happy plumber fixing pipes on a holiday
Illustration: Jonathan Carlson
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10. Get a Plumber to Show Up on a Holiday

Everyone has a price: a fat check, a bottle of Scotch, a plate of homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies. And when the powder-room toilet won't flush just hours before the relatives are to descend, you'd better know what your plumber's is. These guys appreciate loyalty, so if you frequent the same pro (and he knows it), he'll be more inclined to return your frantic call. But you should also know a 24-hour plumber who's equipped for off-hours emergencies. Larry Dawson, head plumber with Metropolitan Plumbing in Minneapolis and a 30-year veteran, is one such pro. "The truth is, there is no plumbing emergency," he says. "If I can talk homeowners through shutting off the water main, they can wait till the next day." Rapid response will cost you—at least 20 percent more than a standard weekday service call. "But for people whose lives are disrupted, I guess it's worth it," Dawson says.

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