Individual in the plumbing trade uses plumbing products to repair bathroom fixtures

3 Plumbing Industry Trends for 2019

For centuries, plumbing has improved hygiene and provided clean water to homes and businesses. Though the industry isn’t new, plumbing continues to evolve as modern technologies change the way water is delivered, heated, pumped and stored. New plumbing solutions benefit homeowners, business owners and hard-working tradespeople in the plumbing field.

 

Here are three bathroom trends in the plumbing industry to keep in mind, whether you are just starting technical school plumbing classes or brushing up on the latest plumbing news.

 

More Concerns About Aging Pipes

In America, some pipes are 150 years old. Iron and steel—traditional materials for plumbing and waste water pipes—make up nearly two-thirds of municipal water pipes according to the New York Times. When water sits in older metal pipes, chemicals used to treat the water can break down the pipe and contaminate the water. Although outlawed by Congress, very old pipes still lurk inside older homes and infrastructure. Many individuals avoid lead exposure in their drinking water by replacing old pipes in their home with lead-free alternatives.

 

To do this, many people turn to trade workers who have the knowledge and skills to replace pipes and maintain plumbing systems. As older pipes continue to age in America, people will depend on individuals in the plumbing trade for guidance and expertise.

 

Popular Plumbing Fixtures

In addition to updating old pipes, homeowners are turning toward sleeker and smarter plumbing fixtures in their bathrooms and kitchens. Plumbers can be aware of the latest designs and upcoming trends they may encounter in homes or businesses, such as:

 

  • Single-handle faucets – These user-friendly fixtures allow a single touch to start or stop the flow of water. Plumbers may repair or install these faucets in kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Drop-in sinks – Large, single-bay sinks make it easy to wash pots and pans. Plumbers should be aware that drop-in sinks, while convenient for homeowners, reduce under-sink space and make for smaller repair areas.
  • Freestanding bathtubs – Different from antique clawfoot tubs, freestanding tubs are typically offered in unique, sleek shapes and are often installed in the center of the bathroom.

 

No matter what fixtures or appliances are in style, plumbers can take extra care to protect bathroom designs from damage during an installation or repair. Quality workmanship and attention to detail are signs of a skilled plumber.

 

Plumbing Trends for Green Living

Homeowners and business owners alike are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. More consumers make choices that directly affect the planet and their wallets. Some traditional plumbing systems create unnecessary energy and waste. Here are several increasingly popular plumbing solutions that leave a lighter footprint on the planet.

 

  • Solar-powered water heaters
  • Touchless and tankless fixtures
  • Variable-flow toilets and showers
  • Low-flush toilets
  • Constant water pressure systems
  • Whole-house water filtration systems
  • Faucet-flow reducers

 

Although some green plumbing systems are more expensive up front, they can help consumers save on utility bills over time. The more aware tradesmen and tradeswomen are about plumbing fixtures, the better they are able to diagnose, install, repair or maintain plumbing systems that offer efficient benefits.

 

Stay up to date with the plumbing trade, trends and industry news by exploring other plumbing topics on the Apex Technical School blog. To learn more about plumbing classes at trade school, schedule a tour of our campus where you will talk with friendly admissions staff and observe a plumbing class.

 

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

 

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.

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Trade Programs: Plumbing & Pipefitting vs. Electrical

Plumbing has delivered clean water and protected people from disease for centuries, starting with the Roman Empire. Today, plumbing allows people to enjoy the comforts of daily living, including hot water, showers, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines. Similarly, electricity helps power many plumbing appliances in homes, as well as refrigerators, computers, air conditioning systems and lighting. Without these technological advancements—and the skilled tradespeople who install, repair and maintain them—modern living would be very different.

At Apex Technical School, we offer training programs focused on helping students build technical knowledge and skills in plumbing and electrical. Interested in learning which program is a good fit for you? Discover the difference between these programs in the infographic below.

Plumbing and pipefitting versus electrical trade program infographic

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

 

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.

 

Mechanic with wrenches in pocket

What Are the 7 Trade School Programs at Apex?

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to school. Some students attend a traditional college to earn a two- or four-year degree. Many others discover a combination of knowledge, skills and technical training is the right path for them. A vocation education at trade school provides students with a variety of positive benefits. If you’re interested in attending trade classes, keep reading to learn about our programs.

 

Automotive Service Repair

At Apex, the automotive service repair program helps students learn to repair vehicles, help vehicles operate safely and get specialized training for an entry-level position. It provides a foundation of technical skills students use to evaluate mechanical systems and make repairs, as well as:

 

  • Fix and maintain the inner parts of the vehicle
  • Test major components when a vehicle breaks down
  • Work on engines, transmissions and brakes
  • Perform basic car care and maintenance, including oil changes

 

Students spend time in the classroom and shop where instructors incorporate diagnostic procedures, proper tool usage and much more. Auto mechanic classes are often a good fit for individuals who enjoy hands-on learning and have a passion for cars. Discover four signs auto mechanic school is right for you.

 

Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, Appliance/Controls

This vocational program focuses on teaching skills related to repairing and troubleshooting air conditioners, refrigeration systems, electrical control panels, major home appliances and gas-fired heating systems. Students in the HVAC program at Apex learn how to:

 

  • Use the basics of electricity for installation, service and maintenance
  • Repair and maintain domestic and commercial units
  • Learn about cooling towers, piping and ductwork
  • Follow codes and safety practices

 

HVAC training classes include both basic and advanced segments where students split their learning time between the classroom and shop. Interested in the HVAC field? Learn more about

 

Auto Body Repair

From preparing a car for body repairs to learning how to weld and retexture plastic, students in this vocational program train to enter the auto body repair industry. Students not only learn to improve a vehicle’s appearance but also:

 

  • Work on collision repairs, windshields and window glass
  • Fix structural, safety and cosmetic issues, such as dented doors and bumpers
  • Use paint and welding techniques
  • Restore older cars damaged by rust and age

 

In auto body repair classes, experienced instructors teach students techniques for fixing everything from minor to major auto collision damage. Explore the differences between the

 

Combination Welding Technology

Apex’s trade classes give students hands-on experience and teach a range of welding knowledge. Students learn techniques for welding repair and maintenance as well as how to use some forms of advanced welding equipment. Apex instructors focus on helping students:

 

  • Read blueprints and interpret welding symbols
  • Perform the four major welding processes, including SMAW, GMAW, GTAW and FCAW
  • Weld plates and pipes in multiple positions

 

Welding has been used for centuries to join two pieces of material together and continues to be a viable modern career option. Interested in learning if combination welding classes might be a good fit for you? Here are three signs you should consider welding training.

 

Electrical and Advanced Electrical

This trade school program prepares students to perform a variety of electrical tasks—from reading circuit diagrams and installing wiring for lighting to learning about green energy systems and more. Apex students learn with instructors and peers, study theories in the classroom and get hands-on experiences in the shop. Students training in the electrical program learn to:

 

  • Use basic tools and equipment to repair electrical conductors and components
  • Perform splices, bonding and grounding
  • Install circuit breakers, fuses and wiring
  • Install security systems, fire alarms, intercoms and other electronic systems

 

Electrical and advanced electrical classes span six segments and help students earn 900 hours of trade school training. Interested in exploring a bright future in the electrical field? Discover four reasons the electrical trade could be the path for you.

 

Construction and Building Skills

Individuals in the construction and building trade program touch upon a variety of skills—ranging from carpentry and electrical familiarity to plumbing, kitchen and bath knowledge. These tradesmen and women use their hands-on skills to:

 

  • Troubleshoot and repair electrical boxes and fittings
  • Frame windows and doors
  • Install light fixtures, wiring and countertops
  • Use power tools and plumbing blueprints

 

At Apex, students prepare to enter the construction field by taking six segments of carpentry and building skills classes, as well as learning to build a model house in the shop. Think you might be a good fit? Explore five signs a construction career path is right for you.

 

Plumbing and Pipefitting

Students in this vocational program learn how to install water heaters, water supply and waste disposal systems found in private kitchens and bathrooms. They also learn the basics and practice real techniques, including:

 

  • Assemble pipe sections, tubing and fittings
  • Locate leaks and repair pipes, fixtures and drainage systems
  • Follow blueprints, codes and safety specifications
  • Use a variety of hand and power tools, levels and other materials

 

Plumbing classes give students the opportunity to learn how to find the source of a problem, as well as what it takes to solve the problem. Wondering if you’re ready to pursue the plumbing trade? Here are four signs a plumbing career could be a good fit.

 

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

 

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.

Plumbing equipment used by technical school students to learn plumbing trade

4 Signs a Plumbing Career Pathway Is a Good Fit for You

Should I pursue my goals of becoming a skilled tradesman? Is the plumbing industry right for me? How do I know if I should follow the plumbing career pathway?

It’s normal to ask these questions as you consider the next steps in your career. Perhaps you’ve repaired plumbing or pipefitting work in your home, but you don’t know if you should pursue plumbing training. As a first step, it’s helpful to evaluate what you like about the field and how to take advantage of your personal characteristics. Consider these indicators as you learn more about the plumbing trade.

  1. I’m a problem-solver.

  2. You’re a curious person with a knack for working with your hands. You like the challenge of solving puzzles, problems and collaborating with a group. Even if you’re unsure at first, you’re confident you can figure out most problems. You are both practical and creative when it comes to finding solutions.

     

    Tradespeople in the plumbing industry need to think efficiently. Installations and repair jobs require plumbers to draw on their knowledge and skills of the trade. Because there are many types of fixtures, faucets and pipes, plumbers must know how to handle a variety of tools, read blueprints and find solutions for many systems and appliances.

     

  3. I take pride in being reliable.

  4. Your friends, family and coworkers, know they can depend on you to follow through, show up on time or finish a project. You value hard work in others and you expect it from yourself.

     

    Workers in the plumbing trade need to demonstrate reliability to customers and business partners. Some individuals are responsible for several house calls per day, commercial plumbing projects and installs and repairs. A tradesperson who is consistent and trustworthy is an asset to the plumbing industry.

     

  5. I like to learn and test new things.

  6. You’re interested in the mechanics of how things work. You’re a hands-on person who prefers to troubleshoot an issue, take your time finding the right solution and complete a challenge the right way—and even if the right way takes longer, you never cut corners. You enjoy assembling pieces and parts to find out how things work together.

     

    In the plumbing trade, workers often repair a variety of pipes and appliances—some new and some old. While homeowners may do their best to fix a plumbing problem, a skilled plumber can recognize an unsafe repair job, locate the correct tools and materials and quickly correct the issue. To stay knowledgeable in their trade, plumbers must keep current on techniques, tools and housing and building codes.

     

  7. I don’t mind small spaces.

  8. Individuals in the plumbing industry often find themselves in confined spaces such as crouching under a sink, working in tight corners, and maneuvering around appliances. These areas may be uncomfortable at times and require individuals in the plumbing trade to maintain good health. In addition, manual dexterity and physical fitness help plumbers minimize their risk of injury.

    There are many exciting trade industries and countless reasons to consider a technical school to continue your education. If you’re interested in learning about our trade school classes, explore our plumbing and pipefitting program or contact Apex today.

 
*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.

Three common plumbing tools used by a plumber

Common Plumbing Tools for the Plumbing Trade

Plumbers assemble, install, and repair pipes used for heating, water and drainage in residential homes and businesses. Often, they face unforeseen circumstances and scenarios in which they must rely on their training, knowledge of the trade, and the tools they have on hand. Therefore, accumulating and maintaining a supply of tools is key for plumbers.

 

Plumbing Tool List

In addition to hands-on training, individuals in the plumbing trade require specific tools and materials to successfully complete on-the-job repairs. From basic tools such as plumber’s wrench to more advanced equipment like a propane torch, every individual in the trade should learn how to use the common tools of the trade.

 

What tools do tradesman in the plumbing industry need? Let’s look at a few tools common to an average plumbing task or repair.

 

  1. Plumbing Wrenches

    The wrench is one of the most basic and essential tools used by a plumber. It’s important to note that plumbers need several different wrenches to remove fittings due to varying pipe sizes. Some useful wrenches include:

    • Fixed wrenches (standard and metric)
    • Pipe wrench (large and small)
    • Adjustable crescent wrenches
    • Basin wrench

    Pipe wrenches have strong, adjustable jaws for turning iron pipes, but plumbers should be cautious when using them on PVC, so as not to crack the plastic pipe.

  2.  

  3. Drain Tools

    A plumber should be well-prepared to resolve clogged sinks, bathtubs, showers, toilets, and other drains throughout households and commercial businesses. To do so, he or she should understand some helpful tools:

    • Plunger
    • Hand auger (also called a plumber’s snake)
    • Screwdriver
    • Bucket, rags, and sponge

    Hand augers and plungers help remove debris and allow water to flow freely through a drain pipe. No matter which drain is clogged, it’s wise to have a bucket, rags, or a sponge on hand to clean up excess water and debris.

  4.  

  5. Tools and Supports for PVC Pipes

    Another common tool in the plumbing trade is the hacksaw. Plumbers use hacksaws to cut new pieces of pipe to the correct size when replacing old or damaged PVC pipe. To make clean, level cuts, plumbers also utilize a pipe cutter.

    • Hacksaw
    • PVC pipe cutter
    • Metal file and brush
    • PVC primer
    • Pipe glue

    Plumbers use a metal file to smooth any rough edges and a brush to dust off residue. Additionally, plumbers can create a water-tight seal around the mouth of a PVC pipe with pipe glue. Though easier to install and repair than copper or galvanized steel pipes, plastic plumbing pipes still require a support system to minimize vibration and help distribute the weight of passing water. Generally, plumbers support PVC pipes with strapping, clamps, and anchors.

  6.  

  7. Emergency Supplies
    Corrosion from rust or mineral deposits can damage metal parts, and replacement is often necessary to ensure a proper fit and resolve leaks. In addition to tools, plumbers should have a variety of spare parts available, including:

    • Fittings
    • Washers
    • Valves

    Lastly, if a plumber uses a propane torch to sweat copper pipes and fittings, a fire extinguisher should always be nearby for safety.

 
Interested in learning about the plumbing trade? Check out the plumbing program at Apex.
 

 
*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the New York State Education Department.
Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.
 

S-shape pipe for toilet, designed by famous plumber Alexander Cummings for the plumbing trade

5 Plumbing Trade Lessons from Famous Plumbers

The plumbing trade is full of famous plumbers who built up their careers like you’re working to do. Use these tips to start your career off on the right foot, and aim to take the trade even further.

  1. Sir John Harrington: More is not always better.

  2. As noted in our history of the plumbing trade article, Sir John Harrington invented the first flushable toilet. His toilet could accommodate up to 20 people between flushes, was two-feet deep, and required an in-house cistern to provide 7.5 gallons of water to flush. While the toilet’s size allowed for greater efficiency through a lower number of flushes per person, it did not catch on. Harrington discovered that it was difficult to dispose of the quantity of waste.

    As many in the plumbing trade learn, sanitation and comfort should not be sacrificed for efficiency and quantity.

  3. Alexander Cumming: Seals are essential.

  4. Alexander Cumming invented the S-shaped pipe that connects the toilet bowl to the sewer path. The S-shape creates a water seal that prevents sewer gases from entering the bowl. These toxic and nontoxic gases, while unlikely to cause harm, can lead homeowners to contact someone in the plumbing trade due to an unpleasant smell.

    It’s essential to check for proper seals in all pipe systems. Scents aren’t signs of plumbing danger, but they can point to smaller issues that can make homeowners unhappy.

  5. Thomas Crapper: Your name matters.

  6. While Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet, his name is the source of the American slang term for the toilet. Because he was successful at his job, his name became synonymous with the plumbing fixture he helped optimize.

    When entering the plumbing trade, remember that your name matters. Customers will remember you, whether you do a good or bad job, and they can either recommend you to their friends, or steer their friends away from you. It’s essential that you prove your integrity. Your name and reputation can quickly expand beyond your control – for better or worse.

  7. Philip Haas: Use your experience to innovate.

  8. Philip Haas made several improvements to plumbing devices, greatly advancing the trade, including:

    • Frost-proof toilets: He moved the water supply for toilets located in unheated areas to below the frost line.
    • Commercial flush valve design: He patented the first metal toggle knob to improve operation efficiency.
    • Rim flushing: He invented the method of toilet flushing in which water beneath the bowl rim rinses the sides of the bowl and flushes the toilet at the same time.

    Haas started his career in the plumbing trade simply; he went into business with his brother and branched into contracting and supplying. Because of his experience in the trade, he saw how plumbing could be improved. Use your own experience in school and the trade to improve the plumbing industry with your own ideas. What starts as a small question could lead to an influential discovery.

  9. White House Plumbers: Always practice ethical business

While plumbers only in the figurative sense, this group of Nixon White House employees involved in Watergate offer important lessons for those in the plumbing trade. The White House Plumbers’ jobs were to stop confidential information from leaking to the press. To address these leaks, the Plumbers were involved in a burglary and illegal intelligence gathering.

You may encounter difficult situations in the plumbing industry. You may discover that a homeowner’s leak is much bigger than it first appeared; or that the leak is causing problems that will require involving other trade professionals. While this news may be disappointing, the homeowner will ultimately value your honesty and integrity. Always do what’s best in the long-term, rather than only plugging seemingly small leaks.

 

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.

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The History of the Plumbing Industry

The plumbing trade is advanced – commonly believed to be founded by the Romans’ legendary water bridges. If you’re wondering if you should start to learn plumbing – or how to become a plumber – start with the fascinating history of plumbing below.

It Started With the Roman Empire (27 BC – 1453 AD)

While small evolutions to plumbing happened in Babylonia starting in 3000 B.C., the Romans were the first to build elaborate systems that could transport water in and out of cities. By building aqueducts, or water bridges that conveyed water (see picture), the Romans could bring water from mountain springs to supply their cities on the dry plains.

Rome’s sewer system was revolutionary for waste disposal. According to Classics professor Peter Aicher in an interview with PBS, sewers hidden underground “took aqueduct overflow and flushed the refuse into the river.” Previous civilizations simply put waste next to the streets or let it drain away from their houses.

Aicher explained that the Romans were focused on clean water sources. Not only would they search for underground springs to connect their aqueducts to using tunnels, but they would also be able to reroute muddied water from lakes after a storm to places that needed water for industrial or irrigation uses, “where cleanliness was not as important.”

Once water arrived in the city via the aqueduct’s gravity system, it was stored in closed tanks or water towers, Aicher said, usually in one of the highest spots in the city. These tanks were the storage point between the open aqueducts and the closed piping delivery system. Only the wealthiest citizens had private pipes, so most of the piped water was delivered under the streets and back up to fountains, Rome’s well-known giant baths, and public water basins.

The First Flushable Toilet (1500s AD)

While the Romans did extend their innovations to public restrooms, their toilets were not typically connected to the sewage system, Julie Beck said in an article for The Atlantic, for fear of contamination. And because many plumbing innovations halted at the fall of the Empire, the first flushable toilet was not designed until the Elizabethan era, long before indoor plumbing.

Nate Barksdale, for HISTORY.com, described the first flushable toilet, invented by courtier Sir John Harrington:

  • It was a two-foot-deep waterproof oval bowl.
  • An in-house cistern provided the water.
  • It required 7.5 gallons of water to flush.
  • It could accommodate 20 people between flushes.

 

Due to the lack of manufacturing and disposal improvements the Industrial Revolution would bring, Barksdale explained, people did not start to adopt this first flushing toilet.

The First Successful Line of Toilets (1800s AD)

Barksdale notes that two major innovations of the Industrial Revolution allowed the toilet to successfully mainstream:

    1. The S-shaped pipe, created by English inventor Alexander Cumming in 1775, which kept sewer gasses from travelling up to the toilet.
    2. The ballcock, an “improved tank-filling mechanism still used in toilets today,” invented in the late 1800s by Thomas Crapper, the Englishman recognized by Americans due to his brand’s success.

 

Thanks to all of the innovations mentioned above, the plumbing trade continues to flourish as experts are needed to maintain, repair, and innovate our plumbing systems. Today’s plumbing trade work with the following:

  • Water supplies
  • Heating systems
  • Gas and oil supplies
  • Drainage systems
  • Piping and fixtures
  • Waste disposal

 

If this history of plumbing has intrigued you, find out if you want to start to learn the plumbing trade.
 

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.