Avoiding plumbing price gouging during times of crisis

HOUSTON, Tx. (KTRK) -- From busted pipes to no water at all, the need for plumbers this week has skyrocketed. Homeowners have been scrambling with who to call, hoping the business or individual they hired for repairs doesn't charge more than they should.

To make sure you're not a victim of price gouging, there are a few red flags to watch out for.

Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau says, "One of the first things to check with any plumber is to make sure they're licensed. Texas does require licensing for plumbers."

Be sure to ask for their license and confirm it with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners.

Now if you're wondering how much repairs should cost, grab your smartphone or tablet.

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"You can do online searches to see a ballpark estimate of how much it would cost," Napoliello said.

Simple pipe fixes could be around a few hundred dollars, where major repairs affecting a larger area of the home could be over $1,000.

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Another piece of advice: watch out for additional charges like hazard or storm fees.

"If you are concerned of extra charges, it's important to notify the Texas Attorney General's office, because price gouging is illegal for repair services," Napoliello explained.

Before hiring anyone, look online for potential complaints about that contractor.

"If you're looking up a plumber, you can check sites like the Better Business Bureau and see what past people have said about those types of charges," Napoliello said.

Another good rule of thumb before the work even begins: be sure to get everything in writing, including repair specifics, parts and labor needed to complete the job, as well as the amount of time it will take.
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