Heating and ventilation fitters install heating, ventilation, air conditioning and extraction systems in all types of domestic, industrial and commercial buildings including homes, factories, hospitals, offices and shops. They install systems in new construction projects, and upgrade and repair systems in existing structures. Systems range from chilled water air conditioning and/or central heating to pipework for transportation of natural gas.
Fitting involves installation of boilers, radiators, pumps and pipework. Fitters and welders work to detailed plans and specifications which lay out where components should go, the type of pipework required and where joints and bends are needed. Fitters work with a variety of materials including steel, copper, iron and plastic, and they need to understand the properties and limitations of each.
Once the system is installed it must be tested before going into commission. Some fitters may be involved in setting up service and maintenance programmes for clients.
Heating and ventilation fitters work closely with ductwork installers who build or repair ductwork infrastructure within buildings. The role is also sometimes combined with that of refrigeration and air conditioning installation. For more details see Refrigeration / Air Conditioning Technician profile.
Heating and ventilation fitters normally work a 39-hour week. However, overtime may be necessary and some positions include on-call duties.
Work is mainly indoors in new or existing buildings, but some work may be outside on buildings under construction. A large part of the work involves pipework installation, which often means working in cramped conditions. Some tasks include working from ladders or scaffolding.
Fitters move from one site to another, so a driving licence is usually required.
To be a heating and ventilation fitter you should:
Employers range from specialist heating and ventilation firms to large organisations such as local authorities and health authorities. Self-employment is a further option. It is also common for several fitters to work together for a firm as sub-contractors.
Promotion is possible to foreman/woman or site supervisor. It is also possible to undertake further study for Edexcel higher national qualifications. This would give access to degree level studies and employment as an engineering technician, contract manager or design engineer.
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