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Plumbers vs Pipefitters

What's the difference?

Posted 09:12 November 11, 2019
Last Updated 10:42 January 05, 2020

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Plumbers and pipefitters are both highly-trained professionals who dedicate years of training to their chosen occupations. There are many people who look at these two job titles and think that they are the same. This is untrue. We'll examine the work tasks of each occupation and highlights some of the similarities as well as the differences between them.


Plumbers perform a variety of services. They install and repair pipes. They remove clogs from pipes, fix hot water heaters, repair or replace garbage disposals, as well as install and fix toilets. Plumbers work with the pipes and fixtures related to both drinking water systems and waste water disposal systems. Plumbers work in private residences, businesses (commercial), or both.

Plumbers need many different types of tools and equipment to perform a variety of repairs. Basic tools include wrenches and augers. More advanced tools include hydrojetters, hydro excavation equipment, trenchless pipe lining equipment, leak detection equipment, trucks, and more. Successful plumbers have a huge assortment of tools and capital equipment.


A pipefitter works with pipes that are made with materials designed to handle high pressure materials. These types of pipes may contain chemicals, acids or even steam. The pipes may be a part of a refrigeration system, a boiler or an HVAC system. Generally, pipefitters work in industrial and manufacturing environments that have elaborate systems of pipes. They must know how to read a building’s blueprints so they can locate the sections of pipe they need to focus on.

The delicate repair work of a pipefitter requires him or her to be able to use specialized tools and equipment. Fitter grips are one example of a tool used by a pipefitter. Fitter grips allow a pipefitter to connect pipes to joints. A pipe threader is another useful tool for a pipefitter. This device makes grooves in one end of a pipe so it can be connected to a coupling. A cutting torch is a tool a pipefitter uses to cut lengths of pipe. Pipefitters also use various types of saws, welders and pressure gauges in the course of their work. The specific tool a pipefitter uses depends upon the task he or she is working on.

Similarities and Differences

Both work in the field of plumbing, but that's where the similarities end. Plumbers tend to work in or around existing structures (residential or commercial). Pipefitters focus on new construction projects and rarely work on residential projects. They work in big factory installations that have thousands of meters of pipes, and they focus solely on those pipes. Pipefitters also work with gas pipes, exhaust pipes, and chemical pipes; something plumbers rarely do.

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