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– a person who fits and repairs the pipes, fittings, and other apparatus of water supply, sanitation, or heating systems.

The generic title of plumber covers an enormous range of tasks. From fixing a dripping tap to installing a complete gas central heating system…and everything in between.

So, who’s who?

Plumber – as the name suggests, plumbers attend to the actual plumbing system. This includes, hot and cold water supplies and associated fittings – taps, showers, WCs – as well as sanitation and drainage. At the most basic level, they should be WRAS qualified and work to current Water Regulations and Bye Laws.

Gas engineers focus on the actual gas appliances – typically boilers, gas fires and cooker hobs.

Heating engineers deal with the complete heating system. This includes the heat source (typically gas, electric or oil boiler), radiators, underfloor heating, programmers, and thermostats. Furthermore, some systems have expansion vessels, motorised valves, by-pass valves, etc, etc. These components all play an important function within the overall heating system. Competent Heating engineers will have the expertise and experience to diagnose and fix all heating related issues.


Here in the UK, there are training courses and qualifications for everything one could possibly think of! Some are mandatory and useful, some are just mandatory, some are essential and some are useful but not mandatory!
Additionally, we also have advanced product training and assessments for more specific products!

An approved plumber with the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS), should meet three basic requirements: have a recognised plumbing qualification, certificate in Water Regulations and appropriate (£2m or £5m) public liability insurance.

Whilst good qualifications are important, relevant experience and a professional work ethic are equally significant!

Legally, anyone working on unvented (Megaflo) hot water systems must be G3 qualified. Similarly, gas engineers must hold the appropriate gas qualifications and be Gas Safe registered. This is the law. It’s not optional!

Not all plumbers are equal…

One plumber may fix a dripping tap or unblock a drain, but struggle to repair your heating system! Another may quickly fix a leaking radiator, but fail to diagnose a simple problem with a motorised valve! The best person for one job may well be an expensive nightmare for another! Don’t assume all plumbers can fix all problems. Engaging the “wrong” person or company is often an expensive mistake! What appears to be the “cheapest” is unlikely to be the best, and often ends up costing more!

Virtually all heating systems are different. Different components from different manufacturers, used in different configurations! Apart from simple faults, the right person should familiarise themselves with the overall system, prior to embarking on a logical and methodical fault finding process.

We occasionally hear horror stories (about ex-plumbers) from disheartened customers! Usually along the lines of several attempts to fix a problem, escalating costs and still no resolution! Unfortunately, plumbers (and other trades) don’t always recognise when they’re out of their depth. A true professional will know when to say no.

Ask if they have undertaken similar work before? Do they work to the highest standards? Are they knowledgeable and competent? Always check the company’s website – are their contact details clearly visible? Address, landline number, mobile number, email? Are they contactable? Are they responsive? So many questions…choose wisely!


Ask a few basic questions to form an impression of the person/company and their level of expertise. Visit their website, and read customer testimonials and feedback. Remember, the out-and-out cheapest is unlikely to be the best! If it’s a large job, get 2 or 3 like-for-like quotes, and do some background research on the companies. Are they easily contactable? Do they respond to enquiries/questions? They may be busy during the day, but you should expect a response within 24hrs. Good luck – there are still some good ones out there!

If you’re in the Guildford and surrounding areas, get in touch with Apex Plumbing and Heating – 07810 094803 or 01252 311003. If we can’t help, we’re always happy to advise.

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