SPECIAL REPORT: Plumbers in Hot Water
Updated: Friday, April 26 2013, 05:11 PM EDT
COLUMBUS -- At one time or another, most of us need to call a plumber. The last thing you want to do is call the wrong one, and wind up flushing your hard-earned money down the toilet.
As ABC 6/FOX 28 Investigators discovered in their 2-week, hidden-camera investigation, you need to be on guard.
The premise of our sting was simple: First, we hired a state-certified plumbing inspector and instructor to look over our hot water heater, and make sure it was running properly -- it was. Next, we made appointments with seven plumbers. From big companies to one-man operations we found off Craigslist.
We told the plumbers our hot water heater seemed to be leaking. It reality, we merely turned the screw open on the drain valve, and created a slow drip. Would the plumbers notice the loose screw? Or, for whatever reason, would they tell us our hot water heater had a problem, and try to sell us parts and services we didn't need?
We placed hidden cameras throughout the basement of the house we rented in Blacklick. Then, we watched what happened on monitors in an upstairs bedroom.
Four of the plumbers who inspected our hot water heater, spotted the loose screw, and merely tightened it up and charged us for the service call. The other three, however, tried to sell us a new drain valve.
A valve for this particular hot water heater cost us $7 bucks, and it's easy to install. Roto-Rooter wanted to charge up $190, plus parts plus a transportation fee to pick up the part! Roto-Rooter also told us we "might have a cracked tank." There is no crack in our hot water heater. Mr. Plumber told us we might have to replace the whole tank, too.
ABC 6 Chief Investigator Tom Sussi confronted all three plumbers. You can see what happened in his report on ABC 6 News at 5.
Click here for a list of plumbers licensed by the City of Columbus.
Click here for a list of plumbers licensed by the State of Ohio.
Reporter: Tom Sussi
Web Producer: Ken Hines