When you need an emergency plumber, you just know it’s going to be an expensive experience. Or is it? A lot depends on the reason for needing emergency plumbing, how much you can do yourself to alleviate the problem and whether you’re able to shop around for a reputable plumber. And do 24-hour plumbers charge you for calls outside traditional business hours, or should you expect to pay regular rates because their business hours are, well – 24 hours? We took a look at these issues and came up with some information to help you understand the costs involved.

Tip #1: Ask About Hourly Rates

Plumbers who have completed apprenticeships and are registered trade people are considered professionals. This means that they can expect to receive a minimum hourly base wage of $36.84 as of 2012 from their employers. The owner of a company supplying emergency plumbers in Toronto is entitled to charge whatever he likes, however, and this is where hourly rates become confusing. To understand the costs properly, you need to ask your plumber for a breakdown of what the hourly rate includes, such as:

  • Travelling time to and from premises
  • Transportation costs
  • Time spent sourcing materials for your repair

You are also likely to pay a higher rate for an accredited and licenced journeyman than for a junior or apprentice plumber. It’s okay to allow the contractor to use an inexperienced person for basic plumbing work, but for more complex emergency plumbing jobs make sure the workman they allocate knows what he is talking about.

Tip #2: Find Out About Flat Fees

In some cases, a plumbing company may quote you a flat fee. This sometimes applies when you call after regular hours for emergency plumbers in Toronto. Often, companies offer these services at a flat fee for call-outs, while others add an after-hours surcharge onto the quote they submit. This may also apply to common procedures such as unblocking a drain using a plumber’s snake or clearing a blocked toilet, which attract a surcharge over and above the basic cost. However, while it’s comforting to be quoted a flat rate for a job, bear in mind that this only applies if the job is straightforward. Should the plumber uncover unexpected difficulties that require additional parts or labour, he will charge you separately for the extra work.

Tip #3: Get Itemized Parts and Materials Quote

These items are almost always quoted separately, whether you’re performing a scheduled renovation or you’ve had a crisis that necessitated calling for emergency plumbers in Toronto. Few professional plumbers will risk quoting you a total price for a job without first investigating, pricing the parts required and checking to ensure that there are no hidden surprises. Disreputable 24-hour plumbers (and there are many!) can include unnecessary replacement of parts in their estimate, pushing up the price of both materials and labour.

This all goes to show just how much prices can vary from one plumbing contractor to another. For this reason, it’s best to get two or more competing quotes before contracting any plumber. Obviously, this isn’t always possible – if it’s a Sunday night at 11 pm and you have a flood, just getting emergency plumbers in Toronto out to your home is going to cost you something, and you won’t be in a position to get other quotes.

Tip #4: Identify Your Plumber

The best way to avoid getting yourself into this situation is to identify reputable companies that offer emergency services ahead of time:

  • Get referrals for emergency plumbers in Toronto from friends and family members.
  • Contact the plumbing contractors that are recommended and find out which ones offer emergency services.
  • Ask for their hourly rate and the breakdown of what is included.

When you find a company that fulfils your criteria make a note of their contact information somewhere easily accessible, and use them as your go-to plumber for both regular and emergency jobs. Once you build up a relationship with the company, you will know what sort of charges to expect. You can then call them with confidence, knowing you will not be ripped off.