The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

How to Choose Your Plumber and Electrician

By Rex Cauldwell © 1983-2012

Issue: March, 1983

When you move into a new town or area, one of the first and most important decisions to be made is locating a competent plumber and electrician. There will normally be several in the area, but it will be up to you in a “buyer beware” market to determine if their competence is up to your standards. Many people have learned too late that they were better off before the serviceman got there than after he left.

There are many factors that should be considered before a decision is made to contact a plumber or electrician.


First, he should be licensed and certified by the state of Virginia. This verifies he has considerable knowledge in the field and he has gone to the trouble of taking a state test to prove it. Some counties and cities require electricians and plumbers to pass this test before they are allowed to practice their trade. This protects the homeowner from people who simply don’t know what they are doing. However, some areas don’t require any qualifications for either plumbers or electricians. It will be up to you as the owner to verify his competence by asking to see his licensing card issued by the state. These cards are given to plumbers and electricians upon successful completion of very hard tests ….and the cards have to be updated every year. Be sure the card indicates:

1.  That the individual is a Master plumber or electrician, not just a journeyman, 2.  That he is qualified in residential as opposed to commercial and industrial if he is working on such. 3.  A current date. If the card is outdated, he is probably not up on the current changes in the plumbing or electrical code.


The individual or firm should be available 24 hours a day for emergency service …not just in the evenings or weekends. If you break a water line in the middle of the night, or have lightening run into your house at two in the morning, you want to be sure you can get service immediately. To assure yourself of this service, it’s simply best to have a frank conversation with the plumber or electrician. Explain to him you will give him all your plumbing or electric business, whenever the need arises, in exchange for prompt service under normal circumstances and immediate service for all emergencies. If the individual can’t give you these assurances, then go to someone who can.


Materials, as well as work, can vary widely in quality. For example, you can install a kitchen trap that will last a very short time (thin metal), or a few years (thin plastic) or your lifetime (schedule 40 PVC). There is not a significant price difference between any of these items but most homeowners don’t even know they have a choice.

You get what you pay for. The lowest price usually gets you the cheapest work and the cheapest material. You may not be able to afford the best but you certainly cannot afford, in the long run to get the cheapest.

The author of this article, Rex Cauldwell, is both a Master electrician and plumber. Both his grandfather and father were plumbers, and his uncle is still in the trade after 45 years. Mr. Cauldwell has a degree in electronics and is currently authoring a book on residential plumbing. His company, Little Mountain Electric and Plumbing, is based in Willis, Va.