Is Plumbing Considered Mechanical? (Introducing Mechanical Plumbers)

Have you ever wondered what sets apart mechanical plumbers from general plumbers? Let’s explore the world of mechanical plumbing and its significance in various industries.

What is mechanical plumbing?

Mechanical plumbing, also known as plumbing mechanics, encompasses the installation, repair, and maintenance of various mechanical systems in buildings.

Mechanical plumbing is a specialized field that deals with a wide range of mechanical systems in buildings, ensuring their proper installation, operation, and upkeep.

It goes beyond traditional plumbing and includes heating, cooling, ventilation, fire protection, fuel systems, and mechanical controls.

Mechanical plumbers work on boilers, furnaces, radiators, air conditioning units, refrigeration systems, ductwork, fire sprinklers, fuel storage tanks, and more. They ensure the proper functioning and energy efficiency of these systems, handling everything from water supply and drainage to gas lines and control systems.

What type of work does a plumbing mechanic do?

  • Installation of heating systems: Plumbing mechanics install boilers, furnaces, radiators, heat pumps, and other heating equipment. This involves connecting the necessary pipes, vents, and electrical components to ensure proper operation.
  • Installation of cooling systems: They are responsible for installing air conditioning units, refrigeration systems, chillers, and other cooling equipment. This includes connecting refrigerant lines, ductwork, and electrical connections.
  • Ventilation system installation: Plumbing mechanics install ventilation systems, such as ductwork, fans, and exhaust systems, to ensure proper airflow and indoor air quality. They set up the necessary ducts and connections for optimal ventilation.
  • Fire protection system installation: They handle the installation of fire sprinkler systems, fire hydrants, fire pumps, and other fire protection equipment. This involves connecting the sprinkler heads, pipes, valves, and pumps to ensure efficient and reliable fire suppression.
  • Mechanical piping: Plumbing mechanics install mechanical piping systems, including pipes for hot and cold water distribution, steam systems, and gas lines. They ensure proper sizing, connection, and alignment of pipes, as well as the integration of valves and fittings.
  • Fuel system installation: Plumbing mechanics install and maintain fuel storage tanks, fuel distribution systems, and equipment for various fuel sources such as oil, gas, or propane. They connect fuel lines, install safety measures, and ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Maintenance and repair: Plumbing mechanics also handle the ongoing maintenance and repair of mechanical systems. This includes routine inspections, cleaning, troubleshooting, replacing faulty components, and addressing any issues to ensure the optimal functioning of the systems.

The difference between general plumbing and mechanical engineering

Nature of work

  • General plumbing: General plumbing primarily deals with the installation, repair, and maintenance of water supply, drainage, and basic plumbing fixtures inhydrojetting commercial, and industrial settings. Plumbers work with pipes, fixtures (such as sinks, toilets, and showers), valves, pumps, and other plumbing components to ensure the proper flow of water and disposal of waste.
  • Mechanical engineering: Mechanical engineering is a broad discipline that involves the design, analysis, and development of mechanical systems and devices. Mechanical engineers work on a wide range of projects, such as designing and optimizing machinery, HVAC systems, automotive systems, power generation systems, robotics, and more. They focus on the principles of physics, mechanics, and thermodynamics to create efficient and functional mechanical systems.

Scope of systems

  • General plumbing: General plumbing primarily focuses on water supply and drainage systems, including pipes, fixtures, valves, pumps, and sewage systems. It involves ensuring proper water distribution, waste disposal, and maintaining the functionality of plumbing fixtures.
  • Mechanical engineering: Mechanical engineering covers a much broader range of systems beyond plumbing. It encompasses various mechanical systems like heating, cooling, ventilation, fire protection, fuel systems, power generation, automotive systems, robotics, and more. Mechanical engineers deal with the design, analysis, and optimization of these complex mechanical systems.

Design and engineering

  • General plumbing: Plumbers generally follow established guidelines, standards, and regulations while installing and repairing plumbing systems. They ensure proper connections, sizing, and alignment of plumbing components, and their work is more focused on practical installation and repair rather than extensive design and engineering.
  • Mechanical engineering: Mechanical engineers are involved in the design and engineering aspects of mechanical systems. They use scientific principles, mathematical modeling, computer-aided design (CAD) software, and analysis tools to create detailed designs, perform simulations, analyze performance, optimize efficiency, and ensure the safety and reliability of mechanical systems.

Education and expertise

  • General plumbing: Plumbers typically undergo vocational training, apprenticeships, or trade school programs to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for plumbing work. Licensing and certification requirements vary by jurisdiction, but they often involve passing exams and demonstrating proficiency in plumbing techniques and codes.
  • Mechanical engineering: Mechanical engineers typically earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related field. Their education includes coursework in mathematics, physics, engineering principles, design, and analysis. Mechanical engineers are trained in engineering principles, computer-aided design, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and other specialized areas to design and analyze complex mechanical systems.

What innovations are being used in mechanical plumbing?

Innovations in mechanical plumbing are continually shaping the field and driving advancements in efficiency, sustainability, and functionality.

Several notable innovations include the integration of smart technologies, such as sensor-based controls and automation, to optimize system performance and reduce energy consumption.

This includes the use of advanced thermostats, occupancy sensors, and smart flow control valves that enable real-time monitoring and adjustment of heating, cooling, and water distribution systems.

The adoption of green plumbing practices and technologies, such as water-efficient fixtures, greywater recycling systems, and rainwater harvesting, helps conserve water and promote sustainability.

Other innovations include the development of advanced piping materials, such as cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), which offer improved durability and flexibility.

Furthermore, the application of building information modeling (BIM) and computer-aided design tools enhances the design and coordination of mechanical plumbing systems, reducing errors and improving overall project efficiency. 

The training or education required to become a mechanical plumber

Becoming a mechanical plumbing contractor typically requires a combination of formal education, practical training, and relevant experience.

The specific requirements can vary depending on the jurisdiction and local regulations.

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a mechanical plumbing contractor are required to complete a recognized apprenticeship program, which typically lasts for several years and combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

Apprenticeships provide comprehensive training in various aspects of mechanical plumbing, including installation, repair, maintenance, and system design.

Aspiring contractors may be required to obtain relevant certifications or licenses, which often involve passing exams to demonstrate knowledge of plumbing codes, regulations, and safety practices.

Some jurisdictions may also require contractors to hold a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related field.

What types of companies or organizations use mechanical plumbing services?

  • Commercial buildings: Offices, retail stores, malls, hotels, restaurants, and other commercial establishments rely on mechanical plumbing services to install, repair, and maintain their heating, cooling, ventilation, and fire protection systems.
  • Industrial facilities: Manufacturing plants, factories, warehouses, and industrial facilities utilize mechanical plumbing services to install and maintain specialized mechanical systems, such as steam systems, process piping, and industrial HVAC systems.
  • Educational institutions: Schools, colleges, and universities require mechanical plumbing services for their campus buildings, including heating and cooling systems, ventilation, plumbing fixtures, and fire protection systems.
  • Healthcare facilities: Hospitals, clinics, and medical centers rely on mechanical plumbing services to maintain critical systems such as HVAC, medical gas distribution, plumbing fixtures, and specialized plumbing for laboratories and medical equipment.
  • Government and public facilities: Government buildings, libraries, museums, community centers, and other public facilities require mechanical plumbing services to ensure the proper functioning of their mechanical systems and infrastructure.
  • Residential buildings: For the installation, repair, and maintenance of mechanical systems in residential buildings, including heating, cooling, and plumbing, homeowners, property management companies, and real estate developers seek out mechanical plumbing services.
  • Construction and engineering firms: To handle the mechanical aspects of their projects, such as designing and installing plumbing, HVAC, and fire protection systems, construction companies and engineering firms frequently subcontract mechanical plumbing services.
  • Facility management companies: Companies specializing in facility management outsource mechanical plumbing services to ensure the ongoing operation, maintenance, and repair of mechanical systems in the properties they manage.

How much do mechanical plumbers make?

A mechanical plumber in the United States can expect to earn a yearly income of $51,334, which works out to an hourly wage of $24.68.

On the other hand, annual compensation can range anywhere from $36,000 to $100,000.

  • Entry-level: Entry-level mechanical plumbers with limited experience can typically expect to earn an annual salary ranging from $30,000 to $45,000.
  • Mid-level: With a few years of experience and additional certifications or specialized skills, mid-level mechanical plumbers can earn salaries ranging from $45,000 to $70,000 per year.
  • Experienced and Senior-level: Experienced mechanical plumbers who have demonstrated expertise and have many years of experience can earn salaries ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 or more annually.

Location, level of education, and years of experience are all variables that can have an effect on pay.

For instance, the typical annual wage for a mechanical plumber in the state of Texas is $59,581, which equates to an hourly wage of $28.64.

When do you need a mechanical plumber?

  • New construction: When constructing a new building, you will need a mechanical plumber to install the mechanical systems, including heating, cooling, ventilation, fire protection, and plumbing. They ensure the proper integration and functioning of these systems according to building codes and industry standards.
  • Renovations and upgrades: If you’re renovating or upgrading your building, a mechanical plumber can assist with modifying or expanding existing mechanical systems. They can install new equipment, replace outdated components, or reconfigure the layout to meet your specific requirements.
  • System maintenance: Regular maintenance of mechanical systems is crucial to ensure their efficient operation and longevity. A mechanical plumber can perform inspections, cleaning, lubrication, and adjustments to keep the systems in optimal condition. This can help prevent breakdowns, improve energy efficiency, and extend the lifespan of the equipment.
  • System repairs: If any mechanical systems in your building experience issues or malfunctions, a mechanical plumber can diagnose the problem and provide necessary repairs. This includes fixing leaks, addressing faulty valves, replacing worn-out components, and restoring the functionality of the system.
  • Energy efficiency and upgrades: Mechanical plumbers can assess the energy efficiency of your existing mechanical systems and recommend upgrades or improvements to enhance efficiency and reduce utility costs. This may involve installing energy-efficient equipment, improving insulation, or implementing smart controls and automation.
  • Compliance and inspections: Mechanical plumbers are knowledgeable about local codes and regulations governing mechanical systems. They can help ensure your systems meet the required standards by conducting inspections, addressing compliance issues, and making necessary adjustments or repairs.
  • Emergency situations: In case of emergencies like leaks, pipe bursts, or system failures, a mechanical plumber can provide immediate assistance to mitigate the damage and restore functionality. They have the expertise to quickly identify and resolve urgent plumbing and mechanical issues.

What does mechanical mean in plumbing?

In the context of plumbing, “mechanical” refers to the specialized aspects of plumbing that involve mechanical systems beyond the traditional scope of water supply and drainage.

Mechanical plumbing encompasses the installation, repair, and maintenance of various mechanical systems in buildings, including heating, cooling, ventilation, fire protection, fuel systems, and mechanical controls.

Unlike general plumbing, which primarily deals with water supply, drainage, and basic plumbing fixtures, mechanical plumbing extends into the realm of complex mechanical systems.

It involves working with equipment such as boilers, furnaces, radiators, air conditioning units, refrigeration systems, ductwork, fire sprinklers, fuel storage tanks, and more.

Mechanical plumbing requires a deeper understanding of mechanical principles, specialized equipment, and codes and regulations related to these systems.

It focuses on ensuring the proper installation, operation, and upkeep of mechanical systems to achieve optimal functionality, energy efficiency, and safety.

How do I identify a trustworthy mechanical plumber?

  • Local contractor directories: Explore websites that specialize in home improvement projects, such as or similar platforms like Angie’s List and Home Advisor. These directories may offer a curated selection of contractors, including mechanical plumbers, along with relevant information and customer reviews.
  • Professional associations: Check with professional associations such as the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) or Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA). They may have directories or resources to help you find reputable mechanical plumbers who are members of these associations.
  • Online search engines: Conducting an online search using search engines like Google or Bing can help you find local mechanical plumbing contractors. Pay attention to their websites, customer reviews, and any additional information available online.
  • Local business listings: Look for mechanical plumbing contractors in local business directories or listings specific to your region or city. These listings could be online directories or even printed directories available in your community.
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have previously hired mechanical plumbers. They can provide firsthand insights into their experiences and help you find trustworthy professionals.
  • Social media groups and forums: Engaging with online communities and forums related to home improvement or local services can lead to recommendations and referrals for reliable mechanical plumbers.

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Author: Logan

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