At its core, plumbing is the comprehensive system that is responsible for two crucial tasks with in a building or home, which are to distribute water and remove waste (sewage) through fixtures, pipes, valves, drains, and devices
A plumber is a person who works in the skilled trades industry and specializes in the installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement of plumbing systems used for the distribution of water and the removal of waste and sewage within buildings.
Plumbers are tasked with helping consumers with…
Access to fresh water from taps
Disposal of waste and sewage
Delivery of gas that powers appliances (including ovens) as well as heating and air conditioning systems
What Does a Plumber Do?
A plumber makes it possible to transport water, air, steam, gases, wastes, and different kinds of liquids throughout all types of buildings, from homes and offices to factories and hospitals.
Here are their main responsibilities:
- Designing and Implementing New Plumbing Systems
- Studying blueprints and planning the installation of plumbing systems in accordance with safety standards, building codes, budgets, and timelines
- Ensuring that the plumbing system plans work with the intended location of other necessities such as electrical panels and wires
- Preparing the plumbing materials for installation by measuring, bending, cutting, and threading pipes
- Preparing the building for the installation of pipes and plumbing systems, including cutting holes in floors, ceilings, or walls, and installing ceiling joists and hanging steel supports for pipes
- Installing all small and large pipes and waterlines throughout the building as per the approved plans and blueprints
- Installing plumbing fixtures, including sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers
- Installing water- and gas-related appliances, including water heaters, dishwashers, and garbage disposals
- Performing a final inspection and testing of all finished systems, materials, fixtures, and appliances to ensure that they are up to code and work properly and safely
- Maintaining and Improving Existing Plumbing Systems
- Inspecting faulty systems or appliances to diagnose the cause of any malfunctions
- Providing an estimate for the repair or replacement of faulty systems, appliances, fixtures, or pipes
- Troubleshooting and repairing or replacing plumbing systems, fixtures, appliances, or pipes
- Inspecting and replacing worn parts to prevent future malfunctions
Handling on-call or emergency requests for issues like clogged, leaking, or burst pipes, backed up septic systems, maintenance of underground holding tanks and septic systems, etc.
- Working with Industrial Plumbing Systems
- Planning, installing, repairing, maintaining, inspecting, and troubleshooting large-scale systems, pipes, fixtures, and appliances within industrial settings
- Handling on-call or emergency requests promptly to make repairs or replacements and minimize factory downtime
- Following strict safety guidelines and building codes, especially when an industrial plant is involved with the movement or disposal of high-pressured steam, acids and dangerous gases, or waste byproducts
- Additional Tasks
In addition to the above responsibilities, a plumber who runs his or her own business will have many other business-related responsibilities. Large companies may hire administrative professionals to handle the majority of these tasks, but in smaller companies, the owner often handles them personally. Some of these additional tasks can include:
- Hiring, training, and managing skilled laborers
- Acting as a mentor and teacher to apprentices and new journeymen
- Handling financial management, including billing, payroll, and tax preparation
- Handling marketing, advertising, and promotion
- Booking jobs, creating timelines and deadlines, and scheduling staff
- Creating on-call and emergency schedules and protocols
It is important to remember that plumbing is a complicated trade that requires a great amount of knowledge, skill, and experience in order to perform at an advanced level. It takes time and hard work to become a master plumber (considered the highest level of the plumbing profession). Therefore, you can’t expect to start out tackling the most advanced tasks.
In the beginning, you will likely work as an apprentice under the mentorship of a master plumber, assisting more experienced plumbers and handling basic tasks. Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you will move up to the journeyman level. From there, you will likely have the required experience and training to pursue licensing, which is required in most states.