly water bill, it is wise to hire a qualified plumber in the city to help fix any undetected leaks. Before settling for a plumber in the city, ensure to ask the following questions to determine their proficiency:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of New Orleans?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of New Orleans?
- Do You Comply with the City of New Orleans Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of New Orleans Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of New Orleans?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of New Orleans?
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of New Orleans?
Before performing plumbing jobs for city residents, plumbers in New Orleans must register with the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana. In addition, plumbers undertaking any plumbing work costing $10,000 or more are further required to obtain a contractor's license from the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC). Plumbers who fail to obtain the appropriate licenses will be subject to fines of up to 5,000 dollars, or imprisonment for up to three months, or both a fine and imprisonment per day of violation.
The SPBL issues various licenses, including apprentice, tradesman, journeyman, and master plumber licenses. Interested persons can apply for a plumbing license by satisfying licensing requirements, submitting a completed license application form, and paying the requisite licensing fees to the SPBL. Note that licensing requirements typically vary and depend on the plumbing license type. For example, apprentice plumbing license applicants are required to be at least 16 years old, be physically capable, possess a high school diploma or GED, be employed by a plumbing contracting agency in Louisiana, and complete an apprenticeship program. Similarly, journeymen plumbing license applicants must complete an apprenticeship program or be in their last year of the program and pass a license examination. However, this apprenticeship program may be waived for applicants with 8,000 hours or five years of supervised work hours under a journeyman or master plumber.
Although New Orleans does not maintain any reciprocity program with other cities or states, journeyman licensing requirements may be waived for individuals who hold a valid license from other states. However, note that these individuals are still required to pass the required licensing examination. Inquiries regarding plumbing license requirements and processes can be directed to the SPBL at (225) 756-3434. However, interested persons can specifically make inquiries regarding Natural Gas Fitters, Master Natural Gas Fitters, Medical Gas Verifiers, or Medical Gas Installers licenses by contacting the SPBL administrative office by email.
Residents can verify a New Orleans plumber's license using the license online verification tool maintained by the LSLBC.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of New Orleans?
When planning to hire a plumber in New Orleans, it is advised that you have an idea of the average hourly rate for your plumbing project. This rate typically depends on the nature of your plumbing work, the cost of obtaining permits, and the cost of required plumbing materials. You can easily find out the average hourly rate for your project by comparing estimates from at least three plumbers near you. Additionally, comparing estimates helps to determine extortionate charge rates so you can avoid them.
A plumber in the City of New Orleans earns an annual average wage of $57,950. Below is a breakdown of the Average hourly wages for plumbers in New Orleans compared with plumbers in other parts of Louisiana and other major cities in the country:New Orleans Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$27.86Louisiana Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$27.95New York City Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$35.78Houston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$26.71Minneapolis Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$39.45Los Angeles Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.04Boston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$40.46
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The New Orleans Rules of the Sewerage And Water Board contains a set of rules that guide how plumbing works are performed within the city. It also regulates the use of specific plumbing systems, including sewerage systems, water supply systems, and drainage systems. To this end, the Rulebook outlines safety standards for the installation, repair, design, modification, replacement, and maintenance of plumbing systems in New Orleans, as well as the minimum standard requirements for plumbing materials to be used during plumbing works.
Since the Sewerage and Water Board Rulebook is technical, hiring a licensed plumber who understands the Rulebook is best to ensure that your plumbing work complies with any relevant requirements. Violating the rulebook attracts a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 30 days or both. If you have questions about this Rulebook, you can contact the New Orleans Sewerage And Water Board at (504) 529-2837.
Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of New Orleans Code?
The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board is responsible for issuing plumbing permits for plumbing works within the city, and plumbing permit applications must be made at least 24 hours after the commencement of any plumbing project. However, per the Rules of the Sewerage And Water Board, specific plumbing works can be done without a permit, and such works include:
- The repair of leaks,
- Unblocking pipes, or
- Replacing broken traps, pipes, or fixtures.
The Sewerage and Water Board usually reviews and processes for around two weeks, depending on the workload of the Board and the time it takes to complete an inspection of the relevant plumbing project. Interested persons who would like to apply for a plumbing permit or make permit-related inquiries can do so by contacting the Sewerage and Water Board at (504) 529-2837. Alternatively, you can physically visit the Board's Office and make these permit-related inquiries or permit applications at:
- Sewerage and Water Board
- 625 Saint Joseph Street
- New Orleans, LA 70165
What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
Ensuring your intended plumber has the skill and experience to effectively handle your plumbing project is crucial when searching for a plumber to hire. This is because plumbers in New Orleans offer various services, depending on their level of expertise, area of specialization, and workforce. However, note that the skill of a plumber and the nature of your plumbing work majorly determine this plumber's charges. Nonetheless, below are some cost estimates for some common plumbing services in New Orleans:Bathtub Installation$1,770 - $2,170Clearing a clogged sink, tub, or shower$115 - $141Cleaning of septic tank$255 - $300Cleaning of sewer lines$250 - $300Fuel tank installations or removal$1,620 - $2,645Installations of sewer lines$56 - $71Installation of sump pumps$788 - $1,133Installation of water softeners$969 - $1,300Installations of well pumps$704 - $837Septic System Installation$6,800 - $8,000Toilet Installation or Replacement$142 - $152Video inspection of drain lines$240 - $270
Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of New Orleans?
The average household in the country wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water yearly due to plumbing leaks alone. Not only do such leaks cause water wastage and increase your water bills, but they can also damage your home, thereby reducing the value of your property during real estate appraisals. Thus, it is important to treat water leaks and wastage as emergencies. While all plumbing problems require urgent attention, some issues require even more attention; these are known as emergencies. Such emergencies include overflowing toilets, broken pipes, and clogged drainages.
When an emergency occurs, you should contact a plumber immediately to tackle the situation. However, before the plumber arrives, it is advisable to plug leaks or seal off the area to prevent further damage. Third-party websites like Yelp or Better Business Bureau are helpful resources when finding plumbers near you capable of handling your plumbing emergency quickly. However, you should always verify a plumber's license before hiring this plumber. New Orleans plumber licenses can be verified using the online verification tool maintained by the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of New Orleans?
Per state law, master plumbers must be insured before obtaining, renewing, or reviving a master plumber license. Required insurance includes workers' compensation insurance, motor vehicle bodily injury and property damage liability insurance, and comprehensive general liability. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, every 99 minutes, a worker died from work-related injuries within the country in 2019. With this in mind, it is crucial to ensure you hire a plumber with insurance to avoid the financial implications of injuries or accidents during your plumbing job. You can always confirm if a plumber is duly insured by asking the plumber to provide proof of insurance. Also, you can contact the Sewerage and Water Board with any inquiries on insurance requirements at (504) 529-2837.
How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of New Orleans
Before signing a contract with a plumber or home improvement contractor, it is a good idea to ensure that the plumber does not have an indictment or scam allegation. This is because there are several cases of contractor scams across New Orleans, where mischievous contractors take advantage of residents' plumbing emergencies to defraud them. Unfortunately, some of these scams are also enabled by inspectors. For example, in March 2021, one of New Orleans leading private building inspectors was indicted in a $500,000 fraud scheme after allegedly falsifying several home inspection reports.
To avoid falling victim to a contractor scam generally, these are some steps you can take:
- Always verify your plumber's license. You can do this by using the LSLBC online contractor search portal. The LSLBC also has a license verification app called LA Contractor, available on iOS and Android devices, which you can utilize.
- Keep a proper catalog of all contracts and documents relevant to your project. These documents would be important in proving that you had a business dealing with a plumber, if necessary.
- Ask for proof of insurance. Sometimes plumbing contractors can try to present fake insurance documents, so ensure to contact the relevant insurance company and verify the authenticity of any presented insurance documents
- Never use loan services recommended by a plumbing contractor to pay for their plumbing service.
- Utilize the online search portal maintained by the Louisiana Secretary of State (LSS) to check if your intended plumber's business is legitimate.
- Never pay for work that has not been completed and do not pay more than 25% of the total costs as a deposit.
- Do not pay a contractor using cash. Checks or credit card payments are better, as they help prove you made payments.
Residents of New Orleans with reports about plumbing scams or fraudulent businesses within the city can submit these reports to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) through an online complaint form. If you have any queries for the NOPD, you can also reach this Department at (504) 821-2222 with these queries.
Alternatively, you can seek compensation by filing a small claims case at the small claims division of the First City Court Clerk's Office. Small claims cases in New Orleans only allow a maximum claim of $5,000. You can contact the Deputy Clerks of the First City Court at (504) 407-0400 with questions about filing a small claims case. Generally, small claims cases in New Orleans strictly demand that you represent yourself in court. However, it is a good idea to consult an attorney for appropriate legal advice before filing a small claims case.