If you’re a new journeyman plumber, you may wonder what areas of specialization are in demand and pay well. If you’re a master plumber running your own business, the question is how to increase your profits with the smallest investment possible. This guide can help you offer the most profitable plumbing services when growing your business.
What Type of Plumbing Makes the Most Money?
The specifics vary by state and city, but overall, specialty services are usually the most profitable plumbing jobs. Niche work usually means you can charge a premium for your services. Also, focusing on specialty plumbing services can reduce your local competition, making your business the one that business owners, municipal contacts, and homeowners always call in an emergency.
What Are the Most Profitable Plumbing Services?
When plumbing repairs or installation require special training or state-of-the-art equipment, it’s normal for you to charge more. Customers generally expect higher prices for these types of profitable plumbing jobs.
1. Trenchless Sewer Line Installation
Depending on the area where you work, there is a growing market for trenchless sewer lines. As many family homes get older, sewer pipes are at greater risk of rupturing. The last thing homeowners want is to have to dig up their carefully designed lawn to replace a complete sewer system.
Plumbers stand to make significant money in places where trenchless sewer line installation or pipe refitting is in demand. Residential areas such as suburbs are good fits for this work.
Replacing a sewer line generally costs $60–$250 per foot. Applying the new cured-in-place liner makes you another $80–$250 per foot, and there’s the cost of pipe bursting at around $60–$200 per foot. Add the necessary sewer line camera inspection and finish the project with a large sum.
2. Sewer Inspections for Homes
When buyers are interested in purchasing a home, they generally call a plumber for a sewer inspection. Depending on the local market, your business may offer camera inspections, CCTV video inspections, or rooter system inspections:
- Sewer line inspection with a camera: $125–$500
- Drain rooter camera inspection: $300–$350
- Sewer video inspection: $175–700
Purchasing a sewer line inspection camera or CCTV system can set you back $2,500–$10,000. The inspection may only take 30–60 minutes, giving you a tidy profit in a short amount of time. Some plumbers also provide add-on services such as pipe and sewer pipe location detection using transmitters.
3. Backflow Testing, Installation, and Repair
Residential floor drains and sewer systems often require backflow preventers, as do most commercial drain systems. Backflow valve installation and repairs can be lucrative if the municipality where you live mandates these systems.
According to Homeadvisor.com, the average that plumbers charge for installing backflow preventers is $300 per unit. More complex jobs can pay $1,200 or more. Your materials costs range from just $35 to up to $650 for valves.
Backflow testing costs range from $70–$350 depending on the market and system size. Older pipes that need retrofitting can net your business another $150–$450 in labor.
4. Grey Water Recycling System Installation
This is a niche service for homeowners and businesses that want to contribute to water conservation, potentially saving money and helping the environment. As eco-friendly lifestyles become more popular, the need for these plumbing services increases.
Grey water recycling system installation can make your business anywhere from $1,000–$10,000 or more. The cost of commercial projects can start at $20,000 and reach $500,000 for the most complex installations. However, you usually need to rent or have your own land excavation equipment for this type of job.
What Kind of Plumbers Make the Most Money in Your State?
Finding the most profitable plumbing services is a state-by-state question. Here are several factors that can help you know where to look:
- Commercial trends: When other businesses are thriving, it’s good news for plumbers. The more clients restaurants and shopping centers have, the more these locations require expert drain maintenance. The same goes for manufacturers increasing production in response to global product demand.
- Residential market: Plumbers that provide residential services are happy when housing markets experience growth. New homes and older homes can both be excellent sources of revenue. Take advantage of housing booms to establish yourself as the plumber everyone trusts.
- State certification requirements: You need additional licensing to qualify for steamfitter work and other specializations in some states. This means extra time and expense, but it can also give you access to a market not many plumbers can fill.
- Team size: Sometimes, the most lucrative jobs are large-scale municipal, industrial, or construction work. If you have entrepreneurial experience, you may make more money by setting aside your tools and focusing on managing other plumbers.
- Population: If your city only has 20,000–50,000 residents, buying niche equipment may not be worth it, especially if another plumber offers similar services.
Interested in becoming a plumber? Start with our Plumber License Guide for Your State.
How Can You Maximize Your Profits in Plumbing?
These tips can help you take advantage of opportunities other plumbers are missing in your local market.
Consider Your Competitors
Taking the time to see what your competitors have to offer can illuminate ways that will allow you to stand out from the crowd. Provide high-value services with features that put you ahead of other plumbers, such as on-call emergency repair services or state-of-the-art diagnostic systems.
Build a Brand
Don’t ignore your primary customers. Think about value-added services they may want. You may be surprised by how much some clients are happy to pay for convenience, such as fixture installation and drain cleaning/maintenance.
Schedule personal appointments to help customers choose the best sump pump, water heater, or water filtration system. You can buy, install, and maintain the unit so clients can relax.
Find a Market Niche
Often, the answer to profitability is to find a niche in the market and do it well. For example, you may provide cleaning or maintenance of specialty manufacturing systems or municipal siphons.
Niches are areas where competition is limited so that you can make significant profits. Of course, this type of work doesn’t offer the same consistency, so you may need to supplement conventional service work between premium jobs.
Focus on What Makes You Popular
If you have an established plumbing business and you’re looking to add extra services to boost your profit margins, complement the things you do best. Choose the most profitable plumbing services that come naturally to your skillset.