A few weeks ago, I traveled to Columbus along with fellow members of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Ohio (PHCC). The purpose of our trip was to discuss a residential licensing bill for plumbers. When I first started in this industry, residential licensing laws existed throughout the state. We were required to attend school, complete an apprenticeship and pass an eight-hour exam.
That changed in 2001 when the state of Ohio decided to take over this process. The goal was to unify and standardize the licensing process so we could work anywhere in Ohio. It seemed like a good idea, but unfortunately the standards only applied to commercial licensing and not residential licensing. It was also disappointing to see unqualified contractors grandfathered-in to a license. There are many plumbing practices and codes that these grandfathered contractors aren’t aware of, and that presents a big safety issue.
Our meeting last month included a member of the Board of Building and Standards. There are preliminary discussions to re-introduce residential licensing for plumbing contractors. I think it is a great idea. There are licenses for working with hair and nails, but none for working with natural gas or propane. That doesn’t make sense to me.
I’ll be following the development of this bill very closely, and I’m hoping a few issues get corrected. Specifically, I’d like to see stricter standards for licensing (no open book testing!) and stricter rules on grandfathering. I’ve always promoted safe plumbing practices, and this bill has the potential to help ensure that is the case.