HVAC vs Plumbing: What’s The Difference?

The difference between plumbing and HVAC systems sounds clear and simple because plumbing involves pipes while HVAC involves conditioning and heating systems. However, the differences between the two are more complex. If you are considering equipping yourself with DIY skills or deciding between the two for a career, it is crucial to understand the differences in depth.

Please keep reading to understand more about the plumbing and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems and how they differ.

What is Plumbing?

Plumbing defines a system of pipes installed in buildings to convey clean water and remove waterborne wastes. The plumbing system promotes comfortable and healthy living by preventing drinkable water from mixing with contaminated water.

Plumbing jobs

Plumbers are specialists who work on plumbing pipes. They are trained to install and repair the plumbing system and install fixtures, and appliances connected to the plumbing system, like toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and faucets.

The plumbing system is installed in compliance with the state building codes. Therefore, you should work with specialists who are up to date with the building codes.

Many homeowners are into DIY today, and they solve most issues at home, however, it is advisable to hire a plumber for all your plumbing needs. Common plumbing problems include leaky pipes, slab leaks, clogged drains, and overflowing toilets.

What is HVAC?

hvac repairHVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The system ensures you have favorable indoor temperatures and clean air to breathe. It provides heat during the winter to keep you warm and cools your house during the hot months. The system also filters indoor air contaminants and maintains the air humidity at the most favorable levels.

Functions of the HVAC system

  • Filters the air indoors to remove dust and dust particles
  • Heating the air during the winter
  • Cooling the air during summer
  • Supplying clean air into the rooms

Many homeowners confuse HVAC with air conditioning (AC), but the two are different. Air conditioning is part of the HVAC system and can also comprise heat pumps and gas furnaces.

HVAC Technicians work

HVAC contractors deal with heating and cooling systems in residential and commercial buildings. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing the HVAC system. The HVAC system plays a major role in buildings because it controls the temperature and determines air quality. Therefore, if the system is broken, you should contact an HVAC technician within the shortest time possible.

The HVAC system components are complex and sensitive, and HVAC professionals should only handle them. With the advancements in technology, many homeowners learn how to solve issues with appliances and systems online, but we discourage you from handling any issues with the HVAC system if you are not a professional. A simple mistake can easily mess up the wiring and piping system, causing irredeemable damages.

Moreover, as you hire an HVAC tech, ensure that they are trained and certified to install and maintain the HVAC system in residential and commercial properties. HVAC technicians’ duties include new installations, system repair, duct cleaning, and energy usage-related issues, among others.

Main Differences Between Plumbing And HVAC

The differences between the plumbing and HVAC systems are significant because they handle different house systems, but they also have similarities. Understanding the differences as a homeowner enables you to hire the right technician for your home needs.

Moreover, if you are looking to study either, you should be knowledgeable about each to make the right career choice. Despite significant differences between the two careers, some train and work in both sectors. Training in both areas means that you can handle installations, maintenance, and repairs of both the HVAC and plumbing systems.

Whether you decide to hire an expert plumber or HVAC technician ensure that they are licensed and insured. This is the only way to prove that the technician is trained and that they understand state plumbing regulations.

Below are the major plumbing and HVAC differences to help call the right technician or choose the right career.

Job Duties

Plumbing jobs

The responsibilities of plumbers include:

  • Designing pipe installations
  • Installing, maintaining, and repairing the plumbing system pipes
  • Installing fixtures and appliances connected to the plumbing system. They are responsible for the sinks, bathtubs, water heaters, and toilets.
  • Inspect the plumbing system to ensure it is in good working condition and in compliance with the local state building codes.

The specific duties of a plumber include unclogging toilets, drain cleaning, repairing leaks, faucet repairs, water heater system installation and repairs, detecting and repairing slab leaks, burst pipe repairs and sump pump installations and repairs, among others.

Every business and residential property owner must have the contact of a plumber because you never know when a plumbing issue will arise. All plumbing problems are stressful, but some need faster attention than others.

For instance, you can sleep with a leaking kitchen faucet until morning, but a burst pipe needs the attention of a plumber as soon as possible.

HVAC technician duties

The responsibilities of HVAC technicians include:what is hvac

  • Installing units in new construction
  • Identifying electrical and mechanical issues with the HVAC system
  • Routine maintenance
  • Ensuring that the system complies with the required standards

The skills and expertise required to handle the plumbing and HVAC jobs are very different. The plumbers should be able to install and handle the plumbing system as per the building codes of the state you are in. On the other hand, HVAC technicians should possess excellent troubleshooting skills to deal with complex HVAC systems.

HVAC vs Plumbing Education requirements

The coursework for plumbing and HVAC is different.

Plumbing certificate

  • To get a certificate in plumbing, you must go through coursework in:
  • Plumbing codes
  • Plumbing system installation and system testing
  • Waste system installation and maintenance

HVAC Certificate

To obtain an HVAC certificate, you must train in the following:

  • Heating
  • Air conditioning
  • Duct systems
  • Reading blueprints
  • Welding and soldering

The coursework for both fields is very different, but they are both hands-on. You must undergo vigorous practical training program to qualify as a plumber or an HVAC specialist. However, training as an HVAC technician takes longer than plumbing because HVAC specialists learn the fundamentals of plumbing and electrical systems.

HVAC vs Plumbing Licensing requirements

The licensing requirements of plumbing and HVAC depend on the state you are in. in most states, any person working as a professional plumber must be licensed. On the other, the licensing requirements for the HVAC industry are lower because most states require you to be licensed only if you want to start your own business.

You may be wondering if homeowners insurance covers plumbing work. Hiring a licensed professional assures you of safety and is a requirement for most homeowners insurance. If an unlicensed plumber causes damages to your property, most home insurance covers will not compensate you.

Unlicensed plumbers and HVAC technicians are generally cheaper, and you will be tempted to hire them. Still, your decision will be very expensive in case of damages or injuries during the work process.

Plumbing vs HVAC salary

If you are interested in either field as a career, then the amount you expect to make is an important consideration.

Plumbing salary

Most plumbers charge their services per hour, and the basic salary of a plumber in the United States is $25.28 per hour. The amount you make in a year depends on the number of hours you work and the construction projects you are dealing with. But you can be confident to make $6,750 yearly from your plumbing career.

Other than the good pay, other benefits of working as a plumber include the following:

  • Flexible working hours- you are only engaged when a homeowner needs you, allowing you to attend to other duties or even run a successful side hustle.
  • Paid time off- most construction companies pay their plumbers during leaves or any other time they are off duty.
  • Relocation assistance- if your company asks you to relocate, they will pay all your relocation fees.
  • Parental leave- every parent deserves time to spend time with their children. If you choose plumbing as a career, you are assured of paid parental leaves.
  • Life insurance- plumbing is risky, and the state requires all plumbers to have life insurance. If anything happens to you in the line of duty, your beneficiaries will be compensated.

HVAC salary

hvac technicianHVAC technicians earn slightly lower than plumbers, an average salary of $23.82 per hour. With a good flow of work, HVAC technicians can earn up to $6562 per year with similar work benefits as those of a plumber.

Both plumbing and HVAC careers are well-paying and in high demand. Every household has plumbing and HVAC systems that require maintenance and repairs from time to time. Therefore, you will always have a job.

You will make good money as you rise ranks in either trade school. For instance, a plumbing engineer can make up to $84.6 per hour, and an HVAC Project Manager can earn $75.22 per hour. You will never regret training in either of the fields.

HVAC vs Plumbing, Which Is Harder?

Both plumbing and HVAC are physically demanding and complex jobs. They also have risky and high-demand jobs. Refrain from training in either of the fields if you fear dirt or you are afraid of electricity. Whether or not the plumber or HVAC technician jobs hard depend on your personality and capabilities.

Some people find HVAC jobs easier because they are clean. However, they require specialized training because they involve dangerous electricity. On the other hand, plumbing jobs are messy, exposing you to dirt, germs, and contaminated water because you will have to deal with the drain and waste systems. Working as a plumber means you can end your day dirty, but you can become picky with the mess you deal with job growth.

Wrapping It Up

There is significant difference between plumbing and HVAC. The misconception that plumbers can do HVAC work is false. Some people train in both fields, but there are some aspects of plumbing that only a specialized plumber can handle, and a qualified HVAC technician can only do some HVAC jobs.

The work settings, duties, and responsibilities of the technicians differ. HVAC is considered easier because some states do not require licensing for operations unless you want to work independently. Moreover, it is a clean job. Conversely, every plumber must have a contractor’s license to operate, and the working environment involves a lot of dirt. There is no better choice between the two. The choice between HVAC or Plumbing depends on your preference.



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