best advice for new plumber?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Ivel, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. Ivel

    Ivel New Member


    I am starting a job, working for a plumber. I really dont know what I am doing. I know that I will learn on the job. But what is your advice for someone who is just starting out in the profession?

    what do you think is the most important thing I should know? What are some things to know that are hard to pick up on by watching it be done?

    I know this post sounds pretty general, but any reply would be nice.


  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Well, you wouldn't be the first guy to learn the trade toally by the seat of your pants. But, honestly, it has gotten more complicated. It 50 years ago, you had cast iron drains, copper or galvanized water pipes. That was about it. Today, there is PCV, CPVC, PE,PB,PEX, APS. Then for gas there is epoxy coat, CSST, and the new plastic GasTites. There are tankless WH, condensing furnaces, radiant heat, and on and on. Codes have become even more detailed.

    SO, I would suggest that there is an unavoidable need for some "book larnin'". Try to find a trade school or union apprentice program that you can get in. Possilby your employer will support this, possbilby you will have to do it nights and weekends.

    I just finished reading the June issue of the IAPMO magazine OFFICIAL.
    It is very clear that "green" is the wave of the future in the plumbing arena. There will be a flood of new products, technologies, and codes. The need for well educated and well skilled tradesman will continue to grow. This should be a lucrative career with unlimited opportunities for someone young like yourself. Be hungry for knowledge!
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2008
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Welcome to the Trade! It's not just a job!

    One thing I would suggest is not necessarily learning how to do something but instead know why its done that way. Once you understand why you'll know how! It's a much more valuable lesson and it stays with you much longer then a mechanical technique.

    You will definitely need to get into a tech school as Jimbo said. Most states have night classes so you work in the day and at night its off to school. What state are you in we may be able to point you in the right direction?

    There are a lot of different directions to go in this trade. It is a good idea to get a well rounded education. I believe that there are a lot of plumbers that have done almost nothing but new residential work their whole career that in the next few years are going to have a hard time as they try to transition into commercial and service work. They will be a fish out of water in many cases. Try to get a well rounded education and even in tough times you will find an area where you can make a good living. Nobody does it all! But, the more that you can hold your head above water in the better off you will be.

    There are some good forums out on the web. This is one of the best! Read the postings and understand the answers. There is a good inexpensive education to be had right there. You will learn code differences across the country, and see how many different ways there are to handle a given problem. Some will be right and some will be wrong and you'll see the debate!

    Always remember, It's not how... It's why!
    Welcome to the trade! Work hard and learn, It's worth it!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Good point, redwood. It seems the "contractors" which the HD has hired are mostly construction types out of work. They are really like a fish out of water trying to help John Q Homeowner find parts for his tub/shower valve.
  5. Enjoy the easy jobs but understand the tough ones; the tough ones will earn your stripes in this biz.

    It's a struggle in the beginning, learning all there is to know in plumbing depending on what side you go to....but I promise it is in your best interest to learn both sides to be multi-talented to your next employer.
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Be a Sponge! Soak in everything from everybody & pick what you consider the best way!

    It's funny because you can't be a good service plumber without knowing how it was built. That means you just look and know how it was probably built before you even open a wall or ceiling to look.

    And a good service plumber will know the things that construction plumbers do that create problems down the line, and avoid doing those things when doing new construction.

    So it pays to know both sides.
    Being well rounded will keep you from being a smockman!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  7. listen to the older plumbers

    you will find that if just watch , READ and listen you will do ok...

    stay away from all the losers that run their mouths all
    day long , and whine and cry for a cigarette break,
    and want you to go drinking or doing other
    vile things after work.. ..dont listen to their sad stories
    and dont loan them money either

    dont listen to any of the "beer talk" or "tall tale plumbing stories" ...
    usually thats all fabricated an attempt to "impress you".and
    snow you under..

    absorb what you can by just reading books you can
    get your hand on.....JUST READ STUFF....just pick up a book
    or a magazine and go over it fur fun...

    just like in life...
    90% of the poeple you wil meet are all just
    "smoke and mirrors" and the other 10% might be genuine.

    its just your job to figure out "who is real" in the big game

    It is much wiser just to ask a question when you dont know,
    than try to bullshit your way through something and mess up..

    Remember..If you just read stuff every will sharpen your mind
    and you will rise above all the idiot morons around you very quickly...

    This reading you do does not all have to all be about plumbing either
    Read anything..... quantum mechanics... medicine, whatever..
    just feed your brain....

    Plumbing can become a very mind numbing job if you dont challenge yourself
    Driveing around all day in a service truck with a moron helper that
    never finished grade school can be very , very challengeing.
    ( I do that every other day )

    Your brain has to be excercised every day too .....or it will rot, and you will
    end up on the end of a sewer machine for 25 years....
    trust me , you really dont want that...

    doing plumbing work can be a great job,
    but try to look at this job like a stepping stone to something better....

    see your your future..........

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  8. Garydaplummer

    Garydaplummer Union plumber/pipefitter-self employed

    Mechanicsburg, PA
    Welcome to the trade!

    I went from doing jobsite deliveries for a contractor to getting into an apprentice program, becoming a journeyman plumber/pipefitter, on to a job foreman and general foreman, and the last few years went into business for myself. I have been a journeyman and apprentice instructor for 18 years. I have been in this trade for 24 years. That's said just to show you entering this trade with little or no experience can work out just fine for you. You'll find ten guys have ten different ways of doing things, all of which they feel is the best approach. Learn them all and figure out what's best. Be open to learning from the old school tradesmen, they can show you things learned through years of experience-but keep in mind some of them do not keep up with newer technology, the old way is not necessarily the best way. Read all you can, and try to get some training outside of the hands-on at work approach. You'll run across some who have nothing but complaints about the trade (even on this forum) yet they stick with it. Distance yourself from these people, they'll only bring your attitude down with theirs. No matter what path you choose there are going to be these people. This is hard work, many times in unfavorable conditions, but if you're realistic about what this work can offer you and what you can contribute to it, you can make a very good living and provide well for yourself and your family. I feel blessed to have men in the trade talk to me about the apprenticeship program. They told me about an opportunity that provided a high school graduate with the ability to earn great money with great benefits for the past 24 years. Welcome to the trade and remember, you're getting into a trade, not just a job. If you look at it that way and put forth the effort, you'll do very well.
  9. Ivel

    Ivel New Member


    I have been around people like that before.
    nice avatar of master roshi by the way.
  10. tha advice I gave you

    about the advice I gave you....

    I wish someone would have give me this advice when I
    was about 18 years old...

    of maybe they did and I just did not hear any of it.

    because a lot of this advice I had to learn the hard way

    the plumbing trade can be great, and can be a good
    living for you..

    as long as you never stop learning things and get set in your ways..

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
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