Plumbing - Gas Water Heater leak checking

I recently contacted a Plumbing Company to send a technician out to check the outdoor gas water heater that was leaking water. I explained to the booking staff that the issue was water leakage from the water heater and I was told that the technician will investigate and fix the problem on the spot, if possible, as they carry the necessary tools and parts. Call out fee would be $49 whether or not the leak is fixed.
I agreed and made the appointment. The technician who visited was, however, only too ready to quote for a whole new water heater system as he had decided by just looking at it from outside that the tank has a leak and cannot be repaired. He did nothing to look for the source of the leak.
He then decided to test the gas supply and in no time concluded that the whole gas piping needs to be replaced as well because there was a very " small leak". I told him that how come we have never smelled any gas in and around the house if there is a leakage. He insisted that the leak is very minute and therefore undetectable. I asked him if he was going to find the source of the leak which he said would be time-consuming but he could try. In the end he did nothing to find the leak in the gas pipes and insisted that he needs to replace the GI pipes with copper pipes immediately. Moreover he insisted that we agree to get the pipes being replaced straight away and that he was leagally required to turn the gas off until the pipes are replaced.
This experience makes me suspect that this is all pre-planned / pre-arranged either by the company or the technician. I had booked the plumber hoping they would open up casing around the water tank to find the source of the leak but that was not done but I had to accept that tank is leaking. Then the plumber goes on to tets for gas leak and bingo there is “tiny” enough leak warranting immediate replacement of the gas pipes.
I was left feeling this an easy way to scam unsuspecting consumers into agreeing to unnecessary expensive contracts.


Thanks for the tip @jeffreyde_souza. Did you get a second opinion? Let us know how it all turns out.

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That is a suspiciously low call-out in my experience around Melbourne. One always needs to be wary when an offer is made for a low call-out because a business has to cover their staff time one way or another. They bank (all puns intended) that once their man is on the job the customer will be inclined to accept whatever work is proposed.

Most of my tradies charge $120-150 call out including the first 30 minutes of work. I once went for a “fixed today” fridge repair company that was in the same range and the tech came quickly but charged roughly twice the going rate in the end ($300) for a cheap part, repair, and some basic maintenance that truly was good to have done. If I declined the offer (I negotiated down from the original quote) my $ would have gone into his pocket and I would have paid about $175 for next or third day service to replace the part - or a total investment of about $300, not counting losing the fridge contents.

It comes down to a name your poison, but watch for those who take advantage. Depending on where water is leaking from a service, a plumber might reasonably know if a service was repairable (or worth repairing) but the gas leak sounds suspicious. Without wondering how he deduced there was a small undetectable gas leak, a gas leak can be found with a “sniffer” and any credible plumber should have one on his truck. That part of your story is the real red flag as I see it.

A caveat is that business with high / average call outs are not necessarily better because if you pay $100+ for a call out how many $100+ second opinions will one get before the equation goes seriously pear shaped? Business often banks on that.


Search the net for a solution to the problem you have with your whatever, before you call anyone. It may save you a lot of money.

I had an unexpected “win” last year. My fridge ice maker was playing up (excess water, ice freezing together) and from the preponderance of hits on the internet it was a faulty fill-limit switch.

Some ice makers are apparently easy to repair and some have to be replaced. I rang a local company to organise a service call.

The tech who answered spent a few minutes listening to the symptoms and asking questions. He suggested before I spent dollars on his call-out I should check to make sure the ice maker was [still] level in the freezer. Over 15 years the ice maker (or entire fridge?) apparently moved just enough to get out of place and overflow a few drops every time it filled. A screwdriver and level, $0.00 and huge good will should I need service in future. Service supplier 1: internet 0 :wink:


I am sorry my friend for you have been Duped.In any case when you feel something wrong…Tell them you will get another plumber to do the job instead…And tell them why…That way they only get the $49.00 and you get the satisfaction of selecting someone else for the BIG Job …(which is where their money is in.)
You can also start a local neighborhood discussion site to let people know of suspect Companies in that neighborhood.

DID he turn the gas off? If not, why not, since he was “obliged” to? And if so, did he report it to the gas company? And if so, what did the gas company say and do? And how have you been getting hot water in the meanwhile?

This sounds like a completely shonky operation to me, and a proper subject for a public naming-and-shaming. Write it up on Facebook and send him the link…

I believe the gas leak test was a complete fabrication. He made it up to get us to agree to the quote.
Which we did not. He did nor report to the gas company or turn the gas off.
I thought this would be the right place to report this so that it might help others in a similar situation.

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I have not got the water heater fixed yet. The water leak is not really so urgent but it is something I will have to fix eventually. I will give an update once I go ahead with the job and know what the real problem with the heater was.

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It’s a scam. Have the visiting plumber put in writing the reason why a new heater and pipes are required and have an alternative plumber visit (accept you will pay another callout fee) and if the diagnosis is different then report the scammer to consumer affairs. This is deceptive behaviour and likely to be illegal, particularly as you are paying an upfront fee for the diagnosis.
I suspect from the very low call out fee this is a bait and switch operation being one of these groups of “local” plumbers connected to a national marketing plan to gouge unwitting clients.
In any event, always get three written quotes for the work and you will find the honest plumber will quickly inform you that you just need some maintenance. When you call a plumber to fix a fault it becomes a job, but when you call a plumber to quote on installing a new heater and pipes they will happily call out to check out the work required to quote and the honest ones will tell you the truth. Shop around.

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