Master plumbers on construction jobs may be involved with developing blueprints that show the placement of all the pipes and fixtures. Their input helps ensure that a structure’s plumbing meets building codes, stays within budget, and works well with the location of other features, such as electric wires. Many diagrams are now created digitally with the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM), which allows a building’s physical systems to be planned and coordinated across occupations.
Depending on how comfortable you are with DIY repairs, you can complete many minor plumbing jobs with the right tools. Many of these include ways to upgrade and save water, which can save you a ton of money in the long run. Some plumbers will even walk you through the steps, especially if you have used their services before. (See also: 5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For)
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Present-day water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, and pipes in buildings are now made of copper, brass, plastic (particularly cross-linked polyethylene called PEX, which is estimated to be used in 60% of single-family homes), or other nontoxic material. Due to its toxicity, most cities moved away from lead water-supply piping by the 1920s in the United States, although lead pipes were approved by national plumbing codes into the 1980s, and lead was used in plumbing solder for drinking water until it was banned in 1986. Drain and vent lines are made of plastic, steel, cast-iron, or lead.
"They replaced the entire sewer line from the house to the street using a technique called “pipe bursting” where they pull a new line through the old line. We used a coupon where for $93 they freed up a clog in our old line and put a camera down the line to figure out what the problem was... I like that they didn’t have to dig up my yard for this particular technique..."
Faucets for the kitchen come in an array of styles, and costs vary as well, from simple single handle models running less than $50 to pull down faucets like those used in restaurant kitchens costing more than $200. One handle or two, separate pullout sprayer or pull down, countertop or wall mount, these also feature a variety of finishes from stainless steel to nickel and bronze.
“Don’t go to the Yellow Pages to find a plumber,” says Berkey’s Bill Stevens. “It’s like guessing lottery numbers. Anyone can make an appealing ad, but that doesn’t mean they are legitimate. In this industry, it’s easy for a plumber who develops a poor reputation to advertise under a different name. They come and go.” Even searching for someone online may end up being a scam using fake reviews. Instead, look for a plumber who is well-established in your community. Check the Better Business Bureau and read customer reviews at sites such as HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, or Citysearch. Local contractors or plumbing fixture stores can also refer you to a quality plumber, according to Grady Daniel, who owns a plumbing company in Austin, Texas. “Most of these firms won’t work with bad plumbers.” Or simply ask your neighbors for a referral. A trusted plumber that consistently delivers quality service does not remain a secret for very long.
Specialized plumbing tools include pipe wrenches, flaring pliers, pipe vise, pipe bending machine, pipe cutter, dies, and joining tools such as soldering torches and crimp tools. New tools have been developed to help plumbers fix problems more efficiently. For example, plumbers use video cameras for inspections of hidden leaks or problems, they use hydro jets, and high pressure hydraulic pumps connected to steel cables for trench-less sewer line replacement.