Bacteria have been shown to live in "premises plumbing systems". The latter refers to the "pipes and fixtures within a building that transport water to taps after it is delivered by the utility". Community water systems have been known for centuries to spread waterborne diseases like typhoid and cholera, however "opportunistic premises plumbing pathogens" have been recognized only more recently; Legionella pneumophila discovered in 1976, Mycobacterium avium, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are the most commonly tracked bacteria, which people with depressed immunity can inhale or ingest and may become infected with. These opportunistic pathogens can grow for example in faucets, shower heads, water heaters and along pipe walls. Reasons that favor their growth are "high surface-to-volume ratio, intermittent stagnation, low disinfectant residual, and warming cycles". A high surface-to-volume ratio, i.e. a relatively large surface area allows the bacteria to form a biofilm, which protects them from disinfection.
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Plumbers are skilled professionals who are trained to install and maintain pipes and systems for drinking water, sewage and drainage. They usually have trained through four- to five-year training programs, which include apprenticeships, via trade schools and community colleges. Plumbers’ areas of expertise typically go beyond pipes to include mathematics, blueprint reading, plumbing codes and water distribution. They handle plumbing emergencies, such as broken pipes or clogged drains, and install and maintain everything from a new piping system to a replacement faucet. Plumbers also know how to install bathtubs and showers, toilets, water heaters and dishwashers. Plumbers may work on residential or commercial sites, sometimes designing and laying out a pipe system during construction.
As with other construction workers, employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.
“I have used Central Penn for many repairs/installs over the last 15 years. They have always responded in a prompt manner and I found their people to be very friendly, efficient and competent in diagnosing and repairing any issues I had, whether related to plumbing or HVAC. Furthermore, which you can’t take for granted these days, the guys are very respectful of your home and are careful in their work and thoroughly clean up after the job is completed.”
Most large cities today pipe solid wastes to sewage treatment plants in order to separate and partially purify the water, before emptying into streams or other bodies of water. For potable water use, galvanized iron piping was commonplace in the United States from the late 1800s until around 1960. After that period, copper piping took over, first soft copper with flared fittings, then with rigid copper tubing utilizing soldered fittings.