What’s the Difference Between a Plumber and a Pipefitter?


There’s an age-old debate about the difference between a plumber and a pipefitter. Many people use the terms interchangeably, and they are often put into the same category in terms of career classification.

There’s absolutely no doubt that both of these occupations require skill and knowledge directly relating to measuring, cutting, and the correct connection of piping. However, within the trade, there are a number of differences, and it’s important to understand this difference so that you don’t end up getting the wrong professional to assist you with your problem at home.

Similarities Between The Two Professions

The main reason why the two professions are confused from time to time is that both have to do with the installation of pipes and fixtures. A basic requirement is also that both need to have knowledge of state and local building code and be comfortable with studying and interpreting blueprints.

Difference Between The Two Professions

plumbing-contractorThe main difference between a plumber and a pipefitter is the scale of the work that will be performed as well as the diverse skill set. A pipefitter’s work deals mainly with pipes made of special metals that can handle high pressure. The type of pipe will depend on the material that runs through it, including chemicals, gasses, and waste material. Plumbers, on the other hand, tend to work with more basic piping such as copper and PVC that handles the flow of water or waste disposal systems.

Pipefitters work on large-scale industrial sights, factories, and power plants. Plumbers mainly get call-outs to residential jobs, but also perform work on business premises.

Be Sure You Know The Difference

Before you call out the wrong professional to your premises, be sure you know the difference.

Always remember that plumbing is more to do with everything sanitary and your quality of life while keeping people healthy.  This includes water piping drain, waste and vent piping, steam and medical gas piping, the appurtenant fixtures and equipment. Plumbers will also work on roof drainage systems, smaller fuel gas piping, as well as smaller hydronic system piping.

Legally all plumbers must be registered. Apprentice plumbers must be at least registered.

Pipefitters usually work on larger gas projects. This includes steam and hydronic system piping as well as refrigeration piping. This also includes industrial piping, pipelines, as well as the equipment associated with these systems. Pipefitters have a high level of skill when it comes to welding and working from detailed drawings.

Categories: FAQ