Pipelayers lay various kinds of pipe for sewers, drains, water mains, power and communication lines, or oil or gas lines.
Pipelayers work with glazed or unglazed clay, concrete, plastic, steel, aluminum, ductile iron, or cast-iron pipe. The kind and size of pipe they lay depends on how the pipe will be used. They lay out and fit together pipe for:
- Storm or sanitation sewers
- Water mains
- Gas or oil lines
Pipelayers read blueprints and lay out the pipe according to instructions. Much of the pipe they lay is underground. They dig trenches to the required depth, using hand or trenching tools, and grade and level them. They check the slope with a surveyor level and grade rod or with lasers.
They position the pipe in the trenches. For large, heavy pipes, pipelayers signal excavator or equipment operators where to place sections of pipe to align them with other sections. Pipelayers weld, cement, glue, or otherwise seal the joints so that sections fit tightly together. When all joints are sealed, pipelayers inspect them and correct any misalignment. They also test them for leaks. Finally, pipelayers cover the pipe with earth or other materials.
Pipelayers with experience often train and supervise other workers.