Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement 1

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Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement

Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement

In Queensland, if you see online bunnings hot water service price beat guaranteewebsite  prices or are quoted over the phone a price for like for like hot water service replacement for an electric or gas storage tank¹ system, don’t believe one word of it. The prices are a sham designed to scam you into calling them to book in the job.

I can 99.9% guarantee² you will not receive that price for a legally compliant hot water service replacement issued with a QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate.

The pricing and terminology are deliberately deceptive and are a scam. I will categorically state the prices are absolutely bullshit and lies.

Going back over ten years ago yes all plumbers undertook like for like hot water service replacement when replacing electric or gas storage hot water tanks. Simply this was legally compliant at the time and accepted industry practice.

The pricing and terminology are deliberately deceptive and are a scam. I will categorically state the prices are absolutely bullshit and lies.

Going back over ten years ago yes all plumbers undertook like for like hot water service replacement when replacing electric or gas storage hot water tanks. Simply this was legally compliant at the time and accepted industry practice.

What is like for like hot water service replacement?

“Like for like” installation is frequently seen as the basis of pricing on websites as a starting point for pricing for replacing your hot water system. They usually use confusing terminology stating that the pricing is starting from what is a low price for a like for like installation. They then vaguely define like for like as being for replacing the hot water system where it is:

  • the same type of hot water system as the old hot water system
  • that the hot water system is being installed in precisely the same location as the old hot water system
  • that the new hot water system is the same size as the old hot water system
  • that the new hot water system has the same electrical requirements as the old hot water system

Of course, it’s not explained clearly like I have using sixty-seven words.  Instead, they tell all of that in one compressed vague sentence of thirty-four words.

And naturally, there will be getting out of gaol clauses that are again vague and confusing. These clauses will state that other costs may be incurred because:

  • you have individual site installation requirements to ensure your like for like hot water service replacement is compliant with all regulations
  • if you require any additional valves installed that were not in the like for like scope of works
  • if you request removal and disposal of the old hot water service
  • if you require a new concrete slab or support base
  • if you need any additional piping to be installed
  • if you require any additional electrical wiring or any electrical work other than disconnecting and reconnecting
  • any work what so ever that is required to the existing plumbing, electrical or gas infrastructure to ensure your like for like hot water service replacement is compliant with the council, state or commonwealth regulations
  • any additional labour or equipment required due to site access conditions

All of the above are standard requirements on any hot water system replacement to meet the legal requirements of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019.

The whole reason all of the above and many more possibilities are excluded from a like for like hot water service replacement offer is to fool you.

Ultimately every existing hot water service installation has individual requirements when installing a replacement hot water service.  That is why a website price or a quote over the phone is meaningless.

You can only ever get a correct price for replacing your old, leaking hot water service after a comprehensive site inspection. In the small print on all websites that quote like for like replacements they almost always state somewhere that pricing may change once their plumber undertakes a site inspection.

The photo on the right is a Dux 50 dux 50 litre electric hot water servicelitre electric hot water service that has been replaced like for like. Except it is utterly non-compliant because:

  • the hot water pipes are not insulated
  • the relief valve is not insulated
  • there is no pressure reduction valve
  • there is no cold-water expansion valve
  • there is no tempering valve
  • as it is an internal installation, there is no hot water tray to contain water leaking from the tank, pipes or valves
  • there is no automatic shutoff valve to cut off the water should there be a leak
  • there was no QBCC form 4 given to the property owner

There is no such thing as a like for like installation. There is definitely no such thing as an exemption for a QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate if you are only undertaking a like for like installation.

What is required to replace a leaking hot water service?

If your hot water service is leaking and requires a replacement then in all likelihood it will be at least eight years old and probably much more. I can guarantee the infrastructure regarding valves and overflow drains will not be compliant with the legal requirements that we must now adhere to.

We recently replaced the nine-year-old Siddons heat pump unit in the photo on the right Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement 3

that was no longer functioning with a CO2 Smart Heat Pump hot water unit. Even though it was only installed nine years ago, it was utterly non-compliant with the current requirements.

Since 1 July 2019 every hot water service whether its a new installation or a replacement installation must be installed in complete compliance with AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Plumbing and Drainage Part 4: Heated Water Services.

This standard, along with several other standards, is called into law via the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019.

The installation of a new or replacement hot water service must comply absolutely with the standard and in particular Section 5 Installation of Water Heaters – General Requirements. The scope of this section states explicitly: This Section sets out general requirements for the installation of water heaters, their location, support, cold water service valves, the vent or drain lines, and the first 2 m of heated water supply piping.

This section sets out exactly how all hot water service installations must be undertaken. Nowhere does it refer to a like for like hot water service replacement.

No professional, reputable plumber will quote you on a like for like installation as they know it does not exist. Companies who market on this basis are engaging in deceptive and misleading marketing to get their foot in your door, so they can then upsell you.

Any plumber who starts telling you that you can get a lower price with a like for like replacement is simply a liar.

Every hot water service replacement must have a Form 4 compliance certificate lodged with the QBCC and the appropriate fee paid. Ultimately this is for your protection as compliantly installed plumbing, and drainage installation is about protecting your health.

Replacing a hot water service does not involve guesswork it’s about merely obeying the law and being compliant with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018. If you have had your hot water service replaced as a like for like replacement you need to report it now to the QBCC as an offence complaint. The plumber who undertook the installation will be required to return and complete the installation in compliance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 at his cost.

If you are uncertain about your hot water service replacement or need assistance contact us on (07) 5551 5193 and we will give you our opinion on how to proceed.

¹ : Replacing an instantaneous gas hot water unit is frequently like for like as it is a straight disconnection and reconnection to the gas connection and to the water pipes. In most instantaneous units, there is no need to install or replace valves as all management of temperature is undertaken in the unit.

² : The only time I have seen a compliant like for like replacement is when a faulty hot water service has had to be replaced within the first 12 months after installation and was already fully compliant. This is a genuine like for like replacement under the manufacturers guarantee where the client pays nothing and where everything concerning the plumbing and electrical infrastructure was already compliant.

Plumbing Rip Offs

Plumbing Rip Offs

Plumbing rip offs, in my opinion, are frequently emotive exaggerations bereft of facts from people whose only motive is not to pay their plumbers bills.

Sadly most plumbing rip offs are perpetuated not on the customer but on the plumber by other plumbers who stupidly aid and abet con artists using them without any payment to condemn work another plumber has undertaken.

Every week we get multiple phone calls virtually demanding that we condemn over the phone other plumbers work or for us tell them that they have been overcharged. Of course, they never wish to pay for this advice and never want it adequately investigated.

Unfortunately, far too many plumbers are completely gullible and get sucked into agreeing with unsubstantiated, exaggerated statements over the phone from someone they have never met. For some bizarre reason, they think by agreeing with baseless opinions from an unqualified person that they will get work from it and even more bizarrely get paid for it!

Despite what some non-plumbers think plumbing is complex in its entirety requiring in-depth knowledge and precision. With the dominance of Google, it is effortless for someone to create a cheap website and make a raft of promises usually based on how cheap they are.

“No call out fee! Free quotes! No service charge! Free plumbing audit! Free gas inspection! $0 call out fee! $40 off today! $99 drain special! Free plumbing quotes!” And so the list goes on when you Google the term “plumber Gold Coast”. All of these “promises” create the perception that you are getting something for free or at a considerable discount.

The often-quoted “There is no such thing as a free lunch” is applicable in this situation. Obviously, it means nothing is ever truly free because the fact is someone has to pay for the plumber to come to your house or business. All of those above claims are designed with the sole purpose of getting you to ring that plumbing company and nothing else. I guarantee you will be paying for them to come out one way or another.

You should know it costs money for a fully equipped and staffed plumbing truck to arrive at your home or business. Some companies will charge a call-out fee which allows for no work. Some companies such as Whywait Plumbing will charge a diagnostic fee which provides for a preliminary investigation of the plumbing problem. Some companies will charge a minimum one hour fee no matter how long they are on site. Some companies offer a free call out, but it will be built into all their costs so beware of all free call out offers as generally, all their other prices are higher.

You are ripping me off because Joe Bumcrack Plumbing Service is half your price

In the last 42 years, I’ve heard multiple variations of this excuse for not paying an account countless times.

Buyers regret is a constant issue for all businesses. I remain bewildered by people who turn to the bottom feeders of our industry and turn them into experts. These hobby businesses are frequently referred to as Joe Bumcrack plumbers for obvious reasons. Of course, Joe Bumcrack’s phone wasn’t answered, and he wasn’t available at 10 pm on a Saturday night to clear the blocked drain. But of course, his word counts because he told the customer what he wants to hear concerning what price should have been charged and plumbing rip offs.

The reality is half the price of what? We have never been interested in being the cheapest Gold Coast plumber. We are not interested in what other plumbers charge because every business differs regarding cost structures, overhead costs and productivity levels that are utilised to set a selling price for a businesses services.

Notwithstanding the urban myth that there is a “going rate” or “recommended rate”  for plumbers, it is illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for business to collude in setting prices or for there to be any set or recommended rates by master plumbers associations.

Here at Whywait Plumbing, we take pride in our industry best practice service levels. We endeavour without exception to deliver quality workmanship with expertise and long-lasting permanent solutions to complex plumbing problems that are fully compliant with the legal requirements in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.

A recent e-mail I received with the following quote from Benjamin Franklin, “The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten” always applies, and that is the lowest price is not still the best. With plumbing problems, they are frequently reactive, and the practice of going back after the job is completed to Joe Bumcrack Plumbing Services for his expert opinion on what work should have been undertaken is counterproductive as you are not comparing apples with apples.

Plumbing is like everything else with a plethora of solutions, methods and opinions to solve problems. This, in turn, creates multiple pricing solutions if you do not specify exactly what products you want installing with the result is that you require. We accept that our customers are often in a situation where they are choosing between the price we must charge versus the quality of the service.

More and more, we are seeing where a customer has researched what he should budget for a job via Google and on websites such as Bunnings. The reality is they don’t have the expertise or knowledge to undertake the research, so end up with a superficial answer. This research then becomes the driving force in determining the price they think they should pay for our service.

It is our experience over 42 years that many clients fool themselves or their employer in choosing the lowest price service to fit within a budget that was flawed from the start. Typically this results in budget blowouts in the short term as the lowers quality service, and products have to be replaced long before they should have been.

Equally, the highest price does not always mean the highest quality service. Frequently the highest price and the lowest price for service are due to inefficiencies in the service delivery combined with there not being a specifically tailored specification.

When you are assessing a company to provide service delivery, please ignore Joe Bumcrack Plumbing Services and their constant cry that all their competitors are involved in plumbing rip offs. The ability of companies such as Whywait Plumbing or Oceanside Plumbing or Waterfox Plumbing to meet your service and business requirements should be paramount in decisions. Equally successful past performance is just as critical to ensuring quality service and installation take precedent over the enticement of a low priced service delivery.

What’s your hourly rate?

No legitimate business works on hourly rates. The reality is most businesses charge a set price for a set service task. Even in the construction industry businesses such as tilers and plasterers charge per m² or brickies per 100 or 1000 bricks laid.

The exception to this is far too many plumbers and electricians who won’t invest in quantity surveying software and the time to create task based pricing. As a result, we have many Joe Bumcrack plumbers who work on hourly rates that do not cover the cost of wages and accuse all their competitors of engaging in plumbing rip offs. Even for a solo operator plumber or electrician, their break-even points will be between $100 – $150 per hour depending on their overhead costs. So if you engage a plumber who is telling you their hourly rate is $80, then you can guarantee they will be doubling up somewhere or charging for services that are not delivered.

Hourly rates are a meaningless component in the overall service cost being utterly subjective to the point of being meaningless.

I’m well aware many people think an hourly rate for a plumber in excess of $100 is a plumbing rip off and extortinate. This is why hourly rates are meaningless because within that price countless expenses have to be covered such as wages, superannuation, workcover, fuel, insurance, vehicle repairs, equipment repairs and replacement, travel time and so the list goes on and on.

I can only repeat that labour is only one component of the cost when working through a task cost in quanity surveying software. The other components are overheads, materials and equipment.

Plumbers who charge using hourly rates frequently engage in charging base to base travel time or charging for apprentices who are really goffas or for making multiple trips to the merchants for materials

Just give me a ballpark price over the phone

I repeat incessantly that no professional plumber can give you an estimate over the phone. Solving plumbing problems over the phone with any degree of certainty is an absolute impossibility. Every plumbing problem is entirely variable and can change rapidly once you start working on it.

The most common price we are asked for over the phone is for replacing a hot water service. Sadly many plumbers will indulge people and give costs for replacing a hot water service over the phone based on “Like for Like” installation. This is utterly deceptive as there is no such thing as a like for like installation. Every replacement installation must be done in accordance with ASNZS 3500.4:2018, which requires substantial upgrades on the original installation which is frequently over ten years old. Of course, once they get on-site, they discover you need all sorts of extras such as valves, insulation and drain installation.

Always require that the plumber comes to the site and gives you pricing after a thorough site inspection. Even then that can change as often once you start on the job, you can get a myriad of faults to show up that cannot be detected by a visual inspection.

The Desert Eco Adapt Cartridge Is A Non-Conforming Product

Yet again we have come across the installation of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge illegally installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals.

Desert eco adapt cartridges installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals We immediately informed the client that these products known as Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were a non-conforming product in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal. We then informed the client of our responsibilities with respect to reporting non-conforming products to the QBCC. This is due to recent amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Act 1991, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, and the Building Act 1975 in relation to non-conforming building products. These amendments came into effect on 1 November 2017. These amendments were effected through the passage and proclamation of the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.

The client immediately requested that we remove all of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges and replace them with the compliant ZeroFlush EnviroSeal operating system.

Before removing the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges we undertook a thorough inspection of the ZeroFlush urinals. This confirmed what had been reported Desert Eco Adapt cartridges are non-conforming products in all waterless urinalsthat all were emitting sewer odours as they were a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim. The cartridges literally slipped up and out as we removed them as they were not sealing to the stainless steel rim on the housing.

As can be seen in the photo on the left despite being relatively new, there are urine stains on the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge as the rubber seal is not designed to fit ZeroFlush urinals and was not only allowing sewer odours to be emitted but urine was leaking down the side of the cartridge rather than going through the waste outlet drain.

Desert Eco Adapt cartridge creates sewer odours as they are illegalThese issues can be further seen by the stains on stainless steel rim in the photo to the right. These stainless steel rims were all spotlessly clean when the urinals were serviced by us in December.

All of the non-conforming Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were removed, and the EnviroSeal operating systems were reinstalled along with new BioPur Wonder Wizard Tab kits after cleaning and flushing of the drains.

Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement 4To the left is a photo of the five ZeroFlush ZF201 urinals after scheduled servicing and with the EnviroSeal operating systems reinstalled.

The EnviroSeal operating systems are a WaterMark approved system for ZeroFlush waterless urinals only. They were tested extensively by IAPMO R&T laboratory at 5001 East Philadelphia Street, Ontario, California 91761-2816 USA from 24/03/14 – 04/04/14. The EnviroSeal operating systems was then given WaterMark certification in Australia on 17/06/14, and it was renewed for a further three years on 07/08/15.

We were informed by the client that the Desert EcoAdapt cartridge was installed as a trial as they are significantly cheaper than the genuine ZeroFlush parts.

Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement 5It was concerning that we were also informed that the Desert cartridges had been installed by a licensed plumber as it is an offence under the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003, Part 4 Product Certification for a licensed plumber to install non-certified and non WaterMarked products as per the clauses on the right.

Despite claims made by the Desert Eco Systems Company at http://www.desert.com.au/products/eco-adapt-advanced/ the facts are that their cartridges have no WaterMark certification for any urinal in Australia other than their own Desert No-Flush Urinal.

All plumbing products installed in buildings in Queensland have been required to have WaterMark certification since 2003 under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 and the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003.

The Watermark Certification scheme is administered at a national level by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The requirements for WaterMark certification is specified in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.

Under the primary duty of care of the new laws being the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017, it is an offence under the Act to supply plumbing products in Queensland that don’t have WaterMark certification as these products do not meet the relevant regulatory provisions.

This change is designed to reduce the likelihood of non-conforming plumbing products being installed in buildings in Queensland.

More information on the Watermark certification system, including a list of certified products and information on the certification process, can be obtained from the ABCB website here: http://abcb.gov.au/ProductCertification/WaterMark-Certification-Scheme

Despite being a non-conforming product and illegal to install it is our opinion that the Desert EcoAdapt system is an inferior product compared to the EnviroSeal system that has been designed, tested and certified only to be used on ZeroFlush waterless urinals.

The Desert cartridge was a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim that created sewer odour emissions that could have repercussions with members of the public that have respiratory conditions. This potentially exposes building owners and their employees to legal liabilities for having installed a non-conforming substitute product.

The Desert Eco Systems Company has a long history of substituting products and making claims that their products are a conforming product when they are not and never have been. Product substitution where the product has not been tested, and WaterMark certified for the product it is substituting is an offence under the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.

Everyone in chain of responsibility needs to be aware that they are breaking the law if they authorise, instruct or install Desert Eco Adapt cartridges in any urinal that it has no WaterMark for.  Under Australian consumer laws if you have installed a Desert Eco Adapt cartridge in any waterless urinal other than the Desert No Flush urinal, based on the  dubious claims made to you by representatives of Desert Eco System Company then you are not only entitled to a refund of all your money but also compensation to pay for your waterless urinals being returned to a legally compliant status as per your waterless urinals WaterMark certification.

 

 

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