Plumbers protest elimination of Texas plumbing board, code

Paul Ojeda, master plumber and owner at Confidence Plumbing LLC, spent years, and quite a few dollars to become a master plumber. But soon just about anyone may be able to claim they can do his job. 

“It’s like tomorrow going around and handing out licenses to everybody that can reach the pedals,” Ojeda said. “I feel like it’s a huge slap in the face.”

After an impasse during the 86th Texas legislative session, the state plumbing code will cease to exist on September 1. The State Board of Plumbing Examiners, the board in charge of licensing plumbers, will begin a wind-down period in September 2020. 

“I think what you call yourself and what you are are two different things… there is a far greater depth of knowledge that goes into taking care of the safety of the people than just screwing a faucet together,” Ojeda said. 

Ojeda says safety is his number one concern. 

“A water heater takes gas, a central heater takes gas, so whether you turn a water heater on or your stove takes gas so I mean you just imagine there are three major appliances that I just named," Ojeda said. "Can you imagine something hooking up something and didn’t properly connect everything?"

He fears the popularization of unlicensed plumbers could have dangerous, even deadly consequences. 

“I wouldn’t want someone to touch my gas and then I go to sleep that night not knowing if I’m gonna blow up or not, or is my house gonna flood or be damaged," Ojeda said. "So I just, you know I think people do appreciate professionalism and this trade requires licensed plumbers.”

Ojeda and other plumbers are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session to resolve the ordeal. So far, they’ve had no luck. 

On June 14, Ojeda will be among many other plumbers from across the state that have committed to rallying at the state Capitol. 

“I never, ever in my wildest dreams would have thought we would have been having this kind of conversation,” Ojeda said.