Clogged drains can be caused by a wide range of foreign objects from man-made problems – like toiletries and food scraps; to natural problems – like tree roots and mineral build-up.
In many cases you can use a DIY hack (think boiling water or over-the-counter caustic cleaners) but if your drains are still blocked it helps to call in the pros. But before you jump on Google and call the first blocked drain plumber you see, remember to ask a few important questions first.
All plumbers are NOT created equal. Once you’ve got answers for the following 10 questions, you’ll be able to hire a plumber with confidence knowing your drains are taken care of, and your budget is protected.
Questions To Ask Your Blocked Drain Plumber
#1 – Are you licensed?
In 2021 it’s easy to knock up a website and become an “expert” at anything. Unfortunately this means there are plumbers driving around Sydney and Western Sydney without the proper licensing.
Although it may seem like all plumbers are formally licensed, it doesn’t hurt to ask for proof. And when you hire an unlicensed plumber there’s no guarantee their work will pass inspection or adhere to relevant safety standards.
Imagine bringing in a friend of a friend who you heard was a top notch plumber, only to find your drains are now damaged and even more clogged than before!
There’s never a good time for a plumbing problem. Whether it’s 2pm or 2am, a drain that’s clogged is a headache you can do without.
There are many symptoms of a blocked drain, including:
If you spot any of these, the worst possible outcome is to call your local plumber and be met with a voicemail. You can’t realistically wait until the plumber is up and has had his coffee – you need help NOW.
A blocked drain can seem like one of the “easier” plumbing problems to fix, after all there’s no water around your knees or a burst pipe turning your basement into a small lake. But it’s often the problem under the surface that makes clearing a clogged drain so challenging.
Whether it’s tree roots in the front yard, foreign objects in the toilet, or cooking in the kitchen, it’s crucial your drains are cleared fully.
Asking for guarantees ensures your plumber can’t clear enough of the blockage to let water trickle through, then charge you for the full service. At Emergency Plumbers Sydney we offer a 100% Lifetime Labour Guarantee – this means all the plumbing work we do (including clearing blocked drains) comes with a lifetime labour.
That’s how you get peace of mind.
#4 – Do you charge a flat rate or hourly fee?
It’s tough to know how long a plumbing job will take.
If there’s a significant blockage in your pipes you may be facing a longer service than a customer who’s only dealing with a ball of hair in the shower. This becomes a problem when plumbers charge by the hour.
If your plumber increases your bill with each passing hour the estimate you receive upfront can quickly become 2x, 3x or 4x that amount. A flat fee provides you with the peace of mind you need to know your drains will be taken care of, and your budget protected.
A flat fee is also useful because you won’t be paying for labour costs. Let’s say your blocked drain required a professional plumbing drain snake to remove deeply set instructions. With a flat fee you won’t cover the cost of the tools, or the time it takes to get the job done.
We appreciate the importance of keeping costs down, which is why we offer fixed upfront prices that don’t change even if your drains are completely clogged.
#5 – Do you offer free quotes on blocked drain jobs (and what does it include)?
Every Sydney plumber should be offering free quotes as a bare minimum.
You’d never want to hire a tradie only to find out the job was thousands more than you expected. But while free quotes are standard in the industry, it’s common for plumbers to hide “extra costs” so you’re stung with add-ons when it’s time to pay the bill.
Your free quote should include labour AND material.
This will give you an indication of the overall cost and help you find a local plumber that’s affordable and honest.
#6 – Do you offer senior discounts?
Discounts are a sign your chosen blocked drain plumber puts the needs of their customers before themselves. Asking about a senior’s discount will help you see what type of discounts are on offer, which is valuable whether you’re over 65 or not.
If you are a senior you’ll be able to hire a professional plumber to unclog your drains at a price that works for you (at Emergency Plumber Sydney we trim 10% off the price for all seniors) but even if you’re under the cut-off age you’ll get a sense for whether your chosen plumber is looking for a quick buck, or to help their customers solve their plumbing problems.
#7 – Do you service the Sydney CBD only or will you come to me?
There’s never a good time for a plumbing emergency. If you’re dealing with blocked drains then the warning signs can be as subtle as water that’s taking an age to disappear, through to a more urgent foul odour that’s making your home an unbearable place to be.
It’s crucial you ask your blocked drain plumber what locations they service. Without knowing if your suburb is on the list, you can chase up a plumber who isn’t able to come to your home – or worse tacks on a monstrous call-out fee that leaves you out of pocket.
We understand how important it is to get fast help when your drains are clogged and backed up, that’s why we service the following areas:
#8 – Do you clean up the mess after a blocked drain service?
This seems like it should be an obvious “yes” but you’d be surprised at how many Sydney plumbers will charge you for the job then leave without clearing up the mess they’ve left behind.
Unclogging a blocked drain can leave dirty residue or sewerage coming back out of your drain, which is no one’s idea of a good result. Left unchecked this can stain your floors and towels, and cause damage that requires an expensive fix down the track.
At Emergency Plumbers Sydney we clean your bathroom, laundry or kitchen after every service to make sure your drain is clear and there’s no mess left in your home. Since we also dispose of all waste in on-site waste management receptacles, there’s no mess and no fuss.
#9 – Will you give me free tips to stop my drains from clogging?
Let’s be honest, in the age of YouTube there are plenty of plumbing problems you can troubleshoot yourself. Something as simple as a cup of hot water, followed by a cup of bicarbonate soda and a cup of vinegar poured down a blocked drain, then left for 10 minutes and rinsed out with more hot water, can solve some blockages.
Ask your chosen plumber if they have any suggestions to help you clear out the blockage on your own. If they don’t want to share any industry tips and push for a visit, this is a red flag. But if they’re happy to share the secrets of the industry, you’re onto a winner.
#10 – What is your process for unblocking drains?
All drains are different so the blockage in your shower may need a completely different approach to a blockage in your kitchen. It helps to know how your chosen plumber will tackle the problem once they get to your Sydney home.
Specialised drain cleaning plumbers will have equipment that targets tough to reach obstacles and deeply entrenched grime in a way that the average DIY methods can’t. If your plumber is telling you they’ll use the same methods you’ve read about online (i.e. they’ll try drain cleaner and maybe a plunger if they remember to bring it) then you’re better off finding someone with a little more know-how.
How to choose the right blocked drain plumber in Sydney
Hiring a plumber isn’t just about finding the closest tradie or the lowest price. When you’re trusting someone to come into your home you need to know they’re licensed professionals with your best interest at heart.
We’d never hire an expert without chatting with them first, and we encourage you to do the same.