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20 top plumbers

Plumbers are either evil or they are avenging angels; descending gloriously in your hour of frozen, drippy, stinky, flooded need. But a good plumber is the needle in the bastard haystack. And people guard their plumbers fiercely. Because when you need a plumber it’s not like needing a haircut. When you need a plumber, you need a plumber. Here are 20 personally recommended, vetted gems. They won’t arrive three hours late, stare at your pipes, suck their teeth and charge you for the privilege. They’ll get the job done because they love the job. Help is at hand Midults. Help is at hand…

1. BEN CEARNS – 07885 807 902 (LONDON)

Ben is so good that we are not sure we should be sharing. But here goes: Ben wanted to be a footballer but his hopes were crushed “due to lack of ability”. So he became a fitter instead – and has been plumbing for 25 years. He cut his teeth on Canary Wharf and loves his job: “I love pipe work. I like the order of it and the fact that the job is creative whilst having to follow rules. It can be very satisfying.” Then there was the time he was called out by an actress to change a lightbulb. When not helping those in distress, Ben is tucking into Cormack McCarthy novels, or Googling bees; “I intend to start keeping them.”

Call outs start from £85/hour

2. JOE FALCONE – 07870 677 693 (BATH, MOST OF WILTSHIRE AND SOMERSET)

Yes he’s tough. There’s going to be no soft-soaping. He’s really a gas and heating engineer as well as a plumber. He’s naturally suspicious. And he’s been doing it for 35 years. So you’ll get a no-drama, brilliant service with Falcone Ltd. It’s all about quality. You’ll never hear him or his team of six say, “We can’t do it.” Rather it’s, “Whatever problem you’ve got we’ll sort it.” When not taking his job extremely seriously Joe takes his golf extremely seriously. He has a 9-handicap. Which is, apparently, extremely, seriously good.

Call outs start from £48/hour

3. ALEXANDER PIERSON – 07908 903 177 (LONDON)

Call him Alex. And relax, he’s got your back. Gas-certified, landlord-certified, certifiably-nice, he’s been doing this for 40 years. “I know my stuff,” he says, smiling. And he’s smiling because he likes his job. Likes helping people out because they’ve got leaks or they are cold. If he can explain to you how to fix it on the phone he will. See? Nice. When not rescuing those in pipe hell, Alex likes to hit the decks – he used run a sound system at the Notting Hill Carnival and still spins some vinyl at the weekend.

Call outs start from £65/hour

4. JANE DIXON-HALSALL – 07967 128 478 (NORTH AND EAST LONDON)

When choosing a plumber “go with your gut,” says Jane of JDH Plumbing and Heating. Well our gut says Jane’s a very, very good one. Why? She comes highly recommended. And this is a woman who takes pride in a high level of work. Who gets pleasure from “standing back and admiring a really smart, impressive” and, wait for it, “tidy install I’ve done.” Jane became a plumber because she wanted to “do a job that was practical where you would always be able to find work and work for yourself.” Sensible. Her less sensible side? “I am building a boat. And living on it. And there’s no plumbing yet.”

Call outs start from £60/hour

5. AIDAN MOORE – 07914 811 182 (LONDON)

You might end up debating politics with Aidan but don’t worry, he’s completely charming with it. Hailing from Waterford he’s got a lilt that would make Pierce Brosnan jealous. He’s been plumbing for 27 years (23 years qualified) and he’s always “liked the work. I am good with my hands.” No two days are ever the same, “It’s never boring,” he continues Irish-ly. You can call him 24/7. We’ll stop now.

Call outs start from £80/hour

6. MARK MACNAB – 07980 043 554 (LONDON)

Mark Macnab’s name is passed down through the generations; mothers pressing his name into the hands of their daughters, in hushed, reverent tones. Macnab Plumbing is based in West London and they don’t suffer fools gladly: to secure Mark’s services, he demands you leave him a “SHORT message” and he’ll get back to you, so he’s not one for pseudo-counselling about how your blocked drain is a metaphor for your marriage. But he’ll get all the jobs done (and then some).

Call outs start from £85/hour

7. SCOTT FINDLAY – 0131 669 9993 (EDINBURGH)

If you are in Edinburgh and its environs and your boiler is bust, call Scott Findlay’s company, Scott Findlay Plumbing and Heating Engineers. If you’ve handcuffed your, er, friend to a radiator and the radiator has come off the wall, you can also call them. They can handle it. Scott tells us, “We only do it one way. Properly.” Before adding cheerfully, “Don’t believe everything you see on TV – we’re not all cowboys.” Plus he can ski. Really well. He was an instructor in New Zealand.

Call outs start from £68/hour

8. JONNY IONEL BOCA – 07450 200 834 (LONDON)

You’ve got to admire someone whose approach to everything is totally practical. Jonny got into plumbing because he started working with a plumber in Romania, and thought, “This is great”. His name isn’t even Jonny. But it’s just easier than his Romanian name, which is Ionel. Call him if you want a new bathroom, underfloor heating, hell, if you want to change your entire system. He’s good. And very busy.

Prices are job dependent

9. STOPCOCKS – 0800 862 0010 (NATIONWIDE)

There are several brilliant reasons to book a Stopcocks plumber. 1/ The name. Because these are female plumbers. 2/ These are incredibly determined female plumbers. Only 1% of plumbers are women. So you will get a great service. Plus many Midults retrain as plumbers for the flexible working hours and let’s face it, we’re used to getting shit done. 3/ They don’t charge a call out fee. They only charge when they start working, either physically on a job or when giving a full consultation/diagnosis. 4/ Stopcocks founder Hattie Hassan is a badass with a wrench. She retrained from teaching in 1990 because she wanted independence. When not running her business she is busy trying to sort out global water management, because someone has to.

No call out fee

10. CHRISTIAN GREENER-SIMON – 07809 422 205 (SURREY)

Christian is a suburban hero: the sort who will calm you down while he applies reassuring hands to the offending pipes. His company Plumbtastic is based in Leatherhead, and is particularly good in a crisis. Though if you’ve got a bit more time, get him onto a bathroom refurb: he’ll be excitable for weeks.

Prices are job dependent

11. MG DRAINAGE – 01442 211 967 (LONDON AND HERTFORDSHIRE)

Founded by Mick Grant, MG Drainage is cheerful, family-run and very reliable. They’re good on terrifying, hardcore issues like ‘fatbergs’ (Google them at your peril), but they’ll also answer a call-out for a blocked plug if you’re feeling a bit weak to wield a plunger or if your dog Skipper has run into an overflow pipe (true story). They’re based in Hertfordshire and have also worked on commercial projects for the Metropolitan Police – though they won’t spill the secrets of the sergeants’ loos or the secrets of the celebrities they tinker for. Their annual comedy Christmas cards are the stuff of plumbing legend: “Don’t be glum with a wet bum”.

Call outs start from £80/hour

12. STAUNCH AND FLOW  – 0208 964 6714 (LONDON)

There’s everything to love about Sam Kershaw and his crack team at Staunch and Flow. Kershaw first trained as an architect, then became obsessed with carbon-neutral housing so he did a plumbing course and never looked back. Now he’s “off tools” and running a bustling business. Which comes highly recommended by our Midults (“They’re all hot” says one, “Expensive but worth it” says another). Incidentally S&F does half-day courses so you can learn to change a tap washer and install your own dishwasher. When not changing the world one pipe at a time, Kershaw is field master of the Beaufort Hunt. Tally-ho.

Call outs start from £85/hour

13. ABDUL MAZARI – 07770 629 808 (LONDON)

The thing about Abdul is that plumbing isn’t his passion. Carpentry is. But he’s a good plumber so why not get him to fix the pipes and then knock you up a set of bathroom shelves? Good, no? He’s humble. Modest. Unshowy. Our Midult says, “Very good if you can pin him down.” Catch him if you can.

Call outs start from £60/hour

14. DAMIAN D’ARCY – 07816 383 630 (LONDON AND SOUTH EAST)

“Handsome and brilliant,” says our Midult of Damian and his Scorch Engineering. “Literally Mr Darcy.” “So good, so popular,” says another. Damian Joseph Hugh D’Arcy followed his father into the plumbing business, and loves the freedom and variety of being self-employed. Variety indeed – he was once called out to rescue a cat from a tree. He has some useful advice for all amateur plumbers out there: “If you’re going to fix it yourself, don’t try it at the weekend.” Otherwise he’s mostly a wannabe Stephen Hawking, although he admits: “My interest in quantum physics is perfectly matched by my inability to understand quantum physics.”

Call outs start from £80/hour

15. WPJ Heating – 0207 350 2511 (LONDON, SOUTH AND SOUTHWEST MOSTLY)

“There’s nothing like the soft purr of a nicely burning boiler,” says Will Hawksley, director of WPJ Heating.  He is joyfully dedicated to “the weird and wonderful world of London’s plumbing”. Also in charge is cricket-mad PJ Luard who “spends weekends in Somerset”. Will and PJ are ably assisted by a crack team of plumbers who are completely obsessed with pipes and what to do with them. South Londoners love them. You will too.

Call outs start from £85/hour

16. ROB CAMPBELL – 07860 785 276 (KENT AND SOUTH EAST LONDON)

Rob ‘Robbie’ Campbell was “never one for the office”. There were always plumbers in the family (handy) so he took an apprenticeship straight after leaving school and set up Raysco Services. He loves his job. Loves diversity. Loves tools (actually he’s obsessed. It drives his wife insane). He tells us this tale: A postman saw water running out through the front door of an empty home and called the fire brigade. Turns out the family had just left for a skiing holiday. The fire brigade called Rob, who found a plastic pipe had been chewed through by a squirrel, hence the huge overflow. House ruined. So best give Rob’s number to your neighbours/friends/family. Just in case.

Call outs start from £65/hour

17. DUCK PLUMBING – 08450 531 193 (LONDON AND SUFFOLK)

Everyone loves the Duck plumbers – “charming”, “efficient” and, wait for it, “tidy”. They were put forward to us by one of their competitors as “nice guys”. Which says a lot. The business is overflowing thanks to endless word-of-mouth recommendations. They are so busy in the winter now with all the pipes freezing and boilers breaking that they’ve had to move their Christmas party to the summer. Cheers.

Call out fees on request

18. VINCE WONAME – 07956 597 996 (LONDON AND HERTFORDSHIRE)

What makes Vince laugh? Everything. He’s joyful. A joy. And on it. 16 years of experience. All the certification you need. His phone is always on. Someone once called him up panicking at 2am. “Vince,” said the client, “I’ve got a gas leak in my radiator. I can hear it hissing.” Cue huge, wonderful Vince chuckle*. His favourite part of the job? “Meeting new people, every day.” (N.B. *There is no gas in radiators)

Call outs start from £75/hour

19. RAMON TRIGO GARCIA – 07971 133 312 (LONDON)

So, Ramon, what do you like about being a plumber? “Well,” is the giggling response. “In what other job can you make six ladies a day really happy?” And he’s got experience too – 24 years to be exact. He learned the trade in his native Austria but it’s his Spanish side that keeps things lively. His strangest call out? The woman who texted him saying she was lying on her bed wearing latex and high heels and needed help with her pipes. But he’s not that kind of guy, rather it’s cooking and holidays that keep him balanced. He’s brilliant and fun and improbable.

Prices are job dependent

20. JIM ARCHIBALD – 07788 458 784 (EDINBURGH)

If you are a hippo in Edinburgh Zoo and your drains are blocked, Jim Archibald of JM Archibald & Son is the man to call. This actually happened. Jim is a man of simple pleasures: he became a plumber because he likes it. He likes the variation. These days his favourite things are being paid and playing golf. (What is it with plumbers and golf?) Anyway lovely Jim is for Edinburgh Midults only, you lucky things.

Call outs start from £40/hour

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