Just some background on the types of home plumbing services out there and what to look for.
Pipelayers typically run large plumbing projects installing the general plumbing framework outside a property. This involves digging trenches, lining the trenches with cement or plastic; then laying the piping for sewers, drains and the water mains.
Plumbers are the plumbers we typically understand - installing water systems and drainage. Sometimes they do minor carpentry to install piping; and install fixtures such as showerheads, sinks and baths; ad in the kitchen appliances that use water such as dishwashers and water heaters.
Pipefitters work in power and industrial plants.
Sprinklerfitters are a highly specialized group of plumbers. Sprinklerfitters install and maintain automatic fire sprinkler systems, such as the ones found in office buildings, manufacturing and industrial plants and large or multi-unit residential properties.
Check if your plumber is a member of The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) or the The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE). Members of the APHC are trained in plumbing and heating work, are assessed every year, and must have a minimum of £2 million Public Liability Insurance and £5 million Employer’s Liability Insurance. Members of CIPHE has a complaints procedure and requires its members to have Employer’s Liability Insurance and a minimum of £2 million Public Liability Insurance.
Always check your plumber has valid Public Liability Insurance, regardless of whether they belong to a trade association, this means you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
You should make sure you hire someone who has the plumbing qualifications needed to work safely and competently. Look for a local plumber who has carried out a plumber course such as one of these:
Finally some tips to help you before seeing your plumber.
If you do have a problem, use your stopcock to cut off the flow of water and minimise the damage caused. Research by the AA shows that one in three homeowners don't know where their stopcock is located, so make sure you know where it is.
Insulate your pipes and water storage tank. Pay close attention to joints and bends, and put the insulation foam on top of pipes rather than underneath them. Turn off any indoor valves on pipes leading to outside taps. Then, open the outside tap and leave it open to let any water drain out to ensure there's no water in the pipes to freeze.
Avoid putting any food waste down the sink as this can cause a blockage. Never pour fat down the sink. Instead, let it cool and then put it in a container for disposal.