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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Representational Plumber at work.

The word plumber dates from the Roman Empire. [1] In Roman times, some roofs were made of lead, or plumbum in Latin (hence the periodic table of the elements symbol of 'Pb' for lead). Lead roofs were waterproof, and the workers on such roofs were what are now called "plumbers". Roman baths later used lead for piping and for the main baths. [2] Thus, a person with expertise in working with lead was known as a Plumbarius, eventually shortened to plumber. [3]


By country

Plumbers in the United Kingdom

A plumber is a tradesperson who specialises in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage, drainage. [4] Years of training and/or experience are needed to become a skilled plumber; some jurisdictions also require that plumbers be licensed. A Master Plumber has demonstrated mastery of the trade of plumbing. The Master Plumber may have worked in a single area of the trade or may have experience in multiple areas of the plumbing trade.

Plumbing codes are strict, and need for quality plumbing work is high because of the health and safety problems associated with poor water supply and sewage removal.[5]

Plumbers in the United Kingdom undertake the installation of domestic internal hot and cold water pipe work, sanitary fittings and related soil and waste pipe work systems. Domestic, commercial and industrial gas-fired (central) heating installation, servicing and repair works, and works related to all other gas fired appliances, although done by plumbers, may also involve other trades such as pipe fitters, gas fitters etc.

Oil fired heating appliance installation, servicing and maintenance works must be undertaken by OFTEC registered individuals and companies in order to operate in the UK.

Air conditioning is a separate trade in the UK.

Plumbers install and repair pipes, fittings, fixtures, and other plumbing equipment used for water distribution, waste water disposal, and venting in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings. Many plumbers begin their careers in plumbing as helpers to established plumbers; others enter formal training institutes.

Some needed skills, interests, and values

  • Reading blueprints, drawings, and specifications to determine layout of water supply, waste, and venting systems
  • Installing, repairing and maintaining domestic, commercial, and industrial plumbing fixtures and systems
  • Locating and marking positions for pipe connections, passage holes, and fixtures in walls and floors
  • Measuring, cutting, bending, and threading pipes using hand and power tools or machines
  • Testing pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges
  • Awareness of legal regulations and safety issues
  • Ensuring safety standards and build regulations are met.

Plumbers in the United States

Each state and locality may have its own licensing and taxing schemes for plumbers. There is no federal law establishing licenses for plumbers.

Certain states consider plumbing without a license to be a serious enough offense to warrant jail time (typically 30-90 days) on the 3rd or 4th time caught plumbing without a license. Two of these states would be North Carolina & Kentucky. Most states have a state licensing authority, however some such as Pennsylvania do not require state license. Pennsylvania does have local licenses and these are generally administered by the local health department.

Plumbers in politics

  • The term "plumbers" was a popular name given to the covert White House Special Investigations Unit established on July 24, 1971 during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Their job was to plug intelligence leaks in the U.S. Government relating to the Vietnam War (i.e. the Pentagon Papers); hence the term "plumbers".

Plumbers in popular culture

  • The father in Weird Science
  • Nintendo's most famous characters, Mario and Luigi of Super Mario Bros. fame, are both plumbers.
  • Famous rocker Ozzy Osbourne was a plumber not an apprentice.
  • James Denton's character on Desperate Housewives, Mike Delfino, poses as the friendly neighborhood plumber
  • The Polish Plumber is a pejorative symbol for cheap labour coming from Eastern to Western Europe. [6]
  • Josephine the Plumber, a television advertising character played by Jane Withers
  • In the Ben 10 animated series, a secret group of alien hunters/intergalactic police which was in action years ago is called the Plumbers. Ironically, the character of Grandpa Max (who was once a member of the group) is also a regular plumber.

See also


  1. ^ Pulsifer, Notes For a History of Lead, New York University Press, 1888 pp 132, 158
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering
  5. ^ Howard C. Massey (1998). Plumber's Handbook. Craftsman Book Company. ISBN 1572180560. 
  6. ^


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Plumbing article)

From Wikiquote

Plumbing (from the Latin plumbum for lead) is the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures for drinking water systems and the drainage of waste. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping systems, plumbing fixtures and equipment.


  • An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
    • John W. Gardner, President, Carnegie Corporation, "Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?", p. 86 (1961)
  • I long to create something
    that can’t be used to keep us passive:
    I want to write
    a script about plumbing, how every pipe
    is joined
    to every other.
    • Adrienne Rich, U.S. poet and feminist. “Essential Resources,” lines 17-22 (1973)

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