2 November 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Let’s start with two quick facts: first, every habitable building has plumbing; and second, all plumbing will require either maintenance or repair at some point. Taking this on board, a recent survey has revealed some reassuring findings about how Irish homeowners regard plumbers. Foley’s Plumbing and Electrical, Cork’s fastest growing plumbing and electrical company, carried out the research to understand what customers really think of plumbers and get a better understanding of consumers’ trust in this essential trade.
Overall plumbers get a thumbs up, with the majority of homeowners (over 60% of survey respondents) happy to invest in plumbing work carried out by a certified, professional plumber. Although, 24% said they would use an unqualified plumber if they gave a very cheap quote; while almost 11% would ask a friend or relative who does a lot of DIY to do the job; with just over 4% willing to take a risk by doing it themselves.
Luckily, if a plumbing emergency, such as a burst pipe, does occur, 76% of respondents said they would know where to turn off the water supply in their home until a professional arrives to fix the problem. However, almost 5% could end up with wet toes as they didn’t know that they could turn off the incoming water!
Reassuringly, 36% of respondents said their first port of call when looking for a professional plumber would be to contact a professional association such as Heating and Plumbing Association of Ireland or the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors of Ireland; while just over 25% would ask friends for recommendations, proving that providing a good service to customers is still a vital part of the job.
Disappointingly for consumers, and reflecting badly on the industry in general, over half of the survey respondents said they have had plumbing work carried out that had to be redone afterwards.
So it’s not surprising to learn that when it comes to the most important factors homeowners look for in a plumber, a guarantee on work carried out comes out on top, with cost and a recommendation following closely. Next comes availability, while it appears that qualifications and experience matter least to Irish consumers.
People are divided right down the middle when it comes to how comfortable they would feel asking a plumber about his or her qualifications and experience in the industry. Yet, if concerned about the standard of work being carried out in their home by a plumber, 61% said they would ask for a detailed explanation straight away; 28% of respondents said they would say nothing as they assume he or she knows what they are doing; while 11% would complain after the work was finished which may turn out to be too late for many.
Thankfully, safety continues to be a priority for consumers, with 37% of respondents having their boiler serviced every year, and 34% having it done every two to three years. Unfortunately 22% said they would only have it serviced when it breaks down, and just over 4% said they never have it serviced. If their boiler stopped working, 7 out of 10 people said they would arrange for a fully qualified and RGI registered plumber to fix it; however 21% said they would ask a friend or relative who does a lot of DIY to fix it; while 6% would try to fix it themselves in order to save money.
Commenting on this finding, James Foley, Managing Director of Foley’s said “Sure there are some inexpensive fixes for certain plumbing issues, but the first important rule is: ‘If you don’t know, don’t do it.’ Plumbing repairs are not one of those things you want to just take a crack at if you simply have no idea what you’re doing. The damage you can do while you’re undergoing your very own brand of on-the-job-training can be extensive and expensive. Especially as there are some issues such as gas plumbing or hot water repairs which a qualified plumber could take care of quickly and efficiently, while keeping costs under control.
“You can call on Foley’s and have faith in knowing that whichever team member comes to assist you, will be fully qualified and registered, and there is a guarantee on all the work carried out by our company – the reason for all this is because We Care!”
Heeding the ever present warnings we frequently hear in the media, reassuringly over 80% of survey respondents have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in their home. Yet, a large percentage of respondents didn’t know that this silent killer can be caused by a variety of heating systems, with many respondents saying it is only necessary with one particular type of boiler. Foleys Plumbing & Electrical is keen to remind consumers that “A badly-installed, faulty, damaged or blocked appliance, chimney or flue can release carbon monoxide, and appliances at risk include open fireplaces (burning coal, turf, wood or briquettes); gas or LPG boilers, heaters, fires, cookers etc.; oil-fired boilers; and solid fuel stoves.”