Plumbers install, maintain and repair hot and cold water
plumbing supplies, and sanitation and waste disposal
domestic, industrial and commercial premises. Plumbing
also involves working with oil, gas and solid fuel
appliances, and central
heating systems. Certain plumbing jobs may involve
working on the outsides of buildings, making and
repairing weather-proof joints and flashings on roofs,
chimneys and walls, and installing or clearing guttering
In the industrial and commercial plumbing sector, plumbers may work on other piped infrastructure such as air-conditioning and extraction units. Plumbers can also be found in the chemical, ship and gas fitting industries.
Some plumbers specialise in sheet metal work, which is usually found on industrial, commercial or historical buildings. This type of work involves using a variety of materials, including plastics, aluminium, copper, lead and zinc.
Plumbers follow diagrams and plans when installing new systems. Repair and maintenance work involves diagnosing and rectifying faults. Completed work must be tested to ensure it complies with relevant Building Regulations.
Plumbers work 40 hours a week but overtime is
common. Some plumbers offer a 24-hour call-out service.
Plumbers work both indoors, often in confined spaces, and outdoors in all weathers. Work on the outside of buildings will usually be at heights.
As plumbers travel from site to site, a driving licence is useful.
To be a plumber you should:
Prospects for qualified plumbers are excellent
throughout the country due to the demand for skilled
staff. Opportunities exist with plumbing or mechanical
engineering services contractors, which range from small
businesses to large companies, and also building
contractors and public sector bodies such as local
With relevant skills and training, plumbers can transfer into the heating, ventilation, refrigeration, electrical and air-conditioning industries or run their own specialised sections in larger companies. There may be opportunities to work abroad on contracts.For plumbers working in gas fitting, there may be further options available. See Technician: Gas Service.
Progression routes depend on the size of the employer but could allow movement in to estimating, CAD design or contract/project management. Many plumbers opt for self-employment.
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