What Do We All Think of Plumbers? (Experiences)

Hi OzB,

I'm just wondering what we all think of plumbers? I'm sure at some point or another, we have all heard about someones story who had a nightmare of a time dealing with one, but I'd like to know about the positive ones too. Reviews online for this trade are very hit and miss. These guys supposedly make more than doctors, and I am wondering if anyone cares to share their experiences whether it be good or bad, or even unsure about what experience they received but seek feedback. I am happy to answer anyone's questions.

Disclosure: Both my father and brother are self employed plumbers, and I have worked in some way or another linked to the industry over the past 8 years, however, I am not a trade qualified one myself and do personally believe they sometimes can be on the expensive side. Fire away!


  • +21 votes

    My experience with plumbers is not very flattering. I classify plumbers amongst the worst tradesman in the business. Their favourite tool is a pair of stallions, they use them on everything and that includes chrome plated fittings. Near enough is good enough in most cases. Turning up on time is another issue and what they charge for a job I better not talk about. Apology to all good honest hard working plumbers out there but you have way too many poor performing colleagues who give you a bad name.

    • I spent some time onsite and I could never work out why they wouldn't simply use a rag over the new tapware before getting the shifter on there. Time management is also another sore point in which they seem to struggle. I do honestly believe there is a few good ones out there, but finding them is another thing

    • "pair of stallions"

      They obviously earn way too much to use regular horses.

    • The plumber my mum hired cut a hole that was too big for the new tap to be installed. After having it leak non stop, she called him back. He flatly refused to do anything and became very angry and defensive very quickly. He said that she didn't know how to use the kitchen sink, who splashes water outside the sink onto the tap? He claimed it was unheard of and that he did his job properly.

      Mum managed to reduce it severely just by putting in silicon around the base of the tap, still leaks a bit to this day. I don't know how he's still in business, probably because he give the lowest quotes and survives of first time, one off business.

  • $200 dollars worth of tools and misc item in a box were stolen while plumbers were in my house.

    They actually did a pretty decent job, three toilets replaced, two sink tap sets replaced, a Rinnai Infinity installed, all according to expectations. The only thing I'm not impressed with is the toilets that they installed were a little on the small side and are also very prone to clogging.

    Have to poop first, flush, then wipe, then flush. Defeats the purpose of the 4-star water saving rating :(

    2/5 would not recommend these a-holes again.

    • Sorry to hear. I do think there are some that consider the 'tax' they are charging, is when they are leaving the owners house with the owners tools. Yeh, water saving tends to normally mean it will save water by hardly working. Sounds like you had a fair job done, did you think your price was fair?

      • Water saving appliances are a sham:

        My parents bought a water saving dishwasher and washing machine. They both seem to save water by not properly washing their loads. Heck I could do that for free; just put everything away dirty, *BAM!* 100 % water saving!

        Water is bloody cheap anyway and water saving appliances can use more electricity, which is much more expensive.

    • Every time I go to my toilet and stand there for a pee, I often wonder what drugs the plumber was on or was he pissed, cause, well, that toilet ain't square at all.
      You feel like your sliding off when you sit down…..and your backs against the wall and looking in the corner when standing up…..
      Its not level and not even square to the wall.
      Surely couldn't have walked away looking a your thinking…..too job there.

      It is always a comment by anyone who ever visits and uses the toilet.

      Was like that when I bought the house…..one day I'll get a real Tracie to come in do it properly.

    • the guy that came around to my house had atleast 20k worth of tools

    • The only thing I'm not impressed with is the toilets that they installed were a little on the small side and are also very prone to clogging.

      Have to poop first, flush, then wipe, then flush.

      Maybe your poop is too big. How much fibre do you eat? How often do you poop?

      How many courics?

  • Hi,

    Had the good the bad and the ugly (huge crack…still banging my head against the wall to get rid of that image)

    The good: got 2 excellent plumbers, one for heater/aircon, other one for water/hot water.
    Both can't fault. Do great job, fair charge and give sound advice. Don't overcook what needs doing.

    Saw another guy at a rental property years ago, he ripped of the owner. "Fixed" a shower, rebuild cubicle, took him a week and charged $10,000. Was a total rip off.. Not my money, but I still advised the owner against it and told her happy to wait a bit to get it fixed for less.
    First sign was plumber refused to give fixed price.

    Best advice, find someone you trust, any trady and than ask him/her for other tradies.


    • When you say heater, you mean gas heater? As aircon is not something a standard plumber would be carrying out.

      Good to hear you found someone reasonable. I have seen over and over the struggle between rental property owners and plumbers. On one hand I have found the plumber may be trying to purchase their own investment property, and thinks a fellow rental property owner should help them on their quest. And on the other hand I have seen the case where an investment property owner is only willing to collect rent, and not overly happy about the upkeep of a property. There is rarely a common ground for them both though

  • +3 votes

    Who knows.. I've never hired one before. Always done the work myself. As a tight ass engineer i generally consider myself competent enough to do basic plumbing, research and follow codes.. And ignore the requirement for a licenced plumber.

    Reason I don't hire plumbers is the price they charge for very menial tasks and from the stories I've heard they generally can't even get menial tasks correct (speaking in broad terms, there are obviously exceptions).

    • Haha yes, that is always an option. There are some fairly straightforward tasks that many people can accomplish by having a go at it. I think sometimes plumbers do abuse the fact when a license is needed, as they feel its their only change to 'get' a customer when they need connection to sewer/water mains or something requiring the license. But they will opt for the 1 overpriced job win, 0 referral type mindset

      • I think sometimes plumbers do abuse the fact when a license is needed,

        So the government should cut the brown tape.

        • A bit like Ethernet cabling, I have fttp so someone getting electrocuted outside my property isn't going happen, so what's the problem?

    • what engineering do you do?

      • Consulting. Got a civil engineering degree. Went down the path of traffic and transport planning, used to be a cabinet maker before changing careers. So while I'm not proficient in fluid mechanics I've got the foundation of knowing how to research codes, follow instructions and good problem solving skills.

        Plus, a lot of the time you could just figure it out for yourself, it's not rocket science, connect a pipe and water comes out, use plenty of plumbers tape on the joins, don't run anything near electricity.

  • Had a hot water heater that was tripping the circuit breaker and a leaking overflow. He replaced the heating element and fixed the leak. 30 minute job for about $300+. The circuit breaker tripped again several months later and got an electrician instead. He replaced the circuit breaker and only charged $75 for about $20 minutes, most of that time was searching for what could have caused the trip but didn't find it. I still get the occasional tripping (months in between) but living with it instead.

    • $330 including? Thats the part I dont understand. The RRP of an element is $50 including GST. So I struggle to work out how the pricing is calculated. Although, I personally would always allow minimum 1 hour labour, but your charge more than covers that ontop of trade pricing, whichever way you look at it

      • I think the heating element looked more like the $10-15 dollar type.

        • Most people feel obliged to pay whatever the conmanplumber asks.

          But consumers should be demanding quotes before the task is started and an itemised bill afterwards. If a quote for the task can't be estimated then standard rates for various items should be demanded. Consumers need to be able to compare costs before the service is ordered to ensure competition.

        • @Scrooge McDuck: that would be nice, but with call out costs, it's a big disincentive to get another option, not to mention the usual emergency situation when a plumbing problem occurs. It's usually only afterwards are you able to research and see wether the value of the solution was equivalent to the price.

        • @scupper:

          So get quotes over the phone.

        • @Scrooge McDuck: sometimes, the problem isn't well identified yet. When you have limited knowledge of the problem, you don't even know what you need. I'm putting it down to just having an unscheduled expensive education.

        • Wow considering you know so much about heating element pricing why didn't you just do the job yourself ?

          I smell bullshit with heavy exaggerations.

        • @Scrooge McDuck:

          So who pays the plu,bers for buying the 15$ element ?

          Is he supposed to spend a day buying these sorts of things for future customers on Sunday's and charge nobody ?

        • @ninetyNineCents: Wow, you sound so angry. Why not tell us your side of the story then.

        • @scupper:

          Wow, typical loser, gets caught lying and saying silly stupid things and then turns it round to personal ad hominmem attacks.

        • @ninetyNineCents: I think it's you that's making attacking remarks. How does me knowing the price of something make me competent at working with electrical wiring? It seems to me the more interesting topic is finding out what is motivating your troll-like behaviour.

        • @scupper:

          Here we go again, get caught out saying nonsense, so you invent a negative attribute about the person who bested you. Typical loser.

        • @ninetyNineCents: all your comments on this topic were all so antagonistic, I thought you had some pro-plumbing story to contribute to balance out the negative sentiment. Maybe I thought too well of you. Apologies.

        • @scupper:

          Like i said - all you can do is make childish insults…

          Try that in real life and see how far it gets you…

    • I have a similar issue. It turned out that some heavy use appliances were all on the same circuit. So when I had the kettle, microwave plus a/c on it would trip it.

      Could it be the same issue with you?

      • Good guess, but might not be. No one else in the house using appliances while I'm watching the tradie flip the breaker and it goes back down. It takes a few tries for it to stick. Maybe damage by a rodent somewhere that just wasn't found in the few minutes that the electrician was looking?

        • Might want to try a new breaker, might as well upsize it when you do.

        • @wanga1983: The electrician already replaced the breaker but I don't think increasing the gauge would be wise if it was working well all this time. He also did a quick check of the breaker board but didn't find anything amiss. It has been behaving so far so hopefully it's not that dangerous.

        • @wanga1983:

          This comment is exactly why you should get a licensed electrician…

          You might (though probably won't) solve you're tripping problem by chucking a higher amperage breaker in, but you could well end up with a much bigger problem if you are running that circuit above its rated load. Please if you don't have any idea about electricity don't go giving advice…

        • @brad1601: Of course, this would be carried out by licensed electrician. I'm just an Electrical Engineer, what would I know? Merely suggesting to replace breaker - may be worn, may be faulty, this happens. While you're at it, get advice on upsizing the breaker since it would be most economical to do so. Good luck!

        • @wanga1983:

          The way you worded your response sounded to me like 'might as well try replacing the breaker and while your at it Chuck a bigger one in their' I guess there was a misunderstanding there. I still think it sounds like strange advice for an 'electrical engineer' to give, as it wouldn't be the first point I'd be looking at if a circuit was tripping. I'd consider a faulty CB to be more of an anomaly than a 1st point of a call for a circuit tripping.

          Also I'm sure you are well aware of what's involved in 'upsizing the breakers' and it's not exactly straight forward and will require rewiring in most cases as the CCC of cables is pretty much set in stone according to their installation conditions, so if you want to pull more current, you are going to need bigger wires.

        • @brad1601: Yep, thanks for clarifying, sorry if I was unclear.

    • Similar story, Hot Water tank overflow valve, guy too 10 mins to replace, charged $225 (including valve).
      Next time it broke, I bought one (for $75). Took me the same 10 mins. Almost $150 saved!

      • Yeah, second time the breaker tripped, I went to YouTube. Since I didn't have a multimeter and didn't want to die of electrocution, I called the sparky :)

    • Must be taking LSD.

  • All my experiences have been crappy, often giving me the shits

  • Not good experience with plumbers. Dont get me wrong, most that I meet seemed like nice people and knows what they are doing but most seemed unreliable when getting them to show up. Ended up doing most of the plumbing work myself in my house reno. Not major work though. Mostly just replacing existing fittings.

  • bunch of …….

    • good blokes? Hard workers? Mugs?

      Seems like the recurring pattern is leaning towards negative experiences, which I guess is why no one goes online with their positive reviews

  • "These guys supposedly make more than doctors"
    Of course they do. They have to study a lot to learn the basic theory of plumbing:
    "Shit flows downhill"

    • That's basic plumbing theory, advanced plumbing (public service) theory turns that notion on it's head by revealing that the shit in fact rises to the top! ;)

  • The only plumber I've used is a family friend who is nearing 90 haha! He always complains that plumbers now days are crooks and charge way too much.

    • Hahaha, hes probably right. Its the majority of the others than give them all the reputation

    • The only plumber I've used is a family friend who is nearing 90 haha! He always complains that plumbers now days are crooks and charge way too much.

      Some old people don't understand inflation.

      Not great when they're paying you for a task, and it's rarely ever vice versa.

    • How would a plu,bet know so much about crook plu,bers ?

      Shouldn't he be doing his own work and work for family and friends ?

  • I only call one when i want to see a strip show but don't want to get in trouble for it! (plumbers crack!) Easiest way around this.

  • Im a Plumber on North side of Brisbane……..We make more than doctors eh? I wish. I charge $80 an hour………no call out fee for locals in my area, $50 call out fee on weekends and after hours. I think my rates are fair and by no means a rip off…I give free advice over the phone and am more than happy to turn up and give free quotes. We have fairly high overheads and expensive equipment to purchase if we are to offer full services. Last year I purchased $30k in hydro jetting and drain CCTV equipment…..not to mentioned other hand and power tools on top of that.

    • The doctors comment is not my personal view. I have seen some make way more than doctors, and others that make no where near as much. $80 an hour would put you in reality on the cheaper side of them, especially given your low call out rates also. And yes, the jets and cameras are essentially like putting an extra vehicle on the road. Kudos to you though, it sounds like you are in a class above the rest of them!

      • You would have to be stupid to believe doctors make less than plumbers. Doctors get50$ for 15 mins , so even if we pretend a third are expenses they are making over 1500 a day with no travel expenses and minimal equipment.

    • That is a pretty reasonable set of fees.
      I don't begrudge plumbers being well paid, they generally work a lot harder than a GP sitting in a medical centre bulk billing 15 patients and hour…

      The plumbers I use are straight up and down, honest people. I prefer to deal with somebody even if they aren't the cheapest if they give accurate advice, turn up on time and get things done.

    • How far north? I'm south-west, but I'd rather have a number of someone honest.

      The last time I called a plumber for a significantly blocked drain (grease) it cost about $400 and I had to help. When I mentioned that I wish I made as much as him, he went on to tell me about the tens of thousands of dollars of equipment he had to purchase (which included his ute); I didn't bother mentioning the tens of thousands of dollars of education alone that I went through to get my job.

    • A lot of doctors don't get paid $80 an hour. Their equipment costs far more than 30k. A decent stethoscope cost >$1k and that's about the cheapest thing of the lot. They're also legally obliged to attend seminars and courses that add up to thousands or dollars each year. There's also the multi thousand dollar insurance premiums and annual professional registration.

      They've also delayed their teenage years studying, then 6 years in uni, and finally interning at peanut salary.

      Hope this puts things in perspective. Plumbers don't even know they're earning more than doctors for a lot less effort.

      • Asked a doc in ED what he was on - $40/hour.
        Seems like plumbers really do earn more than doctors.

        • Ask a surgeon on residency. 20 hour days for days on end for less than that.

          It's an extra slap in the face when patients on Medicare (nothing out of pocket) take cheap shots at being "overpaid".

          That's why more surgeons arent willing to work in public after their residency. Take the time to show our appreciation for those who do stay back.

        • @tshow:


          A quick Google tells me surgeons earn over 350k a year. A brissy paper suggests 590k.

          Are you seriously going to continue with your lies that plumbers earn 7 to 10k a week ?

          Try googling…
          australia surgeon average wage

        • As much as I like to bash on tradies, you're comparing what someone earns verse what they charge.

          My charge out rate is around $180 an hour. But I only see about a 1/3 of that. It all goes into overhead.

          Tradies would have to cover insurances, advertisement, licences, fuel etc. All that is eaten up by overheads.

        • @ninetyNineCents:
          Read the part about surgeons in PUBLIC sector.

          What lies? I never said plumbers earned that much. Obviously not a keen reader.

        • @tshow:

          The ads found with google are about the pub hospital system, but hey googling is so diffocult. Maybe next time before you open your mouth you should try searching for evidence for your point of view especially something as simple as "wages".

        • @ninetyNineCents:
          Sorry, unlike the trades, we don't make our assumptions based on google.

          I guess doctors didn't learn anything about finding "evidence".

      • What a load of bullshit.

        If doctors make so little how do ey mange to pay the mega expensive insurances that you mention.

        May I suggest you check the cars your local doc drives, a large number drive mercs. How many plu,bers drive mercs ?

      • This sounds about right in the public sector, a consultant/sessional will make more than $80p/h. But bear in mind this takes a long time to reach this position.

        An intern will make slightly under $40p/h.

        Source: work in the healthcare public sector.

  • I have only had positive experiences with plumbers using a couple of different ones for a major reno of my house. Getting quotes was a different story as a couple clearly weren't interested in taking on the job and quoted extraordinary high compared to others.

    I believe needing to be licensed and giving certificates of compliance protects plumbers from some competition

  • Not the best experiences, thats when they do turn up, often you call one and make arrangements - never see them!
    Other times they come for like 10 mins and you get a near 200 bill for fixing a pipe leak when he only repaired it with a bit of plastic…

  • +19 votes

    I personally love them!

    They break through bricks, get into castles.
    Love to get high on mushrooms, stomp on turtles, and go chasing stars to go all psychedelic.
    They're just looking for love, man.

  • Plumbers crack distresses me.

  • -1 vote

    The fact that plumbers can learn such an impressive and important skill set means they're pretty cool.

  • -1 vote

    I work for myself, and used to think all tradies were a rip off. Remember that whatever they charge you needs to cover - wages, superannuation, workers comp insurance, trade licenses, tools, down time, advertising, admin time (accounting - BAS, receipting. etc), etc. Having said that though There are some plumbers I will not use again and some that I will. The one thing that annoys me with plumbers is that they come to look at the job, then go to bunnings to get the stuff they need, then come back and do the job, and then charge you from the time they first turned up. Still not as bad as the sparkie who quoted me $600 to replace a service fuse on a sunday (hot joint) and then invoiced me for $600 + $120 call out fee + GST on top of that. I laughed at him.

    • maaate … of course they charge YOU for the time they run around getting the things to do YOUR job. You think that time just falls out of the air?

  • I have a lot of respect for some of the older boys and those from UK. Many trained in the UK went through high quality apprenticeships.Same with UK trained sparkies.

    • I didn't know this, but the best plumber I had was from the UK. Charges like a wounded bull but he is the guy you get in when the other guys can't get the job done. You still end up way ahead using the crap guys first if the job is big enough

  • I think tho dr pepper they make them jump through loads of hoops get retrained and maybe being an apprentice again which is crazy (uk trades) before they can work here.