Not every job can be handled by a DIYer, and many weekend handymen try to tackle jobs beyond their scope in an effort to save money but end up spending far more in the long run. Hiring a good plumber is not only cost-efficient in many cases, but they can often work faster and more efficiently than one would expect.
Even without knowing “how much does a plumber cost?”, most people understand it’s not the cheapest service, but they also realize not hiring a plumber could cost a whole lot more. According to Home Advisor, the average cost to hire a plumber in the United States is $309. This includes big and small jobs with various levels of plumbing expertise
So before you reserve hiring a plumber for when turtles invade the sewer pipes or take the princess to another castle, let’s have a look at the breakdown of national price averages, what affects them, and when you might want to hire a professional over doing the job yourself.
How Much do Plumbers Charge per Hour?
There are various ways professional plumbers can charge their customers. Most plumbers will either charge by the hour or by the job. Sometimes, there may be a flat rate that involves the first hour of work and basic parts.
These base fees are sometimes all you will be charged, but they do not account for additional time or unexpected complications (ex: having to rip up a toilet to remove an obstruction). Regardless of whether or not a basic service fee is quoted, time is money.
Plumber Cost Per Hour
Apprentice or Handyman
A plumber apprentice is at the start of their plumbing career. Since they don’t yet have the experience as a journeyman or master plumber, they can charge less but since they don’t require a license, there is slight risk involved.
Apprentices and general handymen typically charge somewhere between $20 and $40 per hour. For basic tasks like unclogging a drain, stopping a water leak, or replacing your water heater’s anode rod, any apprentice or handyman can take care of this if you don’t have the means to do so.
A plumber who has a journeyman license generally has more knowledge and experience than an apprentice. Most professional plumbers fall into this category.
Expect to pay between $45 and $90 per hour for a journeyman plumber. These plumbers can handle all but the most complex plumbing jobs including installing a new fixture, troubleshooting a tankless water heater, or putting in a new toilet or automatic shut off valve.
Master plumbers typically have the highest level of education, knowledge, and experience so they can command the highest hourly rates. They are often in an owner or supervisory role.
Master plumbers will cost somewhere between $70 to $130 per hour as a labor rate. They’re usually worth it for large projects where complex code requirements must be followed or when creative solutions are needed.
Common Flat Rate Fees
Many tasks are so common the plumber estimates parts and labor ahead of time, allowing them to set a flat fee. These jobs typically range from $100 to $400 depending on the complexity.
These are generally quick repairs, such as unclogging a toilet or drain, fixing a faucet, or simple toilet repairs. In a few cases, the flat rate only applies to the service call and any labor is calculated separately.
Note: Make sure you’re not covered under warranty for the product before scheduling service.
Factors that Affect Cost
There are quite a few things that can affect a plumber’s fees.
- Factors that are beyond the plumber’s control can often affect final costs. Things such as outdated piping that needs replaced during an installation due to its condition or having to connect an old pipe with more modern materials such as PEX. These situations can increase both parts and labor costs quickly.
- Another factor that can have an impact on the hourly rates is how much the plumber must pay in union dues. Higher dues equate to a higher work fee. As a result, up to 25 percent of the hourly cost may actually be covering the union’s fees if your plumber is a member.
- A third factor is the trip or call-out fee. Due to travel, there might be a base fee of $50 to $300 to cover the cost of gas, vehicle maintenance, and equipment. This amount is usually included in a flat rate, but may be an additional fee when the plumber must travel extra distances.
- Finally, emergency calls where you need the plumber to come after hours or on weekends can result in much higher fees. Generally, an emergency rate will range from $100 to $300 for the flat/trip fee, with each additional hour costing approximately $70 to $400 for regular jobs.
Individual Job Costs and DIY Feasibility
Getting the job done right doesn’t always mean having to get a professional plumber in. The following charts break down most common plumbing tasks, their average costs, and whether or not it’s something a DIYer should be able to tackle. As always, when in doubt, it’s best to consult a pro.
Common Repair Rates
|Job (Repair)||Average Cost||DIY Difficulty|
|Clogged Drain||$125 to $300||Easy|
|Drain Line||$250 to $1,000||Varies|
|Gas Lines||$250 to $750||Varies|
|Leaks||$150 to $700||Easy|
|Septic Tank||$600 to $2,500||Hard|
|Septic Tank Cleaning||$300 to $500||Easy|
|Sewer Camera Inspection||$300 to $500||Easy-Med|
|Sewer Line Cleaning||$175 to $450||Hard|
|Sewer Main Line||$1,200 to $4,000||Do Not Attempt!|
|Sump Pump||$300 to $700||Easy|
|Toilet||$150 to $300||Easy|
|Water Heater||$200 to $900||Med-Hard|
|Water Main||$400 to $2,000||Hard|
|Well Pump||$350 to $1,350||Hard|
Common Install Rates
|Job (Install)||Average Cost||DIY Difficulty|
|Bathtub||$800 to $3,000||Hard|
|Faucet||$150 to $300||Easy|
|Garbage Disposal||$500 to $800||Easy|
|Repipe House||$2,500 to $15,000||Hard|
|Sewer Main||$1,400 to $4,000||Do Not Attempt!|
|Shower||$850 to $3,500||Hard|
|Sump Pump||$650 to $1,600||Hard|
|Toilet||$200 to $750||Easy|
|Water Heater||$750 to $3,000||Varies (May void warranty)|
|Water Main||$800 to $2,200||Hard|
|Water Purification System||$850 to $2,800||Hard|
Potential Post-Plumber Expenses
A plumber’s job is to fix your plumbing. As such, they might uncover (or leave behind) damage that they’re not willing or able to fix. This may involve water damage, landscaping, or repairing holes.
The following are some of the most common repairs you might encounter after the plumber’s job is done:
|Repair Job||Average Cost||DIY Difficulty|
|Carpet Installation||$200 to $2,500||Easy|
|Drywall Repair||$300 to $800||Easy|
|Electrician Rates||$150 to $500||Varies|
|Landscaping||$1,400 to $5,300||Varies|
|Sod Installation||$1,000 to $2,600||Easy|
|Water Restoration||$1,000 to $4,000||Hard|
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