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Do it yourself or hire a professional?

If you’re not entirely confident of your ability to undertake a plumbing project, or the problem seems too complex, it’s best to call a plumber. Making mistakes can end up even more costly, especially if a professional has to fix any damage caused by your error first.

Plumbing projects for the professionals

If there’s a plumbing emergency, it’s best to call a plumber straight away.

Hot water not working properly – a plumber will be able to tell you what’s wrong, but also spot other problems that you may not be able to see.

Humming sound coming from your system - means the pump speed may be too high or your pipes may be too narrow for the system flow. It’s best to call a plumber.

If your DIY efforts aren’t working, call a plumber - there could be more going on than meets the eye.

Burst pipes – If this occurs it’s best to call in a plumber. Replacing pipework can be a tricky job and can lead to more problems if not tackled correctly.

Larger jobs like installing a new bathroom – This can be a complex plumbing job, so to ensure everything is done correctly and safely, a plumber is a good idea. You may also need building regulation approval, which a professional will be able to advise you on.

The key rule with plumbing is that if you’re not sure you can complete the job safely and proficiently you should call in a plumber. Water can cause a lot of damage so it’s best not to take any chances.

Find a plumber or heating engineer

Need a plumber or heating engineer, but not sure where to find a reliable one? Check out our guide to finding a trustworthy tradesperson that’ll get the job done.

Ask friends and family - Tradespeople rely on word of mouth so get recommendations from friends, family or neighbours.

Ask tradespeople you’ve already worked with - If you’ve previously worked with a builder or electrician that you had a good experience with ask them for some advice. They’ll often work with other professionals on jobs and be happy to recommend someone.

Visit the Institute of Plumbing website – This registered educational charity works on "improving the science, practice and engineering principles of plumbing", and has a directory of registered plumbers that’s searchable by postcode.

Search TrustMark – This not-for-profit organisation is licensed by the government and supported by consumer protection groups. All firms that carry the TrustMark logo and are featured on the website are required to have their technical skills independently checked through regular inspections. Find a plumber by entering your postcode.

Contact your local authority - Many local authorities run their own ‘trusted trading schemes’ with lists of plumbers who have been strictly vetted by trading standards. Use the postcode search on their site to find local recommendations.

Browse online recommendation sites – These sites work by allowing customers to leave reviews of registered plumbers, and plumbers to post photos of previous jobs and information about themselves. These sites can help you decide whether a tradesperson is the right fit for you, as well as letting you post a job that plumbers can respond to.

Check out Which? for authentic reviews - Consumer organisation Which? operates Which? Local, where only members can post reviews, which are verified for authenticity. The average price and job completion info are also included. But to access the reviews, you have to pay to join.

Wickes tips

Once you’ve found three to four potential plumbers, get quotes so you can compare prices, and find out the following:

  1. How long they’ve been in business.
  2. Do they have insurance to cover your property and your neighbours’?
  3. Ask if their work is guaranteed, and whether the guarantee is insured—this means that if they go out of business, the work is still insured.
  4. Check if they’re a member of a professional body.

Avoid plumbers who demand 100% of the price upfront. Paying a proportion of the fee is reasonable if they have to buy materials.

Ask for a signed written contract that includes a clear description of the work, the agreed price, start and finish dates, and details of any guarantees.

Good to know

Any plumber or heating engineer working with gas must be CORGI registered by law.

If you need to call in an electrician it might give you extra peace of mind if they’re a member of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) – a voluntary regulatory body for electricians, but it’s not compulsory for electricians to join.

Wondering what the difference is between a plumber and a heating engineer? A plumber does lots of different jobs, whereas a heating engineer will only ever work with heating systems. A heating engineer has specialist knowledge and they normally have studied for a year longer than plumbers.