Plumbing is a specialized trade that requires training and licensing to perform professionally. Plumbers usually charge for their work by the hour, and the national average cost is about $100 per hour plus a service fee or minimum charge. Overall, hourly rates for plumbing can range from $25 to $200, depending on the experience level of the plumber and on the repair needed.
We found that the average plumbing job usually totals between $150 and $500. In this cost guide, we’ll break down the factors that go into plumbing prices and compare them with the prospect of doing the work yourself. Read on to learn the average price for your repair and how the type of plumbing, materials, timing, and permits can affect your plumbing cost.
How Much Is Each Type of Plumbing Repair?
Of course, plumbers perform a wide variety of repairs and maintenance jobs, and some can be time-consuming and costly. A clog or leaking pipe will fall on the low end of the cost spectrum, whereas a leak in your home’s main line may cost thousands of dollars to locate and repair. Plumbers may charge flat rates for common plumbing projects like installations.
In some circumstances, the urgency of a job can mean you’re more likely to pay emergency rates to have a plumber fix a problem as soon as possible. You can live with a broken garbage disposal for a few weeks. But if a pipe bursts, you’ll need a plumber immediately to prevent or minimize damage to your home. The following prices apply to non-emergent jobs completed within normal business hours.
Average Plumbing Cost by Repair Type
|Repair Type||Average Cost|
|Clearing Clogs/Drain Snaking||$100–$500|
|Garbage Disposal Repair||$100–$300|
|Gas Line Repair||$250–$750|
|Main Water Line Leak||$500–$4,000|
|Septic Tank Repair||$500–$3,000|
|Sump Pump Repair||$300–$700|
|Water Heater Installation||$800–$2,000|
|Water Heater Repair||$150–$750|
|Water Softener Installation||$200–$500|
Factors Affecting Plumbing Cost
Even within the same type of repair, there can be substantial variation in the cost of one plumbing job to another. The factors affecting plumbing repair costs may include these:
- Any after-hours repairs needed
- Any labor and permits required
- Complexity of the job
- Location of your home
- Plumber’s expertise
Complex issues can take hours or even days to address, increasing your labor costs. Any plumbing problems with the water main or sewer line are likely to be complicated, as are repairs that require you to dig into your home’s foundation. Rerouting your home’s plumbing lines during a home remodel can also be a complex process.
You will also need to consider the location of specific plumbing issues in calculating what you’ll pay. A leak under the sink is far easier to get to than one within a wall. The more time and labor it takes to access the problem area, the more the repair will cost.
It’s no surprise that apprentice plumbers have the lowest hourly rates, but they must also be supervised by a more experienced colleague. Hiring an apprentice to perform a plumbing job alone is not recommended, and reputable contractors won’t allow it. A journeyman plumber can work independently and handle all basic plumbing jobs, usually for about $50–$100 per hour.
However, you will want someone with plenty of experience for complex repairs or installations. Master plumbers, recognized in some states, may also sometimes supervise the work of junior plumbers. Typically, these plumbers charge $75–$200 an hour.
Labor and Permits
Unless you’re installing a new fixture, the bulk of the total cost of a plumbing job is labor. Fortunately, your plumber will usually be able to help you pull the necessary permits for large or complex jobs. Permit fees will vary by area but typically cost around $75.
The area in which you live will also play a role in the price of plumbing services. Plumbing costs are usually more expensive in urban areas due to high demand. Another unexpected cost factor: If you live in a very remote location, you may need to pay travel fees.
Materials and Supplies
Installation costs are higher than repair costs since you must also pay for the new fixture, and some repairs require more materials than others. Many simple plumbing issues need little more than caulk and a wrench to repair, but adding a plumbing system to a new home will entail significant supplies and equipment.
Additionally, not all plumbing fixtures are made alike. A new shower installation can cost as little as $500 for a prefab unit installed on existing fixtures or as much as $10,000, depending on whether you need to move the plumbing.
As with all home improvement projects, plumbing emergencies will cost more, particularly if they happen outside of business hours. You’ll usually pay a flat emergency fee plus a higher rate, usually around $150 per hour. Plumbing companies may also charge more in busy seasons, such as during the winter when pipes are likely to freeze or after heavy rainfall when their services are in high demand.
Additional Cost Considerations
When undertaking complex or large-scale jobs, you may pay for additional services beyond typical plumbing costs. Other potential expenses include diagnostics and inspection, haul away fees, and water damage repair.
Diagnostics and Inspection
Additional time and labor may be necessary to diagnose a problem before the repair can begin. Inspection may be the final step in a plumbing job, or it may be the job itself. Older homes can often benefit from a plumbing inspection every year or two. For custom-built houses, your new plumbing may need an inspection from a city or county representative to certify that it meets all the necessary building codes.
For large jobs, including replacing plumbing fixtures, you may need to pay extra fees for the removal and disposal of the old materials. If the waste is hazardous, your state may have special requirements for handling it.
Water Damage Repair
Leaks, burst pipes, and other plumbing problems can cause substantial damage to the areas around the problem. Typically, the plumber will access and fix the pipe or fixture, but you’ll need a contractor to repair the water damage or any drywall removed to reach the leak. Unfortunately, water damage repair and restoration can be pricey, often costing between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the damage.
Signs You May Need a Plumber
Obvious leaks or clogs that you can’t fix on your own are clear signs that it’s time to call a plumber. There are also more subtle signs that you may also need your plumbing worked on:
- Continuously dripping faucets or running toilets
- Dampness in the basement
- Knocking or rattling pipes
- Little or no hot water
- Low water pressure
- Slow drains or standing water in sinks or tubs
- Smell of gas or sewage
- Water heater has small droplets of water on the surface
- Water that’s discolored or has an odor
DIY vs. Professional Plumbing Repair
If you’re balking at the potential cost of hiring a professional plumber, you may be considering doing the work yourself. Indeed, small plumbing jobs to repair common plumbing problems are within the capabilities of most proactive homeowners.
However, exercising caution when it comes to more complex jobs is always a good idea. After all, there’s a reason plumbers study and apprentice for years to get a license. If your repair goes poorly, you could be setting yourself up for safety hazards or water damage in the future. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of DIY plumbing.
Pros and Cons of DIY
✔ It’s possible to save money by doing the job yourself.
✔ You may need to learn new skills and purchase new tools to repair your plumbing problem.
✔ You can fix the problem on your own schedule.
✘ You may not have the experience necessary to tackle larger plumbing repairs.
✘ Your home could sustain further damage if the problem isn’t properly fixed.
Pros and Cons of Professional Plumbers
✔ Professional plumbers carry insurance and often offer a warranty on finished work.
✔ The repair will likely be completed faster than a DIY attempt.
✔ Experts can offer quick help in plumbing emergencies.
✘ Hiring a plumber for an urgent issue is often expensive.
✘ A plumber may charge more for supplies than you’d pay at a local store.
While you can tackle relatively simple jobs like unclogging a drain or installing a new faucet on your own, it’s a good idea to hire a professional plumber for more complex jobs. Anything that requires a permit or inspection should only be handled by someone with a plumbing license, as should jobs that require power tools.
Plumber costs can seem steep, but failing to fix a problem in time or trying something yourself that makes the problem worse can ultimately hurt the resale value of your home. As always, it’s worth calling around to get some cost estimates before hiring a qualified plumber, and remember to check that your chosen contractor has a current valid license in your state.
FAQs About Plumbing Costs
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