We all know that plumbers fix clogged toilets and drains. But what else do they do? What, exactly, does it mean to "plumb" anyway?
A Little History The word "plumber" comes from the Latin word for lead, which is what most pipes were made of long ago. Plumbers, then and now, specialized in laying pipes and fitting them together. Obviously, pipes are no longer made of lead, but the name stuck.
All About Pipes Although plumbers are mostly associated with sinks and toilets (plumbing) their real specialty is working with what's under those fixtures, namely the pipes. Plumbers are specialists at working with all types of pipes, including copper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), iron, steel, and newer, cross-linked polyethylene tubing, known as PEX. Being able to install and repair all of these types of pipe requires extensive knowledge of welding and soldering techniques, chemical solvents, and various types of couplings
In on the Ground Floor We all know who to call when we need plumbing services. But a plumber was also the person who installed those pipes. Plumbers are a part of the crew for new construction or renovations. They work from blueprints or construction plans, figuring out how and where to install the pipes to service a building's plumbing needs. The also make the connections from the building to wells and water lines and sewer or septic lines.
Water, Sewer, and Gas, Too It's common knowledge that plumbers handle the lines bringing water in and waste out of houses. But they also lay and repair natural gas and propane lines. So if you smell a gas leak, call the gas company first--they turn the gas off and make sure it's safe to be in your house. Your second call should be to a plumber, because he (or she) is the one who can make the repair.
Always On Call For many, a plumber is someone you call in an emergency. A burst pipe can cause enormous damage, ruining carpet and hardwood floors, drywall and furniture. Having a plumber on the scene quickly to turn off the water and fix the problem can be invaluable.
About the Author Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.