Can I Refuse to Pay a Plumber?


Plumbing emergencies can occur any time and when one arises at home, there is no time to do due diligence and shop around for a plumber, ask for references for a qualified plumber and get proper estimates for the job.

However, simply calling any plumber may result in a shoddy job that may end up causing more damage and you have to pay for it. So, can I refuse to pay a plumber?

If the plumber botches up the job or does not deliver according to your expectations, then it is a good idea to raise the issue with the plumber as soon as you notice the problem, without leaving it for later as this can make it very difficult to resolve.

However, if you refuse to pay the plumber, then they have the right to remove the work they have done and even take you to court. So, you should be reasonable and fair in the way you approach the issue.

When Can You Withhold Payments?

If the Issue(s) Have Not Been Resolved

If the plumber has not resolved the issue for which they have been hired or not delivered as per the specifications, then you can dispute the cost of the specific item that has not been resolved satisfactorily.

While you can hold onto the payment for the particular item, you should pay the rest of the bill. You should pay the entire amount if the work has been delivered according to the specifications. If the plumber has not delivered the work as per the specifications, then you have the right to expect it to be delivered accordingly.

If There Are No Specifications

If there is no agreed specification with the plumber, then the issue becomes a bit tricky. You can expect the quality of work to be reasonable and according to how the plumber described the job and the result.

It is recommended to have clear specifications of your agreement with the plumber so that there are no disputes over what your expectations were and what was finally delivered.

If the Plumber Has Changed the Work or Products

If the plumber has committed to using certain products and if they have been changed during the job, then the things to be considered are if you were informed about the change in the products and if you agreed to the change.

The products should have been replaced with items of the same cost and quality and you should not have to bear the additional costs.

If the Job Is Not Completed

If the job for which you have employed the services of the plumber has not been completed, then you have the right to hold the payment until the work is completed.

Make sure that the plumber completes the work and record all your communications with the plumber. Also, chalk out the timelines of when you expect the issue to be resolved.

There is no perfect way to resolve a dispute with a plumber regarding payments; however, it is a good practice to have an agreement with the plumber about the job, discuss your expectations and get an estimate of how long it will take to complete the task along with the cost of the job.

However, if the job is an emergency such as a leaky sink, overflowing bathtub or clogged drain and you don’t have the time to draw out an agreement, then before the plumber tackles the job, you should ask them about their hourly rate, time to complete the job and estimate of the cost. This can help to clear any misconceptions right from the start.

What to Do If a Plumber Does a Shoddy Job

When you employ a plumber for any plumbing job, hopefully, they will get the job done correctly right at the start. However, in case of an unforeseen problem, typically, plumbers give a 1-year guarantee on the products and plumbing work that they have completed.

Check the type of guarantee or warranty offered by the plumber and ensure that you get it in writing and that the plumber has insurance.

And, if the plumber does a shoddy job, here are a few things that you can do:

  • Ask the plumber to come back and fix the issue without charging you additionally for it.
  • Discuss clearly how you want the issue to be resolved.
  • Raise your concerns and allow the plumber to fix the issue or complete the unfinished job.
  • Make sure to get the repair guarantee from the plumber in writing.
  • Give the plumber sufficient time to do the job correctly and fix the problem.
  • If the plumber is not willing to return to fix the problem or wants you to pay additional charges to fix the problem, then you can ask for a refund for the job and get another plumber for the job.
  • Keep accurate records of your agreement, communications, photos, etc. Send a formal letter with the details of your agreement with the plumber to them and ensure that you file a copy of the letter in case you have to go to court.
  • If all attempts for a reasonable resolution of the problem fail, then you have the option of suing the plumber in the small claims court as a last resort, where you must prove that you paid for the job, which was not done satisfactorily, causing you monetary loss. You must also prove that the plumber did not complete the job or botched up the job.

The Final Word

So, in conclusion, if you have hired a plumber to do a job or fix some faulty plumbing and they either do a bad job or leave the job unfinished, then you can ask the plumber to fix the issue for free or give you a refund of the money.

If the plumber refuses to fix the issue, does not fix the problem at all or takes very long to fix the issue, then you can get another plumber to fix it and claim the cost from the earlier plumber.

Or, you can cancel the plumber’s contract and refuse to pay for the work done or if some of the work was done and is fine, then you can get a partial refund for it.

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