The plumbing industry made national headlines last month when Texas lawmakers failed to extend the life of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, which was due to shut down by Sept. 1, 2020. The board is responsible for licensing plumbers and investigating claims of unlicensed work or violations of the plumbing licensing law.

I’m sure most of you have heard the phrase or have seen the poster: “Plumbers protect the health of the nation.” It’s so true, and yet, many consumers don't look at plumbers in that way. Perhaps they need to be re-educated in the work plumbers do to safeguard the water supply and protect the public from illness and disease.

Plumbers spend years — literally thousands upon thousands of hours — learning and training how to do their jobs. Most states require plumbers to obtain licensing before providing plumbing services, which is an absolute must for this industry because licensing ensures that plumbers are qualified and held accountable for the work they perform.

Unlicensed plumbers can cause contamination in the water supply by improperly installing water heaters and softeners not to mention explosions and carbon monoxide poisonings leading to death can and have been caused by improper installation and servicing of boilers and water heaters. Sadly, that was the case with an Ohio family of five and their three dogs back in May. The 50-year-old homeowner self-installed a tankless water heater, which police believe likely caused the carbon monoxide leak that killed the entire family.

Having a licensed, professional plumbing contractor is critical for the health and safety of the public. This is something Texas Gov. Greg Abbot recognized when he issued an executive order June 13 to extend the activity of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners through May 31, 2021, citing the demands of rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey and to keep Texas prepared and able to recover from future disasters.

“The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, whose mission is ‘to protect Texas citizens against the health and safety hazards that can result from improperly installed plumbing, gas and medical gas systems,’ will continue to play an essential role in all these efforts by ensuring that the plumbers who rebuild Texas and prepare for future disasters do so in a manner that will safeguard public health, safety and property,” the executive order stated.

Prior to Gov. Abbot’s executive order, licensed plumbers organized a Plumbers Rally to advocate the importance of having state regulation and oversight of the skill level required to work in the plumbing field. Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association members joined thousands of Texas plumbers on June 14 at the Texas Capitol.

“I am a proud plumber who loves plumbers, and holds the state of Texas in high regard for setting the standard in how an industry should be regulated,” said PHCC — National Association Vice President Hunter Botto during the rally. “The plumbers across the nation are watching Texas and your licensing is to be envied. We do not want to see a well-regulated industry be subject to deregulation and thereby, put the health and safety of Texas citizens at risk. There is more work to be done for sure during what seems to be limited to a 2-year reprieve.

“The plumbing professionals and all who are here today stand in solidarity to first and foremost protect the public’s health and safety of Texas citizens and its environment,” Botto continued. “Again, we thank Gov. Abbot for his commitment to help Texas plumbers and all who serve in the plumbing industry do just that.”

What happened in Texas is a shining example of what the industry can do when it bans together. Plumbing & Mechanical received many comments about this story as it unfolded last month. Many of our readers discussed similar happenings within their own states. As a professional plumber, don’t be afraid to get involved and stand up for what you know to be right. Reach out to your own lawmakers and explain the importance of state licensing and regulation, along with the potential consequences.