All of the pipes and fixtures that make up the water, gas and sewage systems in a home, office or other building are referred to as "plumbing." Plumbers are skilled professionals who repair, install and replace those pipes and fixtures. Common calls for help include burst pipes, leaky pipes, noisy pipes, clogged pipes, strange smells, poor water pressure, poor temperature, nonoperational appliances, and fixtures that aren’t draining or flushing. Troublesome parts of the plumbing system can include pipes and drains, toilets, sinks and faucets, dishwashers, water heaters, showers or tubs, water treatment systems, septic systems, outdoor plumbing, wells, sump pumps—and sometimes an entire building. Many factors affect the cost of plumbing services.
Geographic location in terms of which area of the country as well as location within a region can affect the cost of services. Cities such as New York City and San Francisco are typically more expensive than rural areas where the cost of living is lower. Location of the job site can also affect the cost of services. For example, Black Mountain Plumbing in San Diego charges travel surcharge of $18.50 if a job is located outside of the company’s 20-mile service area. This rate cover fuel and vehicle maintenance.
Typically plumbers do not charge hourly rates because there are too many variables involved in plumbing work. Most provide an estimate once they see all the work to be done.
Plumbers may have a few fixed-rate fees for standard projects that are easy to accurately predetermine the cost of their time on. For example, Celtic Plumbing & Heating in New York City typically charges $150 for a toilet installation. Costs increase when the plumber provides the toilet bowl.
Clogs generally don’t require replacing or repairing pipes but rather removing any blockages to the water or waste flow. Celtic Plumbing & Heating has the following pricing structure for common clog calls:
Backed up drain in a shower or sink: $75–$100
- Snaking all the drains in a house: $150–$500. Costs increase when it’s necessary to run a camera through the pipes.
Cracked pipes can lead to leaking, flooding or bursts that require much more expensive solutions down the road. The cost of pipe repair or replacement varies based on what the pipes are made of (PVC is cheaper than cast iron, for example) and where they are located. Pipes inside a wall or under a floor cost more to repair or replace than pipes that are exposed and easy for a plumber to access. According to Celtic Plumbing & Heating, in New York City most areas are coded for cast iron lines so fixing cracks is costly: $1,200 and up for pipe repair and replacement.
Water heaters and shower installations
Plumbers can install and repair water heaters. Prices depend on whether the work involves repairing, replacement or installation in a new home, and whether any damage has been caused by faulty fixtures. Plumbers also frequently install shower bodies. Here’s how Celtic Plumbing & Heating’s pricing breaks down:
Shower body installation: $350–$1,000. Costs vary greatly depending on whether it’s a standard shower body or a shower with jet sprays and multiple water fixtures. This price range does not include the shower body and fixtures.
- Water heater installation: $1,200–$1,700. The average house uses a 40-gallon water heater, and this price range includes the cost of water heater itself.
Plumbers also install, replace and repair radiators. Here are average prices from Celtic Plumbing & Heating:
New radiator: $100–$300.
- Radiator installation: $200–$300
Plumbing nightmares don’t always happen from 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Customers will pay a premium after hours, on holidays and on the weekend. Typically, midnight jobs and holiday calls for Celtic Plumbing & Heating start at $500.
Sometimes a customer can save by having materials on hand before the plumber arrives. It’s a good idea to clear any purchases with the pro beforehand to make sure you have the proper materials.