The best time to find a reliable plumber is before the garbage disposal stops working, the sewer has backed up or the main waterline has sprung a leak. You can increase your odds of finding a qualified and reliable licensed plumbing contractor if you are willing to interview a few recommended firms and ask the right questions to be sure the plumber has the expertise to service your particular job.
Friends and family members who have already had a good experience with a reliable plumber should be your first phone call when the need for plumbing arises. If you are new to an area and don't have family or friends for referrals, try calling the local chamber of commerce to see if they have any plumbers as members in good standing. Try to collect at least two or three referrals and give each company a call and ask a number of qualifying questions. First, ask your prospective plumber how long they've been in business? A company that's serviced your area for more than a decade is likely to be a better bet than someone who just hung out their shingle last month.
Next, ask the plumber if they are licensed and insured? Some handymen consider themselves plumbers, but you are only asking for possible legal and financial trouble if you hire a so-called plumber who does not have a valid state license or insurance in the event they are injured, or something goes awry on the job causing damage to your property. Ask the plumber if they offer a written guarantee for their work, meaning they give you a written quote on official stationery so there are no unhappy surprises once the job is done and everyone understands exactly what they are being hired to do, within a certain time frame and at what price and payment conditions. Don't be shy about asking for references. Try to find out about at least one or two previous jobs so you can call and check to see if those customers were completely satisfied with the length of time it took for the job, the professionalism of the plumber and the rate agreed upon.
Last but not least, ask the plumbing company you are considering what their special areas of expertise are. Some companies specialize only in drain clearage and they are expert at it. Others tend toward doing more kitchen and bathroom upgrades such as installing new fixtures. Still others may be specialists at more heavy-duty projects like doing complete repining of homes rather than fixing a small leak.
Once you find a reliable plumber, you've found a treasure! Reward them for their reliable service by referring others to them for new business.