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Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is responsible for thousands of miles of pipes across Capitol Hill. This includes a wide variety of piping including drinking water, sewage, irrigation, HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning), drainage and many others. 

Responsibility for the care, maintenance and repair of a variety of piping systems falls to AOC's pipefitters and plumbers. Plumbers are responsible for pipes that contain potable water contain potable water or sewage, while pipefitters work with pipes that contain everything else.

On the Job

On a rainy day in Washington, D.C., one such AOC Pipefitter, Richard Dawson, is at his busiest. As the only pipefitter on call during the day for the more than 100-year-old Cannon House Office Building, for Dawson, when it rains, it pours. If any water leaks, he answers the call.

"When it rains we get nonstop calls. It is my job to go and be as courteous as possible and solve the problem," says Dawson.

Like a detective straight from a film noir, Dawson gets the call from the service center in his basement shop on his "retro brown" corded push button desk phone to go investigate a report of water leaking into a Member's office on the fourth floor of the Cannon Building. The fourth floor is no stranger to such leaks, residing beneath the offices added to the "roof" as part of a 1913 expansion. The aged windows of the floor above often leak during windy rainstorms into the office below.

Richard Duncan using his tools to solve problems in the historic Cannon Building.

Richard Duncan using his tools to solve problems in the historic Cannon Building. 

Dawson grabs his tools on the way out the door and hurries to the scene of the leak. Using his tools, his experience and his gut, he determines the problem and the potential solution. Like a crime scene investigator, he may turn the case over to experts from different trades to help solve the problem.

If he can solve the problem, he will utilize the tools at his disposal or shape the proper piping or other materials he needs to make the necessary repairs. Every day, around the clock, AOC plumbers and pipefitters such as Dawson ensure the vital pipes necessary for the function of the buildings and grounds are maintained, repaired and replaced as necessary to ensure the smooth operations of the United States Congress and Supreme Court.