According to recent reports, several countries, including the U.S., are experiencing a decrease in the number of working, qualified repair plumbers. With skilled plumbers in higher demand than ever, it’s important to understand what these pros do—before inviting them into your home or business.
Whether you’re hiring a master plumber or journeyman plumber to fix a leak, tend to a repair, outfit a new home or office building, or manage a new construction project—it’s essential to know and understand your options. To help alleviate any confusion regarding what type of plumber you should hire, let’s look at a few different types of plumbers and discuss their specific areas of specialization.
What Are The Two Main Types of Plumbers?
A plumber specializes in pipe repair services, installation, and fittings for plumbing systems.
Such systems may include water supply in a building or an area, heating systems in a home, and sanitation.
People tend to think of a plumber as someone who comes to fix a leaking pipe or unblock a clogged drain. While this is true, it doesn’t capture all of the tasks a plumber can do for you or your business.
The plumbing industry is a broad field with various skill sets and specializations. But, the two may categories most plumbers operate within are:
- Residential plumbers
- Commercial plumbers
This classification is based on the nature of the buildings where their services are required. Let’s take a detailed look at what these spaces require of plumbers:
Residential plumbers are trained to handle plumbing issues in a residential setting. They deal with installing and repairing plumbing systems in the home and other related fittings. Their services also extend to working in new housing developments.
Typically, their job is limited to small-scale installation, repairs, and fittings. Most times, residential plumbers learn their vocation by working as apprentices under a plumber with a wealth of experience in the field.
Upon acquiring the prerequisite skill level, residential plumbers may either work alone or independently for a company. In residential areas that are too large and may contain several households, commercial plumbing services may be required instead of residential plumbing.
Commercial plumbers are professionals whose plumbing services are done in commercial buildings or office buildings. For example, they work in hospitals, schools, colleges, and large industrial or apartment buildings—any facility with a commercial plumbing systems.
Professional plumbers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing pipes, sprinkler systems, and water tanks in these buildings.
Commercial plumbers work with heavy-duty equipment in large buildings and industrial settings. They generally require more skills and expertise than their residential plumber counterparts.
This type of plumber must stay updated with new trends and practices for solving a variety of plumbing problems and commercial plumbing solutions. Apart from general plumbing issues such as pipe installations and repairs, commercial plumbers also engage in topics such as large waste removal projects. A sewer is a typical example of such a system.
What Are Some Other Types of Plumbing Services?
Apart from the two main types of plumbers discussed above, you may need to hire other skilled plumbing professionals. The following plumbers generally work in both commercial and residential plumbing:
- Water supply plumbers
- Sanitary plumbers
- Service and repair plumber
Let’s look at what makes each of these different plumbers unique.
Water Supply Plumbers
In both residential and professional settings, water supply plumbers are trained to handle general water supply issues. Water supply plumbers manage installing new water supply systems that carry water to different building areas, like a kitchen, bathroom, water tanks, and more.
Water supply plumbers are also on-call to help with repair issues, leaks, or when water supply and water pressure fluctuate.
Plumbing sanitation work is a prevalent need and predominantly involves unclogging pipes, drains, sinks, and toilets.
Sanitary plumbers may also install bathroom pipes and fit suspended drains or fit water heaters for showers and other areas that may require water heating systems. They also take care of sewer installation and maintenance. If your plumbing job requires tackling any of these tasks, a specialized sanitary plumber will have the training and experience needed to get the job done well.
Residential Service and Home Repair Specialist
Local plumbers and repair specialists mainly deal with repairing, servicing, and maintaining plumbing systems and issues. They may also help with unclogging blockages and repairing leaking pipes. Their job doesn’t include the installation of new pipes and plumbing systems.
Since this field of plumbing work isn’t broad and demanding, the specialists and services in this field tend to be cheaper than the others.
Plumbing Services: Understanding Your Southeastern Connecticut Home’s Basic Needs
Different areas and homes have widely differing services and plumbing needs. And if you live in Southeastern Connecticut, you have many good plumbing support options. No need to try and untangle or understand the knots of pipes and valves you may see under your sink, in your laundry room, or in your crawl spaces.
We’ve written an entire article on this site about how to hire a plumber in Southeast Connecticut
But, by understanding a few plumbing basics, you’ll be able to identify issues you can manage yourself or figure out if you need to hire a licensed plumber.
Your household’s plumbing falls into three main classifications:
- The water supply system
- The water distribution and heating systems
- The drainage system
The Water Supply
This part of your home plumbing system deals with all the channels through which water enters your home. Water is generally supplied to your home either by your city water or well water.
- City water is common in most residential areas, like in urban areas or suburbs. Water in this kind of setting is distributed via large underground pipes known as “water mains” or “mains”. Water is drawn from the main to the houses and businesses within the city water network.
Homes that use city water usually have water meters mounted on the property to track usage and inform how much water you’ll pay for your utility each month. The bill usually depends on the amount of water used in the home.
Close to the water meter is a shut-off valve that allows homeowners to turn off their home’s water if there’s an emergency or if they’re going out of town for an extended period of time.
- Well water is common in more rural residential areas. Home or business owners may drill a well to supply water to the property. The initial cost of owning a well may be high, but the investment can pay off long term. Mainly because the property owner doesn’t have to pay a monthly utility bill.
An important note: When your property depends on well water, there is always a slight chance of groundwater contamination. Runoff, natural disasters, and nearby pesticide use or crop management may all contribute to groundwater contamination. Which is why it’s advised that well owners test their well water at least once a year.
Water Distribution, Stop Valves, and Heating
Stop valves are a vital part of any home’s plumbing system and help to distribute water throughout a building. Stop valves are also available in different parts of the home—which can be particularly helpful if you’re doing construction on another part of your home or building.
You can easily and effectively turn off the water supply to just one part rather than the entire building.
Stop valves also allow you to control the distribution of hot or cold water into areas of your home. For example, cold water flows into different parts of the home from the well or mains through pipes. If hot water is needed at any part of the house, it follows a different route from the cold water.
This happens mostly in houses where there is a central heater. If a central heater is used in a house, it is connected to the mains or well through a branch line. The water then travels from the heater to places in the homes where hot water is needed.
Note: Some homes may have water heaters central to specific areas of a home and can be run and heated by electricity, solar, or gas.
The Drainage System
Your drainage system is how wastewater is routed out of your home or building. In a properly working drainage system, wastewater is pushed by gravity or pressure through drain lines and into a septic tank or wastewater system.
Critical components of this type of drainage system include traps, vents, and cleanouts:
- Vents make it possible for wastewater to flow out of the drainage system.
- Traps are usually found under kitchen sinks and behind toilet seats, and typically contain water that helps to prevent sewer gas leaks from entering the home.
- Cleanouts make it easier to clear and clean clogged pipes without completely disassembling the system. (They also have removable plugs that allow you to access the trap.)
Common Plumbing Maintenance Tips
Sometimes, a home plumbing issue may be simple to resolve, saving you the time and cost of hiring a plumbing service. Below are a few plumbing tips to consider before you call a pro:
- Keep your kitchen drain and toilet clear. To prevent clogs, refrain from flushing wipes and paper towels down the toilet, and keep food leftovers out of your kitchen sink. Having a garbage disposal hooked up to your main kitchen sink can help. Keeping greasy and oily content out of your sink drain is also a wise best practice.
- Watch for leaks. Keep an eye on exposed pipes under your sink, behind the toilet, and any visible plumbing in your garage or basement. Also, listen for any dripping that may be coming from ceilings or walls. If you hear any dripping, it may be best to call a pro. A professional plumber has expert leak detection skills to help you avoid serious damages that may affect different types of plumbing pipes and be more expensive to repair.
- To minimize dust and sediment, drain your water heater twice a year. This will help you enjoy clean, hot water and prolong your heater’s life.
- A little baking soda and vinegar can help safely loosen clogged drains. This simple mixture, made from kitchen pantry staples, works wonders to unclog minor drain issues. The combination forms a chemical substance that can help dissolve many of the clogs.
Smart Plumbing Best Practices
With a better understanding of the different types of plumbers and their services, you can make an informed decision about who to hire for other plumbing projects and repairs. In addition, our fix-it tips can help you tackle minor issues or recognize when to call in a pro.
Remember that smart maintenance is always less expensive than plumbing repairs!
Check out our TMG Companies blog archive to learn more helpful plumbing tips. We can also help you understand the process of working with insurance companies and guide you through the claims process!