If you are considering plumbing as a career, you are probably wondering, what does a plumber do? If you have friends or family who work as plumbers, ask them what plumbing entails, and you can request to accompany them for a field day for firsthand experience. If not, an internet search will give you an idea of what plumbers do, which is the purpose of this article.
A plumber installs, maintains, and repairs water and gas pipes in residential and commercial buildings. The pipes supply clean water and take out sewage from the building. In addition, a plumber installs plumbing fixtures like toilets, sinks, faucets, bathtubs, and appliances like washing machines and dishwashers.
Understanding what plumbers do, the education requirements, the essential skills, and the expected salary will help you decide if it is a career you want to pursue. In this article, we will answer the question of what plumbers do in detail to help you make an informed decision.
Duties Of A Plumber
Here are the major duties of a plumber
Designing and installing the plumbing system
Plumbers are responsible for designing and installation of the plumbing system of a new building. They work alongside other construction workers like electricians and architects to ensure that the plumbing system complies with local construction rules and regulations. Additionally, they install plumbing fixtures like faucets, toilets, and appliances that get water from the plumbing system, like washing machines and dishwashers.
Repairing the plumbing system
The plumbing system malfunctions from time to time due to normal wear and tear, poor maintenance, or improper installation. A plumber is the first person you should call when plumbing issues arise.
They will use their tools and experience to locate and identify the cause of the plumbing issue and take the best cause of action. Depending on the plumbing problem, they can suggest repairs or replacement of the pipes. For instance, a burst pipe requires replacement, while a leaking pipe may be repaired by covering the holes causing the leaks.
Common plumbing issues include leaky pipes, burst pipes, clogged drains, water heater issues, frozen pipes, toilet issues, or sewer backups. Some plumbing problems like burst pipes are emergencies, meaning they should be repaired immediately, irrespective of the time or day. Others, like a leaking faucet, can wait until normal business hours.
If you decide to work as an emergency plumber, you should be ready to attend to your customers on weekends, holidays, late at night, or very early in the morning.
Choosing the proper plumbing equipment
Plumbing installation and repair require a wide range of tools and equipment. Plumbers are trained to identify the right tools for each plumbing job. The use of the right tools ensures quality plumbing services. For instance, a toilet plunger helps to clear clogs in toilets, and a tubing cater helps to achieve clean and square cuts on copper pipes.
Estimate the cost of installation and repair for clients
Plumbers access the plumbing situation of a client and offer cost estimates depending on the cost of materials, tools used, and labor cost. Some plumbers charge their work hourly, while others charge a fixed rate. Out of experience, plumbers learn how to evaluate the jobs and provide cost estimates without overcharging or undercharging the clients.
Levels Of Plumbers
There are different levels of plumbing jobs depending on training and experience. The different levels of plumbers include:
The Apprentice plumber is a beginner in the plumbing field. They take instructions and guidelines from more experienced plumbers. At the beginner level, plumbers perform minor roles like organizing and cleaning the equipment.
Apprentice plumbers cannot take up a task independently because they do not have the required skills and experience to handle plumbing jobs alone. Therefore, they only operate under the supervision of more experienced plumbers.
To get the apprentice plumber license, you must complete plumbing coursework in college. To qualify for a plumbing course, you must be 18 years of age and have a GED certificate or high school diploma.
After completing an apprenticeship, you become a journeyman plumber. A journeyman plumber can perform more complex tasks without supervision. They can install pipe systems, appliances, and plumbing fixtures.
At the journeyman level, plumbers specialize in specific plumbing areas, which helps to set them apart.
To get a journeyman plumbers license, you must have a valid apprentice license and four years of experience as an apprentice plumber. To qualify for this level, you must have comprehensive knowledge of the plumbing system and be able to diagnose various plumbing issues.
A master plumber is the highest title you can achieve as a plumber. You can start a plumbing business and hire junior plumbers at this level. As a master plumber, you are in charge of management, and you do not handle the dirty work. You decide which plumber has the right skills and experience to handle different plumbing jobs and delegate. However, because they have more experience, master plumbers handle complicated plumbing situations beyond their juniors.
To qualify as a master plumber, you must practice as a journeyman plumber for two years and pass state board exams that test your plumbing knowledge. What’s more, you can apply for a specialty license if you are specialized in a specific plumbing area.
Important Skills For Plumbers
To work as a plumber, you need some skills and competencies. Such skills can be inborn or acquired through on-the-job. Some important skills for plumbers include:
Plumbers should be able to handle plumbing tools and equipment. These sets of skills are acquired through training and experience. Some tools you will use as a plumber include pipe cutters, wrenches, tapes, hacksaws, plungers, adjustable spanners, and tubing cutters.
Using these tools correctly allows you to make correct calculations and measurements for effective and safe completion of the projects.
Plumbing is a physically demanding job. You must be physically fit to lift heavy tools and equipment, have good vision skills for correct measurements, and have excellent motor skills to help fit the piping systems together.
Plumbers use their mathematics, physics, and technology knowledge to examine how plumbing systems work. With proper analytical skills, they can figure out the cause of errors in a malfunctioning plumbing system and devise plans to rectify them.
After listening to customer complaints, plumbers should be able to identify the plumbing problem and come up with the best cause of action. They should be able to think creatively and logically under pressure to offer the best solution.
Plumbers should have effective verbal communication and listening skills because they deal with clients daily. They should be able to listen and pay attention to what the customer says to make the proper diagnosis. Moreover, they should be able to communicate with the homeowner the cause of the problem and explain the materials needed and related costs. Furthermore, they should be able to explain complex plumbing processes in simple language to avoid confusion.
Types Of Plumbers
There are different types of plumbers depending on the kind of plumbing they do. These include:
Commercial plumbers install, maintain, and repair pipes of commercial buildings and industrial settings. They work in hospitals, schools, colleges, factories, or power plants. Commercial plumbers are more knowledgeable and have advanced skills than residential plumbers.
A residential plumber works in residential settings like homes and rented flats. They install and repair plumbing systems and appliances. Their job does not involve many technicalities like commercial plumbers. They focus on the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and toilet to ensure the supply of clean water and that sewage is channeled out correctly.
Service and repair plumbers
Service and repair plumbers specialize in routine maintenance and repair pipe systems of residential and commercial property. They are responsible for removing clogs, repairing and replacing pipes, drain cleaning, and adjusting water pressure, among other repair duties.
Water supply plumber
Water supply plumbers are experts who deal with all water supply-related jobs. They ensure a smooth water supply in the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, tanks, and pipes. If you want to install water supply tanks, they will advise you on the best types of tanks and the right size for your house.
Sanitary plumbers deal with the sanitary section of the plumbing system. Their services include drain cleaning, unclogging the pipes, installing toilets and bathtubs, and fitting the water heaters. Sanitary plumbers are the most contacted because issues with sanitary systems are very common.
The Average Salary For A Plumber
The average salary of a plumber in the US is $55,913 annually. However, the amounts vary depending on the type of project, location, expertise, academic qualifications, and client. Government clients tend to pay more than private organizations.