What’s the difference between a plumber and a pipefitter?

Although Glenview plumbers and pipefitters both handle pipes, valves and various fittings, all made from differing materials, there is a difference between the two trades; scale and skill. Plumbers are usually involved in lighter work, installing, repairing or replacing plumbing in residences and light commercial buildings to carry potable water, remove waste and for use with heating and cooling installations. Pipefitters on the other hand are more engaged in handling heavy work, they are often called steamfitters and they are called into heavy industrial installations and military work.


A pipefitter requires skills that are more demanding and broader based than the skills needed by a plumber. Glenview plumbers are trained and skilled in working with materials such as PVC, copper and galvanized steel, they can install these pipes using data taken from drawings and designs, they make their connections using threaded fittings, soldered fittings and in the case of PVC, a solvent glue. As well as installing the piping system, the plumber will install all the fixtures such as bathtubs, sinks and toilets.


A pipefitter on the other hand uses all the same materials that are used by a plumber; plus more. A pipefitter uses pipes and fittings which are made from special alloys as they are required to handle very high pressure and often the pipes handle highly corrosive liquids and gases. Pipes and fittings made from stainless steel and other high carbon content alloys are used. These special alloys are often connected by welding, a skill not required by a plumber.


Pipefitters will be found wherever you find heavy industry, good examples being oil and gas exploration and refining, mineral processing plants, food processing and the navy and merchant marine. In all cases, the pipefitter will install pipes to carry various materials; oil, gas, steam and chemicals. In many cases these systems are miles long. In naval environments, a pipefitter is responsible for fuel transfer, hydraulics and ventilation on ships as well as on shore facilities.


Many manufacturing facilities will use the unique skills of both trades; plumbing and pipefitting. The Glenview plumbers will install and maintain the water lines, waste lines as well as fire protection systems such as overhead sprinklers. Pipefitters on the other hand are responsible for any high pressure piping that is requited in the manufacturing process; this can be live steam, solvents, paint and other toxic fluids as well as the pipes required for food processing.


It would be rare for a residential home owner to need the skills of a pipefitter, not so with the skills of Glenview plumbers. If you need timely and dependable plumbing, drainage and sewer services, North Coast Sewer & Drainage is a licensed, and insured family-owned company with 35 years of experience and will get the job done correctly.

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