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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in Baltimore

According to the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, each resident uses at least 2,244 gallons of water every month, which equates to around 3 ccf units of water and a $6.78 water consumption service charge. A plumbing leak in your home, on the other hand, can result in increased water consumption and, as a result, higher water bills. To avoid unnecessary water and sewer charges, residents of Baltimore are advised to contact a competent and expert plumber as soon as they discover a plumbing leak in their homes. Generally, you may find a decent plumber near you by asking these questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in Baltimore?

Plumbers in Baltimore are required to obtain a plumber license from the Maryland State Board of Plumbing before they can operate within the city. Failure to obtain the appropriate plumbing license from the Board before working anywhere in Maryland, including Baltimore, may result in a fine of up to $5,000 per violation, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. The plumbing license types issued by the Maryland State Board of Plumbing include the master plumber or gas fitter license, journey plumber or gas fitter license, and apprentice plumber or gas fitter license.

To obtain any of the aforementioned licenses, you must meet the licensing requirements for that category of license and pay the necessary licensing fees. Note that these licensing requirements differ by license type. For example, to be eligible for a master's plumber or gas fitter license, applicants must have held a journey plumber license for at least two years.

In addition to holding this license, applicants must have completed a total of 3,750 hours of training under the direction and control of a licensed master plumber and pass a state-approved examination. Similarly, to obtain a journey plumber or gas fitter license, applicants must have held an apprentice plumber license for at least four years. More so, applicants must have completed 7,500 hours of general plumbing training and 32 hours of training in backflow prevention device testing under the control and direction of a licensed master plumber.

Applicants are also required to pass a comprehensive written examination. Baltimore plumbers and interested persons can visit the plumbing license requirements page to see the requirements for all plumbing licenses. Interested persons can also contact the State Board of Plumbing at (410) 230-6379 for more information on the requirements for specific plumbing licenses. Residents of Baltimore can verify a plumber's license status by utilizing the Maryland State Board of Plumbing licensee search tool.

In addition to state-issued licenses, plumbing contractors are required to register with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development to be eligible to apply for a plumbing permit in the city. You can direct all inquiries concerning citywide contractor registration to the Department by calling (410) 396-3575.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in Baltimore?

The hourly cost of carrying out a plumbing repair or installation in Baltimore typically depends on factors such as the nature of the work, the cost of materials that will be used, and the experience of the plumber. Nevertheless, it is always important to get and compare multiple estimates from different plumbers. This will help you choose the right plumber within your financial means. In addition to helping you choose the right plumber, getting multiple estimates from different plumbers also gives you a general idea of what your project involves, as well as what to expect from the plumber you hire eventually.

A plumber in Baltimore earns an annual average wage of $31,570. Listed below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Baltimore compared with plumbers in other parts of Maryland and other major cities in the country:

Baltimore City Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Maryland Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Los Angeles Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Houston Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Chicago Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Miami Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Washington D.C. Plumber Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the Baltimore Building Code for Plumbing?

All plumbing and other home improvement work in Baltimore must comply with the provisions of the city's Building Code. This Code governs the installation, replacement, repair, maintenance, and alteration of plumbing systems, including equipment, appliances, fixtures, and fittings, and it also clarifies the minimum construction standards for plumbing work in Baltimore. Before hiring a plumber near you, it is important to confirm if they are familiar with the Baltimore Building Code.

Hiring a plumber who is familiar with your city's Code can help you avoid fines or sanctions that can result from code violations. For example, carrying out home improvement work without a permit may attract a penalty surcharge of more than 50 percent of the initial permit fee. For more inquiries concerning the Baltimore Building Code, residents can contact the city's Department of Housing and Community Development by calling (443) 984-1809.

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

In Baltimore, a plumbing permit is required before several plumbing works can be done. Such plumbing works include the replacement of water, sanitary, stormwater, hydronic, and natural gas piping, installation of up to 12 plumbing fixtures in a building, installation of back-flow preventers, and installation of grease interceptors.

However, it is not all plumbing work that requires a permit in Baltimore. For example, you do not need a permit to carry out minor repairs, such as repairing leaks in valves, pipes, and fixtures, provided none of the aforementioned plumbing systems are replaced. Accordingly, it is important to confirm if the plumbing work you want to perform requires a permit, and you can do this by contacting the city's Department of Housing and Community Development at (443) 984-1809.

Plumbing permit applications are processed by the city's Department of Housing and Community Development. To obtain a plumbing permit, the relevant individual must submit a permit application online. Note that permit applications can only be submitted by registered contractors. The application will include the full scope of work to be done, the contractor's name and number, and PDF versions of the construction plans or drawings.

Once your permit application is completed, alongside payment of the necessary fees, the Department will review the application before issuing a plumbing permit. Before allowing your plumber to commence work, it is always important to confirm if they have obtained the plumbing permits for the job. You can confirm if your plumber has obtained the necessary plumbing permits by utilizing the Department's existing permit search tool.

In addition to the issuance of permits for plumbing work, the city's Department of Housing and Community Development also performs inspections for plumbing works for which a permit was obtained. These inspections are to ensure that plumbing work in the city meets the minimum plumbing standards. Note that every permitted construction work must be inspected before a certificate of occupancy can be issued.

You can schedule all kinds of inspections online. However, first-time users are required to create a user profile to use this online platform. For inquiries on applying for a plumbing permit and scheduling an inspection, you can also contact the city's Department of Housing and Community Development at (443) 984-1809.

What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?

Baltimore plumbers offer a variety of plumbing services, such as installation of new plumbing systems, repair of faulty fixtures, replacement of burst pipes, and general maintenance of plumbing systems. However, when considering whether to hire a plumber to do your plumbing work, you should ensure that the individual is experienced enough to handle the plumbing work.

You can confirm if the individual is experienced by asking about their years of practice and asking if they can provide references from previous clients. In addition to ensuring that your plumber is experienced, you should also find out if they are eligible to do the work.

Per state law, a plumber must hold the proper category of license issued by the Maryland Board of Plumbing to provide plumbing services across the state, including Baltimore. For example, in Baltimore, journeyman plumbers cannot perform plumbing installation without the supervision or control of a master plumber.

Having confirmed that the plumber is experienced and eligible to work for you, it is now necessary to find out the cost of the project. Note that the type of plumbing services you need and the plumber's experience may determine the charges for performing your plumbing work. Listed below are some of the cost estimates for plumbing services in Baltimore:

Septic system installation
$8,200 - $10,000
Bathtub installation
$2,100 - $2,800
Toilet installation
$172 - $190
Sump pump installation
$955 - $1,400
Septic tank cleaning
$305 - $360
Water softener installation
$1,189 - $1,600
Well pump installation
$702 - $900
Sewer line cleaning
$194 - $300
Sewer line installation and repair
$68 - $90
Drain line video inspection
$290 - $340
Water main installation or repair
$35 - $65

Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in Baltimore?

Emergency plumbing issues are plumbing problems that require immediate attention. These issues include valve failure, clogged toilets, burst pipes, and even seemingly basic issues like dripping faucets. Besides preventing extensive damage to a faulty plumbing system, It is estimated that repairing a plumbing problem, particularly leaks can save up to 10 percent on your water bill. This, however, is only achievable if you hire a skilled plumber.

You can find experienced and competent plumbers near you by searching third-party websites like Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp. These websites provide relevant information on plumbers in your locality, as well as customer reviews, to help you access each plumber's level of expertise and professionalism. Nevertheless, it is always important to double-check the licensing status of any plumber before hiring them. The Maryland State Board of Plumbing licensee search tool can be used to confirm a plumber's license status.

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

Plumbers in Baltimore must have general liability and property damage insurance before they can work anywhere in Maryland, including Baltimore. Note that the insurance policy must be written through a state-approved insurance company, and the insurance certificate holder shall be the Maryland State Board of Plumbing. Before hiring a plumber to work on your project, you should always confirm whether the individual is insured. You can confirm your plumber's insurance status by asking for their insurance certificate and contacting the insurance company that issued the certificate.

Ensuring that your plumber is insured protects you from claims that may result from work accidents or negligence during your plumbing work. This is crucial, given that the Maryland construction industry had a total of 15 fatalities in 2019, which was the highest in a single industry that year.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in Baltimore

A 2017 report published by the National Association of Home Builders estimated that homeowners in Maryland, including Baltimore, spend over $8,203 on each home improvement project, ranking residents of the state among the highest spenders on home improvement in the country. Given the amount of money spent on home remodeling projects, you should always make sure that the person you plan to engage is licensed, skilled, and experienced enough to do the task. This gives you the much-needed protection against home improvement scammers and prevents you from receiving poor service delivery.

Residents of Baltimore should be aware that there are unscrupulous individuals who consider the home improvement sector profitable and employ various methods to steal from unsuspecting citizens. These methods include abandoning the project after receiving upfront payment, deliberately refusing to pay suppliers and subcontractors for their services, inflating plumbing work prices, utilizing inferior materials, and performing shoddy work that will require repair shortly after.

Unfortunately, there are several cases of home improvement scams in Maryland, including Baltimore. A man was arrested in Baltimore in October 2019 for claiming to be a contractor without having obtained the required license, failing to honor home improvement contracts, and stealing from two clients. According to one of the victims of this fraud, the contractor collected $180 for home repairs but never showed up to complete the job. You can protect yourself from such scammers by taking the following steps:

  • Get multiple estimates from different plumbers, especially for expensive repairs.
  • Hire only licensed plumbers. You can confirm your plumber's license status using the Maryland State Board of Plumbing licensee search tool.
  • Get recommendations for competent plumbers from friends and neighbors
  • Ask for references from your intended plumber
  • Contact the Maryland Consumer Protection Division at (410) 528-8662 to confirm if any complaint has been filed against your plumber recently.
  • Always insist on a written contract and ensure that it contains the plumber's name, telephone number, description of work to be done, completion date, and payment schedule.

Lastly, if you are the victim of a plumbing scam, you can submit a report to the Home Improvement Commission of the Maryland Department of Labor by calling (410) 230-6231. The Commission typically resolves home improvement complaints by awarding monetary damages against licensed contractors. You can also report a suspected plumbing fraud on a new construction project to the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. You can make this report online or by downloading, completing, and submitting a new home complaint and guarantee fund claim submission form at:

State of Maryland
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
200 Suite, Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202

Upon receiving your complaint, the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General will review your submissions to determine if it is the best agency to assist you. The Division typically resolves a dispute between you and your contractor by assigning it to a mediator, which may result in payment of restitution.

However, you must understand that reporting a plumbing scam to the Division does not guarantee that you will recover all that you lost to the contractor. If you seek compensation, you can consider commencing legal action against the contractor or fraudulent business. In this regard, you can file matters involving a total amount of $5,000 or less as small claims in any of the city's District Courts. However, it is advised that you speak with your attorney before proceeding with legal action.