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Calling the Plumber: A Homeowner’s Guide

When plumbing troubles arise, homeowners have to quickly resolve a number of questions like “What’s going wrong?” “Do I need to call a plumber?” “What should I do next?” If you’re finding yourself asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place.

Drawing from 17+ years of experience with connecting more than 100,000 service seekers with professional plumbers, we’ve created this guide to help inform you on the first steps you should take–whether you’re facing a simple plumbing malfunction, or a major plumbing disaster.

In this guide, we hope to help you decide whether you can solve your plumbing problem on your own, or if it’s an issue best left to the experts. And if you do find yourself in need of a plumber, we aim to provide you with helpful information that will help you book your appointment and work with a plumber toward a speedy resolution. We take pride in our work connecting homeowners with trusted professionals who they can rely upon, but we also enjoy empowering homeowners with skills that can save time and money. We wish you luck on your plumbing journey!

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Get to know some of your home’s main plumbing areas.

Things You Can Check Before Calling a Plumber

Knowing the basics of plumbing can help save a homeowner a lot of time and money in the future. In fact, it’s often possible to detect and fix small-scale plumbing problems without calling in a plumber. Even if you don’t want to touch anything related to your plumbing system, having a basic understanding of what’s going wrong can help you communicate better with a plumbing professional, speeding up the resolution of your problem.

All in all, learning how to listen to the house’s “plumbing language” might end up helping you learn some new tricks – saving you time and money!

Here are some plumbing repairs you can try out on your own.


Clogged drains are typically caused by food particles, grease, hair or soap residue in your pipes. There are a number of low-risk ways to try to resolve a clog without professional assistance, such as trying to dislodge your clog with hot water, vinegar and baking soda. More complicated clogs can sometimes be resolved by using a plumber’s snake or drain auger, if you’re willing to get a little messy.

While some clogs are easily cleared using the suggested methods, it’s entirely possible that a clog that is too big or deep to clear might require the specialized equipment at a plumber’s disposal, or involve a problem with the pipes or sewer line that no amount of boiling water can fix. So if you find yourself out of luck after taking a hand at unclogging your drain, reach out to a plumber.

If you’re interested in checking out some techniques for resolving tricky clogs, check out our troubleshooting articles designed to help deal with clogged toilets, kitchen sinks, and sewer lines. In general, we don’t recommend using harsh chemicals on your pipes, as they can potentially damage your plumbing system and complicate things for a plumber in the event that they are needed.

Calling a Plumber Homeowner Guide faucets
Leaky faucets are common for many homes and fixing them by yourself is often not too difficult.

Leaky Faucets

Taking care of a faucet that keeps dripping by yourself may not be as difficult as it seems. If you’re wondering where to start, don’t panic! Fixing a leaky faucet can be relatively easy if you take your time and stay patient.  We wrote a handy guide on troubleshooting a leaky faucet here.

Running Toilets

Checking and fixing a running toilet can be easier than you think! Before you call a plumber and spend money on something you can easily do yourself, check out our handy troubleshooting guide for diagnosing and fixing a running toilet.

Try our tips for getting to know your basic home plumbing system and how to maintain and fix common issues. But don’t hesitate to call a trusted local plumbing pro if you encounter bigger problems and let them save you money in the long run with a professional repair solution.

Plumbing Repairs Best Left to the Pros

While the above repairs are in reach of most homeowners, it’s best to call in professional plumbers to deal with more complex issues.

Trying to repair plumbing on your own not only risks making things worse; it is also potentially dangerous as plumbers are well-equipped with safety gear suitable for any job. Here are a few plumbing repairs you should only trust a professional with:

Sewer Line Breaks or Leaks

Sewer line breaks can cause serious damage to your home if not fixed quickly.  Plumbers know how to properly assess and repair man-made problems without creating any unintended consequences for your property or your neighborhood. Plus, plumbers are insured just in case something goes wrong, so don’t think twice about calling in the experts!

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Professional plumbers are better suited to many home plumbing issues.

Major Leaks and Broken Pipes

Most homeowners don’t have the time to repair broken and leaky pipes–particularly if those pipes are inside walls. While there are products on the market that allow you to use epoxy puppy or pipe putty to stop a leak, such solutions are temporary in nature and should only be applied to buy yourself time until a professional arrives to provide a long-term solution.

Water Heater Issues

Since they involve very intense heating elements, and sometimes gas lines, water heater issues are not to be trifled with. A plumber is often your best ally when it comes to fixing a water heater issue. Professional plumbers are trained to recognize potential problems quickly and provide the necessary steps for safe and effective and long-term solutions. So the next time your water heater causes mayhem in your home, don’t get into hot water – call a plumber!

So, It’s Time to Call The Plumber…

Once you know it’s time to call a plumber, it’s important to act quickly. Ignoring your problem won’t fix it; in fact, many plumbing issues, such as leaks and water heater issues, tend to get worse if they’re not addressed quickly by a qualified professional. Acting fast means you’ll neutralize the problem before it causes more complex problems or expensive repairs down the road. Here are some tips that you should consider when giving a plumbing team a call:

Know your Schedule

As anyone who has tried calling a plumber lately knows, many plumbers have very busy schedules; so be sure to have your schedule in front of you so that you know when you can have a plumber arrive at your home. The last thing you’ll want is to have to reschedule an appointment due to an avoidable scheduling conflict.

Don’t Demand Exact Quotes

Most reputable plumbers won’t be able to provide an iron-clad quote for a repair that they haven’t seen in person yet. Instead, they can provide you with an estimate on site. In some cases, they charge a service fee for an on-site estimate that is waived when you agree to service.

Ask About Discounts

It’s always worth a try to check whether the plumbing company you have contacted has any special deals or discounts, especially for new customers. Whether they say yes or no, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Be Truthful

Your plumber is going to be able to solve your problem a lot more effectively if they know what you know about your plumbing problem and what steps (if any) you’ve taken to resolve it. If you tried your hand at pouring chemicals down the drain to resolve your drain problem, let them know – you can help them rule out problems that way and help your plumber avoid injury.

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Calling a professional plumber is often faster and cheaper in the long run than many DIY attempts that could cause more damage.

Before Your Plumber Arrives

Once you’ve arranged for plumbing service, the final step is to get your home ready for their arrival. While you’re waiting, you can still take steps to make your plumbing experience go more smoothly. Plumbers often charge by the hour, so anything you can do to reduce friction for them can also save you money in the long run.

Know Where Your Outdoor Drain Cleanout Is

Every building with plumbing has a drain cleanout – usually a capped pipe sticking a few inches above the ground that allows a plumber access to the main sewer line. Often located outside of your home in the front or back yard, cleanouts help plumbers diagnose and clear main drain clogs responsible for the most stubborn draining issues.

Every bit of time that you spend finding your cleanout is time that you don’t have to pay a plumber to spend looking for it.

Know How to Shut Off Your Main Water Valve

Knowing how to shut off your main water valve while you wait for a plumber can provide many benefits. In addition to allowing the plumber to get to work more quickly in the event that the water needs to be shut off for a repair to be made, being able to shut off the water can also help prevent a known leak from compounding. This can buy you much-needed time and potentially help prevent you from needing the services of a water remediation company.

Clear the Work Area

While plumbers have plenty of experience dealing with all the fluids and solids that go down and through your pipes, there are lots of good reasons to get their work area reasonably clean and clear before they arrive. Besides showing general courtesy to someone who has come to solve your problem by cleaning off surfaces, decluttering the work area can save time and thus, in many cases, save money. So if your plumber will need to access a sink cabinet, clear out all the bottles, sponges, and detergents you might have stuffed in there.


We hope that the guide above has helped you resolve your plumbing issues, whether you are dealing with a matter that you were able to solve yourself or something more complicated. By helping you tell whether you can tackle your plumbing problem on your own or if you need a pro, and how to prepare for your plumbing service call in the event that you need one, we hope we’ve armed you with tools to handle plumbing problems with confidence.

Calling a Plumber FAQs

How much does plumbing service cost?

Plumbing service costs can vary considerably, depending upon the size of the job, materials needed, and seasonal demand. Ask your plumber for information about their rates when you call them so you can get a good understanding.

I am having trouble finding an available plumber. How do I find one?

Service Direct can connect you to a local plumber fast. You can get in touch with a pro quickly by dialing the phone number displayed on this page and providing your zip code when prompted. You will then be put in touch with a plumbing team that services your area 24/7.

What chemicals do you recommend pouring down a clogged drain?

Without knowing your plumbing system, we don’t recommend pouring anything harsher than boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda down your drain without the supervision of a professional.

Do plumbers install dishwashers?

A plumber is typically needed when new water and drain lines have to be in place for a dishwasher installation, but it’s typically not cost-effective to hire plumbers for simpler dishwasher replacements.

What are some reasons to call a plumber?

While there are lots of reasons you may need to call a plumber, some of the most common reasons include, low water pressure, a lack of hot water, a burst pipe, clogged pipes, or your drains are backing up.

Hire a Local Plumbing Pro

If you need professional help with any of your home’s plumbing maintenance or repair issues, then don’t hesitate to contact a local plumbing pro using the phone number or form on this page.

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