- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 08 Nov 2018
The term 'plumbing' refers to any system that allows the movement of fluids, typically involving pipes, valves, plumbing fixtures, tanks and other apparatus. Modern plumbing may also involve the movement of gases such as fuel gas.
The etymology of the term ‘plumbing’ comes from ‘plumbum’, the Latin word for lead. This is because the first effective pipes used for the movement of water were lead pipes used by the Romans. After the Second World War, increased awareness of lead poisoning resulted in copper piping taking precedence over lead.
Although ancient Greek, Persian and Indian cities had used primitive forms of plumbing, the Romans were the first to pioneer expansive systems of plumbing, such as aqueducts, the removal of wastewater, and other sanitary features.
Today, plumbing systems might be used for:
- Heating and cooling.
- Waste removal.
- Potable cold and hot water supply.
- Water recovery and treatment systems.
- Rainwater, surface and subsurface water drainage.
- Fuel gas piping.
Qualifications obtained by plumbers may involve:
- Foundations courses.
- National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).
- Specialist qualifications.
Watersafe is a free online directory and national accreditation body for competent and qualified plumbers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It brings together seven existing Approved Contractors’ Schemes:
- The Water Industry Approved Plumbers’ Scheme (WIAPS),
- Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC),
- Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE),
- Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF),
- Anglian Water’s APLUS,
- Severn Trent’s Watermark and
- Thames Water’s TAPS.
- Installation, repair or servicing of a gas boiler.
- Installation, or repair of a gas fire, gas cooker or hob.
Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems may be referred to collectively as MEP systems.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building heating systems.
- Building services.
- Cooling systems for buildings.
- Greywater recycling.
- Hot water.
- Mechanical, electrical and plumbing MEP.
- Passive water efficiency measures.
- Plumbing drawing.
- Rainwater harvesting.
- Sanitary pipework.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- Types of water.
Featured articles and news
The types, causes and measurement of damp in buildings.
The new NEC4 contract creates a true procurement alliance arrangement for all stakeholders.
Andrew Strauss talks about performance and team building at the 2018 BSRIA Briefing.
Applications have to be in by the end of the week.
Reflections on the 5th Annual Global Congress of Knowledge Economy, held in Qingdao, China.
An artist finds ruined and decaying buildings a source of inspiration for his work. Book review.
When is there a right to light, and what happens if it is obstructed?
What would the nationalisation of economic infrastructure mean for GB?
A new guide to improving value by reducing design error.
We've reached 80,000 page views a day and 10,000 registered users. Why not join them?
A masterplan is a framework within which a location is encouraged to develop or change. Read our introductory article.