A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage and drainage in plumbing systems. The term dates from ancient times, and is related to the Latin word for lead, "plumbum",
The word "plumber" dates from the Roman Empire. The Latin for lead is plumbum. Roman roofs used lead in conduits and drain pipes4 and some were also covered with lead, lead was also used for piping and for making baths.5 In medieval times anyone who worked with lead was referred to as a plumber as can be seen from an extract of workmen fixing a roof in Westminster Palace and were referred to as plumbers "To Gilbert de Westminster, plumber, working about the roof of the pantry of the little hall, covering it with lead, and about various defects in the roof of the little hall".6 Thus a person with expertise in working with lead was first known as a Plumbarius which was later shortened to plumber.
Regulations in plumbing
Much of the plumbing work in populated areas is regulated by government or quasi-government agencies due to the direct impact on the public's health, safety, and welfare. Plumbing installation and repair work on residences and other buildings generally must be done according to plumbing and building codes to protect the inhabitants of the buildings and to ensure safe, quality construction to future buyers. If permits are required for work, plumbing contractors typically secure them from the authorities on behalf of home or building owners.
In the United Kingdom the professional body is the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (educational charity status) and it is true that the trade still remains virtually ungoverned; there are no systems in place to monitor or control the activities of unqualified plumbers or those home owners who choose to undertake installation and maintenance works themselves, despite the health and safety issues which arise from such works when they are undertaken incorrectly; see Health Aspects of Plumbing (HAP) published jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Plumbing Council (WPC). WPC has subsequently appointed a representative to the World Health Organization to take forward various projects related to Health Aspects of Plumbing.
In the United States, plumbing codes and licensing are generally controlled by state and local governments. At the national level, the Environmental Protection Agency has set guidelines about what constitutes lead-free plumbing fittings and pipes, in order to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Some widely used Standards in the United States are:
ASME A112.6.3 ? Floor and Trench Drains
ASME A112.6.4 ? Roof, Deck, and Balcony Drains
ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 ? Plumbing Supply Fittings
ASME A112.19.1/CSA B45.2 ? Enameled Cast Iron and Enameled Steel Plumbing Fixtures
ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1 ? Ceramic Plumbing Fixtures
About plumbing acitivities
Years of training and/or experience are needed to become a skilled plumber; some jurisdictions also require that plumbers be licensed.
Some needed skills, interests, and values
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.
Each state and locality may have its own licensing and taxing schemes for plumbers. There is no federal law establishing licenses for plumbers.
Plumbers in the United Kingdom are required to pass Level 2 and Level 3 vocational requirements of the City and Guilds of London Institute.