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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a plumber during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If possible, it’s best to set up a virtual consultation or phone call with a plumber near during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can send a message to a professional plumber near you and ask if they are available to video chat or have a phone call. Use that time to discuss the work that needs to be done. Make sure to ask any questions you have about the project. And lastly, ask the plumber how they handle payments and whether they have any specific safety precautions in place to comply with social distancing. 

How can I find out if a plumber is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

Generally, plumbers are often considered essential service providers. Essential service providers vary from state to state and city to city, however. For the most accurate information, check your official state or city government website to see whether a plumber is considered an essential service in your area.

Read CISA’s publication on identifying critical workers to find out more information on a national level. Some, but not all, jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure. 

Are there ways to be safe if I hire a plumber when social distancing?

Contact plumbers near you beforehand to see if they can complete the project without entering your home — for example, by entering the garage to fix a broken water heater. If the plumber needs to enter your house to do the job, you should proceed only if both parties feel comfortable with the project. Consider taking extra steps such as waving instead of shaking hands, staying 6 feet apart, using digital payments and sanitizing common areas.

Can I use digital payments to pay for plumbing services?

Some plumbers accept digital payments -- Zelle, PayPal, Venmo, etc. -- for their services. Before you hire a plumber, ask them if they accept your preferred online payment. Many also feature digital payment options on their profiles. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, digital payments are typically considered safer than cash and credit cards.

Does a plumber need to enter my home?

A plumber will need to enter your home to fix plumbing issues like dripping faucets, clogged sinks or toilets and leaky pipes. They might not need to come into your home if the faulty appliance is located outdoors or in the garage. Before you begin the project, contact plumbers near you to find out they will need to enter your home.  

What do you do if you have a burst pipe?

First, switch off the water supply to reduce the water damage. You should also turn off the electricity for the part of your home that has sustained the leak, as it can be extremely dangerous if the water comes into contact with an electrical socket. Next, drain the remaining water from your faucets so it doesn’t freeze inside the pipes. 

Once you’ve done all of this, search for qualified plumbers in your area and ask them to provide you with a quote. 

What happens when a water pipe bursts?

When a pipe bursts, the water can cause indoor flooding and damage your home. If the pipe is in an accessible location, you will likely notice puddles of water right away. However, if the pipe is underground or behind a wall, it may cause reduced water pressure, a sulfur smell or discolored water. All of this can cause significant (and expensive) damage, which is why you should always contact a plumber near you if you suspect your pipes are leaking.

Can a leaking pipe burst?

Yes. A leak in your pipe can build up pressure and wear through the material. Left unchecked, this pressure can cause the pipe to burst. This is why it’s so important to fix your pipes and contact a plumber as soon as you notice a leak — no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. 

Smaller leaks are easier and inexpensive to fix, saving you time and money in the long run. In addition, many insurance policies will not cover water damage for pipes that burst due to gradual leaks.

Does insurance cover a broken pipe?

Sudden water damage may be included under most homeowners’ insurance policies, but it’s typically not covered if the damage could have been avoided with proper maintenance.

For example, if a pipe in your laundry room suddenly bursts and causes damage to the flooring and walls, that is usually covered by insurance. But if a pipe under your sink has been leaking for months and causes your wood floors to rot, your policy won’t cover that damage.

Always double-check with your insurance agent (or another expert)  to see what your policy covers.

How much does it cost to repair a broken pipe?

The national average cost to repair broken pipes ranges from $120 to $170. Prices can vary depending on the type of damage, whether the pipe is easily accessible, the materials needed and where the pipe is located. For example, an exposed pipe under the sink will likely cost much less than a pipeline in your yard that requires digging. 

Your overall cost will also depend on the hourly rate of the contractor. Most plumbers charge between $60 and $65 per hour for standard pipe repair, and up to $95 per hour for complex plumbing work. 

Contact the best pipe repairers in your area to find out how much it will cost to fix your pipe(s). 

To learn more about pricing factors, read “How much does pipe repair cost?

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