Georgia-Carolina Pipe Trades
A pipefitter (aka steamfitter), is someone that is skilled in assembling, arranging, constructing, and maintaining high pressure piping systems. Most work is done on an industrial platform which includes heating and cooling systems and involves working with steam, ventilation, hydraulics, chemicals, and fuel.
One of the main differences between plumbers and pipefitters is that plumbers work with low-pressure piping systems and pipefitters work more with welding and high pressure piping systems.
Typically, pipefitters are responsible for sketching and interpreting pipe installation blueprints and must select types and sizes of pipes in addition to other materials needed to finish the project. Pipefitters will use tools such as levelers and grinders to prepare the pipes for welding. They then us welding torches to manipulate the metals to help shape the pipes and prepare them for industrial use.
Types of manipulation that a pipefitter will perform on pipes and metal include but are not limited to:
Finished pipes are then transported to specific projects for installation. The installation process is very tedious and workers must be extra careful to avoid any obstructions along the way. Once installation is completed, pipes are then tested for leaks and support issues then adjustments are made to ensure the system will run properly. Pipefitters also repair existing systems and replace pipes accordingly.
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Pipefitters can work indoors and outdoors and working conditions may vary, depending on the project. Employment opportunities can be found at gas plants, chemical plants, oil refineries, and more. Generally, more time is spent preparing the pipes than installing them.
There is a greater chance of injury in this occupation due to the frequent use of heavy machinery. Pipefitting involves a lot of standing; sometimes fitters are forced to work in tight conditions and or in extreme weather conditions. A typical work day for a fitter usually extends beyond 8 hours. Most workers can expect 10-12 hour work days.