Steamfitters are craftsmen who install pipe systems that carry water, steam, air or other liquids or gases needed for industrial production, commercial or other uses. They also alter and repair existing pipe systems and install heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
Although plumbing and pipefitting are sometimes considered to be a single trade, Journeymen in this field specialize in either one craft or the other. Plumbers install water, gas and waste disposal systems, especially those connected to public utility systems. Such installations are made in residential and commercial buildings, schools, industrial plants and other structures. Steamfitters install both high and low-pressure piping systems that carry hot water, steam and other liquids and gases, especially those in industrial and commercial buildings and defense establishments such as missile launching and testing sites. Steamfitters, for example, install ammonia-carrying pipelines in refrigeration plants, complex pipe systems in oil refineries and chemical and food processing plants and pipelines for carrying compressed air and industrial gases in many types of industrial establishments.
Steamfitters assemble and install steam or hot water systems for commercial and industrial uses.
Steamfitters use a variety of skills when installing pipe systems. For example, they bend pipe and make welded, brazed, soldered or threaded joints. After a pipe system is installed, the Steamfitter tests for leaks by filling the pipes with liquid or gas under pressure.
Steamfitters use wrenches, drills, hammers, chisels, saws and other hand tools. Power machines are often used to cut, bend and thread pipes. In addition, gas torches, arc welding, soldering and brazing equipment are used by them.
TRAINING AND QUALIFICATIONS
The National Joint Labor-Management Apprenticeship Committees for the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industries recommends a formal five (5) year Apprenticeship for Steamfitters as the best way to learn all the aspects of this trade.
If you have five (5) + years' work experience in the Pipefitting or HVACR field, please let us know.
Apprentice applicants must be at least eighteen ( 18) years of age and in good physical condition. A high school education or its equivalent is required. Courses in mathematics, drafting and shop should be required in this field.
The Apprentice training program for Steamfitters is conducted under written agreements between the Apprentice and the Local Joint Apprenticeship Committees, composed of Union and Management representatives who supervise the training. This program is designed to give the Apprentice diversified training, on-the-job and related training.
The Apprenticeship Program for Steamfitters consists of I 0,000 hours of on-the-job training, in
addition to at least 246 hours of related classroom instruction annually. Classroom instruction is two (2) nights a week, three and one half (3 ½) hours a night, from September to May. In a typical five (5) year training program, the Steamfitter Apprentice learns, among other things, how to use, care for and handle safely the tools, machines, equipment and materials used in the trade. They also learn welding and
soldering techniques and general repair work, and the proper use of ladders and the erection and
dismantling of scaffolding and the proper use of plastic and glass pipe. Training includes installation of pumps, boilers, oil burners, gas furnaces, hot water, steam piping, radiant heating systems, air
conditioning and refrigeration, power plant piping systems, and pneumatic control systems and
The Apprentice receives related classroom instruction in subjects such as drafting and blueprint reading, mathematics applicable to layout work, applies physics and chemistry and local building codes and regulations that apply to this trade. The Apprentice must pass each course taken with a minimum grade of 75.
EARNINGS AND WORKING CONDITIONS
Hourly wage rates of Apprentices in this trade start at 40 percent of the Journeyman rate.
The work of Steamfitters is active and strenuous as is the work in the other building trades. They frequently must work in high places and occasionally work in cramped or uncomfortable positions
because some of their work is done in relatively inaccessible places.
Workers in this trade risk the danger of falls from ladders and scaffolds, cuts from sharp tools and bums from hot pipes, steam welding, soldering and brazing equipment.