The History of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

Homeowners face common problems such as flooded basements due to excess water from their plumbing and heating systems. Usually, they fix the problem by searching for a plumbing and heating supplier and hiring an expert plumber or heating engineer with knowledge on boilers, furnaces, and heating systems in general.

Problem solved, right? No, it’s not all easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Homeowners are advised to hire a licensed plumber or heating engineer to evaluate the water-damaged plumbing and heating system. These professionals ensure its safety of operation and its tweaking according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

In the U.K., the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, or CIPHE, is the professional organization in charge of the country’s plumbing and heating industry and its standards.

CIPHE, Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering
The logo of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, or CIPHE. Featured image by the CIPHE.

The CIPHE, founded in 1906, now includes 12,000 consultants, designers, lecturers, practitioners, public health engineers, specifiers, trainers, and trainees. Most members live in the U.K., 750 members live in Hong Kong, and 300 members are distributed in more than 30 countries.

In 1907 the National Association of Master Plumbers incorporated the Institute of Plumbers, first name of the CIPHE, as a company with limited guarantee. The initial objectives were to develop the industrial and technical aspects of plumbing trade. All members were practitioners of the profession.

Now known as the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, the APHC launched in 1925 to assume the industrial and commercial facets. Thus the Institute was left with the educational and technical concerns of the organization. The APHC now is a trade association that covers England’s and Wales’ plumbing and heating industries, comprising about 1,500 businesses that house more than 60,000 specialist engineers who are either employed by big companies or sole traders for domestic items.

After the Institute shifted to education, training, and technical aspects, it revised in 1957 its constitution and title – the Institute of Plumbers became the Institute of Plumbing. This time members included individuals with technical qualifications regardless of the posts in the industry.

The late 60’s saw the Institute talking to the Registered Plumbers Association about their merger. Under the agreement, the RPA would manage the Register of Plumbers from 1886 on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers from 1365.

The Institute and the RPA merged on January 10, 1970. The emerging Institute was tasked to develop educational and technical work, the recognition of qualified plumbing professionals, and the quest of improved standards.

In 1979 the Institute received recognition for its work in the public’s interest and became a registered educational charity organization.

The Register of Plumbers had its centennial celebration in 1986. The Worshipful Company founded the association on July 21, 1886. The Register helped determine who the qualified – competent and responsible – plumbers were, without any statutory regulation in the country.

The Institute received an Arms by the College of Heralds in 2000 to mark the new millennium.

On June 4, 2004, the Institute announced that most of its corporate members voted to change its title again. This time from the Institute of Plumbing to the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering. IPHE members saw it fit that their new name reflect their scope of work and firmly define plumbing and heating as a discipline of engineering.

Renowned writer Nigel Watson published in 2005 the paper titled ‘Competence and Commitment – an illustrated history of the Institute’ for the IPHE. The presentation was held during a press conference at the City & Guilds headquarters on December 8.

In 2006 the IPHE marked its centenary with a special conference in Torquay, to be held each year, and several other events within that year as part of its centennial celebration. That same year the IPHE started the initial steps in the pursuit for a Royal Charter.

The IPHE received the Charter of Incorporation from the Queen on February 12, 2008. News about it was kept secret until its official announcement at the President’s Dinner on March 5. On July 1 the IPHE was formally renamed to the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering. In celebration of this achievement, the CIPHE held the ‘Tea on the Terrace’ at the House of Commons on July 10 of that year.

The CIPHE is a member of the Construction Industry Council and the Engineering Council.

If you live in the U.K., and your plumbing and heating system is damaged, it is highly suggested that you hire a registered plumber, or heating engineer, who is a member of the CIPHE. If you’re one of those DIY warriors living in the U.K., check out the CIPHE website.