ABC Blog

Don’t Be Fooled: Plumbers Without Licenses Aren’t Plumbers

Sink clogs can eventually cause damaging backups

Don’t waste your money.

So, you called Joe the “Plumber” whose number you found in your mailbox one day. Maybe he worked out, maybe he didn’t. But hey! At least, he offered you a taillight warranty! (That means the warranty expired the moment his taillights disappeared down the road.)

The city of Austin has few regulations in place that protect homeowners from shady workers without licenses. Often, a contractor without a license will do the bare minimum work required, if they even finish the job at all. If their work proves to be insufficient, you’ll never reach them on their phone or hear from them again.

When you hire an unlicensed worker, you take full responsibility for anything that goes wrong. You are liable for any injuries or damages to you, your home, or to the so-called “plumber,” who often isn’t licensed because they haven’t gone through proper training.

Texas requires that plumbers have a license. Anyone caught doing plumbing work without a license will be fined. Apprentice plumbers can work without a license, so long as a journeyman is supervising the activities. Even if a plumber used to be licensed, they may no longer be so, which means they shouldn’t do work on your home. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try to get your money.

Shady contractors prey on new homeowners.

An anecdote to heed: We recently met a woman pleading for help when her bathroom remodel was left half-finished by an unlicensed contractor who stopped answering her calls the moment he was paid. He never gave her an itemized invoice and insisted she pay via personal check or cash. The contractor worked with an unlicensed plumber to underbid a reputable licensed company in town for the job. Her bathtub, toilet, and sink plumbing were all improperly installed.

Even common problems require real plumbers.

You’ve just had your bath and have let up the drain plug to empty the tub only to discover an all-to-familiar dilemma: The water is draining very slowly. Like many of our customers, you deny that there’s a problem, until the day the tub empties so slowly that it is left with a grimy, post-bath residue. Time to call a plumber!

If you have teenaged daughters with dozens of drain-clogging scrubs and hair products, a clogged tub drain is something you probably deal with a lot. If you’re like most of our customers, you probably try to fix the clog on your own, with products like Draino. Chemicals can work for small clogs, but if a single bottle doesn’t do the job, 3-4 more won’t either. In fact, they may make things worse by corroding the pipes or further solidifying the clog.

Snaking the drain on your own is something you could try, but avoid jerry-rigging pipe-cleaning tools out of wire hangers or sticks. Real drain-cleaning augers work well, but the most effective ones are expensive, ranging in prices from $50-$400.

Furthermore, pulling out the source of the clog, which is usually garbage, foreign objects, skin scrubs, and hair, is a very unpleasant process. Professionals have the tools needed to get the job done quickly, and they will spare you from having to see what it is that is clogging your drain.

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