Trades disambiguation: Plumbers & Gas fitters

images2DCW4NKZCertain knowledge comes with experience. I received a call from my brother last week. He is sharing a flat with fellow students. They’ve noticed damp spot on the wall. Before they knew it, half of the floor was missing and the problem was still there?! “How do I manage it?” How do I know I have the right tradie? What are they supposed to do?” my brother was asking.

For all young people out there I’m starting a series of posts about various trades. In combination with tips in my other posts, this should help you identify the right tradie for the job.

So, plumbers &  gas fitters.

What do they do? Plumbers specialise in installing and maintaining systems used for water supply and discharge, weather sealing (roof & gutters) and building temperature control (cooling/heating). It is usual for plumbers to have gas fitter’s license.

As part of their usual services, plumbers lay out, test and install fixtures, fittings, metal roofing, gas meters, regulators, units and appliances. They install equipment such as boilers, pumps, heating and cooling systems, natural gas appliances, water tanks, water heaters and solar water heating systems. Plumbers may also install, maintain and repair pipes in storm water or sewerage systems and drains, septic tanks, holding wells, sullage pits and absorption tracks.plumber

Additionally, plumbers may also perform the following tasks

  • install domestic and residential safety sprinkler systems;
  • fabricate and install steel pressure piping;
  • cut and join sheet metal;
  • locate and clear blockages;
  • fabricate and install sanitary stacks;
  • connect irrigation systems from drinking water supply.

Some of these works, for instance pipe blockage, require special equipment. Make sure that your plumber of choice specialises in this service so they don’t have to specifically hire equipment for your job. This would mean extra cost for you.

If you are buying a new house or endeavouring on house remodelling involving kitchen, bathroom and/or laundry – it’s a good idea to get a plumber to do an inspection of existing systems. This might save you from few bad surprises.

All plumbers should be able to perform the following tasks. This is part of their standard training:

  • Reading drawings, and specifications to determine layout of water supply, waste, and venting systems.
  • Detecting faults in plumbing appliances and systems, and correctly diagnosing their causes.
  • 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.
  • Joining pipes and fittings together using soldering techniques, compression fittings, threaded fittings, and push-on fittings.
  • 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.

Every plumber/gas fitter in Australia should be able to present you with:

  1. Valid business registration number: ABN.
  2. Valid plumber’s, gasfitter’s and backflow licences. You can check the validity and business name assigned to the licence here.
  3. Valid and sufficient for your job Insurance policy such as public liability.
  4. It is always a good sign when your plumber is a member of Master Plumbers Association.
  5. Any additional credentials especially in water saving and sustainable practices are a big plus.

Don’t be afraid or uncomfortable requesting this information. It is usual practice and if your tradie gives you grief at this stage they are not the right fit for your job.

If you have a doubt about your plumber’s recommendation or course of action, get the second opinion from another plumber. I find it is good to just show the problem and see what recommendation another plumber gives.

Good luck! 🙂

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