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Last edited 09 Jul 2021
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.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- All eyes up to plastic rainwater systems.
- Back siphonage.
- Building heating systems.
- Building services.
- Cooling systems for buildings.
- Greywater recycling.
- Hot water.
- Hot water safety.
- Mechanical, electrical and plumbing MEP.
- Passive water efficiency measures.
- Plumbing drawing.
- Plumbing appurtenance.
- Rainwater harvesting.
- Sanitary pipework.
- Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation SNIPEF.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- Types of water.
- Water hammer.
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