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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in the City of St. Louis
The average water bill in St. Louis is about $80 per month. If you found your actual bill far in excess of this amount and there has been no significant change in your water usage, it will be a wise move to hire a plumber. A good plumber will help fix undetected leakages and save you some good money. Note, a single household leak can waste up to 90 gallons of water per day. However, before you settle for a plumber, ask the following questions to be sure the professional is a good hire:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of St. Louis?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of St. Louis?
- Do You Comply with the City of St. Louis Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of St. Louis Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of St. Louis?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of St. Louis?
- How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of St. Louis
Per Section 105.9 of the St. Louis Plumbing Code, no plumber can legally undertake any plumbing project across the city without an appropriate and valid plumbing license. Accordingly, undertaking plumbing projects without the requisite license is an offense, punishable with a maximum fine of $500, a maximum jail term of 90 days, or both a fine and imprisonment, with each day of violation constituting a separate offense.
The St. Louis Building Division handles the issuance of plumbing licenses across the city, and these licenses are categorized into master plumber, journeyman plumber, interim journeyman plumber, plumber apprentice, and experienced plumber apprentice licenses. Interested individuals seeking to obtain a plumbing license are generally required to satisfy applicable licensing requirements, submit a completed application form, and pay the required license fees.
However, licensing requirements vary by license type. For example, a journeyman plumber license applicant must acquire training in the plumbing field and have a minimum of five years of experience as a plumber apprentice or acceptable equivalent experience. This equivalent experience includes a degree in civil or mechanical engineering from an accredited college or university, with three years of practical plumbing experience under the supervision of a master or journeyman plumber. Likewise, a master plumber license applicant must satisfy the licensing requirements for becoming a journeyman plumber and further acquire at least five years of experience as a licensed journeyman plumber. A detailed outline of the city's licensing requirements and licensing fees for plumbers are provided in Table 111 of the St. Louis Plumbing Code. Further inquiries on plumbing licenses and related matters can be directed to the St. Louis Building Division at (314) 622-3313. Interested license applicants can contact this Division to request a license application form.
Finally, residents who want to confirm if their intended plumber is duly licensed or registered can contact the Building Division at the above-mentioned phone number and make the relevant inquiries.
The hourly charge rates of plumbers in St. Louis City typically depend on certain factors, including the plumber's skill or experience, the nature of your plumbing project, and the required materials and labor to undertake this plumbing project. While the charge rate for your plumbing project may vary, you can find out the average rate by comparing bids from multiple plumbers. With an idea of the average rate for your project, you can avoid unreasonable rates and prepare a workable budget.
A plumber in St. Louis City earns an annual average wage of $75,980. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in St. Louis compared with plumbers in other parts of Missouri and other major cities in the country:
The St. Louis Plumbing Code contains several rules that regulate the use, installation, alteration, relocation, and replacement of plumbing systems within the city, as well as all plumbing-related matters. Particularly, this Code states the mandatory minimum standard for plumbing materials, the health standards for plumbing works, and controls the use of plumbing systems, fixtures, and fittings across St. Louis. These plumbing systems, fixtures, and fittings include water supply systems, sanitary drainage systems, vents, storm drainage systems, medical gas systems, and nonpotable water reuse systems.
The provisions of this Code are mandatory, and failure to comply with them during your plumbing work may result in an order from the St. Louis Building Division to stop the plumbing work and pay fines. As such, it is essential to hire a plumber who understands the Plumbing Code and is aware of the provisions relevant to your plumbing work. If you have inquiries regarding this Plumbing Code or need assistance with understanding some provisions, you can contact the St. Louis Building Division at (314) 622-3313.
Per Section 107.1 of the St. Louis Plumbing Code, you must ensure the procurement of the relevant plumbing permits before you commence your plumbing project. However, permit requirements may be waived for certain plumbing projects, including:
- Stoppage of leaks in drains, waste, water, soil, or vent pipes, provided the drain, waste, water, soil, or vent pipes are not replaced with new material, and
- Repairing leaks and clearing of stoppages in pipes, fixtures, and valves, provided these pipes, fixtures, or valves are not replaced or rearranged.
Generally, only licensed master plumbers or master drainlayers are eligible to apply for a plumbing permit in the City of St. Louis. However, homeowners of single-family units may be eligible if they meet specific requirements. Some of these requirements include occupying the dwelling unit where the plumbing work will be performed and purchasing the necessary equipment for the plumbing work.
The St. Louis Building Division is responsible for issuing plumbing permits, and permit applications can be made online through the city's external permitting website or in person. Applicants who prefer to apply for plumbing permits in person can do so by visiting the Division's Office and making the necessary inquiries at:Building Division - Plumbing Section
1200 Market Street
Saint Louis, MO 63103
This office is open for in-person visits from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more inquiries on plumbing permits and related matters, you can contact the Building Division at (314) 622-3313 or check out the Division's plumbing permit webpage.
Note that after procuring a permit for your plumbing project, you must schedule inspections with a Building Division Official at various stages of the project. The relevant stages are typically stated during the issuance of your plumbing permit. You can schedule an inspection online through the city's external permitting website or by contacting the Building Division at (314) 622-3313. Also, if you have any inspection-related inquiries, you can contact this Division at the aforementioned telephone number.
St. Louis City plumbers offer different plumbing services, depending on their area of specialty, their client's plumbing needs, and the scope of their license. Therefore, it is essential to always ensure that the plumber you intend to engage has the necessary skills and holds the requisite license relevant to your plumbing work. For example, apprentice plumbers can only perform minor plumbing repairs, and any service they offer must be under the supervision of a master or journeyman plumber. Conversely, master plumbers can offer a wide range of plumbing services, from plumbing installations to alterations, and without supervision. Accordingly, the charge rate for a plumbing service will also vary, depending on your plumbing needs and your intended plumber's license type.
Nonetheless, below are some common plumbing services in St. Louis and their estimated costs:
Several homes across the country lose over 90 gallons of water daily due to plumbing problems like household leaks. If ignored, this wastage can worsen and lead to other avoidable expensive issues like home interior damage and inflated water bills. Therefore, residents are advised to treat any plumbing problem as an emergency and seek emergency plumbing services. Common household plumbing problems that can cause bigger problems include burst water pipes, clogged toilets, and leaky gas pipes.
When seeking emergency plumbing services, you can utilize consumer websites like Better Business Bureau and Google Review to find plumbers near you. These websites let you find plumbers by location and check out each plumber's recent reviews from previous clients. This way, you can find competent plumbers and determine if your intended plumber has the requisite skills. However, also take steps to ensure that this plumber has the license to perform your type of emergency repairs. You can do this by contacting the St. Louis Building Division at (314) 622-3313.
Per state law on labor and industrial relations, plumbing contractors in St. Louis are required to maintain workers' compensation insurance before obtaining or renewing their licenses. This insurance ensures that their workers are financially protected from the costs of dealing with work-related injuries. However, besides ensuring your intended plumber maintains active workers' compensation insurance, it is also crucial to ensure this plumber maintains general liability insurance. General liability insurance protects you from personal liability for accidents or injuries that occur to anyone due to your plumbing project. With more than 37,000 non-fatal work-related injuries reported among plumbers across the country in 2019, it is particularly crucial to ensure that you are insured from such liabilities.
Before engaging a plumber, you can confirm if your plumber maintains workers' compensation and general liability insurance by requesting that this plumber provides proof of insurance coverage. You can further confirm this plumber's workers' compensation insurance by contacting the St. Louis Building Division at (314) 622-3313 and also confirm this plumber's general liability insurance by contacting the licensing company from which the plumber claimed to obtain insurance coverage.
When planning your plumbing project, ensure to take cautious steps to protect yourself from contractor scams. These scams are typically orchestrated by fraudulent individuals who mostly offer unsolicited bids, claim to be licensed contractors, request large upfront payments, but never commence or complete your project. For example, in August 2020, two contractors from the St. Louis County area were indicted on fraud charges after collecting an upfront payment for a roofing project but never completing the project. Similarly, in September 2021, another contractor from the St. Louis County area was ordered by a court to pay over $245,000 in restitution to customers after receiving upfront payments and failing to perform required home improvements. Unfortunately, these cases occur across and around St. Louis City, and some homeowners may be unable to get restitution. Hence, it is essential to avoid and also protect yourself from such scams altogether. In doing this, taking the following steps can be helpful:
- Avoid unsolicited bids. It is best to seek out a plumber for your project yourself
- Consider bids from multiple plumbers, as this helps to determine a reasonable rate for your project
- Verify the license of any plumber before hiring them. To do this, you can contact the St. Louis Building Division at (314) 622-3313
- Have a written agreement with your plumber. The agreement should spell out essential information such as the agreed rates, your project's description, and the plumber's duties
- Minimize or avoid cash payments. It is best to make payments by check or credit card, as they are not easily disputed
- Ensure that you do not make large upfront payments. Advisably, only pay around 10% - 20% of the agreed rate if your plumber insists on a deposit. Also, ensure this plumber provides a detailed outline of how the deposit will be used on the project
- Keep a record of important documents relevant to the project. Such documents include signed agreements, payment receipts, and written bids
Residents of St. Louis City who are the victims of a contractor, home improvement, or plumbing scam can file a consumer complaint with the Missouri Attorney General's Office. This complaint can be filed online, or residents can contact the Missouri Attorney General's St. Louis Regional Office at (314) 340-6816 for other filing options. Also, residents can contact this Regional Office at the aforementioned phone number for general inquiries and assistance with filing such complaints.
However, note that filing a complaint with the Missouri AG Office does not guarantee that you will be reimbursed for any inconveniences caused by the scam. Nonetheless, you can pursue reimbursement by filing a small claims case against the relevant plumber at the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis. To learn about small claims filing, limits, and processes, you can contact this court's Clerk's Office at (314) 622-4433.