It isn’t news to discover that not all plumbers are on the up and up when it comes time to pay the bill. Case in point – this Fairfax, Virginia repairman who did some very creative bookkeeping when it came time to total his charges for what is usually one of the simplest toilet repairs to make. In this case, he presented a bill for a whopping $900 for a repair worth far, far less.
After a pretty common leaky flapper valve, diagnosing and fixing a fill valve is the most common toilet repair we, and probably every other plumber, get calls for. For many homeowners it’s a fairly simple do it yourself project that can be completed without too much trouble, assuming no unforeseen problems are encountered in the process. Problems like?
Additional Problems That Might Pop Up
Due to a builder’s lack of foresight or a messed up remodel, access to the fill valve could be so restricted that the toilet might actually have to be removed in order to get to the valve.
Older plumbing shut-off valves, especially in areas with a lot of hard water, might have deteriorated to the point where the valve breaks while trying to shut off the water supply, leading to an unanticipated expense for replacement before any other work can be done.
Because of access, wall hung toilets can be very expensive to service regardless of the problem.
Outside of these usually rare problems, replacing a broken or leaky fill valve is a pretty straightforward toilet repair that starts with draining the tank and ends with testing for any leaks and a new flapper.
Yes, There Are Cheaters And Crooks Out There
The customer in the example above was, purely and simply, taken to the cleaners. She did the right thing by calling local media to complain, and shining a bright light on very deceptive business practices by an unscrupulous tradesman who in the end gives every professional in the plumbing industry a bad name.
Usually, not always, our profession charges based on knowledge, skill, and expertise. The items required to service a leaking fill valve are inexpensive, very reliable, and can be expected to last a long time, but that’s just a small part of the total cost to fix and repair.
Getting to and from the job site, diagnosing the problem, making sure the necessary repair items are available, removing and disposing of the old parts, installing new ones without damage to any of the surrounding area, clean up, and testing are all part of the final bill, before adding in the cost of the actual parts.
In a way, plumbing is like baking a birthday or wedding cake. Flour, sugar, eggs, and milk aren’t the basis for the cost of a cake. It’s the skill of the baker in combining the ingredients in just the right proportions, understanding the recipe, and making everything look and taste delicious with a final artistic touch of icing that makes it worthwhile.
The best advice is to only use a plumber with a reputation you can trust. Wilson Plumbing in Austin, Texas, is a five-time Angie’s List Super Service Award winner, with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.