Allegheny County database catalogs plumbers
Inside a Bloomfield bathroom, orange water poured out of the bathtub spout.
The homeowner, concerned that something was wrong with plumbing installed during a recent remodeling, called the plumbing division of the Allegheny County Health Department.
“We get these calls all the time,” said Mike Como, the county's chief plumbing inspector who this week opened an investigation into that botched plumbing job and found a rusted steel pipe installed by an unlicensed plumber. “Some people, they just don't know the code.”
Across Allegheny County, unlicensed and poorly trained plumbers perform hatchet jobs on pipes and drains, Como said. The shoddy work frustrates homeowners and raises health concerns.
Allegheny County residents can now verify whether a plumber is properly licensed. A searchable database posted this month on the Health Department's website allows people to search for plumbers by name, ZIP code and license number.
The database cost $3,300 to build and will require $90 in monthly maintenance, said David Zazac, a Health Department spokesman.
The Health Department issues plumbing permits, inspects work and investigates claims of unlicensed plumbers, Como said. Plumbing without a license can result in fines from $30 to $300.
Each year, the department takes about 12 complaints to court. Sometimes, disputes are settled when the unlicensed plumber pays a licensed plumber to fix his or her mistake, Como said.
Tom Bigley, director of plumbing services for the United Association of Plumbing and Pipefitters and a former union head in Allegheny County, likes the idea of a searchable database. He once told county Executive Rich Fitzgerald that the best way to protect the health of the county would be to give residents access to verified, licensed plumbers.
“In the old days, a lot of people died because they didn't have proper plumbing,” Bigley said. “There's a lot of education that goes behind these guys that know the code and protect the health of the nation.”
Plumbing licenses and inspections are controlled by counties or municipalities. Plumbers and lawmakers have called for a statewide licensing system. Bills to do that are in the House Labor and Industry Committee.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest
- Pittsburgh’s Veterans Day parade moves to Saturday
- Unexpected work delays Allegheny County Health Department’s move into former morgue
- Move-in begins at new homes on site of Hill District housing project
- Allegheny County health officials call on retirement homes to stay vigilant on Legionella prevention
- Parkway West off-ramps at Carnegie to close beginning Friday night
- Canadians more fearful, aware after ‘very rare’ attack in Ottawa
- Newsmaker: Robert E. Neely
- Contempt citation sought by state against Highmark for alleged violation of deal with UPMC
- Pittsburgh VA director gets more time to appeal firing recommendation
- VA promotion for administrator stuns legislator