Today, Modern Niagara recognizes World Plumbing Day, a day to celebrate and highlight the important contributions of plumbers to the functioning and safety of communities across the country. As a company with a large team of dedicated plumbers across our regions, who are essential to the work we do to build for life, this day holds a special importance for us.
However, when most people hear the word plumbing, they might immediately think of the domestic repairs on sinks, taps, and washrooms we are used to seeing in our personal lives. While that is certainly within the scope of plumbing, there are many other aspects of this complex trade and a range of talented individuals whose work goes beyond what most people assume. One such skilled tradesperson is Taylor Rouleau, a Journeyman Plumber and Gasfitter from Modern Niagara’s Alberta office. We spoke with Taylor about his work, what a typical day might look like for him, and what he enjoys most about his trade.
A Day in the Life of a Plumber
While each site and workday can be different, Taylor detailed how there tends to be a routine that the plumbing team follows day to day.
“In the morning, we arrive at site around 20-30 minutes before the shift to have a toolbox talk while we do our paperwork, to go over what tasks were doing for the day, who’s paired up with who, and what needs to be completed during that day,” Taylor outlined. “Once our paperwork is finished and signed off, you sort out the materials and tools you need for the day.”
As someone working on the commercial plumbing side of a major project, the scope of work for Taylor and his team can be immense and wide-ranging. Taylor’s responsibilities at his current project involve a lot of work on a lift, where he is soldering and cutting pipe at heights.
“I’m working at the Peter Lougheed Centre right now, and we’re doing a big renovation of the emergency department,” Taylor added. “Lately most of my work has been with copper pipe, which is what I enjoy the most; it’s a cool skill to have and it’s something I can always keep improving at.”
“Another one of our journeymen has been heading up the draining side of things on this site; the work can be so different from day to day,” said Taylor. “This week, I’ve been installing copper pipe for the heating systems on site, as well as the cold and hot water domestic lines.”
In addition, Taylor also mentioned how working on the plumbing at this project, and others, allows him to work alongside and collaborate with teams from other trades.
“We have a crew on this site of sheet metal tradespeople, and I work side-by-side a lot with the HVAC teams, working in the same area bouncing different ideas off one another,” Taylor highlighted. “I also work side-by-side with our welder and pipefitter on the site.”
When asked about his favourite part of being a plumber, Taylor spoke about the novelty of work involved with plumbing as well as the constant learning involved with growing in the trade.
Taylor’s Journey in the Trades
“I’ve never really wanted to be stuck doing the same task in the same place every day, so what I love the most about plumbing is going from site to site, getting new experience, and constantly learning,” Taylor added. “Since every site is different, I’ve been able to experience so much and learn new skills, so it never feels like I’m getting stuck in one place.”
Taylor also emphasised the value of learning and how it is a crucial part of becoming a more experienced and capable plumber.
“I’ve only had my ticket for about a year and a half, and when I talk with people who’ve had their tickets for ten years or so, I’m constantly being reminded that you are always learning in this trade,” Taylor affirmed. “Even when you have your ticket, you are taking in new information every day.”
Taylor spoke very highly of his experience so far at Modern, where not only has he enjoyed the projects he has been working on, but also the community of tradespeople he works alongside every day.
“This might be more specific to Modern, but I do love the people that I work with,” Taylor mentioned. “Working with different foreman, with the apprentices under you, and just all the people you meet on these sites daily has been great.”
“I’ve been working with Modern Niagara for a little over three years and it’s definitely the best company I’ve worked for in the trade,” Taylor mentioned. “One piece of advice I’d have for people who are new to the trades is that if they are not already with Modern, try getting on with us.”
The Side of Plumbing that Often Goes Unnoticed
Also, while highlighting what goes on behind the scenes on the plumbing side of these large projects, Taylor explained how the scope of the trade encompasses far more than what most people often assume.
“I’ve also done residential service plumbing for a few years, and when you tell people you’re a plumber they often think that you just install sinks or unclog toilets,” Taylor commented. “People don’t really think of commercial plumbers doing what we do in the field, but I think that’s because plumbing is such a large trade, people only think of what they see at home, they don’t realise there’s so much more to it.”
“I could be soldering copper in a scissor lift all day, and I don’t think people typically picture that for plumbing,” Taylor added. “We’re also crossing over into other trades a lot of the times, like pipefitting, gas fitting, refrigeration, and working alongside welders and sheet metal technicians; a lot of people don’t realise how big of a scope we actually have.”
When asked what advice he might give to a new plumber or someone thinking of entering the trade, Taylor focused on the importance of experiential learning and continuing to pick up new information on site even after you get your ticket.
“Looking back now, I’d tell people that you actually learn the most once you have your ticket and you start figuring things out on your own,” Taylor added. “Don’t put off going to school and just take in everything you can on site; if there are people on site more experienced than you, take in all that knowledge!”