How to Hire a Good Plumber in Boston
Annually, a single residence in Boston is charged approximately $60 and $81 per 1000 cubic feet of water and sewer rates, respectively. Even though water is quite affordable, you must make sure plumbing issues, like leaking valves and faucets and clogged drains, are urgently fixed by a qualified plumbing professional to avoid water wastage and increased water and sewer fees. Although you can rely on plumber referrals from friends, family, and other professional contractors when you need to fix any plumbing issue in your homes, you should still make sure that any referred plumber is qualified to take on the specific plumbing job. To ensure you are hiring qualified and experienced plumbers, you can ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Boston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Boston?
- Do You Comply with the City of Boston Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Boston Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Boston?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Boston?
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Boston?
Before hiring the services of plumbers in the City of Boston, you must ensure this plumber is licensed to deliver the services you need. Plumbers who wish to operate in Boston are required to obtain plumbing licenses from the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters of the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Licensure. Failing to obtain licenses is a violation that attracts civil penalties as high as $2,500. Similarly, it is illegal for licensed plumbers to employ unlicensed plumbers, and penalties for this include a fine not exceeding $100.
The licensing Board issues two types of licenses, the journeyman and master plumbers licenses. To be eligible for these licenses, interested parties must complete an apprenticeship program. To become an apprentice, applicants must complete an apprentice application online. The apprentice plumber will need to complete 550 hours of training in tiered classroom education and 8,500 hours of work experience under the supervision of a journeyman or master plumber. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program and with the requisite experience, an apprentice can apply for a journeyman plumber license. In addition to the experience acquired as an apprentice, applicants must pass a licensing examination and also complete an education verification form, a statement of experience form signed by their supervising master plumber, and a notarized Criminal Offender Record Information Acknowledgement (CORI) form. Meanwhile, master plumber applicants need to upload the Statement of Experience & Education Verification Form reflecting their journeyman plumber license number, signed by an official at their apprenticeship program, and a notarized CORI form. If the journeyman and master plumber applicants meet their respective requirements, they can complete an online application, pay the required fees, and sit for the requisite licensing exam.
You can confirm that your intended plumber in Boston has been duly licensed via the check a professional license platform provided by the Division of Occupational Licensure. For all plumbing licensing queries, you can contact the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters at (617) 701-8798.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Boston?
What plumbers charge in Boston is majorly influenced by the type of plumbing service they are carrying out, labor, cost of materials, cost of permits if applicable, and their experience. When shopping around for qualified plumbers in the city, you should get multiple estimates from at least three plumbers near you. That way, you can compare costs and pick the plumber's rate that suits your plumbing budget.
A plumber in the City of Boston earns an annual average wage of $84,160. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Boston compared with plumbers in other parts of Massachusetts and other major cities in the country:Boston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$40Massachusetts Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$38.88San Diego Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$30.73Chicago Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$44.20New York City Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$35.78Los Angeles Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.04Miami Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$22.66
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of Boston Building Code for Plumbing?
The Massachusetts Uniform Plumbing Code regulates the construction, design, installation, modification, alteration, maintenance, and quality of plumbing systems in Boston. The Plumbing Code also stipulates the minimum public health and public safety standards for plumbing systems in the city. It is important to ensure that your intended plumbers are well versed with the various provisions of the Plumbing Code applicable to your intended projects. For example, your plumber must ensure that all materials, products, devices, systems, and installation of plumbing systems must be in conformance with 248 CMR section 3.00 through 10.00 of the Plumbing Code. If any provision relevant to your project is violated, you may be subject to certain city-imposed penalties like payment of a fine or jail term. You can contact the City of Boston Department of Inspectional Services at (617) 635-5300 for all code-related inquiries.
Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Boston Code?
According to the Massachusetts Uniform Plumbing Code, plumbing permits are required for all installation, alteration, removal, replacement, repair, or construction of plumbing systems in Boston. The City of Boston Department of Inspectional Services (DIS) reviews applications for permits and issues out permits where the application is successful. A homeowner or a licensed plumbing contractor can apply for permits for both minor and major plumbing projects. Applicants can apply in person by visiting counter one and counter two of the DIS at:
- Department of Inspectional Services
- 1010 Massachusetts Avenue,
- 5th Floor,
- Boston, MA 02118
- Phone: (617) 635-5300,
- Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Note that for minor works, a plan review is not necessary and permits may be issued the same day of application. However, applicants need to submit plans and other supporting documents for larger plumbing projects for review. The review of these plans and documents takes place in counter two. At counter two, applicants will be intimated on whether approvals from specific city departments are needed for the plumbing work to commence. For example, approvals from the following city departments may be necessary:
- The Parks Department if the project is within 100 feet of a park or parkway.
- The Environment Department if the project will affect wetlands.
- The Landmarks Commission if the intended project is in a historic district.
Alternatively, applicants can apply for plumbing permits online via the Boston Permits & Licenses portal provided by the city's Department of Inspectional Services. Applicants can upload electronic copies via the online portal for plumbing projects that require plan reviews. Note that work cannot start on the projects until a permit has been issued, and you can check on the status of the application. Once the permit is issued, it is valid for six months from the date of issue, and within this time, there must be access to ensure inspections are carried out when stipulated by the Department. To schedule an inspection, you must contact the relevant inspector assigned to the locality of your plumbing project. You can contact the Boston Department of Inspectional Services at (617) 635-5300 for more information regarding the city's permitting process and requirements.
What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
Plumbers operating in the City of Boston offer different types of services, including but not limited to fixing water leaks, sewer, and water line repairs, plumbing installations, preventive maintenance, and drain cleaning services. However, you must make sure that your intended plumber has the expertise and equipment to complete the intended projects. In addition, when hiring your plumber, besides confirming their licensing status and area of specialization, you should confirm the cost of services of such plumbers.
Listed below are cost estimates of common plumbing services offered by Boston plumbers:Faucets, fixtures and pipes installation or repair$95 - $125Toilet installation or replacement$447 - $622Clearing drain clog or blockage$154 - $189Bathtub installation$2,375- $2,905Drain line video inspection$320 - $367Gas line installation$37 - $54Septic system installation$9,126 - $10,843Cost of septic tank cleaning or pumping$338 - $397Sewer line cleaning$215 - $328Sewer line installation and repair$75 - $96Sump pump installation$1,056 - $1,518Swamp cooler installation$2,892 - $3,097Water main installation or repair$39 - $66
Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Boston?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at least 90 gallons of water are wasted every day by one out of ten homes in the United States. Water leaks and other plumbing emergencies should be resolved as soon as they are detected to prevent further damage to your plumbing system. Apart from leaks, other plumbing issues that require urgent attention include burst pipes, clogged drains, and faulty toilet flappers. Although these issues need a quick fix, you should still ensure that your intended plumber is duly licensed, experienced, and properly trained to handle the situation properly. You can find emergency plumbers near you via credible online platforms like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review. However, it is advisable to verify the licensing status of plumbers found on these websites by utilizing the check a professional license platform provided by the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Licensure.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Boston?
When hiring a plumber for your plumbing projects, they must confirm they are carrying liability insurance unless you waive insurance for them. Slips, falls, and trips associated with plumbing work were the third leading cause of occupational injuries in Boston in 2017. This only goes to show that the importance of your plumbers carrying a liability insurance policy cannot be downplayed. When you hire insured plumbers, you don't have to pay out of your pocket to settle any injuries or property damage sustained during the project. As such, when you are hiring plumbers, request for their certificate of insurance and take further steps to verify the certificate from the issuing insurance company.
However, note that plumbers with at least one employee must maintain active workers' compensation insurance for their employees. A workers' compensation insurance protects you from personal financial liabilities should your plumber's workers get injured during your project. You can contact the Boston Department of Human Resources at (617) 635-3193 for all inquiries relating to employee workers' compensation insurance.
How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of Boston
While most plumbing licensees conduct themselves as qualified professionals, some are out to defraud unsuspecting residents of Boston. These individuals, through deceptive means, typically obtain money from residents and then abandon the work midway or not start it at all. In October 2018, a District Court in Massachusetts ordered a Boston contractor to pay more than $400,000 in restitution to several homeowners who were victims of a well-orchestrated fraud. Other methods these individuals utilize include door-to-door solicitation, reluctance to provide their license, doing a shoddy job to get a callback, or insisting on full upfront payment.
Before hiring plumbers near you, you can take certain steps to protect yourself from falling victim to a plumbing scam in the City of Boston:
- Hire only licensed professional plumbers. Ensure you do your verification online, or you contact the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters at (617) 701-8798.
- Compare at least three estimates from different plumbers to help you get the average cost for your plumbing project.
- Get work reviews from previous work done by your intended plumber.
- Execute a contract specifying the scope of the plumbing project till it is completed and the relevant fees.
- Avoid paying in full by making payments on a percentage basis based on the total amount charged by the plumber.
- Keep safe all documents executed during the project from the beginning stage to the completion stage.
The Division of Professional Licensure takes action against any deceptive business or individual with a complaint filed against them. If you have been a victim of these deceptive individuals, you can download and complete a complaint form provided by the Division of Professional Licensure. You can then send the completed form via mail to:
- Division of Professional Licensure Office of Investigations
- 1000 Washington Street
- Suite 710
- Boston, MS 02118
Alternatively, you can contact the Division at (617) 727-7406 to request a complaint form and send the completed form to the provided address. You can also report plumbing scams in Boston to the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office by completing an application online or by mailing a completed complaint form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Advocacy & Response Division
- One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor
- Boston, MA 02108
Finally, you have the option of instituting a private legal action against the fraudulent plumber at the Massachusetts District Court. It is advisable to seek proper legal advice from a lawyer for all available legal options. You can use the public service platform of the Boston Bar Association to find suitable lawyers near you.