Best Plumbing Services: Devon
“The firm’s dedication and friendly, customer focused approach was what brought them to the attention of our awards team”
I charge £50 for up to an hour (minimum), and then £40 per hour chargeable in 15 minute increments, plus parts.
For payment, at the end of the job I normally request your email address so I can send you an invoice, requesting payment by online transfer within 7 days. Alternatively, you can pay by cheque or cash if you prefer. (For business customers, if you require longer than 7 days, please let me know when you call me).
I normally expect to be paid by the person who instructs me to do the work. So if you are a tenant and expect your landlord to pay me, please ask them to call me or email me.
For each small plumbing job listed below, please reference the table for my labour charge. After the 1st hour, labour is chargeable in 15 minute increments.
I carry a good supply of top quality parts sufficient for most common plumbing repairs. Prices include VAT and are rounded up slightly to ease accounting, to cover small sundry items, and to slightly compensate for the time I spend maintaining a stock of common parts. My lists of typical parts are not intended to be exhaustive. Small parts like pipe, pipe fittings and connectors may also be required.
I don’t mind fitting parts you supply, but I cannot guarantee them.
Pricing Guide by Job Type
Most common problems with toilet flushes, ball valves, or leaks can be fixed within an hour or so, unless access is restricted in some way. Toilets with hidden cisterns, or with a design or boxing that restricts access around the cistern, may take longer.
One of the nice things about toilets is that the parts are mostly quite standard and I can usually fix toilets using parts that I stock in my van. Parts that often need changing include:
Ball-valve (best quality) - £20
2 Button Flush valve - £20
Dual-flush lever syphon, basic type - £10
Dual-flush lever syphon, Turbo type - £25 (this enables future changing of the diaphragm without removing the cistern)
Doughnut seal - £5
Pair of cistern bolts - £3
Chrome cistern lever - £7
If your basin taps are the type with washers (to turn them off you turn them clockwise until they are tight) and they start to drip it is usually just a case of replacing the washers, and sometimes also the valves. In each case this is usually a very quick job.
If they are the quarter turn type, or single lever mixer type, the cartridge(s) will need replacing. Although I might be able to find a replacement cartridge from my plumbing supplier, basin taps are so cheap on Amazon that it's often a better economy to order replacement taps before I come. Replacing a pair of basin taps usually takes about half an hour. A mixer tap might take slightly longer.
Choice of taps is often a matter of personal taste, so I recommend you look at those available on Amazon, including brands like Hapilife, iBathUK, Vapsint, etc.
Alternatively, I carry a small selection of basin taps as stock:
Pair of hot and cold taps - £25
Basin mixer tap - £40
For dripping taps and washers, the same issues apply to bath taps as to basin taps. However, bath taps often last longer than basin taps and new washers may be all that’s required. Changing bath taps is normally about an hour’s job but varies depending how easy it is to remove and refit the bath panel. Occasionally, if bath taps are very old and have brass back nuts that are corroded, or if access if very restricted, changing them can be a challenge and more time consuming.
I carry a basic pair of bath taps - £40
However, if you think you need new bath taps, you might prefer to buy a pair of your choice before I arrive. I recommend looking on Amazon. Brands like Hapilife, iBathUK and Vapsint offer good value for money. You may wish to buy matching basin taps at the same time.
For bath shower mixer taps, please be aware that they only work well if the pressures are the same on hot and cold. That’s okay if you have a combi boiler or pressurised hot cylinder. If you still have an old-fashioned hot cylinder that is fed from a tank in the loft, you may find the cold is supplied from the mains and will overpower the hot which is pressured by gravity. However, the cold bath tap is sometimes also plumbed directly from the header tank, which is okay as both pressures are then by gravity.
Changing a kitchen mixer tap usually takes an hour or so, depending on ease of access under the sink. In case you want your existing tap repaired, most kitchen taps are the quarter-turn type and have ceramic disc cartridges instead of valves with washers. I carry several of the more common cartridges as van stock, and if I have a pair that fit, then changing them is a quick job. Otherwise, I can usually find matching replacements from my local supplier here in Exeter.
Kitchen tap - I carry a selection of models within a price range of £40 to £80. Alternatively, before I come you may wish to search for kitchen mixer taps on Amazon and choose one according to your taste. Brands like Hapilife an Vapsint offer good value for money.
Pair of cartridges - £20 to £35 depending on type.
Pair of isolating valves (if needed) - £5
Installing a new garden tap typically takes about an hour and a half, if it's a straight route through the wall under your kitchen sink. Less direct routes will take longer.
Typically about £30 of parts as follows:
Garden tap - £10
Backplate with copper tail - £10
Double-check (non-return) valve - £5
Copper pipe at £3 per metre
2 or 3 pipe fittings at £2 each
If you have a problem with an existing garden tap, it’s usually a quick job to fit a replacement. I carry these as stock.
If your electric shower is giving problems it is usually best if I make a quick inspection visit first. In most cases, unless you have a particularly expensive model, it is most economic to replace the unit. Replacement typically takes 1.5 to 2 hours.
If you are thinking of ordering a replacement shower before I come, please be aware that the replacement may not fit. It is important that the replacement has the same power rating as the original, and that it fits the existing orientation of supply pipe and electric cable. So unless you order the exact same model and power rating as the original, I recommend you wait until I have inspected the original.
There are a couple of showers that are designed to be good replacements, allowing for several different orientations of supply pipe and cable. If I am heading out to a shower job, I normally carry a couple of these on the off-chance that they might fit. These are:
Triton T80Z Fast-Fit
Mira Jump Multi-Fit
Prices of these vary depending on current offers, but the Triton is typically about £110, and the Mira about £130.
Another issue for me to check when changing an electric shower is whether your electrics are up to current standards. Your shower should be on a circuit with an RCD. This is built in to any modern electric consumer unit (fuse board), or is sometimes added separately to an older consumer unit that just has trip switches for current overload. An RCD detects leakage from live to earth rather than overload, and is the device that saves you from being electrocuted if a serious fault occurs. If you need a good local electrician, I recommend Gareth Symons on 07931 558571.
People often use the term ‘power shower’ to incorrectly refer to an electric shower with a high power rating. A power shower is actually a shower that mixes pumped hot and cold water. It may be a normal mixer shower with a separate shower pump. Or it may have an integral pump and look like an electric shower. A Mira Vigour is an example of this. It has connections for hot and cold, and mixes the two instead of heating the water. These are not very common, but can occasionally be confused with an electric shower.
Mixer showers are mostly the thermostatic type. They may be built-in behind the tiles, or the valve may be external, often as a ‘bar valve’. If your shower develops temperature problems, the thermostatic cartridge has usually failed. Or it could be a problem with the shower pump if there is one.
Bar Valves - these are quick and easy to swap over, so it may be better to replace the unit than to try and find a replacement cartridge.
With built-in mixer valves it makes sense to replace the internal cartridge if the make and model can be identified. While I am with you, it is helpful if I can use your computer to search online for the right part.
Replacing a built-in shower valve usually involves tiling which can be time-consuming and expensive. Hence it is best to find a replacement cartridge if possible.
Replacing a shower pump typically takes about 2 hours.
If I make an inspection visit, while I am with you it is helpful if I can use your computer to search for replacement parts or showers. I'll help you find the right part at the best price so that you can order it and I'll return to fit it after you have received delivery.
Replacing a radiator involves sourcing the replacement part unless you have already bought it, draining the central heating (at least partially), fitting the new radiator, refilling the central heating, then running it and bleeding all radiators to remove any air that has entered in the process. Although fitting the new radiator might take a little over an hour, expect the whole process to take about 3 hours or so. Sometimes getting all the air out of the system can be time consuming. Systems with a combi boiler are usually okay because the water in the system is pressurised. Gravity fed systems are more prone to air locks which can be awkward.
Replacing radiator valves - expect about 2 hours or so. It is a similar process to replacing a radiator, except that fitting the valves is quicker than fitting the whole radiator.
Radiators- these vary in price depending on type, size, and single or double panelled.
Radiator Valves (TRV and lock shield pair) - about £15
Bottle of central heating corrosion inhibitor - £15
If a toilet is blocked, I first try just to plunge it. If that doesn't work, it is then time to lift the outside manhole cover. It is then usually evident if the drains need rodding, or if the blockage is in the soil pipe and needs jetting.
I am sufficiently well equipped to sort most blockages. On rare occasions you may need a drains specialist like Dyno Rod if, for example, a drain is being blocked by tree roots or a camera is needed to establish why a blockage keeps reoccurring.
Toilets with Saniflos can be a dirty and sometimes time-consuming job. Saniflos are clever things because they allow a toilet to be installed in places where drainage would not otherwise be possible. But they are unforgiving if you put anything other than toilet paper down them. They can usually be opened up and unblocked, but in some cases a blockage burns out the motor and the unit needs replacing. Screwfix can usually supply a Saniflo unit by next day.
Small blockages are usually cleared in less than an hour. Blocked toilets may take longer if the drains need rodding or the soil pipe needs jetting. After rodding outside drains, if I am not in a fit state to go to the next job without returning home, showering and changing my clothes, I reserve the right to charge an extra half-hour's labour.
Some small parts may be necessary like a replacement sink trap. On occasions I have to remove a toilet to access and jet the soil pipe behind it, and may need to replace the pan connector (about £10) when putting it back. But the cost of parts is usually minimal compared to the cost of labour.
Leaks may be very quick to fix, or take a significant amount of time. It’s hard to estimate a time involved, but here’s some guidance.
Leaking toilets - there are about 6 or more ways a toilet can leak, and they can be surprisingly frustrating things if you’re not experienced. I fix most toilets within about an hour. See ’Toilet Repairs’ above.
Leaking showers - a shower may leak:
1) from the waste under the shower or bath. This is not the most common cause, but is the first possibility that you want to test and eliminate. You can check this by running the shower with it directed to waste and see if leaks. If it does, the time to fix it depends very much on ease of access underneath the shower or bath. In some cases, if the waste is leaking under a shower tray, it may be easier to make a hole in the ceiling downstairs and access it that way.
2) through the silicon seal around the tray or bath (most common). Replacing silicon takes about 1 to 1.5 hours (getting the old silicon out is the time-consuming bit)
3) through poor seals around the shower screen. I stock a seal for the bottom of an over-bath shower screen. Other seals may need ordering.
4) through poor seals between the taps and the bath, in the case of a shower over the bath - bath taps then need removing and reattaching with sealant around the holes.
5) through cracked silicon around the shower valve - not so common, but quick to fix.
6) through cracks in the grout between the tiles. In this case, the size of the job depends how quickly it has been diagnosed. If you firmly press the edges of the tiles but there is no visible sign of movement in the tiles, then the grout can be removed and replaced, usually along with the silicon around the tray. This job might take about 3 hours, spread over two visits. Unfortunately, where cracked grouting is the issue, unless it has been noticed very quickly, the resulting ingress of water usually loosens the tiles and causes damage to the plaster or plasterboard behind them. If you press the tiles firmly and slight movement is visible, it doesn't work to just replace the grout, as it will crack again. In this case, the tiles need removing, the wall or plasterboard behind them needs repair or replacing, and to then be retiled. In this case, you might typically be looking at about 10 hours work spread over about 4 visits.
7) through a crack in the tray or bath. At that point you probably want to get quotes for a replacement tray or bath (or even bathroom).
Leaking central heating
If you have a combi boiler and it is losing pressure, there must be a leak somewhere. It may be leaking from the boiler itself, in which case you need a boiler engineer. But it may be leaking from a radiator valve, or towel rail valve. Leaking radiator valves may just need tightening a bit, or they may need replacing. Leaking radiator valves can also be an indication that the pressure is getting too high in the boiler. Boiler pressure should normally be about 1 bar when cold, and increase slightly when hot, but the pressure needle should stay within the normal range. If it goes into the red when hot, your boiler probably needs servicing as the expansion vessel may not be working correctly. A combi boiler has a pressure release valve in case the pressure gets too high, but you may also get a leak from a radiator valve at the same time. If you require a boiler service, please see the list of 'Recommended Local Plumbers and Other Trades' on my home page.
Depends what’s involved
This depends what plumbing is already there. Often when people move into a property and want their washing machine installed, the plumbing is already there and it just needs connecting up, along with a valve replacement perhaps if the old one is stiff. But if the plumbing isn’t there, then it needs a waste connection, a cold water supply, and an electric socket. (You can still get washing machines that take hot and cold fill, but they are rare). The closer the appliance is to the kitchen sink, the easier it is. In other locations, the most critical issue is how to plumb the waste. There are two ways of plumbing a washing machine to waste. One method is to have the discharge hose enter a standpipe with trap (u-bend), from which it must have a straight fall to waste by gravity. The second method is for the discharge hose to attach to a spigot that protrudes from the top of the sink trap, and discharge of the waste relies on the force of the pump. The second method is often preferably if the washing machine is to be located further away from the sink. The path between discharge hose and sink spigot can be extended with a section of 22mm copper pipe, if necessary, to pass behind a cooker.
So installing a washing machine may be a 10 minute job, or it may take several hours.
If you need an electrician to fit an electric socket, I recommend Gareth Symons on 07931 558571.
Replacement sink trap with single appliance spigot - £8
Replacement sink trap with double appliance spigot - £10
Standpipe trap - £8
40mm plastic waste pipe about £3 per metre plus fittings
Washing machine supply valve - £4
15mm copper pipe - about £3 per metre plus fittings.
As a sole trader, with an annual turnover less than a certain threshold, the government gives me a choice whether to be VAT registered or not, and there are pros and cons each way. Because I mainly serve domestic customers, I choose not to be VAT registered. The upside is that I don’t have to charge you VAT for my labour. That helps me keep my prices competitive and to pass on a considerable saving to you. The downside is that I can’t reclaim VAT on my business running expenses. So my overheads cost me 20% more, but it’s worth it in order to keep my prices competitive. I still have to pay VAT on parts, so any prices I charge for parts are inclusive of VAT.
When I do jobs for business customers it is a slight disadvantage not to be VAT registered. Although I don’t charge VAT on my labour, they can’t reclaim the VAT on my parts. However, because I specialise in small repairs, the cost of parts is usually the smaller part of the overall cost and the VAT issue is fairly insignificant. However, if you want me to replace an expensive part like a Saniflo, for example, I am happy to source the part, tell you where to order it, and fit it for you when you’ve got it. That way you can still reclaim the VAT.
There are certain types of jobs for which I am happy to make an inspection visit. For example, if your shower is faulty, it is usually best for me to inspect it first so I can work out the best way forward and what parts or replacement may need ordering. If appropriate I'll help you find the right part at the best possible price so you can order it online and have me fit it when it has arrived. I make such visits on an assumption that you're comfortable with my hourly rate and want me to do the job. For a job involving common parts that I carry as van stock or that I can obtain locally, I generally arrive with the assumption that you want me to proceed and fix the problem straight away, and charge for my time taken at the end of the job.
If you read my reviews, you'll see that many of my customers are impressed by how efficiently I work and by the reasonableness of my pricing. So I think my approach works for most people.
If you require a plumber at short notice and Google 'Plumbers in Exeter' you will find various plumbing hotlines who advertise at the top of the page. If you try ringing them, you will find that a typical call-out fee is usually £90 or more for weekdays, and over £100 for evenings and weekends. And with most of these, if the job goes 5 minutes over the hour, they charge you for a full second hour.
I charge just £50 for up to an hour, and because I focus on the small jobs I am often available at short notice. If the job lasts more than an hour I charge £40 per hour in 15 minute increments. I never hit you with a full hour for going a few minutes over time.
Based on the above, and for the type of small jobs that I do, I believe my rates are extremely competitive.
Admittedly, there are plumbers who charge a lower hourly rate than me. But they usually focus on the big jobs, and consequently are not available when you need them for small jobs or plumbing emergencies.
It reminds me of a famous story that was told about 2000 years ago:
Those who were hired first agreed to work the whole day for a denarius. That was a Roman coin, and it was the going rate of pay at the time for a tradesman or labourer for a day. They agreed to work for a full day, and they wanted a pre-fixed quote as to how much they would earn. At the end of the day they got what had been agreed.
Those who were hired later during the day agreed to do so on the basis that the landowner would pay them what was fair. They took it on trust that he was a good and honourable man who wouldn’t cheat them. You might think such a basis was more likely to lead to misunderstanding and upset.
But at the end of the day, which workers were happy, and which ones grumbled? Those who agreed to a fixed quote got what they agreed but grumbled. Whose who worked on the basis of trust were not disappointed because the landowner was not only a man of his word, but generous also.
I work according to a published hourly rate of what I think is reasonable, and based on my many reviews, my customers seem to agree with me. But every job I take on is on a trust basis. I spend my time on a job and I install parts that I have paid for. I trust that at the end of the job I will be paid what is reasonable, usually by a person I have never met before. Very rarely am I disappointed.
I realise that my customers also employ me on a trust basis. They may have never met me either, but they trust me to do a good job and to be a man of my word. I hope to never disappoint them.
Of course there is more to this story than meets the eye. This story was told by Jesus, and he is the one represented as the landowner in the story. I first took him at his word 30 years ago, and I haven't been disappointed. Sometimes he is hard to understand, and he gives no guarantees that life will be easy. The end of the day is fast approaching but there is still time for you to trust him also. When the day does end, you will find him to be generous if you do.
14 Juniper Close, Exeter, EX4 9JT
Web design by Hamish? Och aye! That too.
© 2017 Hamish Erskine, h@htp
Web design by Hamish? Och aye! That too.
© 2017 Hamish Erskine, h@htp