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  • Types of plumers and status in the trade??

    I'm still trying to understand all I can about the plumbing trade....but since I know HVAC I tend to think..ok this is how it is (in my area) in the HVAC trade...and ?? if its the same in Plumbing....

    In the HVAC trade..got residential and commercial...I do residential..some dispute between residential and commercial guys...both think they are true "technicians" who need to have the most knowledge....Generally Commercial (the big stuff not light commercial roof top units) pays better.
    In the residential trade (at the shops I've worked for)...the pecking order and pay scale was, New Construction, then change out / installers (take out old unit out put new one it) then "technicians" who fixed units were the best paid considered the most knowledgeable in the trade.

    At the shop I work at everyone is a "service" plumber...I get the impression from meetings and such that they are better/smarter than new construction plumbers, and roto rooter plumbers....I've never had someone sit me down and explain the whole plumbing trade pecking order.
    Soooo is there a distinction between the types of plumbing...i.e. new construction..drain cleaning only companies and service plumbers....not just jobs..but how other plumbers see for example a new construction guy at a parts house vs. service plumber....

    Hope I explained this right...like a unofficial ranking system A is smarter than B plumbers and C is the smart kids.?

  • #2
    Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

    Commercial plumbing is probably considered to be the easiest. Of course, all areas of the industry have expanded since I started in commercial 41 years ago.

    Mainly, you have to be able to read blueprints and follow them. There isn't as much sophistication as there is in other branches of plumbing.

    Residential construction comes next. The so-called blueprints only show the spot where fixtures are supposed to sit. You have to know a lot more about code and you work with fancier stuff (sometimes).

    Finally, service and repair. It's tougher because you have to be able to diagnose problems, sometimes without even being able to see them. You have to be able to repair things that are hard to get to.

    In commercial work, material is delivered to the job.

    In residential plumbing, you pick up material and haul it to the job yourself - I usually did it in one trip for the rough-in.

    In service, you have to carry nearly a warehouse with you.

    I think one of the biggest differences is that you can lose your shirt in commercial the quickest.

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    • #3
      Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

      I believe you have to be careful not to try to grade different facets of a trade as there are too many things involved. The most talented is the guy who can jump from ground work to top out to finish to repair and service in residential, commercial and industrial without needing to be retrained.

      Mark
      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

        Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
        I believe you have to be careful not to try to grade different facets of a trade as there are too many things involved. The most talented is the guy who can jump from ground work to top out to finish to repair and service in residential, commercial and industrial without needing to be retrained.

        Mark

        you got that right

        seems like most service guys have never worked construction and therefore don't have a real sense for what's behind the wall and underground.

        a think the best serviceman is one that has actually worked in construction from start to finish. i don't think a serviceman has the hands on knowledge of construction.

        as far as guys coming into the trade right off the street. unfortunately this is more prevalent now than it was 27 years ago. i had to be sponsored just to get into the union and pay the initiation dues of $1685.00. back then you were screened to get into the trade. today they hire just about anyone that will show up.

        seems like the pride of work has taken a back seat to the color of money

        i know times have changed, but i feel it has changed for the worse

        rick.
        phoebe it is

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        • #5
          Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

          Now Nick could explain to me the process in becoming a plumber in the US when you did it as it is totally alien to me the way you explain it, you see I did a five year apprenticeship with night school included and on finishing it I was only registrated and then sat for my plumber license test so I could practice and do sanitary plumbing and over the last forty year I have been there and done that.


          Regards
          Tony

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          • #6
            Re: Types of plumbers and status in the trade??

            The thing that comes to my mind is, most new construction plumbers do not like to deal with the nasty. I worked with a few that would just about have a fit when dealing with it.

            I used to have stereotypes or categories of plumbers but anymore I respect them all. For example, some people think drain cleaners are pretty close to neanderthals. Anyone who has any time in drain cleaning knows different.

            My boss has some type of Jedi snaking ability. I and other guys have been on snaking jobs for hours only to have him arrive and clear the line in 10 minutes. I wish I could video tape him snaking sometime, it's pretty funny.
            Anyone can tear a man down, few can build one up.

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            • #7
              Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

              I know and have employed master plumbers that have never and have no idea how to rough a house. All of their knowledge of venting and sizing comes from a book. Is that a good thing? I guess it all depends on the individual. Myself, I hate service work, I hate finish work also, but I can and do do it if I have to. These guys on the other hand can not. In fact, we have a state plumbing inspector up here that has never even held a pipe wrench in her hands. Years back I challanged her (probably a mistake) that if she could rough in a ranch properly, I'd give her a months pay.
              sigpic

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              • #8
                Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                I haven't decided how to comment on this thread yet.But I will say this.

                Gopher,glad your co-workers aren't voicing their opinion around me.I hardly think a construction plumber is going to have as hard a time transitioning to service as a service plumber to construction,Especially Commercial

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                • #9
                  Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                  Was lucky enough to apprentice with a LARGE company . Trained in Commercial/Industrial , New housing , remodeling and service .

                  I think the best are remodel guys . You can then jump to new work or service.

                  Seen LOTS of guys who do only commercial or new housing who CANNOT make the jump to remodel or service . They can't think outside the box or deal with all the homeowner quirks or all the STUFF you have to work around .

                  Please don't get me wrong ,,, I have the UTMOST respect for all of us !!

                  Cplumb

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                  • #10
                    Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                    I started in new construction residential, then went to service, then commercial new construction, then mix residential service/commercial service. Now....I'm strict residential service with very little commercial service.

                    Being a new construction plumber made the transition to service very easy. Huge difference from a service plumber that has done nothing but service and those who dabbled in both. I feel the best service plumbers are those who did both tours, otherwise how do you know what is behind the walls, the design, and what to expect? When I do work behind another plumber involving national chain plumbers, you'll see the repair made that specifically removes the bad component but they won't stride to go a little farther and take out the whole problem, either because they don't understand it or they do it for job security, don't know. They take on the theory of take an apple out, put one back and those of you who understand this logic knows that this cannot be in the best interest of the property owner sometimes. Upsell the idea that codes have changed and market the idea that there is a better way to do the task at hand.

                    I personally believe that residential service is the most simplistic, easiest part of the plumbing profession there ever was....and that's why I'm in it. Commercial doesn't bother me but I prefer not to do it because you're getting into uncommon piping and materials that can't be found at your local hardware store; only in supply houses on a regular work week and forget after hours in most cases. Any time I do commercial service.....I'm a face at the supply house, again.

                    All of my past work experiences though have molded me into a competent plumber. Wouldn't trade it, couldn't buy that background knowledge if I had to. Just glad I don't have to repeat certain steps that I felt was quite disturbing.


                    In the format of most companies I worked for....where the company was comprised of service and new construction, the service side of the business kept the new construction side afloat since the income from new construction was sporatic at best. Service was the side that kept the lights on at the office. (cash flow)
                    Last edited by DUNBAR PLUMBING; 01-12-2008, 12:08 PM.
                    Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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                    • #11
                      Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                      Thank you Mr. Dunbar,very good explaination.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                        ALotta great explanations above.
                        I respectfully disagree with Dunbar, my thinking is he may have forgotten how difficult his job is.

                        I've done commercial, new residential construction, service, and remodels.

                        Commercial is the easiest because the pricing is usually higher, the one pushing is the GC, to keep everything on schedule.
                        - Herk makes a real point.....
                        If you can't cover all stock & payroll with the first 1/3rd payment, you're out of business before the next payment...seen it happen.

                        New residential construction is the most physical, drilling through overhead joists takes it's toll on your arms/shoulders/back...usually the boss is pushing because he had to bid low to get the job over 50 newer shops that don't know the pricing game.
                        The "Holmes on Homes" series did a recent show on the stats for most GC/contractors, a scarefully large percentage aren't pricing right or don't know what they're doing...the subs often pay by being cornered into competing at dangerously low prices. Brings the market down, both in pay & quality.

                        Remodels are better, when a homeowner wants new additions, or upgrades, they usually aren't prioritizing cheap...they want their dreams to materialize.
                        I like remodels for that reason.

                        Finally, there's service...when the phone rings at 8pm and you were just about to watch your favorite show, forget it....if you blow off the call for that water heater. The customer will be telling you what a good job your competition did the next morning when you get around to calling them.
                        You might be trouble shooting an electrical problem on one of a boilers safeties on one job, trying to find replacement parts for an obscure 30 year old faucet the customer doesn't want to throw away for sentimental reasons the next, crawling around in an attic in mid August, trying to unfreeze water lines under a crawspace in mid February with your fingers growing more numb by the minute.
                        Service, in my area, pays the best per capita for the reasons above.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                          Originally posted by Duckbutter
                          New residential construction is the most physical, drilling through overhead joists takes it's toll on your arms/shoulders/back...usually the boss is pushing because he had to bid low to get the job over 50 newer shops that don't know the pricing game.
                          Not only is it physical, requiring you to be up and down temporary stairs, ceiling joists, and so on - it can also be the longest number of hours. I've often tried to work until the wee hours to finish a job that was nearly complete. You've invested thousands at the supply house for your supplies, and you have to get paid as soon as possible.

                          And you don't have to be a new shop to not know the pricing game - house construction plumbers are on the wrong end of the food chain - always depending on a general who is looking for the absolute lowest price.

                          You can plumb for a week and make less than a thousand dollars while the general is making a half-mil a year.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                            See this was what I was talking about as it seems everyone as a different perception of what is easier. I always found service to be much easier than new construction but my new construction was mostly large estates. You generally had an Architect and a Designer who had no concept of what would work and an owner who had unrealistic expectations. Most of our big stuff was T&M because as soon as we would finish something it would change. Even with the head aches of making things work I believe new construction was my favorite due to the challenge.

                            Mark
                            "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                            I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Types of plumers and status in the trade??

                              Guys,I have tried three times to post on this thread and every time got worked up into a raging rant.

                              In general and ONLY in general because I don't want to insult my peers.

                              I have installed and ran crews of up to 50 guys(many piece workers running copper) in production housing for over ten years.And like Mark,work on the estates(got two going right now).Commercial...Got to move a 6" cast iron building vent on the twenty third floor through a different location on the roof on monday(killer view of L.A. off the helicopter pad,I promise pictures).

                              The question posed by Evil Gopher set the wrong tone for me.He asked which is smarter.I cannot say I am smarter than a particular service plumber.I will say again with great confidence you can take the education given to a construction plumber and with much smaller amount of time turn him over to service.Ask Rick and his buddy Steve.If you are a service plumber trying to make your employer happy putting pipe in a new structure you've got a long way to go before you are going to be cut loose on your own.I know I've had them working for me.

                              I talk to inspectors.There are too many service plumbers putting in illegal or malfunctioning systems out there.

                              We know how to set finish.We know how to pull a cartridge and go to the truck or supply house and match it up.Our friend who has what 15-20 service trucks uses Rick to snake and camera the tough ones that would give us trouble.

                              This is a service plumbers dream forum.Still my favorite.There is mostly talk on service because of DIY's looking to do their own service.Construction plumbers don't seem to like to spend too much time here,ask our beloved "DOG".

                              This post does not apply to the regular plumbers here as they are the cut above.

                              Adam

                              p.s. ..........................sorry my friends
                              Last edited by drtyhands; 01-13-2008, 12:23 AM. Reason: addition for clarity

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