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Legal DIY Plumbing Work

Legal DIY Plumbing Work

Legal DIY or do it yourself plumbing work is extremely restricted in Queensland to protect the integrity of the potable water supply and ensure the high levels of public health. Plumbing laws nationwide safeguard the health of the nation.

diy-plumbing-repairsPlumbing is and always has been part of the public health solution. This, in itself, has created a level of complacency within the community about the benefits of good professional plumbing practices and the laws that enforce them. Plumbing laws are frequently unappreciated with professional plumbing being a victim of its own past success. Many sections of the community do not appreciate the vital role that plumbing plays in everyday health because we have always had professional plumbing to bring a clean potable water supply into our homes and to remove the used water from our toilets, showers and laundry.

In Queensland plumbing law is covered by the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, Plumbing and Drainage Regulations 2003, Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003 and Queensland Plumbing and Waste Water Code 2010. These acts and regulations are comprehensive and regulate individual plumbing licences and training plus call into law AS3500 for installation.

To be a plumbing contractor in Queensland, a company or individual must also hold contractors licences issued by the Building Services Authority under the Building Services Authority Act 1991. This licence ensures that all plumbing contractors have the correct technical qualifications and occupational license issued by the Plumbing Industry Council. No one other than a licensed plumbing contractor can undertake plumbing work no matter what the value of the work is. The threshold amount of $3000 does not apply to plumbing, drainage or gasfitting that applies to several other trades

So what an unlicensed person can undertake plumbing work on their own home is not a great deal and for a good reason, as outlined above. The Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003 outlines quite specifically in Schedule 3 Unregulated Work what this work is. Unregulated work is defined as the following:

  • cleaning or maintaining ground level grates to traps on sanitary drains
  • replacing caps to ground level inspection openings on sanitary drains
  • maintaining an above or below ground irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from an on-site sewerage facility
  • installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system after the isolation valve
  • replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap
  • changing a shower head
  • replacing a toilet cistern drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cap rubber

And those seven tasks listed above are the only plumbing related tasks that you may undertake without a plumbing licence.

It is not worth the risk to undertake DIY plumbing. It is illegal.

Plumbing is public health, now, and in the future.

What Would a Flooded House Cost You?

Have you ever thought about what would happen if your washing machine or dishwasher hose broke when you were asleep, at work or on holiday? Imagine putting a hose in your lounge room, turning it on and leaving for work. The water damage would be devastating.

Unfortunately this is a scenario the plumbing technicians at Whywait Plumbing Services confront every week. Almost always it is a hose from the dishwasher or washing machine that has burst or broken. The hoses to our dishwashers and washing machines are on the most neglected but potentially most damaging maintenance items in a home.Refe

Whether we are at home or not the water supply to our homes and businesses is almost always turned on. We all know how much a mess a glass of water dropped on the floor makes so how much water will discharge from a burst hose?

Taps to the dishwasher and washing machine are seldom flow restricted in the same manner as taps on your shower, sink or basin. For this reason a burst hose discharging 20 litres of water a minute will do major damage to a home within 1 hour. Frequently a hose will burst at night due to the increase in pressure originating through the water supply company water mains.

  • in 1 hour 1200 litres of water will be discharged
  • in 8 hours 9600 litres of water will be discharged
  • in 1 day 28800 litres of water will be discharged
  • in 1 week 201600 litres of water will be discharged

To reduce the risk and damage of burst hoses there are a few simple precautions that can be taken:

  • ensure you have a pressure reduction valve installed at your meter to ensure your incoming water pressure cannot never exceed delivery pressure of 500kpa in compliance with AS3500
  • have floodstop valves installed to your washing machine and dishwasher

Whywait Plumbing has service partner annual inspections that ensure your hoses are checked for any sign of deterioration and that pressure reduction valves are correctly calibrated. These annual checks can save you the drama of ruined carpets, ruined wooden floors, ruined furniture, phoning your insurance company, filling out multiple claim forms and so much more.

 

Hot Water Burns Like Fire

Queensland law since 1995 has been that hot water delivered to bathrooms be regulated so that it does not exceed  50°C. The most common method to achieve this is by installing a tempering valve.

At 60°C a serious burn can happen in 1 second
At 55°C a serious burn would take 10 seconds
At 50°C a serious burn would happen after 5 minutes

 

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If your hot water unit has a valve that looks like the one pictured on the right then you have a tempering valve installed. The most common valve installed has a blue cap  but valves used on gas units frequently have a green cap and those on solar or heat pump units hQueensave an orange cap.

It is almost a guarantee that your valve has never been serviced as most home owners do not realise they even had such a device or that they are required to be tested and certified annually. Very simply a tempering valve blends hot and cold water to deliver hot water at a constant temperature and thus reduces the risk of scalding accidents.

Recent litigation places a deed of care to ensure the safe delivery of hot water in domestic situations. Very simply this means you should be having the tempering valve serviced annually whether you are a home owner or a property investor or a real estate property manager. To ensure your hot water delivery is safe you need an annual report signed by a licensed plumber that states:

  1. the model, manufacturer and identification of the tempering valve installed
  2. the temperature of the hot water recorded during the test
  3. details of the test undertaken, details of what maintenance was undertaken and what parts were replaced
  4. the location of the valve in the property
  5. a reference to the test method undertaken being compliant with AS 4032.3, Appendix C

Duty of care provisions apply to us all and without an annual test and a written report you leave yourself liable if anyone suffers a burn from your hot water. Most electric hot water units heat water to 70°C so that has the potential to produce a serious burn in 1 second without a correctly working tempering valve.

Whywait Plumbing are contacting clients to book in compliant testing, maintaining and reporting of your tempering valves but if you have any concerns over the temperature of your hot water contact us now to schedule your service.

Plumbing is Health

“Plumbing protects the whole community, and individually plumbers protect the health of the nation.” Whywait Plumbing Services has always promoted the importance of excellent plumbing practises combined with sustainable plumbing practises. Whywait Plumbing was the first GreenPlumber inGreen Plumbing Queensland and remains the only fully licensed GreenPlumber on the Gold Coast.

At the 2011 National Plumbers Regulators Forum, Dr Barry Gilbert a Specialist in Public Health spoke on the costs of poor plumbing confirming that plumbing is public health. Issues highlighted by Dr Gilbert were at the heart of future plumbing practice and were:

  • The complex global issues of scarce potable water, the use of recycled water, global warming, climate change, together with the influence that man has on the environment all determine risk to the population. In the future plumbing will have an even more important role in mitigating those risks.
  • Plumbing is actually a major part of the public health solution and always has been.
  • Plumbing is at risk of being a victim of its own past success, since the population at large do not appreciate the vital role that plumbing plays in everyday community health.
  • Just as vaccination protects individuals and the community, plumbing protects the whole community, and individually plumbers protect the health of the nation.
  • Plumbers have an obligation to impart the knowledge and experience to the community and to demonstrate clearly the potential impact of that poor plumbing will have in the future.
  • Plumbing is public health, now and in the future.

 

Toilet Paper Is Blocking Your Drains

Toilet paper is blocking your drains and we know it for a fact at Whywait Plumbing. Blocked drain incidences have been increasing every year since 2005.

Whywait Plumbing have noted the upward trend of annual increases in the amount of blocked drains occurrences that require clearing with high-pressure water jetting equipment since 2005, with even sharper increases since 2008.

This has generally been attributed to the advent of low flow dual flush toilets especially the 4.5/3 litre toilet suites.

Your house drain that connects to the sewer was designed when water flows were much more substantial than they are now. Traditionally a toilet flush was 11 litres and this flow was supplemented by inflows from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Prior to legislative changes in 2007 a shower deluged you with a flow of 25 litres per minute now that is 9 litres. Taps in the remainder of the house all had substantial flow rates of 20 – 25 litres per minute but now that is 6 litres per minute.

Consequently, it made sense that the 70% reduction in water flows was the cause of this rapid increase in blocked drains. Naturally, this made complete sense in homes and business premises that were new or had upgraded their taps and toilets. But why were we seeing an increase where no such upgrades had occurred. Over the last year, Whywait Plumbing Services like many other plumbing companies began noticing when undertaking a CCTV survey of a drain, large clumps of toilet paper that had not broken down in the water.

This issue with toilet paper has now reached a point where the National Plumbing Regulators have had a NATA laboratory undertaking research on the varying degrees of toilet paper quality and its influence on flow performance down a drain. Results to date are concerning as over 20 commercially available toilet paper brands were evaluated in full performance testing. There were an excessive number of these toilet papers whose performance in poor break down in water can potentially cause more blockages than others.

It’s interesting to note that none of the toilet paper culprits that have an increased potential to cause blockages are locally manufactured. Its even more interesting that the Federal Government has a committee investigating the dumping of commodities by China into Australia and one of these commodities is toilet paper. It is doubtful whether Coles and Woolworths are too concerned about what happens to this cheap toilet they import once its passed through their checkouts. Who knows what these toilet papers are really manufactured from?

 

These cheap toilet papers are dominant in commercial buildings where contract cleaning companies install the cheapest toilet paper they can purchase. This has resulted in alarming increases in blockages in commercial buildings.

So next time when you pick up that packet of toilet paper that is on special in the supermarket just have a look to see where it is manufactured or you may unknowingly be purchasing a blocked drain at the same time.

By Gary Mays

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