What Does a Plumber Do?

Plumber In Akron install, maintain, and repair the piping systems that provide water, heat, and waste disposal in homes and businesses. They are skilled tradespeople who often work with various tools and materials. Plumbing involves problem-solving and analytical thinking. It also requires physical stamina and skill to handle heavy tools.


Plumbers perform a wide range of professional tasks. Whether they are working on clogged toilets or drains in residential settings, installing water pipes and fixtures in new construction, or repairing leaks and broken appliances in existing buildings, they must have an understanding of plumbing design, installation methods, safety standards, and the skills required to troubleshoot problems and make effective repairs. They must also be able to follow instructions and directions from clients and meet certain licensing requirements in the jurisdiction where they work.

Training for a career as a plumber is available through formal apprenticeship programs run by trade organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Chapter or through short-term vocational school programs, such as those offered at technical institutes and colleges. These programs are designed for adults without experience and often provide on-the-job training and hands-on plumbing instruction. Some programs offer funding through federal and state financial assistance programs, including the Job Training Partnership Act and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities.

Other important elements of plumbing training include learning to read blueprints and understand building codes. These are essential for plumbers who work in new construction, as they must ensure that all the pipes and fixtures are installed according to specifications. They may also need to understand how to read and interpret existing blueprints to make accurate repair estimates for their customers.

In addition to completing formal training programs, plumbers must also be able to follow strict safety protocols, wear protective equipment and gloves when operating in confined spaces, and be comfortable working with chemicals and bacteria. They must also be prepared for the physical demands of the job, which can involve heavy lifting and hours of standing or walking.

Some plumbers choose to pursue additional certification, such as a Master Plumber. This certification can help them open more career opportunities and increase their earning potential. Becoming a master plumber requires a minimum of years of experience in the field and passing an exam. The American Society of Plumbing Engineers offers a variety of certification exams, as well as seminars and other courses to help plumbers advance in their careers.

The work environment for plumbers can be physically demanding. They are often required to climb over roofs, crouch under sinks, and crawl through narrow crevices; therefore, they must be in peak physical condition. Additionally, they must be able to use tools that can weigh up to 90 pounds and stand for extended periods. Some plumbers choose to enter the field through a trade school or apprenticeship program, while others may take on an entry-level position in the construction industry and gain experience on the job.

Plumbers typically work in residential settings and must be comfortable working in homes, apartments, or condominiums. Their job duties include:

  • Inspecting existing piping and appliances.
  • Testing water pressure levels.
  • Diagnosing and repairing leaks.
  • Locating and dislodging blocked drains and toilets.
  • Fitting new fixtures like bathtubs, showers, and sinks.
  • Connecting waste disposal units to drainage systems.
  • Installing new pipes to repair damaged ones.

Plumbing intricacies vary from home to home; even one minor error can have costly consequences. A plumber with keen observation and analytical thinking skills can quickly identify problems and craft effective, lasting solutions. Moreover, they must be able to follow all relevant safety procedures and rules without fail.

Good communication is a critical component of the plumber’s work environment. This includes listening attentively to the customer’s concerns, clearly communicating all available options, and answering questions. It also involves providing transparent, up-front pricing so customers can make informed decisions about their service options.

While there has been no scientific exploration into what personality traits constitute a good plumber, many experts believe that Briggs-type ISTPs (Introverts with Sensing Thinking Perception) would likely thrive in this career. These individuals have an innate mechanical aptitude and enjoy building and fixing things. They also have a strong focus on detail and are naturally independent.

While most plumbers work during normal business hours, they must be prepared to go on call and work overtime when a plumbing emergency arises. This can be a challenging aspect of the job for those who value stability and consistency in their work life. On the other hand, it can be a tremendous opportunity for plumbers who seek to build their reputation as reliable, trustworthy technicians.

Plumbing work is a physically demanding job, and while traumatic injuries get the most attention, it’s important to remember that many workers sustain less dramatic but equally damaging injuries. This can include repetitive motion injuries like strained muscles and ligaments, back strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal conditions. These injuries can be caused by working in awkward positions, lifting heavy objects, or spending long periods at a fixed location.

Plumbers often need to enter confined spaces, such as sewer pipes and tanks, that aren’t designed for a prolonged stay. These areas can be oxygen deficient and contain dangerous chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of sewage decay. Plumbers must follow confined space procedures and use air monitors to ensure they don’t enter an unsafe atmosphere.

Whether working on domestic or commercial water systems, plumbers are exposed to dangerous chemicals and biological materials. This can be particularly true when working on older properties that may still have lead or asbestos pipes. Plumbers must ask clients if they know any harmful substances are present before starting work and to evacuate the area if necessary.

Plumbers must also protect themselves from overexertion by using the correct lifting equipment and taking regular rest breaks. They should wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the environment, including gloves to prevent cuts or burns. Exposure to sharp and loud noises can cause hearing loss, so plumbers should always wear earplugs and use other soundproofing measures when necessary. Lastly, plumbers should avoid manual handling tasks where possible and instead employ lifting equipment or request help from colleagues to move heavy items. This will reduce the risk of back or muscle injury.

Plumbers install and repair pipes, fixtures, and appliances in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Their duties include reading and interpreting blueprints, locating underground piping, and installing and repairing heating, water, and gas lines. Plumbers inspect plumbing to ensure building projects meet all relevant codes and regulations. They may also be responsible for establishing and maintaining cross-connection and backflow prevention systems and identifying the proper use of hazardous materials and tools.

Plumbers must have excellent customer service skills to respond to complaints, answer questions, and explain complex technical matters in nontechnical terms. They must also be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. This job requires attention to detail, as even minor errors in installation or repair can lead to significant issues later on. Plumbers often work in cramped spaces and on ladders, so they must be physically fit and have good manual dexterity.

Because plumbing emergencies can occur at times, plumbers must be available to work after hours and on weekends. This can sometimes require overtime. In addition, plumbers must be willing to travel to client sites when necessary.

Some plumbers specialize in specific types of installations or repairs. For example, some plumbers may focus on kitchen and bathroom renovations, while others might concentrate on repairing or replacing sewer lines or garbage disposals. Specialized plumbers may also work with more complex or dangerous equipment, such as steam and hot water boilers.

Plumbers must maintain their tools and equipment by performing routine maintenance and cleaning. This includes lubricating moving parts, oiling mechanical devices, and cleaning and returning damaged tools and equipment for repair or replacement. They must also keep accurate records of their time and materials to ensure proper billing and submit reports to managers or supervisors regarding project progress. Other responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining plumbing logs.
  • Attending meetings and training sessions.
  • Promoting a safe work environment.

Plumbers are also expected to stay current on industry trends and best practices through self-directed study, professional reading, and attending trade conferences. They must also be able to collaborate with other professionals, such as architects and construction teams, to plan and execute large-scale plumbing installations.