Plumbers perform diagnostic, installation, and repair of plumbing equipment used for gas, air, water distribution, and waste disposal systems in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. They are responsible for maintaining water piping and drainage systems for a variety of purposes, such as drinking, drainage, heating, venting, and sewage.
Plumbers are usually self-employed, but can sometimes be employed by Plumbing Contractors, Construction Managers, or by maintenance departments of buildings and other establishments. They work closely with maintenance, production, engineering and outside services.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Plumbers are required to complete.
- Determining the layout of a plumbing system, water supply network, or waste and drainage systems by studying and devising plumbing drawings/blueprints/schematics:
- Finding the exact location of pipe connections, passage holes, and fixtures in both walls and floors before carrying out any work.
- Providing on-site problem diagnosis, accurately estimating repair costs.
- Installing, maintaining, and repairing residential, commercial, or industrial plumbing fixtures and systems, as well as any other equipment used to distribute, supply, or dispose of water or wastewater:
- Measuring, cutting, bending, and threading pipes using hand and power tools or machines;
- cutting openings in walls and floors to accommodate pipe fittings, as required;
- joining pipes using couplings, clamps, screws, bolts, cement, or soldering, brazing, gluing, chalking, and welding methods/equipment;
- installing, repairing, and troubleshooting air conditioning equipment, steam and hot water heating systems, and other residential/industrial appliances, as well as backflow prevention devices, pressure relief valve (PRV) stations and other types of pumps; and
- installing and repairing gas, air, water, fire protection, and waste disposal systems.
- Inspecting and testing pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges to diagnose defects in equipment.
- Instructing customers on proper care and maintenance.
- Preparing estimates:
- Analyzing, collecting, calculating, and comparing data.
- Installing, maintaining and repairing plumbing fixtures and systems, including residential appliances, as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
- Inspecting and testing pipes and plumbing systems for leaks and repairs.
- Cleaning out drains and obstructions in waste and sewage pipes.
The average Plumber salary is $55,502 per year or $28 per hour. This is around 1.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $39,000 while most experienced workers make up to $78,000. These results are based on 581 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Interpersonal, communication, and customer service skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with clients and colleagues, using a non-technical language as required.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while handling a high volume of work;
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment; and
- being able to work well under pressure, individually or as part of a team.
- Analytical skills and problem-solving skills:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable and resourceful manner; and
- providing an alternative solution when encountering malfunctions in plumbing systems and equipment.
- High degree of initiative and self-supervision:
- Displaying willingness to learn new skills;
- making sure that all operations comply with safety requirements;
- gathering information from pre-maintenance work orders to determine the location and the kind of work to be done; and
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems.
- Continual focus on safety, cost control, and client satisfaction:
- Wearing respirators, steel-toed safety boots, hard hats, glasses, and ear protection, as well as other personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good hand skills with a high regard for neat workmanship.
All Plumbers start off as Apprentice Plumbers, working 1 to 4 years in an industrial or commercial setting. Prior to being hired, Apprentice Plumbers must have completed a pre-apprenticeship training program at an accredited trade school. Experience in refrigeration, HVAC, electricity, and mechanics are definite assets. On-the-job training and specialty training courses are usually preferred.
Aside from having completed their apprenticeship training, Plumbers are also required to have a minimum of 2 to 5 years of experience within a related industry. The ideal candidate must have experience using standard plumber’s tools such as snakes, wrenches, pipe threaders, hand and bench tools, power saws, and pressure gauges.
In Canada, Plumbers must have completed a Plumber Certification (306A). A Journeyman Certificate and/or a Plumber Red Seal Certification is usually preferred. Plumbers also need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the most current plumbing codes and of the health and safety standards.
Additional certifications are usually preferred, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Cross Connection Control;
- Backflow Prevention Tester Certification;
- Low Voltage Licence, or equivalent electrical endorsement for low voltage;
- Gas Technician 2 Certificate, including Gasfitter Certificate; and
- Industrial Mechanic Licence.
Finally, Plumbers must be able to work flexible schedules, including weekends. They also need a valid driver’s licence and a good driving record, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves and their tools to job sites within their designated area.