Plumbers may charge by the hour. In these cases, a plumber will charge for a service call to stop at the home. The service call will range between $50 and $120, depending on location and plumber skill. The plumber will estimate the time it will take to complete the job, the parts needed, and write an estimate. If the job takes longer than estimated, the cost will be higher. Hourly rates are often $65 to $150 as of 2010.
Some plumbers charge a flat rate for particular jobs. If a shop operates this way, ask for their rate for a particular job before they arrive. These shops generally charge a fee for service calls as well. Some companies will apply the service charge to the total bill. Some will give a job estimate, then guarantee not to charge more, essentially saying they will absorb the cost if it takes longer than estimated.
It's better to get recommendations by word of mouth for reliable plumbers or to use consumer review sites such as HomeStars or Merchant Circle. Rates vary widely. An honest, experienced plumber may be worth extra cost per hour, if he gets the job done quicker, and does it right the first time. Plumbers will charge you for the extra time they spend fixing mistakes. Flat rate plumbers can be more expensive.