Charles Brittingham’s plunger has rescued diamond rings, toys, fishing hooks, dentures and cellphones from the toilets of many homes.
The owner of Brittingham Plumbing Co. at 1912 Central Ave. still works hands-on as a plumber after 30 years in the industry, along with several employees who assist him with residential and commercial clients.
“I like helping people out. Most of the time, when you leave somebody’s house, they’re happy. They’ve got hot water now or their leak is fixed. It’s a job that I enjoy doing,” Brittingham said.
Fewer young people are entering the trade as older plumbers retire, said his wife, Larissa, who works part-time doing marketing and advertising.
“It’s definitely not something that people aspire to go to school to become anymore,” she said. “Especially with code changes, plumbing standards and the more environmentally focused the country is becoming, we’re going to need more trained plumbing professionals.”
Brittingham comes from a long line of plumbers. His great-grandfather opened Thomas G. Brittingham Plumbing & Heating at 308 Ninth St. in 1901. He moved to Augusta in 1895 from Baltimore to work on construction of the Bon Air Hotel.
Brittingham’s grandfather, Thomas H. Brittingham, studied mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech and opened H. Brittingham Plumbing and Heating in the 1940s at 12th and Miller streets.
“Back then, the plumbers did a lot of the heating because there were radiators. Eventually, we’d like to get back into heating and air, too,”
Charles Brittingham said.
When Thomas H. Brittingham retired, he divided his clientele and helped his sons, John Joseph and Herman Brittingham, and his son-in-law, Peter Menk, get started in the plumbing business.
Brittingham’s father, John Joseph, started Brittingham Plumbing in the early 1960s on Walden Drive. Brittingham continued the business with many of his father’s old customers in 1982, after working with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union.
Today, Brittingham’s son, Clark, the fifth generation in the family business, is preparing to take the South Carolina master plumber exam so he can help his father expand into the state. Another son, Daniel, soon plans to attend school to learn about heating and air-conditioning, he said.
Clark Brittingham enjoys the variety of the job.
“It’s very interesting. You could be outside, you could be inside. You can be in a nice house, you can be in a nice business,” he said.
In the future, the business plans to expand and go completely digital with its
scheduling and customer invoices for plumbers on the road.
Sunday was World Plumbing Day, and Brittingham Plumbing hopes to raise awareness about the importance of plumbing with water drives and missionary work.