You may not know it yet, but hiring a plumber in Texas in 2021 could be riskier than it is today. That’s because the Texas state legislature has some work to do to ensure the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and its licensing laws remain in effect – and they recently failed to do just that, which meant Governor Abbott had to step in and extend the board through a temporary executive order.
While we’re not trying to start a discussion about state politics, we do want to make sure you understand the importance of this licensing issue. In a general sense, hiring a plumber without a license is much like getting into a car with a driver who has no driver’s license: He may know how to get it done, and you may indeed arrive in one piece – but what about those increased odds that you won’t? And how do you know that any precautions have been taken to ensure your safety?
The analogy’s not perfect, though, so let’s take a closer look at the reasons why you really don’t want to hire an unlicensed and potentially unqualified plumber to work in your home.
1. Plumbers control the water on your property.
It’s not just a single faucet; it’s all of it:
- The water your family drinks, bathes in, and washes your dishes and clothes in.
- The water that runs throughout your property in pipes that have the potential to freeze every winter if not properly installed and maintained.
- Just as important, all the water that leaves your home after being used for any purpose.
It’s important to the health and well-being of your family that the clean water remain clean, the dirty water be carried away in the sealed pipes dedicated to that purpose, and that all the pipes be installed and worked on according to established safety and construction codes. Therefore, it’s important that the person working with your water has the knowledge and experience to do the highest quality work.
2. Plumbers work on the pipes that bring natural gas into your home.
This one’s kind of a no-brainer, surely. Don’t you want the most trained and qualified person to work on the system that brings a potentially lethal and definitely flammable – but absolutely useful, when properly controlled – substance into the rooms where your family lives?
3. A Texas plumbing license really means something.
Getting a license in Texas is not just a matter of cutting through some governmental red tape by paying a quick fee. From apprentices up through Responsible Master Plumbers, all levels of Texas plumbers are required to meet certain guidelines for education and hours on the job. Journeyman Plumbers, for instance, are required to work 8,000 hours on the job under the direct supervision of a licensed plumber and the general supervision of a Master Plumber before they can then apply to become Master Plumbers themselves. (For anyone not mathematically inclined, that’s just under four years of work, assuming 40 hours a week and not including vacations.) They’re also required to have at least a GED and be a lawful resident in the United States.
Further, licensed plumbers are required to complete up to 48 hours of study in continuing education, OSHA safety regulations, and residential code to renew their licenses every year. This licensing is taken so seriously that the penalty for not renewing your license within two years is to have to start the licensing process over completely from scratch – no matter how long it’s been since you were first licensed. In addition to general licensing, Texas plumbers can earn specialty endorsement certifications in the areas of medical gas piping, multipurpose fire protection sprinklers, and water supply protection. Other areas that plumbers specialize in – which you as a homeowner may not have considered – include proper ventilation and drainage systems.
Here’s another point you may not have considered: Being a licensed plumber in the state of Texas also means you carry insurance that protects not just the properties you work on, but also the homeowners you work for. So if a licensed plumber is injured on the job, the homeowner is protected. On the other hand, if you hire an unlicensed plumber and their work is not code compliant, guess who’s on the hook for paying the violation fines?
In short, hiring an unlicensed plumber may seem like a good idea in the moment; that person may even appear to have good references. But without licensing, you can’t be absolutely sure of their knowledge and experience – which could in the long run end up costing you money at least, large-scale damage to your largest investment, and, at worst, even your personal safety.
How to Make Sure Your Plumber is Qualified
Although we hope the outlook for Texas plumbing licensing will improve between now and 2021, it’s probably a good idea to start thinking about how you should qualify any plumber you are considering.
- First, ask your potential plumber for information on their licensure.
- Next, visit the Texas state online licensing database, where there are several options for confirming their licensure. This site will show you their license, any endorsements, their insurance information, their continuing education history, and any disciplinary actions. You can also use this database to search for all licensed plumbers in a city or county.
- As a double-check, visit the Better Business Bureau’s site; you can perform a variety of searches there, including whether a business has achieved BBB accreditation.
- Run the company’s name through your choice of online referral services – anything from Yelp to Angie’s List. Even Google’s reviews could be helpful.
- Finally, if everything is checking out, ask for 2-3 phone numbers of actual clients that you can call for a referral – and actually call them.
Of course, the short answer is just to contact us at Horizon Plumbing. We’ve got our state board information, as well as our BBB accreditation and A+ rating, available and updated at the bottom of every page on our website.