What Differentiates a Plumber from a Heating Engineer - Viva Training Academy

Your boiler breaks down, and you are probably wondering whom to call between a plumber and a heating engineer. Interestingly, there’s a huge difference between these trades. The two roles can be interchangeably used to refer to one another, especially if you look at it from the surface. In the event of a mishap at home, you need to know who between the two will address it properly.

A bit of history

The art of plumbing stemmed from the ancient Roman Empire, where the trade was implemented using lead pipes. It is here that the word ‘plumb’ originated from. The Latin word ‘plumbum’ means to lead, thus the naming of the practice. However, modern plumbing rarely utilises lead pipes. Such a piping system can be hazardous to water consumers by way of lead particles infiltrating water passing through the pipes. Hence, plumbers strongly advise against lead pipes and spend a lot of time removing them. Plastic or any other non-lead pipes are thereafter erected as a replacement.


Plumbers tend to work on dry and wet pipes. If you’ve got a leak anywhere in the dishwashers, bathroom, drains, sinks, or in the toilet, it is a plumber that you should call. Plumbers work on a broad range of pipe mishaps at home, which with time, equips them with experience. They do not need to attend any certification program to qualify for this practice and can become polished by just gaining experience over time.

By definition, it is fair to say that a plumber is any person who is fit to formidably repair the fittings, pipes, and any other water apparatus used for heating, sanitation, or supply. Here are the areas that any typical plumber would work on:

  • Blocked drainage systems
  • Leaking pipes
  • Dripping pipes and taps
  • Running toilets
  • Reduced water supply
  • Installation of a new kitchen or bathroom appliance
  • Blocked toilets or toilets
  • Faulty dishwasher
  • Frozen pipes
  • No water supply
  • Flooding
  • Installation of any new pipework

Heating Engineers

The name itself gives a clue on the kind of role that a heating engineer may perform. Primarily, they work on any heating appliances found in homes or new buildings. It is within the practice of handling the heating apparatus that they carry out an array of jobs. Such may include installing heating pipe systems, their maintenance, and fixing faulty household heating appliances.

Heating engineers are highly trained personnel who have certification from relevant gas engineering bodies. They not only have expertise in dealing with heating apparatus, but also deal with system design, electrics, selection, and controls. In fact, it is quite easy to find a heating engineer who also does some plumbing works (it is not in their job description). The specific roles that they handle include:

  • Boiler servicing
  • Repair of leaking hot water pipes
  • Installation of thermal pipe systems
  • Fixing broken heating equipment such as space heaters, heat pumps, and boilers.

What’s more, heating engineers handle a wide range of heating works in industrial, residential, and commercial properties. It is in this practice that they create innovative solutions for any client who has a headache in dealing with any heating equipment or apparatus.

Who are Gas Safe heating plumbers?

In case you didn’t know, there are new specialists in town who are rightly certified to work both as plumbers and heating engineers in some capacity. Before you call someone to handle your heating system or boiler, you need to ascertain whether they are Gas Safe personnel.

A Gas Safe certified engineer or plumber in Northern Ireland, UK or Guernsey can do works such as:

  • Removing a gas fitting
  • Servicing, maintaining, adjusting, disconnecting, renewing, purging, or altering gas or air apparatus.
  • Moving a fitting

If you need a professional for any of the mentioned activities, gas Safe registered personnel are qualified to do so.

What’s the confusion between plumbers and heat engineers?

People tend to confuse the roles of a plumber from those of a heating engineer. Plumbers naturally deal in a multitude of tasks ranging from boiler and heat systems servicing to fixing dry pipes, water pipes, or even bathtub repairs.

A lot of modern-day plumbers are trained and experienced to install and maintain heat systems. Most of these who are competent in both plumbing and heating systems are Gas Safe registered.

Who to call

The gas industry is highly controlled, thus the legalisation of plumbing and heat engineering as valid professions that need certification. If you experience problems with your pipe system or any heating equipment, it is essential to call a plumber who is registered under Gas Safe. Ensure their name appears on the legal Gas Safe register.

While Gas Safe certifies most gas engineers, it is normal to come across a plumber who offers gas central heating repair services. In such a case, insist on their registration.

How much do they get paid?

Both gas engineers and plumbers are likely to charge you an emergency call-out fee on top of the usual labour fees, which varies with the work done, skills level of the serviceman, and the length of time taken.

However, Gas Engineers working under legal plumbing and gas firms get paid a monthly salary irrespective of who they attend to or for how long. The tight regulation in the Gas industry has bred such measures to protect customers from unscrupulous plumbers/gas engineers.

For large jobs we always recommend getting at least 3 quotes from local companies.

Who is a plumbing engineer?

A plumbing engineer is a rare crossbreed between a gas engineer and a plumber. If you are laying the groundwork for substantial mechanical works that require piping systems of some sort, these are the people to call. They conventionally work on large projects alongside fire protection, civil and mechanical engineers.

They are competent in designing the systems for sewer waste, potable water, fire suppression, and storm-water drainage. Moreover, plumbing engineers can help draft drawings using special software to help building managers and construction workers navigate an already erected plumbing system.

Gas Engineer vs. Heating Engineer

While the comparison looks far fetched, there’s some difference between these two tradesmen. Gas Engineers solely work with gas apparatus and anything related to gas while heat engineers work on heat systems. You may find it difficult to draw a line between these professions, and the truth is there’s a very marginal difference. In fact, gas engineers and their heat counterparts work together at times.

It is important to note that even though a heating engineer can be a plumber, they are in no capacity to work on gas appliances unless they are registered and licensed with Gas Safe.

Are you looking for Gas training?

Law in the UK requires anyone pursuing a career in Gas Engineering first to get registered with Gas Safe. Our team at Viva Training Academy are excellently equipped to offer coaching towards becoming a competent gas professional.

The training facilities and courses are specially tailored to help you transition from being a typical plumber to a sought-after gas engineer. Under the tutelage of expert gas trainers, you get training like no other.

We offer a wide range of modules from which you can pick a gas course of your choice. It depends on whether you prefer basic or advanced training. What’s more, our capable HR team helps you get suitable work placements that will elevate your status in the competitive Gas industry.

All the courses are offered in a friendly environment alongside a highly-charged learning atmosphere to help you realise your dreams.


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