How to Hire a Good Plumber in Houston
It is estimated that Houston residents lose up to $130 per month to leaky toilets that are left unattended. As such, hiring a professional plumber to address any plumbing issues on your property could save you hundreds of dollars in extra utility costs. However, with over 9,000 plumbers licensed to operate in Houston, you need to conduct some due diligence to ensure that you pick the right professional for your plumbing repairs. While it is common to seek recommendations from family and friends in picking a plumber, asking the following questions can help you determine whether a plumber is qualified to work on your project:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Houston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Houston?
- Do You Comply with the City of Houston Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Houston Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Houston?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Houston?
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Houston?
Per Section 104.1 of the Houston Plumbing Code, an individual must hold a state master plumber license to run a plumbing business within the city. Furthermore, persons engaging in the actual plumbing jobs are required to obtain a master or journeyman plumbing license or register as a plumbing apprentice. Failure to meet the applicable licensing requirements constitutes a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine between $500 and $2,000 under section 102.5 of the Code. In addition to obtaining a plumbing license, all master license holders are also required to register with the Houston Permitting Center annually.
The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) is responsible for regulating plumbers and issuing plumbing licenses to eligible individuals in the City of Houston. In order to be eligible for licensing as a journeyman plumber, an applicant must have been registered as a tradesman plumber or apprentice in Texas or a journeyman or master plumber in another state. The applicant must also have at least 8,000 hours of experience working under the supervision of a master plumber and pass a licensing exam administered by the TSBPE.
Similarly, applicants for a master plumber license must have an existing journeyman plumber license in Texas or a master plumbers license in another state and pass a licensing exam administered by the TSBPE. The minimum years of experience for obtaining a master plumber license depends on where and how this experience was obtained. For example, a master plumber applicant must have held a journeyman license in Texas or another state for at least four years. However, the requirement is reduced to a year if the applicant has successfully completed a training program approved by the United States Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. Finally, to register as an apprentice plumber, the individual must be at least 16 years of age and under the supervision of a licensed plumber.
You can confirm your plumber's licensing status through the TSBPE find a license portal. Likewise, a city-level master plumber registration can be verified by contacting the Houston Permitting Center at (832) 394-9000.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Houston?
Before choosing a plumber to work with, it is essential to get cost estimates for your project from at least two other plumbers. This way, you have a better idea of what your project involves and comparable alternatives to consider. Nonetheless, cost estimates will usually be dependent on various factors, including permits and material costs, the type of project, and the labor required.
A plumber in the City of Houston earns an annual average wage of $55,560. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Houston compared with plumbers in other parts of Texas and other major cities in the country:Houston City Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$26.71Texas State Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$24.44Los Angeles Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.04New York Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$35.78Chicago Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$44.20Minneapolis Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$39.45Boston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$40.46
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of Houston Building Code for Plumbing?
In addition to looking out for a licensed plumber near you, you should also be sure that any plumber you are hiring is familiar with the City's plumbing code. This is particularly essential, considering that non-adherence to the plumbing code during your projects might lead to penalties like fines or a notice to stop the work. Penalties for Code violations are generally enforced by the Houston Permitting Center.
The Houston Plumbing Code establishes minimum standards for all plumbing-related works within the city to protect the life and safety of city residents. It encompasses various plumbing aspects, including fixtures and fittings, water heater installation, water supply and distribution, and drain laying. While licensed plumbers are typically familiar with the city's plumbing code, it is always a good idea to still confirm this when you hire a plumber. You can also contact the city's Building Code Enforcement Division to get more information on Houston Plumbing Code violations by calling (832) 394-9494 or visiting:
- Building Code Enforcement Division
- 1002 Washington Avenue
- Houston, TX 77002
Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Houston Code?
Permits are generally required for different plumbing works in Houston, including installing storm and sanitary sewers, plumbing fixtures, and appliances for drainage, gas, water, and sewer lines. However, Section 103.1.1 of the Houston Plumbing Code exempts some plumbing works from permitting requirements. These plumbing works include stopping leaks and clearing blockages without rearranging valves, pipes, and fixtures or replacing damaged materials. Failure to procure the requisite permits may result in fines and other penalties. Also, note that works exempt from permits are still subject to minimum standards provided by the Code.
The Houston Permitting Center is responsible for issuing plumbing permits within the City, and this Center issues several types of plumbing permits depending on the particular type of plumbing project. For example, the Center issues permits for plumbing fittings, ground-in plumbing, outside area drain, and gas, wall heater, and sewer connections. These permits can be obtained simultaneously if a project requires a combination of the mentioned works. However, note that these plumbing permits are typically only issued to licensed and registered master plumbers.
Plumbing permit applications can be made either online or by fax. To apply for a permit online, an applicant must log in or register an account with the City's iPermit portal, fill out the online plumbing permit application, pay the required application fees, and print the permit. On the other hand , applicants who prefer to apply for a permit via fax are to fill out a CE-1020 Plumbing Building Permit Application and fax it to (832) 395-9601. Note that electronic submission, review, and approval of plans may be required for some types of projects. To confirm whether your project requires a plan approval, contact the Plumbing Section of the Permitting Center by calling (832) 394-8870 or make your inquiries by email. You can also verify whether your plumber has obtained the required permits for your project by utilizing the Houston Online Sold Permit Search portal.
Additionally, the Plumbing Code mandates inspection of plumbing works by building officials, and a certificate of occupancy cannot be issued unless the work passes its final inspection. You can schedule an inspection online by utilizing the scheduling website provided by the City's Department of Public Works and Engineering. You can also schedule inspections by calling (713) 222-9922. Queries concerning the plumbing permitting and inspection process can be directed to the Houston Permitting Center by calling (832) 394-9000. Also, in-person inquiries can be made from Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at:
- Houston Permitting Center
- 1002 Washington Avenue
- Houston, TX 77002
What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
Plumbers in the City of Houston perform a variety of plumbing works, including leak detection and repair, drain cleaning services, installations and replacements, and inspection and maintenance of plumbing systems. However, always confirm that the plumber you hire is skilled to perform your plumbing work and holds a license that authorizes them to perform such work, considering some licenses may have certain restrictions. For example, apprentice plumbers can only assist with plumbing installations under the direct supervision of a master plumber. If a master plumber is not present, an apprentice may only perform manual tasks such as digging trenches. Similarly, some plumbers specialize in handling commercial plumbing works, while others focus on undertaking residential plumbing works. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your plumber is experienced in the plumbing area relevant to your project.
Although costs for plumbing works typically vary, here are cost estimates of common plumbing services in Houston City:Bathtub installation$60 - $2,011Clearing clogged or blocked drains$107 - $131Drain Line Video Inspection$223 - $255Gas Line Installation$27 - $38Home remodel plumbing$3,755 - $4,854Septic system installation$6,329 - $7,519Septic tank cleaning/pumping$234 - $276Sewer line cleaning$149 - $228Sump pump installation$733 - $1,053Swamp cooler installation$2,006 - $2,148Toilet installation/replacement$132 - $142Water softener installation$890 - $1,195
Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Houston?
Several plumbing issues, such as clogged toilets, faucet malfunctions, and basement flooding, usually require immediate repairs. Nonetheless, less serious faults such as leaking toilets should not be ignored, considering a leaking toilet alone can waste up to 200 gallons per day, potentially costing a resident up to $130 per month. However, note that despite the need for an emergency plumbing service, it is not always a good idea to rush repairs or hire just any plumber for the work. You should still confirm whether the plumber is licensed and skilled enough to do the job and how long the plumber will take to reach you.
To confirm whether a plumber is licensed, you can use the TSBPE find a license portal. Also, you can utilize sites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau to find qualified plumbers that offer emergency services near you. Opting for a plumber near you ensures that your plumber of choice does not spend too much time finding you while the plumbing emergency gets worse.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Houston?
According to figures published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 608 fatal occupational injuries in Texas in 2019, and 193 of these injuries involved persons working in the construction industry. Hiring an insured plumber ensures you are substantially protected from costs arising from such occupational accidents during your project. Therefore, you should always confirm that your plumber of interest has an active insurance policy.
According to Section 104.1 of the Houston Plumbing Code, master plumbers cannot offer services within the city's jurisdiction without furnishing the Permitting Center with proof of insurance as required under state law. The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners requires all master plumbers to provide a current certificate of insurance. This certificate of insurance is proof that a plumber carries the required general liability insurance for property damage or bodily injury claims, with coverage of at least $300,000 in one year. In addition, plumbers must also maintain other insurance requirements relevant to their area of specialization. For example, liquefied petroleum gas plumbing or medical plumbing could carry different insurance requirements. However, note that these insurance requirements are generally applicable to only master plumbers. Obtaining insurance coverage is optional for journeymen and apprentice plumbers since they must always work under the supervision of a master plumber. You can verify that a master plumber is properly insured by searching the plumber's license on the TSBPE's license search portal.
How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of Houston
According to statistics provided by the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, Houston residents spend an average of $24,142 annually on housing, making it their largest expenditure component. Considering the amount expended on housing in the city, it is not uncommon for deceptive plumbers to attempt scamming residents carrying out related projects. For example, following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) investigated various individuals offering plumbing services without a license to victims in Houston and other parts of Southern Texas. Similarly, in 2019, a general contractor was arrested in Harris County for scamming unsuspecting victims out of more than $300,000 by receiving payment without doing the required job. Some other forms of plumbing scams include doing shoddy work that will require repairs soon and charging more for cheaper materials. You can avoid falling for plumbing scams in Houston by taking some precautions, including:
- Avoiding contractors that solicit work door-to-door, that are reluctant to obtain permits, that insist on cash payment, that require large upfront payment, or do not want a written contract
- Verifying that your plumber is licensed by using the TSBPE Find a License portal
- Confirming that your plumber, if holding a master plumber license, is registered in Houston by calling the City's Permitting Center at (832) 394-9000
- Calling the TSBPE at (800) 845-6584, ext. 65249 to discover whether your intended plumber has been the subject of a consumer complaint. Similar inquiries can be made with the Houston Permitting Center by calling (832) 394-9000
- Requesting that the plumber provides references from recent customers before making a final choice. Reluctance in providing references may be a sign that the plumber has not been providing satisfactory services.
- Checking out reviews about the plumber's services using third-party websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review. These reviews are usually unbiased and can give you a clear idea of the plumber's professionalism and expertise.
- Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners
- Att: Enforcement Department
- P.O. Box 4200
- Austin, TX 78765-4200
Similar complaints can also be made by contacting the Houston 311 Help & Information Section online or calling (713) 837-0311. It is advisable to ensure that you also forward relevant supporting evidence to make your complaints more credible when contacting this section.