It’s just so typical. Sitcoms use the image of the chubby plumber bending over under the sink, pants falling down, nether regions exposed and a loud laugh track in the background. Those sitcoms might want to get a new image for the 21st century because they one they use is a relic of the past.
Forget The Stereotype
Plumbing remains very basic at the same time it is one of the more complex necessities in homes and businesses. While it may sound simple to connect pipes together to bring water into the house and connect to sewage lines to remove wastes from it, there’s nothing simplistic about the training and education plumbers undergo to become Master Plumbers.
Those who want to enter into this field had better be good at math and have the ability to get better. From reading technical schematics to following blueprints, these professionals are the ones who transform the drawing into the reality. An extensive education and years of hands-on training combine to form the skill set each plumber brings to every problem, large and small. From the common clogged toilet to the complex fire systems in high rise buildings, each step is an exacting process with little room for error.
Flowing water can be a beautiful sight, but not when it’s flooding a kitchen from a broken water heater. Most residences and businesses can go a night without electricity, but water pouring through a ceiling onto an expensive computer system is not a “let’s call in the morning” kind of situation. As such, those who work in this field are often on call in every type of weather situation, from the worst snow storms to the heaviest rain.
Most plumbers can also count on longer than average days. They often deal with true emergency situations and calling it quits at five o’clock is just not in their vocabulary. They know that not responding can mean the difference between perhaps replacing some tile versus re-doing the entire floor of a structure. Plumbers are the “emergency response professional” of the trade fields.
Down And Dirty
Perhaps the easy part of the job of a plumber is working with the clean water that comes into a structure. The dirty part? Pretty much everything else. From cramped work spaces to backed up sewage, plumbers work on all kinds of problems in every type of situation. For this reason that old stereotype of the out of shape plumber is not realistic, even if sitcoms find it funny. These professionals know that the work they will be called on to do is not out in the open or behind a comfortable desk; it’s in the crawlspaces beneath a home, in the flooring and walls of a business and behind a lot of heavy equipment.
The training program for those working to become a Master Plumber is pretty rigorous in that it involves actually working as an apprentice plumber. From the beginning these aspiring professionals are working in the same conditions they will experience when they pursue their career on their own.
One Smart Cookie
Math and more math. Building codes, safety regulations, blueprints, schematics, and EPA regulations. All this and more is part of the classroom and on site experience of plumbing apprentices. It’s not just being able to figure out where a possible problem is, it’s also doing the job right at the onset to avoid future problems. Just like any business, there are regulations that control every aspect of a work site. From the safety to those who are participating to codes that govern how a specific job can be performed, by the time an apprentice becomes a Master Plumber they’ve internalized these details and know where to look for information for any new situation.
Literally hundreds of hours a year for about five years is dedicated just to classroom learning. This is in conjunction with putting into practice on the job those skills learned in that classroom. Plumbers can’t just think they know, they have to know and each Master Plumber has undergone testing to earn that title.
Just watching the news these days brings up a word that applies to more and more areas and that word is drought. Lack of water is affecting small towns and major cities throughout the United States. This once abundant natural resource is being changed and lessened by weather conditions and by a lack of conservation. In an effort to prevent overuse, some of the most commonly used household and business necessities are going green. It’s a lot more than low-flow shower heads and low-flush toilets too.
Plumbers are the professionals installing the graywater and rain harvesting systems more homes and businesses, both commercial and industrial, are utilizing. Like many fields, plumbing is changing as it adapts to green technologies, such as tankless water heaters. Businesses and homeowners like saving money and like doing their part for the environment and when it comes to water, the plumber is the go-to pro.
When it comes to the image of the professional plumber, it’s pretty apparent that old stereotype needs to be thrown away. Just not into the toilet, please.