Meet Rebecca Senyard (Bec) one of Brisbane’s 29 licensed female plumbers in the whole of Queensland (how cool is that). Appropriately gonged – The Plumbette – this has been Bec’s blog since 2012 where she shares all things plumbing, tools, pipes, tradies and well, *crap. Bec is also a busy mum to three daughters and currently on maternity leave from her profession – plumbing.
What and who inspired you to choose a career in plumbing?
Well this is a hard question to answer without giving a bit of background information. My dad was a plumber so ultimately it was he who inspired me to choose a career in plumbing. But if I’m completely honest, becoming a plumber was part of the journey in wanting to run my own business. My dad ran his own commercial plumbing company for over 20 years. When I was 20 I wasn’t satisfied with my work at a transport company (despite finding a higher position) and my dad suggested taking over his plumbing business which meant I would need to do a plumbing apprenticeship. I remember quitting my job and started working for my dad the following week.
A few months later I enrolled as a plumbing apprentice and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Fast forward eight years, my dad is now retired and we closed our plumbing business as it was the best decision as the time as I was pregnant with my third child. (You can read the details of that life changing moment).
I now write my plumbing blog and do the odd maintenance plumbing job at home or at my daughter’s kindy when required. But it’s really interesting to see that a business I thought would allow me to be a mum, took me on a different journey to starting my blog, which in effect has allowed me to stay home and look after my children.
What was undertaking an apprenticeship like as a female entering the profession?
Hard. Really Hard. Being in the minority is not an easy thing to manage and I had many experiences that made me want to quit all the time. But I didn’t. Sexual harassment and discrimination was there, but I just did what I could to get through each day and that was to simply work and prove those who didn’t like my presence on a construction site or at Tafe, wrong. (You can read more details about my experience with Women in Trades).
What are the top three tools every homeowner should have on hand to avert emergencies (before calling a licensed plumber of course)?
- A plunger for simple blockages in the toilet or sink. If you need to unblock an overflow relief gully outside, you can use a broom handle or mop. In most cases, if your ORG is overflowing you need a plumber asap to unblock the sewer line.
- Multi-grips as their jaw can be widened to fit most fitting sizes to loosen or tighten. They can also help you turn the handle on your water meter should you have an emergency and require turning the water off.
- A Shovel as most emergency plumbing issues are water leaks and sometimes they are under the ground. Having a shovel on hand to dig in the area to find a leak on a water main can save valuable labour time for your plumber. But in any emergency, turn the water off if it’s a water leak, or if it’s a blockage, please ring a plumber straight away.
What is your favourite tool of the trade and why?
I think all tools are useful. I like a power drill that can hammer drill because it saves space on the ute when carrying other tools. Power drills are great for unscrewing pipe brackets, cisterns and pans which means you can save time on a disconnect. A screwdriver can be a bit laboursome and take up time. A combination power drill that can hammer drill is great for when installing toilet pans as you need it to screw the pan into the tiles.
Can you give any advice to our DIYers undertaking a bathroom and kitchen renovation in terms of choosing fixtures and fittings?
Always choose quality fixtures and buy from a reputable plumbing retailer like Reece, Tradelink or Farleys (Queensalnd based). You get the warranty paperwork and they don’t sell crap. I don’t recommend buying online because often it will take your plumber longer in labour time to install as opposed to buying fixtures that are well known and sold through these plumbing retailers. My go to brands are Caroma, Dorf and Posh.
DIYers, has Bec inspired you to perhaps take a different career path off the beaten track?