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Plumbing problems may not be the most expensive home repairs you’ll face as a homeowner—but they’re certainly some of the most urgent (as anyone who has ever had a clogged sewer drain would attest).

But unless you’re just switching up a faucet or something equally inexpensive, there’s a good chance you may not have cash on hand to cover the work.

Of course, not every plumbing project is a repair issue; you may just want to install a new Jacuzzi tub or replace your electric water heater with an energy efficient solar one—jobs that cost thousands of dollars.

Either way, chances are good every homeowner will face a major plumbing project that requires financing. This guide will lay out your options, give you the pros and cons, and help you decide which one is right for you. We’ll also give you a few tips about when to call in a pro.

When should I call a plumber?

If you’re handy with a wrench and have confidence in your DIY skills, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in plumbing repairs. A running toilet, a slow-draining sink, or even a jammed garbage disposal are fixes it’s safe to do on your own.

On the other hand, there are times you shouldn’t mess with your toolkit and just call a professional ASAP.

  • No hot water. This is almost always a problem with your water heater, which can be a minor component failure or a complete system breakdown. Water heaters involve either natural gas or complex electronics—both of which should only be handled by a qualified pro to avoid the risk of injury or serious damage to your home.

  • Burst pipes. If your pipes freeze and break, you’re looking at major flooding; you need to find the source of the leak right away to avoid thousands of dollars in damage. A plumber can pinpoint the source quickly and mitigate the damage.

  • Blocked pipes. If you’re having regular backups, chances are good the problem is with your sewer line—and you don’t want to take a chance on damaging it with a DIY repair. A plumber will find a safe solution to your blockage that won’t send raw sewage flooding into your home.

  • Major installation or renovation projects. Adding that Jacuzzi tub is definitely a job for a pro—as is any kitchen or bath overhaul that requires moving fixtures, drains, or water lines.

If you’re not sure how to find a qualified plumber in your area, BuildZoom can connect you with one.

How much plumbing financing will I need?

That’s like asking how much a new car costs—it’s depends on what you’re getting. But here are average prices for some of the most common projects and repairs:

  • Repair a water heater - $525

  • Septic tank cleaning - $385

  • Install a tankless water heater - $1,750

  • Install a solar water heater - $3,960

  • Repair a sewer main - $2,500

  • Repair a toilet - $225

  • Repair a clogged drain - $210

If you’re going all the way with a major kitchen or bath remodel, expect to pay between $50 and $150 per hour for your plumber’s time, depending on where you live, plus all your materials and supplies.

What are my plumbing financing options?

You should always pay cash for your home improvements and repairs whenever possible—because you’ll save hundreds or even thousands in finance costs.

So if you’re upgrading your fixtures or doing other cosmetic work, it’s a good idea to wait a few months so you can sock away some cash.

On the other hand, if you’ve got sewer problems or other urgent repairs, you really can’t afford to wait, and financing definitely makes sense.

You basically have three choices—a personal home improvement loan, a home improvement credit card, and a home equity loan.

When should I use a personal home improvement loan for plumbing financing?

Personal home improvement loans, or zero equity loans, are unsecured—you can get them with just a signature and income verification if your credit is good.

Personal loans work well for urgent plumbing problems because you get your money right away once you’re approved, usually in just a couple of days. And the approval process is equally quick—most people get a decision in less than 24 hours.

When it comes to financing costs, most personal loans carry interest rates of between 10% and 20%, although you may get lower rates if you have excellent credit. You’ll also pay a simple loan origination fee based on your loan amount once your loan is approved. You can usually get a personal loan for between $2,000 and $35,000 (a bit more in some cases).

Other features of a personal home improvement loan:

  • Loan terms of between 3 and 7 years—you can get monthly payments that work with your budget.

  • Fixed monthly payments that never change over the life of your loan. If you like predictable payments when it comes to balancing your budget, this is a great financing option for you.

  • No prepayment penalties. Get a big bonus at work? You can pay off your Jacuzzi tub early without paying any fees for the privilege.

It’s almost impossible to get a personal loan if your credit score is below 640 (although some lenders will approve them with very high interest rates). Unless you have a truly urgent plumbing issue, you should really try to save up and pay cash for the work, because financing will be expensive.

Home improvement loans are best for urgent repairs and medium to large plumbing projects when you don’t have cash on hand.

When should I use a home improvement credit card for plumbing financing?

If you’ve got a Visa or Mastercard in your wallet right now, you already know how home improvement credit cards work. You fill out an application, get your card, and use it to pay for labor and supplies, up to the amount of your credit limit. It may be the most convenient of your plumbing financing options.

And here’s a sweet feature that makes home improvement credit cards even more attractive for smaller plumbing projects—most lenders offer a 0% introductory interest rate for the first year or so. That means if you pay your balance off within the introductory term, you won’t pay any finance charges.

On the down side, however, if you carry a balance past the introductory term, interest charges kick in—and credit cards carry the highest interest rates, usually 15% to 20% or more. And interest charges increase your balance, which means higher monthly payments (which can throw your budget seriously out of whack).

If you’re prone to temptation, a credit card can cause problems. Unlike a personal loan, where you get only the amount you apply for to cover the cost of your project, your credit limit could be considerably higher than the actual amount you need. And then that carefully planned and sensibly budgeted $3,500 bathtub installation can turn into a $6,000 luxury tub with all the bells and whistles that you may live to regret if you can’t pay it off before high interest rates kick in.

One last thing to keep in mind about plastic—some plumbers tack on a 5% surcharge to cover their costs for accepting cards. Be sure to ask about extra fees before you charge your plumbing bill.

If you’ve got a relatively minor plumbing project you can pay off quickly, a home improvement credit card may be the best way to go.

There may be a fourth option

In some cases, you may find a plumbing company that offers financing, usually through a partnership with a bank or finance company. If you have good credit, you can often get lower interest rates using the plumber’s financing program than you could find on your own—although this isn’t always the case.

Before you accept plumber financing, be sure to get the terms in writing (including any additional fees that may apply) and carefully compare them to your other financing options to be sure you’re getting the best deal.

How do I apply for plumbing financing?

Hearth helps you find savings on personal loans for your plumbing project. In just 60 seconds, you can see personalized rates without affecting your credit score.

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