Plumbers install, maintain and repair hot and cold water supplies, sanitation and waste disposal systems in domestic, industrial and commercial premises. They also work with oil, gas and solid fuel appliances, and central heating systems. In industrial buildings and offices, plumbers may work on other piped infrastructure such as air-conditioning and extraction units. Some plumbers specialise in the chemical, ship and gas fitting industries.
Plumbers also work on the outsides of buildings, making and repairing weather-proof joints and flashings on roofs and walls and installing or clearing guttering and drainpipes. They use a wide variety of materials for sheeting and pipework, including plastics, aluminium, copper, lead and zinc.
Plumbers follow diagrams and plans when installing new systems. Repair and maintenance work involves diagnosing faults and rectifying them. All completed work must be tested to ensure it complies with Building Regulations.
Plumbers work 40 hours a week but overtime is very common. Some plumbers offer a 24-hour call-out service.
Plumbers work both indoors often in confined spaces, and outdoors in all weathers. On the outside of buildings, work will usually be at heights.
A driving licence is normally required.
To be a plumber you should:
The building engineering services sector of the construction industry consists of many firms and about 130,000 plumbers work in these firms, including around 30,000 who are self-employed.
Plumbers work for plumbing contractors or mechanical engineering services contractors (the size of company varies from those with only one or two plumbers, to large national or international firms); building contractors and local councils; others, such as shipping and commercial companies and the gas industry.
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