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What to know before you have a plumbing emergency | TribLIVE.com
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What to know before you have a plumbing emergency

Tribune-Review
| Sunday, November 23, 2014 5:18 p.m
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Before an emergency, the wise homeowner will establish a connection with a highly rated local plumber and locate the home's main water shutoff valve. Quickly turning off water could forestall extensive damage.

Before an emergency, establish a connection with a highly rated local plumber. Find your home’s main water shutoff valve. Quickly turning off water to your home could forestall extensive water damage

The immediate need to restore plumbing service can leave an unprepared consumer susceptible to scams. Angie Hicks of Angie’s List offers these red flags to watch out for:

Unusually low bids. If a contractor doesn’t provide the full cost, he or she may later ask for more money to complete the job.

No contract. Without a written estimate and detailed contract, a contractor could try to inflate the price. Don’t sign a contract unless it specifies all pertinent details, including how much will be paid and when. Be aware that some states limit the amount of money a contractor can accept upfront.

Scare tactics and high pressure. Beware of contractors who try to rush you into costly action to avoid a crisis, such as a sewer overflow. In most cases, you can avoid or reduce damage by shutting off water to the home. In general, when faced with a high-pressure pitch, take time to get another opinion.

Using low-quality materials while charging for better. Make sure the materials you pay for are what you expected. For example, cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) piping and copper tubing costs more than other types because they’re considered higher quality. A contractor might promise to use top-flight parts and may charge for them, but actually install lower-quality items. If you have any reason for doubt, ask for a parts list and check prices of similar items online or at a store.

Planting evidence. We’ve heard stories of workers operating in pairs, with one talking to the customer while the other creates “evidence” of a broken sewer pipe. In a related practice, some show you video “proof” of a problem, but the images they provide show an entirely different system. To avoid this, ask a technician to videotape something identifiable near your sewer cleanout.

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