Last updated 30th September, 2020
This article is useful for anyone unsure what constitutes a plumbing emergency, covering when you might need to hire emergency plumbing services and how much you can expect them to cost including labour, materials and time frames.
The cost of hiring an emergency plumber varies according to the issue at hand, the complexity of the work involved, your location within the UK and the additional materials needed in order to complete the work.
Typically, a standard plumber would charge in the region of £200 - £350 a day in labour, with a standard call-out fee in the region of £40 - £60.
In contrast, an emergency plumber call-out fee is charged at 2.5 to 3 times the rate of a standard call-out charge – in the region of between £100 - £180 and tends to cover the first 30 or 60 minutes of work, depending on the company used.
Emergency callouts tend to happen when an issue suddenly occurs without prior warning, causing inconvenience and potential hazard to you and your property, leaving you with no choice but to find a plumber immediately to fix the issue.
It’s recommended that if you suspect an issue is occurring with your plumbing that you contact a plumber to investigate as soon as possible to avoid having to pay premium emergency fees in the future. Listed below is the average plumber price list for their call-out charge and hourly rate:
|Call out type||Average cost|
|Standard (non-emergency) call-out charge||£40 - £60|
|Emergency call-out charge||£100 - £180|
|Hourly rate thereafter||£40-£60|
Any plumbing incident that needs attending to outside of standard ‘working hours’ will usually incur an emergency call-out fee; this can even include, depending on your plumber, weekends and bank holidays. Call-out charges usually include the first 30 minutes of labour and additional charges will be made thereafter in either hourly, 30-minute or 15-minute increments.
Some of the more common emergency call-out work required and estimate costings are indicated here:
|Job Description||Estimated Time||Estimated Cost|
|Boiler breakdown||30m – 2 hours||£100 - £240|
|Loss of boiler pressure||30m – 2 hours||£100 - £240|
|Blocked toilet||30m – 4 hours||£100 - £250|
|Blocked sink||30m – 1 hour||£100 - £180|
|Blocked external drains||Up to 2 hours||£200 - £300|
|Gas leak||Dependent on the location and cause of the leak||£100 - £1000|
It should be noted that the actual cost and timescale of the work involved will vary from case to case, so where possible it’s best to get multiple quotes to ensure the best price and professionalism to complete the work.
If your plumbing requires parts to be replaced as part of the fix, the materials are likely to incur an additional charge to the plumber’s labour costs. Outlined below are some of the more common replacement elements and the prices you can expect to be charged for their supply, depending on the quality chosen:
|Copper pipes (15mm)||£3 - £6 p/m|
|Steel pipes||£2 - £4 p/m|
|Radiators||£45 - £250|
|New toilet||£30 - £150|
|New sink||£30 - £150|
Boiler issues are relatively common emergency issues, so as a guide you can expect the following costs for replacement parts, without labour:
|New boiler||£600 – £2,000|
|Boiler heat exchanger||£300 – £500|
|Boiler diverter valve||£10 – £15|
|Boiler magnetic filter||£130 – £220|
|Boiler gas valve||£4 – £10|
|Boiler heating pump||£90 – £200|
|Boiler air pressure switch||£15 – £80|
|Boiler flue||£100 – £200|
|Boiler timer||£55 – £80|
|Boiler control panel||£60 - £250|
|Boiler expansion vessel||£20 - £80|
The above table assumes that you are paying for the items to be supplied yourself and not as part of an insurance claim.
Emergency plumbing costs are difficult to estimate as there are a number of factors to consider that will affect the overall costing of repair:
In some cases, such as social working hours, you may only be charged the standard call-out fee depending on your service provider. Materials needed to complete the work will generally be supplied at an additional charge on top of labour.
It should also be noted that depending on whether you use an independent plumber or a company, you may pay a fixed rate for the services and repair or may be charged in 15 or 30-minute increments after the initial hour. – and depending on the nature of the issue, you may require two tradespeople to complete the work
There are multiple factors that can affect the costs of emergency plumbing repair work, each of which you will need to consider before hiring your tradesperson.
Whilst there are ‘averages’ or expected fees, the charges of services are down to the individual or company you choose to hire to complete your work. Larger companies may charge per job, whereas independent plumbers may charge at an hourly rate. You should enquire about pricing structures and estimated timescales before committing to get a better understanding of the prices you can expect to pay.
The type of job being undertaken will affect the overall costing both in terms of materials and in terms of time. A blocked toilet that can be fixed using a plunger or toilet snake is going to cost you considerably less in time and money than having to have your home boiler replaced. More complex jobs that need completing generally take longer than straight-forward fixes, and this too will have an impact on the cost of repair.
Accessibility also plays a role in work costings. Repairs that are easily accessible such as a leaky tap are going to be quicker to rectify than, for example, a burst pipe beneath floorboards.
The distance plumber has to travel can add to the cost of a call-out. Most plumbers operate within a certain area which will be covered in their charges – repair technicians requiring to travel further afield may charge a surplus for additional mileage.
If specialist equipment or materials are needed to repair or fix plumbing issues, like requiring drain jetting to unblock a waste pipe, additional charges and services may be required.
The solution implemented for the repair will affect the cost of the work; a short-term fix, or patch job, may be necessary whilst essential parts are gathered for a proper repair. If this is the case, you should check with your service provider how this will affect the overall cost of work.
The cost of repairs may be covered by your home insurance. You should check your policy and what it covers – in some cases, depending on excess, it may be cheaper to pay for the repair yourself, or for larger issues making an insurance claim could help ease the costs.
Plumbing emergencies are generally defined as plumbing issues that cannot be left unattended and requires immediate attention, either because of the issues they pose to the health and wellbeing of the household or the risk of damage to your property. You will need to assess your plumbing issue and decide if it constitutes an emergency or not.
Blocked toilets are a common plumbing emergency, often posing the risk of damaging pipework if left unattended and causing inconvenience, particularly in homes with only one WC.
Depending on the nature and severity of the blockage the costs can vary. Using a plunger or toilet snake a plumber can usually dislodge a blockage in the toilet bowl or u-bend in under 30 minutes, with a cost of around £100 for an emergency service cost.
If the blockage is located further down the wastepipe and cannot be accessed directly, the time can increase to around 4 hours of work and can cost up to £300 if an emergency plumbing rate is used. In some cases, you may be able to unblock your toilet yourself DIY with a plunger or by putting hot water in the toilet bowl and allowing to sit for 15 minutes.
Sometimes a toilet can be damaged beyond repair and a replacement is necessary in order to regain functionality.
Assuming you are able to supply a new toilet bowl yourself, costing between £30 - £300, a plumber should be able to install it for you in around 2-3 hours assuming no additional pipework is needed for a cost of around £200 for labour.
If the pipework needs adjusting or replacement valves are required, then this time can increase to around 6 hours, costing in the region of £500, or more if they are supplying the replacement toilet themselves.
A blocked sink can have a number of causes, causing inconvenience and often bringing an unpleasant smell along with it. It’s important to have a plumber investigate the issue if you cannot resolve it yourself as left unattended, a blockage can cause severe damage to pipework.
Much like unblocking a toilet, the time it takes to unblock a sink depends on the severity and location of the blockage. Typically sink unblocking takes around 30 minutes to an hour depending on the location, costing around £100 - £150 if completed as an emergency request, though depending on your service provider the cost may be capped at a lower rate.
The plumber will usually try to dislodge the blockage using either a plunger or draining rods or may opt to remove the u-bend connection as a means to unblock the sink.
A leaking or damaged tap may not seem like an issue, but when you consider the annual cost that this issue can occur (assuming 120 drips a minute, causing a wastage of around 45 litres a day, at a cost of roughly £55 per year) you’ll see it is literally pouring money down the drain. Taps and faucets are known to degrade over time as their components are worn down.
The average plumber will charge in the region of around £180 in labour charges to fit taps in an emergency situation, which typically takes between 1 – 2 hours, with the additional cost of materials ranging from between £25 to £125 for taps depending on the model and design, and whether they are being supplied by the plumber or you have sourced them from elsewhere.
Apart from being unsightly, overflowing or blocked drains can be an indicator that you have a severe issue on your hands that will need to be corrected before costly damage is caused.
In the event of a one-off blockage, you may be required to employ a drain cleaning expert to rod or jet your external drains, costing around £300 for materials and labour in an emergency call-out situation. Most jetting and rodding services take around 2 hours to complete.
If drain blockages are a persistent issue, it may be an indication that there is a more severe issue such as a collapsed pipe, in which case it is recommended that you have a CCTV survey of the pipework to determine the condition of the pipes, location of the offending blockage and whether damage is present. A CCTV survey will also help ascertain who is responsible for the cost of repair; whether it is yourself, a neighbouring property or your local water board. CCTV surveys usually cost around £250, though some companies may offer them as a free service providing you purchase an unclogging service from them.
You may be able to claim on your insurance for the cost of the survey and required unblocking method, though you should check your policy details.
Left unattended, a leaking radiator can cause damage to your furnishings and floors in your home which can be difficult to mend and may even result in having to be replaced if left unchecked.
Depending on the nature and location of the leak, you can expect a repair to take around 30 minutes to repair a seal or spindle, though replacing damaged or rusted pipework can take considerably longer, up to 2 hours depending on accessibility.
You should budget a minimum of £120 for the initial call-out which will cover the first 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the company used, with additional time charged at the plumbers’ standard hourly rate thereafter.
In the colder months effective home heating is essential for both your own health and your property’s health – with the risk of damp causing major concerns for many homeowners and property tenants. Having an old, damaged or ineffective radiator replaced may be necessary in order to keep your home habitable.
Replacing a radiator typically takes a tradesman between 2 – 3 hours, including removal of the old radiator, install the new radiator and efficiency checks once in place to ensure no leaks are present.
As an emergency installation, you can expect to pay roughly £180 – £240 in labour charges, plus the cost of a replacement radiator in the region of £50 – £200 depending on the style and size chosen.
A fault with your thermostatic radiator valve can be frustrating, particularly during the colder months when homes require heating.
In an emergency situation where you cannot wait to have your TRV repaired or replaced, you can expect a charge in the region of £180 including a replacement TRV; this assumes that the radiator will need to be emptied and will take roughly 1 – 2 hours to complete the work.
There are a number of indicators that your hot water tank may be failing and needs replacing in order for it to operate effectively and efficiently.
The nature of the issue will affect the cost of repair, but typically you can expect a cost of between £300 - £450 to replace a broken water tank, usually done in around 3 hours by a pair of plumbers – but in all likelihood you will also need to have your boiler replaced or upgraded to accommodate for this, as it is unlikely you will be able to swap your tank for a like-for-like model, and should budget accordingly.
No-one wants to be faced with a boiler emergency, and a leak in the boiler will need to be attended to quickly to avoid serious damage to your property.
Depending on the location and cause of the leak in your boiler, you can expect the problem to be resolved in 30 minutes to 1 hour, at an average emergency call-out cost of around £120.
Depending on the age and state if your current boiler, your plumber or gas engineer will be able to advise you if you will likely need a replacement boiler shortly in the future.
With so many components in a boiler that can go awry, a boiler emergency cannot always be avoided and should be attended to quickly when issues arise. Failing to do so could result in serious damage to your property and could cost you a lot more in the future as more issues arise.
There are numerous components in a boiler that can fail to operate, so the cost of repair varies from job to job. Assuming only one component has failed then in most cases boiler repair can be undertaken in 1 – 2 hours and will cost around £100 – £240 in labour.
Replacement parts can be bought from as little as £4 for a replacement gas valve to upwards of £500 for a new heat exchanger as an additional cost.
Common repair work on boilers include:
In some cases you may find that it is more cost effective to have your boiler replaced entirely rather than replacing certain elements, particularly if your current boiler is old, requires multiple repairs or frequently fails to operate correctly.
A burst pipe can wreak havoc on your home, causing risk of damage to your property and potentially cost thousands in repair work if not dealt with quickly.
Typically, you can expect a burst pipe repair to cost in the region of £100 - £300 for emergency labour and materials and depending on the location of the burst and how much pipework needs to be lay could take between 1 – 4 hours to complete.
You should bear in mind that in addition to a plumber, you may also need to redecorate or re-plaster areas of your home, or even have your ceilings repaired after the work has been completed, depending the pipe location and what measures were undertaken to access the leak in the first place; all of which will incur an additional cost if you are hiring a professional to complete the work for you.
A gas leak is a serious issue that will need to be addressed immediately at the first suspicion. Gas is notoriously dangerous and can result in a fire or explosion, causing serious damage to your property and has the potential to cause major health damage or even death.
If you suspect you have a gas leak you should immediately shut your gas supply off (if safe to do so), open doors and windows in your property to air it out and leave the building. You will need to call the National Emergency Gas Service on 0800 111 999 (for England, Wales and Scotland), preferably from a mobile phone away from the property.
Do not attempt to use electrical appliances or operate switches as they may spark, igniting the gases, and do not smoke in the area. Extinguish any open flames you have in operation, such as a hob.
The National Gas Emergency Service will send a gas technician to your property to shut off your home gas supply and assess where the leak has originated from. You will not be charged for calling the service or charged for any repair work that needs to be undertaken to the gas line on the outside of your meter connection.
If the fault is on your property, after the gas meter connection, you will likely incur a charge to have the fault fixed by a professional, who will need to sign off to say that the fault has been repaired correctly before your home gas supply can be reconnected. The cost of repairing an internal; gas leak will depend on a variety of factors including the location and could take anything from 10 minutes to a day to locate the source. You should budget a minimum of £200 to have your gas leak fixed.
In the majority of emergency cases you should not attempt a DIY and instead should hire a qualified professional to rectify the issue, who has the training and experience necessary to complete the work correctly. You won’t want to hire a plumber that will be responsible for rectifying your DIY mistakes in addition to the problem at hand, which will likely cost more than initially expected.
You should never attempt to rectify issues with your gas supply or boiler yourself; these should always be left to a trained professional. If you suspect you have a gas leak you should call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999. There is no gas leak call out charge for this service.
In some instances it may be acceptable to attempt a DIY approach to your plumbing needs, such as attempting to unblocking a toilet or sink yourself, before calling a plumber to reduce your costs, however, you should be careful to take adequate precautions before you begin, such as wearing protective gloves and covering exposed flooring, and you should never force anything down your drains as you may end up causing more damage and having a steeper repair cost than you would have for the initial problem.
If you do need to hire an emergency plumber it’s recommended that, where possible, you turn you water off at the mains to minimise the risk of causing further damage by built up pressure or leakage. Similarly, if you require a gas engineer, where safe to do so, you should turn your gas off at the supply valve until your professional arrived. Your gas and boiler will need to be signed off by a professional to ensure they are in correct working order before they can be reconnected.
Whether you are covered for emergency plumbing will depend on your insurance policy.
Home emergency cover typically covers events such as burst pipes, electrical failure, boiler breakdowns, faulty heating and the like for the cost of the call-out, labour, parts and materials. In contrast to standard home insurance which, depending on your policy, may not cover emergency repairs and instead will cover the cost of damage to your home and your belongings.
The cost to add emergency cover to your home insurance will vary according to your provider, but as a general indication, the average cost in the UK is roughly £50 a year (which works out just over £4 a month) on top of your usual insurance cost.
It’s recommended that you check your insurance policy to check what is and is not covered under the cost of your insurance.
Because plumbing is an integral part of the home, you should make sure that you are hiring a qualified professional to undertake the work needed to fix your issue. There are a number of things to consider before hiring someone:
You should check that your plumber is covered under liability insurance, and preferably is able to offer a warranty on their work so that, if future issues occur with the fixing solution they have employed, they will be liable for the cost of repair.
There are a number of qualifications that your plumber may have, which are a good indication that they are well trained and experienced to deal with the plumbing issue you need attending; ask if they are accredited with any of the following:
References and proof of similar work are also a good indication that the plumber is experienced and professional; you should ask your friends, neighbours and relatives if they have had similar work undertaken and if they would recommend their service provider to you.
Whilst it may be tempting to go with the first plumber you come across, or the cheapest plumber you can find, it’s recommended that you get at least three quotes (available here) to get a good indication of the cost and timeframe of the work needed.
For any works involving gas, it is crucial that you hire someone that is Gas Safety Registered. You can check whether an individual or company is registered on the HSE website here.