The 5 Greatest Threats to Plumbers in 2017

Nobody ever said this job was going to be easy. Plumbers face all kinds of difficulties in their day-to-day work, from handling high-pressure pipes to high-pressure clients. It’s a lot to manage. But you can’t spot all those dangers from afar. So, to keep you on the lookout and ready for 2017, these are the five greatest threats to plumbers right now.

1. Catastrophic Leaks

Catastrophic Leaks

Plumbers deal with small water leaks all the time, but truly catastrophic leaks are a bit more rare and far more dangerous. Because a serious leak can flood a basement, damage wooden floor support structures, and increase the danger of many of the other threats on our list as well.

How do these leaks happen? It often starts with a burst pipe or a smaller leak. In fact, 10% of homes have leaks that waste more than 90 gallons per day.

Imagine what 90 gallons can look like on your floor, and you start to get a picture as to why this is such a danger for plumbers and homeowners alike. The good news here is that home water leak detection systems now are often equipped with automatic main water valve shut off systems. These systems stop water leaks the moment they’re detected and are starting to prevent these kinds of leaks.

2. Flushable Wipes and Other Non-Dissolvables

Plumbers have been saying it for ages, but many people just never seem to listen. The fact is, flushable wipes, cotton balls, facial wipes, and swabs do not dissolve the way, say, toilet paper does. This didn’t used to be much of a problem back when these kinds of wipes were only really used for babies. But today, companies make versions for adults and the results for cities and plumbers have been catastrophic.

New York’s Department of Environmental Protection, for example, spends $10 million a year fixing problems caused by flushable wipes. What exactly happens? A flushable wipe or two goes down the drain. It doesn’t dissolve and so it begins to catch onto other things going down the drain, from hair to fats put in the sink. The result is a clog that can be expensive and difficult to fix.

3. Black Friday

Black Friday

Powhusku / Flickr / CC BY-SA

It’s known for being the busiest day in retail, but it probably comes as a serious surprisethat Black Friday is also the busiest day of the year for plumbers, with calls increasing around 50% compared to a normal Friday. How’s this the case? The explanation is pretty simple. Even more than Christmas, Thanksgiving is the holiday that brings Americans together the most.

This leads to the holiday also being a top time when plumbing systems are straining under the extra work from so many extra guests. That doesn’t just go for bathroom pipes, but particularly for sinks and garbage disposals. So what’s the threat here?

In short, it’s from working too much. Taking calls for ten to twelve hours means more chances for mistakes. Exhausted workers likely recovering from their own Thanksgiving ordeals don’t help either. Add these together, and Black Friday is clearly a threat to plumbers across the nation.

4. Live Wires

None of the other threats to plumbers has risen to the level of life-threatening, but live wires can fall into that category. Improper wiring combined with a flooded basement or other room leads directly to the danger of electrocution. Preventing this begins with homeowners making sure they hire proper electricians to do any work in their homes.

Of course, plumbers can’t always rely on homeowners to do everything correctly, so they have to check for live wires when dealing with standing water. If everyone does their job, things will be okay, but it’s still a serious danger to consider.

5. Disease

OSHA regulations or not, some plumbers just refuse to wear the protective gear they should. As a result, disease is probably the greatest threat to plumbers today. Essentially, because plumbers are working with pipes that carry human waste, the number of pathogens and parasites they can be exposed to is truly staggering.

This covers everything from staphylococcus aureus to cholera, clostridium difficile to HIV. Yes, these diseases and many more can live in the spaces where plumbers work every day. This is why it’s so important for plumbers to use the gloves, face masks, and bodysuits that OSHA recommends.

Other Worries or Dangers?

Are you a plumber? Do you have any of your own dangers to add to this list? Let us know what you’re concerned about.

Header image: clement127 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND