How to Spot and Avoid Plumbing Scams

What do you do when you see a leaky pipe underneath your kitchen cabinet?

In case you Google ‘the best plumber Chula Vista CA’ and call the first option out of desperation, you’re not alone. Most of us do the same. 

But did you know it may lead you to a plumbing scam (which can be too costly)?

The thing is, plumbing is a technical field. Sometimes people who claim to be experts don’t even know the ABCs of plumbing and installation. 

They try their best to scam innocent homeowners who want to get their plumbing issues fixed immediately. 

Scams and frauds in the world of plumbing are common. In this post, we will share a few plumbing scams so that you can spot and avoid them in the future. 

Scam # 1: I don’t have a hard copy of the license available now

This is important. No matter how urgent a plumbing emergency is, do not trust an unlicensed, inexperienced, and unqualified plumber. 

Always ask for the plumber’s license upfront. A good plumber should not have any documents to hide. In fact, professionals love to brag about the permits and licenses they hold.

So, if a person refuses or tries to conceal this critical information, it is a sign you’re not with the right person. 

Scam # 2: Material upselling frauds

Material upselling frauds are also called bait-and-switch plumbing scams. This happens when a dishonest plumber tries to sell you cheap and substandard material, saying it is the best you can find.

Because such low-quality material will not withstand the test of time, you will end up replacing or repairing everything you installed recently.

Wondering how to avoid this scam?

Do not trust vague information. Also, have everything in writing. Cross-check every single thing to ensure what’s on the paper corresponds to what’s behind your walls.

Scam # 3: Raising rates because of your financial status

As strange as it may sound, your plumbing costs may also skyrocket when you live in a well-off neighborhood.

Greedy plumbers may double or even triple their rates based on your financial status. To avoid this, make sure you request quotes from multiple contractors. Doing so will help you get a clear idea of the current market rates.

Scam # 4: Too many solutions for a problem

Some plumbers try to manipulate homeowners by offering different solutions to one problem.

They use this deceptive technique to confuse the owners and make them feel comfortable with their choice in the end.

Beware of this tactic, as honest contractors always present a simplified solution to a complex problem.

Scam # 5: Bundle deals

Yes, you read that right.

Contractors can also try to cross-sell by offering bundle services at discounted prices.

Try to identify the intention behind such proposals. There are many things you can do on your own to save the cost. So, try to figure out if you truly need services that are listed on the deal.

Scam # 6: Calculating expenses on the go

There are plumbers out there whose on-the-call offers may stun you. But they give nothing in writing.

If they ask you to calculate estimates on the go, take a u-turn and don’t look back.

Remember, such verbal agreements are useless and always end up in much higher costs.

Scam # 7: ‘Just Sign this’ Scams 

‘Just sign this, we will complete the formalities later on.’

This is what we hear when trying to hire a new plumber.

Many contractors try to lure homeowners to leave their agreements incomplete.

Signing an incomplete contract will give your plumber a chance to disappear before the job hasn’t even started.

Scam # 8: Third-party involvement

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, third-party involvement can also be a sign of fraud. 

Some scammers subcontract their tasks to their friends and family despite knowing they know nothing about the technical aspects of plumbing.  

You might even have to pay more to subcontractors if you haven’t signed a proper agreement earlier. 

Things to Consider Before Hiring a Plumbing Contractor

Here are a few things you should consider before hiring a plumber for yourself:


The plumber should be licensed and bonded. Visit their official website to cross-check this important detail. If they don’t have a website, you can also ask them to provide evidence. 


Plumbing is a technical field. Many things can go wrong in the case of hiring an inexperienced technician. To avoid this, make sure you work with a professional contractor having years of proven experience. 

Usually, this information is available on the contractor’s website. If not, you can ask them about their previous projects and experience. 


Always ask for a warranty upfront. This is to ensure the plumber will pay for the damages if something goes wrong. 

This clause should also be a part of a written agreement. 

Payment terms

The most important one. Talk about all payment terms and conditions upfront. Ask about the individual cost of each task and a grand total.

Some plumbers work on an hourly basis, while others on a flat rate. 

It’s also essential to clarify payment terms if they involve other team members in the project. Do you need to pay them separately, or the total cost will cover their wages?

Do not just talk about these things. Have everything in writing signed by the contractor. 


Everyone wants to work with a reputable contractor. One way to verify this is by checking the reviews and testimonials available on the contractor’s sites. 

You can also check reviews on other third-party websites. 


  • Get everything in writing (and get it signed by the contractor)
  • Get info on everything you need to know
  • Always work with a licensed, insured, and a bonded contractor
  • Check reviews on the contractor’s website/Yelp/Google Review
  • Avoid phishy cold calls and bundle offers

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