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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you see a profile that states the plumber is offering remote services, contact the plumber before hiring them to see what those services include. Although plumbing is a job that has to be done in-person, you can ask them if they offer virtual consultations or an online walk-through.
Your water heater is an essential part of your home, heating water for showers, dishwashing, laundry and more. On average, a traditional water heater will last 8-12 years. The general consensus is that it’s better to replace your water heater with a new one than to repair one that’s 10 years old or more. Older models are less energy-efficient and thus more costly to run than newer models with better technology. Here are some indicators of when it may be time to replace an old water heater instead of repairing it:
- Leaks: If leaking is not caused by loose connections, the water may be seeping out through slight fractures in the metal of the tank that have formed over time.
- Strange noises: Clanking, rumbling and other noises can mean that sediment has formed on the base of your tank, contributing to fissures leaks, and inefficiency.
- Age: If it’s more than 10 years old, it’s probably time to replace.
- Discolored or rusty water: Have a pro check it out; if the problem isn’t resolved by draining and cleaning, you’ll want to replace the heater.
- Lack of hot water: Inconsistent heating and hot water supply that runs out too quickly likely means it’s time for a new unit.
You’ll know when it’s time to install a new water heater. Water heater installation costs average between $360 and $780 nationally, with rates increasing depending on the project. The total project cost will be higher when you include the cost of the heater itself. Select your new water heater based on the number of occupants in your home and the number of gallons of capacity you’ll need. Installation costs can vary based on the type of water heater you are removing and the type you are installing, any necessary repairs, regional cost of labor, and whether disposal of the old heater is included. Natural gas water heaters retail on average between $650 and $900 for standard models. Electric water heaters range between $300 and $700 for standard models. Tankless electric water heaters retail on average between $250 and $700 for standard models. Tankless gas water heaters retail on average between $200 and $1,300.
A company may charge approximately $1,000 to replace a 50-gallon tank-style electric water heater (not including any upgrades required by building codes). Replacing a gas-powered water heater might cost $1,100 (not including code upgrades). Some companies roll the disposal of an old heater into the overall cost of the new water heater installation. Other professionals charge an additional removal fee that can range from $35 to $150.
If the water in your house is not getting hot, it may be time for water heater repair. Nationally, the average water heater repair cost ranges between $120 and $200, although prices can range up to $400, depending on the problem and materials. Competent homeowners may also be able to try DIY fixes, whether they have a traditional gas or electric water heater or a tankless gas or electric heater. Troubleshooting the different issues that can arise with each of the styles requires some knowledge of how they operate and what red flags to look out for. For a natural gas water heater, the first step is to check whether the pilot light has gone out. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s directions if you want to relight it yourself. If you smell gas, stop everything and call your gas company — the smell could signal a dangerous gas leak. If your household’s water is not getting hot enough, you can try increasing the temperature on the water heater’s front dial above the standard setting of 120 degrees; for safety, always turn off electricity to the unit before adjusting temperatures. If you keep running out of hot water, your household may simply need a higher-capacity water heater, so consider upgrading. Quick professional fixes include replacing the thermostat or heating elements and cleaning and repairing the thermocouple.
Nationally, the average water heater repair cost ranges between $120 and $200, although prices can range up to $400 or more. Water heater repair costs will depend on the type of water heater you have (tankless, electric, natural gas, etc.), the source of the problem, the cost for new parts, and labor rates in your area. Common water heater issues include problems with the thermocouple, thermostat, heating element and leaks. Most standard electric water heaters have two thermostats and two elements. One example for the cost to replace a bad thermostat is $185 for parts and labor. Replacing both the thermostat and the heating element could cost approximately $150-$200. The thermocouple is a safety device that senses when the pilot light is burning and signals the gas valve to close if the pilot light goes out. If your thermocouple is bad or corroded, the average cost to clean and repair it could be between $350 and $400. If your water heater has started to leak, it is usually more cost-effective to invest in a new water heater than to repair it, unless you’re covered by a warranty.