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Type Vocation
Activity sectors Construction

A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage, and drainage. [1]



The word "plumber" dates from the Roman Empire. [2] In Roman times lead was known as plumbum in Latin which is why the periodic table of the elements uses the symbol of 'Pb' for lead. Roman roofs used lead in conduits and drain pipes[3] and some were also covered with lead, lead was also used for piping and for making baths.[4] In medieval times anyone who worked with lead was referred to as a plumber as can be seen from an extract of workmen fixing a roof in Westminster Palace and were referred to as plumbers "To Gilbert de Westminster, plumber, working about the roof of the pantry of the little hall, covering it with lead, and about various defects in the roof of the little hall".[5] Thus a person with expertise in working with lead was first known as a Plumbarius which was later shortened to plumber.

By country

Plumbers in the United Kingdom

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.[6]

Plumbers in the United Kingdom undertake the installation of domestic internal hot and cold water pipe work, sanitary fittings and related 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.

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. [7]
  • 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. ^ The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering
  2. ^ Pulsifer, Notes For a History of Lead, New York University Press, 1888 pp 132, 158
  3. ^ Middleton, The Remains of Ancient Rome, Vol. 2, A & C Black, 1892
  4. ^
  5. ^ EW Wedlake; J Britton (1836). "Westminster Palace" (in English). The history of the ancient palace and late Houses of Parliament at Westminster. J B Nichols and son. pp. 122. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  6. ^ Howard C. Massey (1998). Plumber's Handbook. Craftsman Book Company. ISBN 1572180560. 
  7. ^


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Old French plummier (French plombier); from Latin plumbum (lead or lead shot).



Wikipedia has an article on:




plumber (plural plumbers)

  1. One who works in lead
  2. One who furnishes, fits, and repairs pipes and other apparatus for the conveyance of water, gas or drainage.
  3. (originally) One who did piping for potable and waste water
  4. (British) In the Royal Navy, nickname for an apprentice, a boy aged 16 to 18, who is trained in technical skills at the Dockyard Schools to become an Artificer.

Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
  • Korean: 배관공

See also


  •, a specialized website on Corporal Punishments [1]

Simple English

Redirecting to Plumbing

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