Get Quotes from Top Plumbers in Los Angeles, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power estimates that running toilets and leaky faucets cost households in the city up to 10,000 gallons a year in water loss and subsequent water charges. Hiring a good plumber in Los Angeles to fix leaks and install water-conserving fixtures in your home can save you more than $700 annually. While it is common to get referrals on plumbers from trusted sources like friends, family, colleagues, and even other building professionals, you must do your due diligence on any individual that you intend to employ. You can find out if a Los Angeles plumber is the right fit for you by asking the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in Los Angeles?

Any plumber who intends to work on a project or carry out repairs in Los Angeles that cost more than $500, including labor and materials, is mandatorily required to obtain a C-36 Plumbing Contractor license from the California Contractors State License Board. Failing to meet this licensing requirement can result in administrative fines of up to $15,000 and a jail term of up to six months, with the penalties for subsequent violations increasing per violation.

Plumbing licenses are typically issued to individuals who are at least 18 years old and have obtained at least four years of verifiable experience in plumbing within the last 10 years. Note that this experience must be gotten at the journeyman level or higher. Eligible individuals will be required to complete and submit an Application for Original Contractor License, pay a nonrefundable application fee, and sit for licensing examinations. However, certain parts of the licensing exams may be waived for plumbers who have been licensed in the State of Arizona. You can contact the California Contractors State License Board at (800) 321-2752 to get more information about its license reciprocity program.

You can confirm that your intended plumber has been duly licensed by utilizing the California Contractor State License Board's license check portal or by calling (800) 321-2752.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in Los Angeles?

The cost of hiring a plumber in Los Angeles typically depends on factors like the nature of work that the plumber is expected to perform, the cost of obtaining permits for this work, and the type and cost of materials required for the job. It is generally a good idea to get estimates from at least three plumbers near you before settling on one. This helps you compare prices and decide on a plumber that is closest to your budget.

A plumber in Los Angeles earns an annual average wage of $60,410. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Los Angeles compared with plumbers in other parts of California and other major cities in the country:

Los Angeles Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
California Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
New York City Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
Houston Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
Detroit Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
Miami Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
Boston Plumber's Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the Los Angeles Building Code for Plumbing?

The Los Angeles Plumbing Code is a set of rules and regulations designed to safeguard the health, life, property, and public welfare of residents of Los Angeles in relation to the use of plumbing systems within the city. This code governs the construction, design, installation, alteration, relocation, repair, replacement, and maintenance of public systems as well as the quality of materials used for these systems. This includes residential plumbing systems, underground fire protection piping, swimming pool piping, reclaimed water piping, subsurface drainage piping, rainwater piping, graywater piping systems, and fire sprinklers.

One reason it is necessary to hire a licensed plumber in Los Angeles for your project is that these types of plumbers are typically versed in the city's plumbing code requirements. This saves you from potential code violations and any penalties that may be associated with these violations. You can contact the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety at (213) 482-0061 for more information on the city's plumbing code and its requirements.

Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the Los Angeles Code?

Per Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 94.103, a plumbing permit is typically required for any plumbing work that takes place within Los Angeles. Nevertheless, this law also makes exemptions for certain situations where plumbing work can be done without a permit. Some of these situations include:

  • The repair or replacement of faucets, exposed fixture traps or shut-off valves, ball cocks, and residential garbage disposals
  • The clearing of stoppages or repairing of leaks, provided that this repair does not involve the removal and replacement of any plumbing fixtures or any part of a drainage system.
  • The capping of a private sewage disposal system in situations where a grading permit is also required
  • The repair of gas-fired water heaters, as long as the water heater is not disconnected
  • The resetting of existing plumbing fixtures in existing rough-in that were removed for the sole purpose of replacing or repairing walls or floors

Plumbing permits are issued by the Los Angeles Department of Building Safety (LADBS), and the length of time that it takes to obtain one depends on factors like the nature of your project and the current workload of the LADBS. For example, permits for projects that do not require a plan check, such as plumbing fixture replacements, may be obtained within minutes, while it may take weeks to review plans for large or complex projects before issuing the required permits.

When obtaining a plumbing permit, the first step is to confirm that your property is located within Los Angeles. You can do this through the ZIMAS online tool provided by the city's Department of City Planning. Once you have confirmed that your property falls within Los Angeles lines, then you can submit the necessary project designs and plans, along with a completed Application for Plumbing Permit or Plumbing Plan Check Form, for a plan check and review at any of the following LADBS offices closest to you:

Metro (Downtown) Office
201 and 221 N. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Van Nuys Office
6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
2nd Floor
Room 251
Van Nuys, CA 91401
West LA Office
1828 Sawtelle Boulevard
West Los Angeles, CA 90025
South LA Office
8475 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90044
San Pedro Office
638 S. Beacon Street
San Pedro, CA 90731

These offices are open to members of the public between the hours of 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. However, the South LA and San Pedro offices are closed daily between 12 noon and 1:00 p.m.. Once the plans have been reviewed and approved and all applicable fees have been paid, the necessary plumbing permits will be issued and can also be picked up at the LADBS office. Alternatively, applications for plumbing permits for projects that require plan checks can be made online via the LADBS's ePlanLA platform. Similarly, you can also generate express permits online for plumbing projects that do not require plan checks. Note that you will be required to create a user account before utilizing these online platforms.

You can verify that your plumber has obtained all necessary permits for your project or direct any queries related to the permit application process by calling either 311 for callers within Los Angeles or (213) 473-3231 for callers outside the city. Queries can also be made in person at the Metro (Downtown) and Van Nuys office locations of the LADBS.

It is important to note that you may be required to schedule inspections with the LADBS at various stages of your project, regardless of whether it is in a residential, commercial, or industrial building. These inspections are done to ensure that your project is in compliance with the city's plumbing code, and they must be carried out before any plumbing work is covered or concealed. Once your project is completed and a final inspection has been performed, you will be issued a Certificate of Occupancy. Inspections can be requested online or by calling either 311 for local callers or (213) 473-3231 for callers outside the Los Angeles area.

What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?

Before retaining the services of a plumber, it is important to confirm that this individual is skilled enough or specializes in the type of plumbing work that you need to do. Plumbers in Los Angeles offer a wide range of services, and they are generally grouped as either residential plumbers, commercial plumbers, or service and repair plumbers based on the scale of work or the type of plumbing that they handle. As the name implies, residential plumbers generally focus on installing, repairing, or replacing plumbing systems in residential buildings, while commercial plumbers handle these types of jobs in much larger facilities like factories, hospitals, and industrial buildings. Service and repair plumbers generally focus on the repair and maintenance of plumbing systems in both residential and commercial structures.

Homeowners in Los Angeles typically pay an average of $400 - $500 for plumbing services. Note that this amount does not include the cost of permits or inspection fees. Listed below are some common cost estimates for plumbing services in Los Angeles:

Clogged drain clearing/fixing
$100 - $250
Drain line repair
$300 - $700
Fixture and faucet repair/replacement
$50 - $150
Sewer main repair
$1,500 - $2,500
Toilet repair
$150 $280
Water heater repair
$350 - $600
Water heater replacement
$1,250 - $3,000
Well pump repair
$650 - $850

Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in Los Angeles?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household leaks result in more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted every year. Considering that residents of Los Angeles pay at least $7.5 per 748 gallons of metered water usage, it is important to plug any leakages in your home as soon as possible. However, while all plumbing matters should be treated urgently, some issues require more immediate attention than others. This usually includes burst pipes, backed-up or overflowing toilets, and leaking water heaters.

When you require emergency plumbing services, it is important to ensure that the plumber you hire is experienced and knowledgeable enough to solve your problem. You can use the Find My Licensed Contractor portal provided by the California Contractors State Licensing Board to search for qualified plumbers near you when you have a plumbing emergency. You can also make use of available online resources like Yelp and Better Business Bureau to perform this task. Note that you should always verify the licensing status of any plumber near you before retaining their services.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in Los Angeles?

While Los Angeles plumbers are not statutorily required to carry commercial general liability insurance, hiring one with a valid insurance plan is always a good idea. It is estimated that a worker died every 99 minutes in 2019, with the California Department of Industrial Relations recording a total of four deaths amongst plumbers in the state during this period. Hiring an insured plumber provides you with financial insulation in the event of an unforeseen work-related accident or injury.

Note that even though liability insurance is not mandatory, any plumber with at least one employee must have an active workers' compensation insurance plan. Similarly, the California Contractors State License Board requires plumbers to post a bond of $15,000 to maintain their licenses. You can confirm the validity of your intended plumber's insurance and bond plans by contacting the issuing organizations.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in Los Angeles

According to research by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, homeowners in Los Angeles spent an average of $3,800 annually on home improvement and remodeling activities between 1994 and 2015. Unfortunately, this amount of money attracts dubious plumbers who are out to scam unsuspecting residents of the city. Some common methods employed by these dubious plumbers include:

  • Unsolicited repair services: this involves a plumber showing up at your doorstep unannounced and offering to inspect or upgrade your plumbing systems at a discounted rate. The plumber may sometimes claim to have just completed repair work in your neighborhood and have leftover materials, hence the cheap or discounted rate.
  • Home equity scam: this scam is typically targeted at senior residents of the city, and it involves a dubious plumber convincing homeowners to use their homes or home equity as security for getting a loan to pay for a plumbing project. The victims of these scams are either convinced to sign blank contracts or not allowed to read and understand the contract before signing it, only to discover that they have either signed away the rights to their homes or incurred higher mortgage interest rates.

In February 2020, the California Contractors State License Board carried out an undercover sting that arrested several unlicensed contractors, including plumbers, in the Los Angeles area who were bidding for jobs way above the legal limit for unlicensed contractors. Regardless of the technique that a dubious plumber utilizes, you can protect yourself and avoid falling victim to a Los Angeles plumbing scam by taking note of the following:

  • Be wary of unsolicited plumbing inspection, upgrading, or repair offers
  • Never rush into repairs. Always get a second opinion before making any expensive repairs, particularly in situations where the first visit of the intended contractor to your home was unsolicited
  • Always verify your plumber's license, either online or by calling (800) 321-2752. You can also look up plumbers on the California Contractors State License Board Most Wanted List to make sure that they are not currently wanted in connection with home improvement and repair scams.
  • Always request written estimates from any plumber that you intend to hire.
  • Insist on a written contract for any project and make sure that you properly read and review this contract. Be wary of plumbers who try to brush off the need for a written contract or provide sloppily handwritten contracts that contain difficult-to-read sections.
  • Never sign any documents that you do not fully understand.
  • Do not fall for pressure tactics. Beware of plumbers who insist that you must act immediately or lose out on offers and discounts. Always take your time to fully consider the project and its requirements before making any decisions.
  • Request references from the plumber and check out these references before finalizing any hiring agreements.
  • Be wary of plumbers who ask for the full cost or a significant amount of the total cost of your project upfront. If you have to make an advance payment, make sure that it does not exceed $1,000 or 10% of your project's total cost, whichever is less.

If you believe that you have been contacted by a dubious plumber or if you have been the victim of a Los Angeles plumbing scam, you should file a construction complaint with the California Contractors State License Board. If the scam involves your home equity or mortgage, then it is also a good idea to contact the Real Estate Fraud Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department at:

Los Angeles Police Department
Financial Crimes Division
Real Estate Fraud Unit
150 N. Los Angeles Street
Room 302
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 847-2749