Get Quotes from Top Plumbers in Oakland, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in Oakland

Further delay in fixing your dripping faucet, faulty toilet, loose showerhead, or leaking pipe may be costing you an additional 10 percent or more on your monthly water bill. It is a wise decision to hire a qualified plumber in the city to quickly fix these leakage as you will not only be saving yourself money but also saving Oakland up to 10,000 gallons of waters per year. However, before you contract a plumber, ask the following questions to ensure you are hiring the best hand for the job:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in Oakland?

Verifying the licensing status of your intended plumber is the first step to take in ensuring that your plumbing work has a satisfactory outcome. Oakland plumbers are licensed and regulated at the state level by the California Contractors State License Board. This board requires all plumbers in the city who wish to bid for projects worth $500 or more to obtain an applicable plumbing-related license. Penalties for performing plumbing jobs without an appropriate CSLB-issued license in Oakland include statutory and administrative fines of up to $15,000, jail time of up to six months, or a combination of fines and jail time. Note that these penalties are for first-time offenders, and individuals caught working without an appropriate license more than once typically face much steeper punishments.

Plumbers who wish to obtain a CSLB-issued license must be at least 18 years of age and have a minimum of four years' work experience at the journeyman level. These applicants will be required to provide verifiable proof of this work experience, submit a license application form, and sit for a licensing examination. The payment of a fee is also required when making this application, and applicants who do not properly complete the application form or fail to make the necessary corrections to this form when due may forfeit this fee. The grace period for making these corrections is typically 90 days after the CSLB informs the applicant of the errors or incomplete information provided in the application form.

Applicants who successfully pass the licensing examination are subsequently issued the requested plumbing-related license. Note that the CSLB may require these licensees to take certain steps to maintain these licenses, such as completing mandatory continuing education courses and renewing the licenses every two years.

You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to make inquiries on its licensing procedures and requirements for plumbers in Oakland. You can also confirm the licensing status of your intended plumber via the provided phone number or online via the CSLB's Check a Contractor License platform.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in Oakland?

When searching for a plumber in Oakland, you should always consider getting estimates from more than one plumber near you before making a final decision. Doing this provides you with an idea of the average cost for your intended plumbing project. According to figures published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers in Oakland earn approximately $51 per hour. Nonetheless, the specific amount of money that you will be charged to hire a plumber in the city depends on a number of factors. These include but are not limited to, the plumber's experience and skillset and the nature and scope of the plumbing job.

A plumber in Oakland earns an annual average wage of $70,863. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Oakland compared with plumbers in other parts of California and other major cities in the country:

Oakland Plumber Hourly Average Wage
California Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Los Angeles Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Atlanta Plumber Hourly Average Wage
New York City Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Houston Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Miami Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the Oakland Building Code for Plumbing?

Another important factor to consider when hiring a plumber near you is the plumber's familiarity with the city's plumbing code and how it applies to your intended project. Oakland utilizes the 2019 California Plumbing Code for the regulation of plumbing systems within its jurisdiction, albeit with some local administrative amendments. This plumbing code and its local amendments apply to all residential and non-residential plumbing work in Oakland and is implemented to protect the life, health, property, and public welfare of the city's residents as related to the use of plumbing systems. To this end, it provides the standards for the installation, assembly, arrangement, and maintenance of these plumbing systems, as well as the quality of materials used for these activities.

Violations of the city's plumbing code are considered unlawful in Oakland and are punishable by city-administered fines and penalties. As such, you must not only confirm that your intended plumbers are conversant with the code but that they also comply with its requirements, such as obtaining the necessary permits and carrying out any required inspections. You can contact the Oakland Planning and Building Department at (510) 238-3443 to get further information on the city's code, the requirements of this code that apply to your project, and any other code-related matters.

Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by Oakland Code?

Plumbing permits are generally required before plumbing work can be done on any building or structure in Oakland. Nevertheless, exceptions are typically made if the plumbing work falls under any of the following categories:

  • The work is required to stop leaks in drains, soil, waste, or vent pipes. However, if it is determined that the trap, drain pipe, soil, waste, or vent pipe in question has become defective and requires removal or replacement with new material, then a permit must be obtained.
  • The work is required to clear stoppages, including removing and reinstalling water closets or repairing leaks in pipes, valves, or fixtures. However, if this work requires or involves replacing or rearranging these pipes, valves, or fixtures, then a permit must be obtained.

The Oakland Planning and Building Department oversees the city's permitting process, and this department only issues plumbing permits to state-licensed plumbers who also possess a current city-issued business tax certificate, building owners, and the legal representatives of these building owners. Plumbing permit applications can be made online via the Oakland Online Permit Center.

Note that account registration and activation are required before permit applications can be made via the Online Permit Center, and the Planning and Building Department provides a tutorial video that can be used to get guidance on creating this user account. Also, depending on the nature of your plumbing work, you may be required to schedule building inspections with the Oakland Building and Planning Department at various stages of completion of the job. This scheduling can also be done via the city's Online Permit Center. You can direct queries on the Oakland permit and inspection process to the city's Building and Planning Department at:

250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Suite 2114
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 238-3443
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays

Permit-specific queries can also be directed to (510) 238-3891 or the city's Permit Questions Portal. Likewise, inspection-specific queries can be directed to (510) 238-3444.

What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?

Plumbing services typically incorporate a wide range of activities. These include common home repair plumbing services like toilet plumbing and leak repairs and maintenance and preventive plumbing services like pipe and sump pump inspections. In light of this, it is important to make sure that any plumber you intend to hire has the necessary skill set to tackle your specific plumbing issue. Once you get confirmation on this from the plumber, you should also find out how much the plumbing service would cost you. Average cost estimates for common residential and non-residential plumbing services in Oakland are provided below:

Residential plumbing work (per hour)
$95 - $105
Commercial plumbing work (per hour)
$125 - $135
PEX repiping for home remodel or addition (for 1,500 sf home)
$5,600 - $7,250
Toilet installation/replacement
$195 - $210
Clearing drain clog or blockage
$160 - $195
Bathtub installation (for acrylic tub)
$2,450 - $3,000
Drain line video inspection
$330 - $380
Septic system installation 
$9,450 - $11,220
Septic tank cleaning/pumping (for 1,000 gallon tank)
$350 - $410
Sewer line cleaning
$220 - $340
Sewer line installation/repair (per linear foot)
$75 - $100
Sump pump installation (for submersible pump)
$1,090 - $1,570
Swamp cooler installation (for roof-mounted 7,500 cfm unit)
$2,990 - $3,205
Water main line installation/repair (per linear foot)
$40 - $70
Well pump installation
$970 - $1,160

Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in Oakland?

All plumbing issues in Oakland should be treated with urgency. A single showerhead leaking at a rate of 10 drips per minute is estimated to waste more than 500 gallons of water in one year. With the average Oaklander paying at least $33 per 100 cubic feet of water used every month, water wastage in the city can be an expensive ordeal. With that being said, some plumbing issues typically require more urgent attention than others. Examples of these types of plumbing issues include clogged drains backing up into other drains in your home, burst pipes, sewer back-ups, and moisture on your walls or mold or mildew growth that signal hidden water leaks.

These types of plumbing issues can result in serious financial and health issues if they are not tackled immediately and expertly. When faced with these emergency plumbing issues, it is always in your best interest to make sure that you retain the services of a licensed, professional, and well-equipped plumber who offers emergency plumbing services.

You can find plumbers near you that fit these criteria by utilizing available online resources, such as the Better Business Bureau website and the California Contractors State License Board's contractor search portal. Note that even though these resources are provided by reputable organizations, it is always a good idea to confirm the licensing status of any plumber that you wish to hire, regardless of who or how this plumber was referred to you.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in Oakland?

Plumbers in Oakland are not statutorily required to maintain liability insurance policies. Nonetheless, considering the number of occupational hazards associated with plumbing, you should always make sure that any plumber you intend to hire carries an active commercial general liability insurance plan. Hiring an insured plumber protects you from the financial risks and burdens associated with plumbing work. These include bodily harm to the plumber during your project, damage to your property as a result of the plumber's actions, and faulty installation or repair jobs carried out by the plumber.

You can confirm that your plumber has a valid insurance plan by requesting the contact details of the plumber's insurer and checking with them to confirm the plumber's claims. It is also a good idea to find out from this insurer if the plumber's insurance plan is enough to cover the scope of your project.

Note that while general liability insurance is not mandatory for plumbers in Oakland, any of these plumbers that have employees are statutorily required to have an active workers' compensation insurance plan for these employees. Similarly, licensed plumbers in the city are also required to maintain a bond of $15,000 throughout the validity period of their state-issued licenses. You can confirm whether or not your intended plumber has met these requirements by contacting the California Contractors State License Board at (800) 321-2752.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in Oakland

When hiring plumbers in Oakland, it is important to take precautions against unscrupulous individuals who are looking to obtain money from you deceptively. Unlicensed contracting, price gouging, and illegal or fraudulent plumbing and home repair-related activities are unfortunate and yet common occurrences in Oakland. For example, a two-day sting conducted by the California Contractors State License Board in 2019 resulted in the arrest of several fraudulent contractors in Oakland and other nearby cities in Alameda County.

A good way to avoid falling victim to a plumbing-related scam is by recognizing the signs of fraudulent contractors. Some of these signs include:

  • The individual tries to brush off the need for a written contract
  • The individual insists on cash payment
  • The individual requests full payment upfront or an unusually high advance payment
  • The individual cannot provide proof of licensing or insurance
  • The individual shows up unsolicited and claims to have left-over material from a previous job

The following steps can help you protect yourself against possible con artists when searching for plumbers near you:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers of plumbing inspections or repairs
  • Avoid rushing into plumbing repairs, no matter how urgent they may seem. Always make sure that you verify the licensing status of the individual that you intend to hire.
  • Always try to get at least three bids from different plumbers instead of hiring the first plumber that you come in contact with
  • Always request references from any plumber that you intend to hire
  • Avoid cash payments and limit upfront payments to $1,000 or 10% of the total value of the plumbing job, whichever is less
  • Always get a written contract for the job and make sure that this contract details every aspect of the intended plumbing job

In the event that you come in contact with or fall victim to a fraudulent plumber in Oakland, you can file a complaint against this individual with the California Contractors State License Board. You can also file consumer complaints with the Alameda County District Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit by mailing a completed consumer fraud form, along with copies of any supporting documents, to:

Office of the District Attorney
County of Alameda
7677 Oakport Street
Suite 650
Oakland, CA 94621

Finally, you can take private legal action against the fraudulent plumber by filing a lawsuit at the Alameda County Superior Court. It is advisable to retain the services of a qualified attorney near you if you decide to do this. You can get referrals to qualified attorneys in Oakland via the Alameda County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.