What are the Differences Between a Heating Engineer and Plumber?

October 31, 2022

Having heating issues but not sure whether you need help from a heating engineer or a plumber? The two can get easily confused, so how do you know when you need which service?

There are different skills to both, so it’s worth understanding who does what so you can get your problem fixed as quickly as possible.

So whether your boiler has stopped working, or you need a new heating appliance installed, it can be tricky to know which person is the best for the job.

However, heating engineers and plumbers have different specialities and are therefore more qualified for different jobs. This article will run through these differences to help you understand exactly who to call if something goes wrong at home.

What is a Heating Engineer?

A heating engineer is likely to have started out as a plumber and then trained specifically to become a heating engineer. The qualification required is an NVQ level 3 with diplomas that train in electrical heating systems, servicing and maintenance.

The main issues a heating engineer would deal with include:

  • Installing boilers and other heating systems
  • Problems with radiators
  • Help with controlling your heating and thermostats
  • Heating systems and their maintenance
  • Pipes
  • Hot water cylinders

However, if any of your heating systems are gas appliances, the heating engineer will only be authorized to help if they are Gas Safe registered.

For those without this certification, they are not allowed to do any work on gas appliances. However, they’d be able to help with jobs that aren’t gas controlled, like checking your radiators or thermostat.

To become Gas Safe registered, they must first have covered all ACS safety assessments, as well as having the NVQ level 3. So if you want a fully qualified heating engineer, make sure to ask if they are Gas Safe registered.

The reason it’s so important to be Gas Safe registered is to avoid dangerous accidents like carbon monoxide leaks. An expert will be able to spot the signs and install your gas appliance safely to avoid hazards like this from taking place.

What is a Plumber

Usually a plumber will be your go-to for any pipe problems. This will include:

  • Installing bathroom appliances like toilets, showers, taps
  • Drainage issues like blockages
  • Installing or repairing leaking pipes or taps
  • Anything sewage-related
  • Installing appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines
  • If you think your pipes have frozen
  • Lack of water coming from your pipes

A fully qualified plumber will have both NVQ levels 2 and 3 in plumbing and domestic heating qualification. Level 2 is the basic plumbing training and level 3 will offer specialist training in a certain area, such as drainage.

So, What’s the Difference?

We’ve previously mentioned that plumbers and heating engineers have a different set of skills, and as you can see from the lists above, plumbers usually deal with a more diverse range of issues, whereas heating engineers focus mainly on your heating systems.

However, it’s important to note that there are tradesmen out there who are qualified in multiple skills and can therefore work as a plumber or heating engineer. This means workers like this can be called for all types of plumbing and heating issues.

It can be handy to have a plumber who can also work as a heating engineer to save the hassle of having multiple contacts. It’ll cut out the confusion of who to call altogether.

When Can a Heating Engineer Help?

If you’re ever confused about whether to call a heating engineer or a plumber, remember that it’s likely heating engineers would have started out as a plumber. They’re therefore more likely to be able to deal with all plumbing issues, as well as heating system issues.

And make sure that if you have a gas appliance to call a Gas Safe registered heating engineer. For example, if you have issues with your boiler you’ll need a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you can find a heating engineer with plumber skills who is also Gas Safe registered, you’ve hit the plumbing jackpot. Keep them in your phonebook for emergencies


Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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