The term “plumber” comes from lead which has long been the main material used for pipes. Lead was banned when it was found to be harmful to health, but the term “plumber” stuck. The plumber can also be called a “sanitary installer”, or “thermal installer” if he is a heating engineer. Historically, the plumber is therefore a worker who installs and repairs water and gas pipes.
Today, the fields of competence of plumbers are very diverse and include everything relating to:
piping: water and gas distribution, wastewater disposal, etc.
sanitary facilities: cumulus, toilet, sink, sink, shower, bath, etc.
the equipment: faucet, siphon, flushing mechanism, bathroom furniture, etc.
In addition to sanitary, plumbers also often have the qualification of heating engineers and work on:
heating: boiler, radiator, underfloor heating, etc.
ventilation: single or double flow, VMC, air vent, etc.
renewable energies: solar thermal, heat pump, wood stove, etc.
even air conditioning, roofing, zinc work, etc.
Heating plumbers perform various types of interventions:
troubleshooting: leaking faucet or flushing water, radiator that does not heat, faulty gas boiler , electric water heater failure, etc.
installation and renovation: make a water or gas connection, install a toilet , renovate a complete bathroom, install central heating, etc.
new construction: to carry out from scratch the sanitary and thermal installation of a dwelling or a group of dwellings.
To perform all these interventions, the heating plumber must be in good physical condition, able to carry heavy loads and work in awkward positions. He must have common sense to find the most practical solutions to infinitely varied problems. He must have knowledge of fluid mechanics to understand the operation of the installations. Last but not least, he must be voluntary, rigorous and reliable to respond to all emergencies and guarantee a job well done in all circumstances.
The clientele of plumbers can be very varied and include individuals, local businesses (hairdressers, hotels, restaurants, etc.), property managers, property developers, social landlords, industry , the service sector, etc. Plumbing companies specialize either in troubleshooting and renovating or on new construction sites. These two sub-sectors follow different logics, however some companies can manage to have it both ways.
The plumber’s profession is therefore very vast and can take many forms. The diversity of activities offered by a heating plumbing company is not a relevant criterion for distinguishing good plumbers from bad ones. Some plumbers can be micro-specialized and still disappoint you because they are disorganized or overpriced. The fact of being a generalist is not a fault in itself as long as the company has the skills in-house. The criteria for identifying good plumbers are therefore elsewhere, for more information, see our page How to find a good plumber ?