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Get Quotes from Top Plumbers in San Diego, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in the City of San Diego

As a single-family home in the City of San Diego, if you found yourself using upward of 20,000 gallons of water per month, then it is time to check for undetected leaks and optimize your plumbing systems. Note, a typical household leak wastes up to 90 gallons of water per day. For as low as $30 an hour, you can hire a qualified plumber that will help save you hundreds of dollars on your annual water bill by fixing weak and broken plumbing equipment in your home. However, before you conclude on hiring any plumber in the city, ask the following questions to be certain you are dealing with a competent professional:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of San Diego?

The California Department of Consumer Affairs issues occupational licenses to plumbers in the City of San Diego through its Contractors State License Board (CSLB). This board requires any plumber in San Diego that performs jobs worth more than $500, labor and materials inclusive, to have a valid C-36 Plumbing Contractor License. Individuals that wish to obtain this license must be at least 18 years old and must have completed a minimum of four years of verifiable plumbing work experience. This experience must be obtained at the journeyman level and it must be completed within a10 year period before applying for the plumbing license. Individuals that meet this qualification will be required to submit a completed Application for Original Contractor License, pay an application fee, and sit for CSLB-administered licensing examinations. Note that this application fee is nonrefundable, and so applicants are advised to ensure that they submit properly completed application forms.

Also, the CSLB offers a licensing reciprocity program for individuals that have a valid plumber's license issued in the State of Arizona. Per this program, the CSLB may waive the trade portion of its licensing examinations for these individuals. Interested parties can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to make inquiries about its license reciprocity program for plumbers. You can also contact the CSLB at the provided number to confirm that your intended contractor possesses a valid license. Alternatively, you can utilize this board's online license check portal to authenticate your plumber's licensing status.

Per the CSLB's requirements, performing plumbing work in the City of San Diego without possessing a valid C-36 Plumbing Contractor License is a misdemeanor offense, and is punishable by up to six months jail time, fines of up to $15,000, or both. Note that this punishment is for first-time offenders, and repeat offenders will receive steeper punishments per subsequent violation.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of San Diego?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers in the City of San Diego earn a mean hourly wage of about $30. The amount of money that you will be charged to hire one of these plumbers for a specific service is typically dependent on the type of service, the amount of labor the job will require, and the plumber's level of expertise. Other factors that influence the cost of hiring a plumber include the types of materials that may be needed to perform the job as well as the cost of obtaining any permits required for the job. Nonetheless, you should consider getting estimates from no less than three plumbers near you before hiring one, as this helps you compare prices and select the most qualified plumber within your budgeted price range

A plumber in the City of San Diego earns an annual average wage of $63,910. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in San Diego compared with plumbers in other parts of California and other major cities in the country:

San Diego Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
California Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
New York City Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
Atlanta Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
Detroit Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
Miami Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
St. Louis Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the City of San Diego Building Code for Plumbing?

While the City of San Diego utilizes the California Plumbing Code for the regulation of plumbing-related systems within its jurisdiction, it also implements certain local city-specific amendments to this code. The plumbing code, and especially the local amendments and modifications, is designed to reduce any potential hazards to the life and property of the residents of San Diego from the use of any plumbing systems or appliances in the city. To this end, it spells out the requirements for the installation, assembly, manufacture, quality, maintenance, and repair of these plumbing systems and appliances in the city. Carrying out any plumbing work that violates the plumbing code can result in several penalties, ranging from citations and abatement to civil penalties of up to $400,000 and possible prosecution. This makes it imperative to ensure that any plumber you hire for your project is conversant with not only the California Plumbing Code but also the local San Diego amendments. While licensed plumbers in the city are typically conversant with the requirements of the plumbing code, it is always a good idea to get confirmation on this from your intended plumber. You can contact the Code Enforcement Division of the San Diego Development Services Department (DSD) at (619) 236-5500 to get information on the city's plumbing code and circumstances under which this code may be violated.

Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of San Diego Code?

Article 9, Division 4 of the San Diego Municipal Code states that a plumbing permit must be obtained for the installation of a plumbing system, or a portion of this system, on any structure or premises in the city. Permits are also required for the alteration, addition, or replacement of any existing plumbing systems in the city. However, certain plumbing permit exemptions are also stipulated in this law. These plumbing permit exemptions are:

  • The stoppage of leaks in vent, drain, soil, or waste pipes. Note that this exemption does not extend to the replacement of any of these pipes with any new material as part of the repair
  • The replacement in kind of plumbing fixtures. However, this does not include installations that require the alteration or replacement of vent, waste, water supply, or drainage piping
  • The clearing of stoppages, the replacement of exposed traps in existing plumbing systems for lavatories, laundry trays, sinks, and other similar fixtures, and the repair of leaks soil, vent, or waste pipes, fixtures, and valves

Note that these plumbing permit exemptions do not authorize plumbers to perform any work that violates the city's plumbing regulations.

Per the city's Municipal Code, all required plumbing permits must be obtained before any work on the project commences, except in situations where an urgent necessity or emergency for carrying out the work without a permit exists. In these situations, the required plumbing permits must be obtained no later than two days after the commencement of the work. The San Diego Development Services Department (DSD) is responsible for issuing plumbing permits, and its permit application processing timeline depends on factors like the nature and complexity of your project, the department's workload, and the correctness of your application. The Development Services Department issues simple œno-plan plumbing permits for minor plumbing work, like the repair or replacement of drains, and plan (required) plumbing permits for plumbing work that involves the addition, alteration, or replacement of plumbing systems on structures or premises.

Permit applications can be made online via the DSD's online permitting system, and the department provides interested parties with a user guide on how to utilize this platform. Alternatively, permit applications can be made by completing and submitting a General Application Form DS-3032 to the DSD at:

City Operations Building
1222 First Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: 7:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., Mondays to Thursdays
Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., Fridays

Note that parties that wish to obtain plan (required) plumbing permits will have to provide a stamped and signed plumbing plan for the intended project in a DSD-approved pdf format and validate these pdf documents before applying for a permit. This is regardless of whether the permit application is being done online or not. You can contact the DSD at (619) 446-5000 to make inquiries concerning its permit issuing process and to verify that your plumber has obtained all necessary permits required for your project.

Finally, once your project commences, you will be required to schedule an inspection with the DSD before any plumbing work that you carry out is covered or concealed. The DSD offers several types of construction-related inspections, and construction work in the city is not considered approved until it has been duly inspected and accepted by this department. Inspections are scheduled online, and individuals that encounter problems trying to do this can contact the DSD at (858) 492-5070. General inspection-related queries can also be directed to this number.

What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?

Plumbers in San Diego offer a wide array of plumbing services, including, but not limited to, water heater repair and installation, drain cleaning, plumbing system maintenance, faucet and toilet repair and installation, leak and pipe location, and repiping. You should always find out the types of services that a plumber offers and make sure that this plumber specializes in your required service before concluding any arrangements with this individual.

Plumbers in San Diego typically charge an average of $100 - $150 for their services, and this fee usually includes the cost of an initial consultation to determine the extent of your plumbing problem. Other factors that affect plumbing costs in San Diego include the type of plumbing job, its level of difficulty, the types of tools and materials required for the job, and whether or not the job is an emergency. Listed below are cost estimates for common services offered by plumbers in San Diego:

Drain Cleaning
$140 - $200
Toilet replacement or installation
$180 - $210 (excluding cost of materials)
Bathtub installation or replacement
$2,000 - $3,000
Water main installation or repair
$50 - $55 per foot
Sewer line installation
$80 - $85 per foot
Sump pump installation
$1,000 - $1,400
Water heater repair or replacement
$250 - $2,500

Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of San Diego?

More than 3,000 gallons of water can be wasted by a single leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second. While leaky faucets may not seem like a serious problem, these types of issues may be symptoms of bigger problems that can result in an emergency plumbing situation, like faucet malfunctions and overflowing toilets. These emergency plumbing situations can result in extensive damage to your property and also pose substantial risks to the health of any residents in your home if they are not tackled immediately.

When you find yourself in need of emergency or time-sensitive plumbing services, you should always make sure that the plumber you contact is licensed, duly experienced, and close enough to tackle the matter as soon as possible. To this end, you can utilize third-party websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review to find licensed and qualified emergency plumbers near you. You can also find plumbers near you via the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of San Diego's affiliate members search portal. Note that emergency plumbing services typically cost more than regular plumbing services. It is also advisable to confirm the licensing status of any plumber whose services you plan to retain.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of San Diego?

Plumbing can be a potentially dangerous task, and plumbers are regularly exposed to numerous physical, chemical, and biological hazards. These include falls, trips, and slips, exposure to toxic agents in sewage systems, and cuts, burns, and lacerations from sharp or hot tools and equipment. In light of this, it is always in your best interest to make sure that your intended plumber has proper insurance coverage. Failure to do this can make you liable for any injuries that may occur whilst your plumbing project is ongoing. Note that although there are no mandatory general liability insurance requirements for plumbers in the City of San Diego, plumbers that have employees must maintain an active workers' compensation insurance plan. San Diego plumbers are also required to post surety bonds of $15,000 with the California Contractors State License Board to maintain their plumbing licenses. You can confirm that your plumber has an active insurance plan by requesting a copy of the plumber's insurance certificate and validating it with the issuing organization.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of San Diego

In September 2019, about 26 unlicensed contractors were arrested in an undercover sting by the California Contractors State License Board in San Diego. These contractors had illegally bid for several types of home improvement jobs, including the installation of tankless water heaters and other plumbing jobs. When hiring a plumber in San Diego, it is important to look out for signs that this individual might either be an unlicensed contractor or surreptitiously trying to defraud you. Plumbing scams in San Diego are characterized by the following:

  • Door-to-door solicitations to carry out plumbing inspections and repairs for free or at a reduced price
  • High-pressure tactics
  • Demands for upfront payment or large down payments in cash
  • Insistence on verbal agreements instead of written contracts

You can avoid falling victim to these scams by taking the following actions:

  • Being wary of door-to-door plumbers
  • Getting a second opinion before carrying out any repairs recommended by an unsolicited plumber
  • Getting at least three bids from different plumbers and checking the references of the plumber that you select
  • Confirming the licensing status of any plumber you intend to hire online or by calling (800) 321-2752
  • Insisting on written contracts that provide details of the job, including start and completion dates, a description of the work to be done and the types of materials to be used, and a payment schedule. It is also advisable to never sign any contracts that you do not fully understand
  • Never paying cash and limiting any down payments to $1,000 or 10% of the total cost of the plumbing job for projects that cost more than $10,000

Suspected plumbing scams in San Diego can be reported to the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the City Attorney's Office online or in person at:

1200 Third Avenue
Suite 1100
San Diego, CA 92101-4103
Phone: (619) 533-5800

Reports can also be made to the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. Note that you may be required to provide a description of the suspected scammer as well as their vehicle license plate number.

These agencies will typically review the matter and may refer them to a more appropriate agency for regulatory action. Regardless of the action taken, it should be noted that there is no guarantee that filing reports with these offices will result in compensation for any money that you may have lost to a fraudulent plumber. However, you can pursue private legal action against the plumber at a San Diego Small Claims Court. It is advisable to consult with a qualified attorney near you if you decide to go the court route.