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Plumber Costs: 2020 Call Out Charges & Hourly Prices UK

Plumbers are probably the only trade that you need to get in ASAP. If something goes wrong with anything electrical, just turn the circuit off and do without the television and electric lights for a day or two. But if there’s something wrong with the water supply or drainage, you need it sorted out now. Don’t you? 

The average plumber’s hourly rate ranges from about £40 to £80/hr plus a call out charge of about twice the standard hourly rate. But, they usually include one hour of labour within that amount. And, if it’s an emergency, you’ll probably be charged even more. 

You might think that the standard and emergency plumbing prices are a bit steep. But, you can’t expect the plumber to drop everything and rush around to your home at a moment’s notice without proper payment, can you? 

Unfortunately, no-one can put off using the bathroom for more than a few hours. And we all need to use mains water for drinking, together with a fully functioning kitchen sink. So, if you need a plumber to look at a problem at your home, you usually need one straight away. Household emergencies won’t wait and must be dealt with immediately. And, you will be charged accordingly. 

In this article you’ll find out:  

  • How much plumbers charge for specialised jobs such as gas boiler installation and repair.
  • What the typical plumber’s costs for the various types of job that we expect them to do.
  • How plumbers calculate hourly & daily charges.
  • How much can you expect to pay for an emergency plumber?
  • The best way to find the right local plumber for a job in your area.
  • How plumbers’ day rates differ around the country. 

Plumbers Price List 

In the following table, you can see the various types of job that the average customer will expect a typical plumbing professional to do. And, what they will charge you. 

We’ve looked at the averages across the UK and calculated a composite to give you an idea of what plumbers in your area might charge excluding VAT. 

Remember that London and counties in the southeast of England will generally be around 20% more than elsewhere.

Plumbing job  Estimated cost 
Repairing a tap  £65 to £125 
Drain cleaning  £100 to £150 
Toilet replacement  £145 to £315 
Boiler repair  £80 to £400 
Slow draining sink  £70 to £120 
Clearing sewers  £150 to £200 
Bathtub replacement  £70 to £125 
Installing a new shower  £250 to £380 
Sink Installation  £120 to £270 
Unclogging a toilet  £75 to £150 
Emergency Call Out Fees  £100 to £130 
Radiator Installation  £150 to £200 
Fix leaking pipe  £75 to £140 
Dripping wet wall / Ceiling  £150 to £200 
Radiator Valve Replacement  £120 to £200 
Gas Safety Certificate  £35 to £150 
Wall Thermostat Replacement  £80 to £350 
Pipework Replacement  £500 to £1000 per 20m 
Water Heater Repairs & Installs  £400 to £700 
Snake a drain  £100 to £800 

Local, reliable plumbers will charge their prices depending on many factors such as: 

  • Your location in the country. 
  • Whether your job is an emergency or not. 
  • The amount of time needed to do the job. 
  • The materials needed to complete the job. 

Call-out Charges & Emergencies

Most plumbers charge a callout fee. Usually, this works out at about twice the standard plumbing rate. However, this incorporates 1 hour of work, so you end up paying 2 hours for the first hour of labour.  

For those times when you want a plumber urgently. For example, when you have a burst pipe in the loft and you can’t turn the water off. In cases like these, the plumber will charge you an emergency call-out rate. An emergency plumber will usually, be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But will charge 2.5 to 3 times the standard rate. You might think this is expensive, but if water pours through a plasterboard ceiling into the children’s bedroom below. You will pay just about anything to turn it off. 

New Central Heating System Installation

Many plumbers are also qualified as gas engineers. By law, only those people registered by Gas Safe can work on a gas appliance or gas supply. Registration is a sign of competence in all things relating to gas safety. Registered Gas Safe engineers must follow a recognised training and assessment course before receiving a licence. 

It makes sense that plumbers, who have the tools and skills necessary to work with pipes, should take on the role of heating engineers. They do this by taking additional training courses. These allow them to work with central heating systems and the appropriate heating source. All fuel sources can be dangerous if installed by an improperly trained person. Therefore, plumbers will register under competent person schemes. The most common being Gas Safe for gas HETAS for solid fuel and biomass boilers, and Blue Flame Certification for oilfueled appliances.    

New Boiler Installation / Replacement 

Only a plumber registered under a competent person scheme can replace an existing boiler or install a new one. By doing this, you ensure that the boiler installation complies with the UK Building Regulations, industry best practice, and the law. 

A plumber will install all pipework and radiators around the house, install the boiler, and link the radiator system to the boiler. Once the plumber finishes all the work and carries out the safety tests, he issues a certificate of compliance if you ask for one. 

Prices to do this work varies according to the size of the heating system and boiler type. As an example, to install a typical gas boiler, having 24kW output with 5 radiators into a 1 bedroom bungalow will cost about £2500. Whereas, a 33kW gas boiler as part of a heating system with 12 radiators, will cost around £4500 to £5000 for a 5 bedroom detached house.

Gas Leaks 

Gas leaks from a newly installed boiler are very rare. The Gas Safe engineer installing it carries out many safety checks designed to pick up these kinds of faults. However, an older boiler that hasn’t been maintained very well over the years will be more prone to gas leaks and other problems.  

Therefore, it’s essential to hire a registered heating engineer or plumber to service your existing boiler. As boilers get older, they need regular maintenance checks and spare parts. It’s also important to have the plumber check the boiler before you notice a gas leak. A typical system of checking will involve: 

  • Looking for corrosion of pipes, especially at joints where there might be leaks. 
  • The correct functioning of all the boilers components. 
  • And an inspection of the waste gas flue.  

A registered plumber will finally submit a report to you: 

  • Listing the items checked. 
  • And highlighting any safety issues found. 

To ensure your gas boiler stays safe, many companies provide a continuing maintenance programme> The customer pays for this, monthly, quarterly or annually. Typically, you would pay around £70 to £120 annually, or £10 to £15 monthly. In exchange, you receive (depending on your contract) unlimited callouts, a customer service helpline, repairs and spare parts. 

Boiler Service

Gas leaks aren’t the only reason to have your boiler regularly serviced by a registered plumber. Boilers contain mechanical and electrical components that wear out or need regular adjustment to maintain the efficient running of the system. A typical boiler service will take from 30 to 60 minutes to complete and might require a return visit if replacement parts need ordering. Many homeowners take out payment plans to cover the regular maintenance contract and cost of spare parts (as mentioned in the previous section). However, if you have to pay for replacement parts and the labour costs to install the parts, you can be talking about many hundreds of pounds, especially if you haven’t been keeping the maintenance visits up to date and more than one component requires replacement. 

The table below shows a few of the typical replacement parts needed during a boiler service. 

Job  The average cost to supply and fit 
Replace time  £100 
Replace flue  £160 
Replace heating pump  £220 
Replace fan  £250 
Replace gas valve  £270 
Replace magnetic filter  £320 
Replace diverter valve  £370 
Replace heat exchanger  £420 

 ACO Drains 

Installing ACO drains are a way of protecting your property from surface rainwater by using channel drainage. The drain channels ( usually made from polymer concrete, fibreglass, plastic or stainless steel sit in the ground with the top edge level with the ground. They collect surface water runoff that would normally threaten to flood your home and divert the water to your surface water drainage systems. After heavy storms, the sheer volume of water often overcomes the drains. During this time, the ACO drains hold the rainwater until the drains become clear. After which, the channel drains empty at a controlled rate into the main surface water drainage system. 

The price for this installation will vary depending on how easy it is to install and the length of drain needed to protect your home. However, at most, you should budget for about £500, while you might end up paying as little as £50. 

CCTV Drain Survey

Often you will find that either the main sewage drain or surface water systems become blocked. Although underground drain pipes usually have inspection chambers when the pipes join with others or change direction, you might have a blockage between chambers. Usually, this is no problem for a plumber to remove the blockage using drain rods or highpressure water jets. But, if you continue to experience blockages in the same location, there might be a problem with a collapsed underground drain pipe. Unfortunately, you will never know unless you can see what’s going on underground. This is where CCTV comes in handy. A CCTV Drain Survey uses illumination and a camera on the end of a flexible pole or carried by a small wheeled robot. This shows the condition of the pipe’s inner surface and what is causing the blockage.  

Often, small tree roots attack the pipe searching for water. The roots enter minute leak holes that wouldn’t normally cause problems. Once inside the pipe, the roots grow, widening the entry hole and breaking the pipe’s structure. 

If the drain has completely collapsed, you might have to dig up the section of pipe and replace with a new section. Otherwise, it will be cheaper to insert a drain liner, into the pipe. This is in effect a drain within a drain. 

For the initial CCTV survey, the average cost will be about £100. Although, you could pay any amount up to about £200. Plus, you’ll incur the cost of repairing the problem. If you choose the cheaper drain lining option, to supply and install around 10m of liner costs about £1000. 

Power Flush

Central heating systems produce debris such as sludge and rust within the pipes and radiators. Eventually, this prevents the water from circulating efficiently around the system. Even more damaging, the sludge can find its way into the boiler leading to major repairs and parts replacement. And, in the extreme case, can result in a complete boiler replacement. 

The plumber will connect a special power flush pump to the central heating system. This then pumps chemicals around the system to dissolve the sludge and rust. The plumber then collects and safely disposes of the dirty water. Afterwards, as part of the refill operation, they introduce a corrosion inhibitor into the clean water to reduce further sludge buildup in the future. The whole power flush process will take from 6 to 10 hours to complete depending on the size of the central heating system. Remember, when the power flush removes the sludge and rust, the plumber might find problems that need spare parts. This will further increase the overall price. 

A power flush uses specialist chemicals and equipment that only trained personnel can use. Not only that, the manufacturer’s warranties will only remain valid if you use a qualified and competent plumber or heating engineer to carry out the flush. 

The cost of a typical power flush will vary depending on the size of the central heating system and the standard hourly rate of the plumber. It will also vary depending on any remedial work that crops up. But, you should budget for an amount between £300 to £1000 or more. 

Plumbing Certification & Qualification Requirements 

As you would probably expect, a plumber needs to be highly skilled and qualified in many disciplines to do what the customer expects. Therefore, they need proof of their skills to justify charging the high fees compared to some other trades. 

Explore the links to the following websites to see what qualifications and memberships you need your plumber to have. 

In practice, you will find that most plumbers are qualified to work with all the fuel types and belong to multiple associations. 

Hiring a Professional Plumber: Top Tips

When you hire a professional, competent, well trained and insured plumber. Make sure their name is on one of the free search tools you. You will find these on the appropriate websites above. Alternatively, complete the form on this page and you will hear from plumbers who we have already vetted. 

When contractors deal with dangerous fuels and water under pressure, you must be sure that they are fully trained, insured and have followed a recognised safety training course designed for their trade. 

So before you hire someone to work on your central heating system, mains water or drainage, ask them a few questions to make sure they aren’t just a rogue trader. 

  • Are they registered on one of the governmentapproved competent person’s schemes, such as Gas Safe, HETAS, Blue Flame, OFTEC or one of the others? 
  • Does the plumber charge a callout fee? If so, how much is it? 
  • Does the plumber charge for an estimate? There is no need for anyone to charge for this, as it is effectively submitting a tender for a job. The company’s overheads should allow for any time spent on this. 
  • Ask for the quote in writing so you can compare with the other quotes you receive. And, so you both know what is required and who is responsible for what. 
  • If you think the quote is too high, be prepared to negotiate for a lower price. But, know when to stop and accept the price. You need to do some research here to find out the going rates for certain jobs. 
  • Don’t always choose the cheapest quote. Look at the plumber’s overall experience, training, references and trade memberships. 
  • Only choose someone you are happy to have in your home. 
  • Does the plumber hold public liability insurance? 

Plumbing FAQs 

Do all plumbers charge for estimates? 

These days, it’s very rare for plumbers to charge for estimates. If your plumber insists on charging, tell him or her that there are plenty more plumbers out there who will be grateful for the work, and who don’t charge for estimates or quotations. If the plumber won’t listen, just walk away and ask for an estimate from someone else. 

Do you need a plumber to install a new toilet? 

Theoretically, anyone can replace a toilet. However, a new toilet in a room that wasn’t previously a toilet or bathroom comes under the UK Building Regulations. The Building Inspector must check, or a registered plumber must install all fixtures, fittings and connections to the sewage system. Furthermore, all mains water connections, fixtures, fittings and appliances must comply with the requirements of The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999. So, it’s a good idea to use a plumber and not try to do it as a DIY project.  

Why do plumbers charge so much? 

Plumbers cost a lot because they work in a highly specialised trade. They need many years of experience to master the trade. And, need further intensive training as appliances and methods update. They also need more insurance than some other trades and must belong to more ‘competent person’ schemes. Finally, they visit your home to do their work and need to cover the costs and overheads of travel (often at socially inconvenient times). 

Are there different types of plumbers? 

Yes, within the plumbing trade there are at least 6 specialist categories: 

  • Technicians specialise in servicing, repair and installation of residential appliances and pipework. This includes mains water supply, drainage, heating, and cooling. Traditionally, plumbers also installed zinc, copper and lead flashing on roofs, and manufactured lead guttering. 
  • Pipefitters work in commercial environments and install low and highpressure pipes. Typical commercial environments include factories, chemical plants, hydroelectric power stations, central air conditioning and heating. Pipefitters will install, maintain, and repair all these installations. They also would be responsible for installing automatic controls in factory environments. 
  • Steamfitters will have the same training as pipefitters. They also have special training allowing them to work with low and highpressure steam and other gases. 
  • Pipelayers dig and level trenches for the installation of pipework carrying, sewerage, surface water, oil and gas systems. Manufacturers use concrete, clay, iron or plastic to produce typical trench pipes. 
  • A gas service technician installs systems that deliver gas. They will install, maintain and repair old and faulty equipment, search for gas leaks, carry out safety tests, and deal with the documentation needed for gas transportation. 
  • Domestic heating engineers specialise in heating systems within the home. They will be registered with the various legally required, competency schemes. Most heating engineers will be qualified to work on gas, oil, biomass and solid fuel boilers. 

Is it dangerous if your boiler leaks water? 

Yes, a boiler leak would be considered serious. If the leak isn’t rectified immediately, it could become worse very quickly. Leaking water can cause problems with electrical components within the boiler and its control systems and cause dangerous short circuits. Moreover, if left untreated, any water leak can damage metal components and cause corrosion both inside and outside the boiler. Finally, boilers produce very hot water and pump it around a heating system. If leaks occur, the hot water will spray under pressure and could cause injury to bystanders.  

If you see a leak of any kind, even if it’s a small drip, call a qualified plumber to rectify the problem before it becomes worse. 

Do plumbers warranty their work? 

Yes, all reputable plumbers who belong to one of the trade associations or who are members of the ‘competent person schemes’ will guarantee their work for a specified period.  

If the plumber installs a new appliance, you will also be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty for a specified time.  

But, if you decide to install the appliance without using a qualified plumber, it is very unlikely that an appliance manufacturer will guarantee anything. 

Get Local Plumber Quotes 

It’s essential to call in a plumber if you want domestic water appliances fitted correctly with the proper drainage. And, possibly even more important, only a Gas Safe registered plumber may work on gas boilers or pipework within your home. 

Keep well away from rogue traders and stay with the plumbers we have already vetted. Complete the form on this page and you’ll get 3 or 4 quotes from local qualified plumbing contractors, ready to work on water or gas systems in your home. Find our plumbing prices near you.

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