Consumers are not asking for proof of industry qualifications, according to recent findings from a poll conducted by the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors.

The poll of 1,000 homeowners across England and Wales found that, despite 83% of respondents recognising the importance of professional qualifications in choosing a plumbing professional, nearly half did not request information on their tradesperson’s qualifications or experience.

Reasons for not checking these included embarrassment to ask for further details and trusting that credentials displayed on websites and work vehicles were correct. In addition, 30% of homeowners did not check any identification prior to work commencing, with trust again being cited as the main reason. In particular, respondents aged over 45 years are less likely to check, indicating that older and elderly groups could be more vulnerable to dishonest tradespeople.

The APHC is now urging consumers to be confident in requesting basic evidence of identification and affiliation to trade bodies and associations, before confirming any works from tradespeople – in any industry.

John Thompson, chief executive of the APHC (pictured), said: “This research clearly demonstrates the trust the public puts in unknown tradesmen. When we invite anyone into our homes we are putting ourselves in a potentially vulnerable situation and, despite high-profile campaigns to raise awareness, the message isn’t being taken on board. Thankfully, cases of unscrupulous traders are relatively rare, however we want to stamp out all unsatisfactory and dangerous traders from the plumbing and heating sector.

“Taking the time to make a few initial checks could save homeowners money and safeguard their security. Often consumers call upon plumbing and heating engineers when something has gone wrong and the pressure is on to fix a boiler or a burst pipe; however these are times when checks are particularly important to ensure that consumers are paying a fair price and not rushed into major decisions.”

Consumers can find a qualified and accredited local plumbing and heating engineer using the Associations search facility. The online database allows consumers to search via a number of criteria including postcode, town, residential or commercial sector, or by specific business name if already known.

The APHC has also released a series of free, impartial consumer guides to educate the general public and provide background information on a host of plumbing and heating topics, with the aim of arming homeowners with the understanding of works required and being discussed.