A day in the life of an engineer at Plumbing and Gas Solutions
We recently asked our engineer Kellan to tell us what he enjoys most about his job, what a typical day looks like for him and how he got into the plumbing and gas industry.
What time do you normally wake up/set your alarm for each morning?
5am every weekday, 6am on weekends
What do you have for breakfast?
Granola with berries, a banana after and a coffee.
How long have you worked at PGS?
4 years, since Jan 2017.
How did you get into the industry?
It was very difficult getting into the industry, apprenticeships were difficult to come by but with a bit of luck I managed to land one with a local company who visited my college and wanted to interview the top 3 students. I must have done well as they gave me the job on the spot. That was back in 2015, I stayed with them for just under two years.
When do you get your schedule for your day?
Our work diaries are usually planned weeks in advanced for large jobs, however, due to the nature of our work and our client base, a lot of the work is reactive emergency work so my schedule often changes throughout the day depending on what comes in. But generally, I know what I'm getting into the night before at the very least.
What do you like to listen to on your way to jobs?
If I'm working on my own then I’ve always got a podcast playing in my van or in my earphones if I'm on a job. Most of the time it’s the ‘Joe Rogan Experience'; but I'll occasionally have an audiobook. When I've got someone working with me then it’s the radio when driving between jobs.
Do you work alone or with a team/partner/apprentice?
Usually on my own. As a gas engineer most of my jobs are breakdowns or servicing, which is a one-man job unless I'm allocated an apprentice for the day to teach them. For larger jobs or installs then it'll be partners or teams which is always good as I get on with everyone in the company and we work well together.
Do you have the same clients or different ones each day/week?
Every week is different, and as the company is growing, we’re always getting new clients. However, I tend to do return visits to clients I’ve worked for before as I'm familiar with their heating systems, and plumbing etc. It's also better for them as they see a familiar face and it helps with communication.
Do you have any favourite clients/jobs?
I tend to favour working at universities and newer buildings as the systems I work on tend to be more advanced and sophisticated. It makes my day there more interesting but also helps me keep up with the industry and better my knowledge.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
For sure it has the be the variety of work and the fact that I'm doing something that very few people can also do. Its skilled work and requires a tremendous amount of training so when you can go into a client's property and fix something or get their heating on for example, it's very rewarding.
Why is your job and the industry you work in so important?
There are many reasons why it's important to me. A main one being that through my work I can actually make an impact on the environment. I do this by making systems run more efficiently, which saves a tremendous amount of energy over the years, whether that be by lowering gas usage in boilers by making adjustments to boilers or insulating pipework for example.
And as for why my industry is important, when people go without heating or hot water for a few days mid-winter, they realise just how important plumbers and heating engineers are.
A typical day at PGS
What time did you start?
My first job is always booked for 8am, today was no different. However, as usual, I get to our work unit an hour earlier than that to have a coffee and sort my van and get all my parts for the day.
What was your first client today?
Today my first client was Cranfield University, one of our oldest (and one of my favourite clients).
What was the job/issue?
The job was a relatively easy one for me, I was tasked to replace some old water meters for newer ones that could update the client at each building remotely about the water usage without needing to send someone out for days on end to manually read the dials. (the client has over 200 buildings so manually doing it is quite the undertaking).
Did you go to the jobs alone or with a partner?
As it was quite a large job (due to having to fit many in a day), there were two teams of two - two fully qualified engineers and an apprentice each. We had an apprentice each as it’s a very good job for them to learn on and easy enough for them to give it a go themselves with very low risk of them failing.
How many clients did you have that day?
Today I had 4 total jobs to complete, the first being Cranfield University then a call about a domestic customer with a gas leak, luckily, due to us getting ahead at Cranfield, we were able to attend to this gas leak which turned out to be very good for the customer as it was quite severe. We found that some old steel gas pipe under her kitchen floor had corroded and was leaking quite a substantial amount of gas into the property. We were able to quickly isolate and make safe, and even managed to rerun her whole gas pipe from her gas meter to her boiler and cooker. In total she had 3 hours of down time which is very good all things considered. But most importantly she and her family were safe; and with a new gas run properly, they had peace of mind too.
After that job in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, I was off to Leighton buzzard for yet another leak, although this time water. This was for another existing client I had been to multiple times before (Marshall’s coaches). An employee there had opened a door too hard and slammed it into an old radiator pipe which caused it to burst. I'm quite used to these call outs so acted quickly to drain their whole system, cut the pipe out, replaced it with much more durable copper pipe, and then refilled commissioned their system. Total down time 2 hours. To have heat back on a cold day with no water damage was a great result for them. To say they were relieved was an understatement, not many companies could react that fast or have them back up and running the same day.
The last job was for a school in Bletchley, a simple service of some valves and appliances in their plant room. Again, a client I had been to before 12 months prior for the last service. Due to us having high work standards at PGS, I knew that I had thoroughly cleaned and properly set everything up last time. So, when I walked into the boiler room, I was greeted with spotless boilers, and perfectly running systems.
That was it for Friday, all jobs done and 4 very happy customers.
What was the trickiest job that day?
The trickiest was by far the gas run, as I was going into the job blind, I didn’t know what to expect or how exactly I’d rectify the situation. It also didn’t help that all the old pipework was hidden behind cupboards and under floors. My solution was to remain calm and handle the job as any other job, I worked methodically and traced the leak to its source from where the pipe entered the property. Once I found it, I quickly planned a route for the new gas run and got to work to install it properly while making sure it was pleasant to the eye.
What time did you have lunch and where/what did you have?
I tend not to eat at work as it slows me down too much and I often feel lethargic after a meal. Instead, I take a few small water breaks and if I’ve got time I'll stop for a coffee.
What time did you finish?
I finished at bang on 5, which I was surprised at because of the two emergency call outs that set me back today. 5 is when I'm supposed to finish so not too bad at all.
What time did you get home?
I have a 10-minute drive home – a bonus of living so close to the office.
What did you have for dinner?
Plain old chicken, rice and veg for me, nothing interesting but I'm training for an upcoming boxing match so trying to eat healthy.
What does your home-life include?
Home life is pretty chill, I get back to the Mrs and either work out or play with my border collie puppy. He needs two hours of walks a day minimum, hence the 5am alarm in the morning.
How do you unwind after a busy day?
I've got quite the gaming setup, so ill hop into my gaming room for a couple of hours once I’ve walked the dog and then in the evening me and the Mrs will watch whatever tv series we’re currently watching (Vikings at the moment).
What time do you go to bed?
No later than 10pm, I can't keep my eyes open after that.
Any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I game a lot, especially with during covid times, but I used to go fishing, do a lot of airsoft and I used to attended 3 boxing classes a week. I'm hoping they’ll all start up again soon.