Unlicensed DIY plumbing work has never been legal in Queensland. Unfortunately, too many people think because they can buy plumbing products at Bunnings, then they can carry out the installation or repairs as well. In reality, the ability to undertake unlicensed plumbing work is extremely restricted in Queensland.
Technically DIY plumbing is classified as “Unregulated work” in Schedule 3 of the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 which was called into law on 1 July 2019.
So the “Unregulated work” that an unlicensed person can undertake in respect to plumbing work is not a great deal and for a good reason, as outlined below. Specifically, in Schedule 3, Unregulated work generally is defined as the following work for premises necessary for the following:
- replacing a shower head or domestic water filter cartridge
- replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap
- repairing or replacing a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber in a toilet cistern
- replacing caps to ground level inspection openings on a sanitary drain
- cleaning or maintaining a ground-level grate for a trap on a sanitary drain
- installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from a tap, isolating valve or backflow prevention device on the supply pipe for the watering system
- repairing or maintaining an irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from a greywater use facility or on-site sewage facility
And those seven tasks listed above are the only legal DIY plumbing jobs that you may undertake without a plumbing licence. The only other exception to this is what is referred to as incidental unskilled tasks such as excavating or backfilling a trench
In Queensland, all plumbing work is legally required to be carried out under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019, Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003 and Queensland Plumbing and Waste Water Code 2019. These acts and regulations are comprehensive in their requirements and outcomes concerning individual plumbing licences and training.
In addition, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 calls into law The Plumbing Code of Australia. This is defined as the document in force from time to time called “National Construction Code volume 3 – Plumbing Code of Australia published by the Australian Building Codes Board. The Plumbing Code of Australia covers every aspect of plumbing and drainage setting out the minimum requirements for the construction, installation, replacement, repair and maintenance of all plumbing systems, specifically:
- Water services
- Sanitary plumbing and drainage systems
- Excessive noise
To be a plumbing contractor in Queensland, a company or individual must also hold appropriate contractors licences by the QBCC under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991.
This is in addition to a plumbers occupational licence that allows us at Whywait Plumbing to lawfully carry out particular plumbing or drainage work. This licence ensures that all plumbing contractors have the correct technical qualifications and occupational license. 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 with QBCC licenses.
It is not worth the risk to undertake unlicensed DIY plumbing. It is illegal, plus it potentially voids your insurance coverage.
Plumbing laws nationwide safeguard the health of the nation. Plumbing is public health, now, and in the future.
A burst flexi hose is a job we attend to almost every day. In all likelihood, you will have multiple flexi hoses in your home. They will exist commonly in both residential and commercial buildings under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom vanity basins, under the toilet cistern and under the laundry tub. Invariably when we attend to a burst flexi hose it has been damaged during installation causing kinking and has further experienced corrosion. Almost always the burst flexi hose was a time bomb waiting to happen. The braided stainless steel “simple to install” flexi hose has over the last 10 years replaced copper pipe connections to taps and toilet cisterns. Unfortunately, the braided stainless steel flexi hose has not lived up to expectations and delivered on the rust protection anticipated. In our experience, a burst flexi hose is caused by:
- incorrect installation with multiple kinks in the braided stainless steel
- stretching of the flexi hose to make the connection fit
- chemical attack from household cleaners
All of the above can create the perfect storm scenario in causing the braided stainless steel to corrode and rust. It then is just a matter of time until the stainless steel braiding fails which allows for the inner liner to burst. Here at Whywait Plumbing, we are now installing a polyamide hi class water hooker from Abey Australia which is the most technologically advanced flexi hose we have seen come onto the market. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker cannot rust or corrode as it uses polyamide braiding that is similar to the Kevlar used in bulletproof vests. The connectors are manufactured from brass alloy so the entire flexihose will never rust even if its continually in contact with chemicals such as chlorine.
We are confident you will never experience a burst flexi hose once we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker as they literally cannot rust and cannot kink but best of all they come with a 15-year rust resistant warranty. Kinking is often the cause of a burst flexi hose but cannot occur with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker. Kinking is simply poor installation as a result of over tightening the connector which twists the stainless steel braided hose. This over tightening creates pressure and tension in the braiding which frequently results in the inner liner bursting through the braiding and rupturing. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker has a simple design to ensure that it is anti-kink. When we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we are able to use two spanners to counteract any twisting that results in kinking.
Most of the flexi hoses currently used have an inner lining manufactured from EPDM which has the potential to absorb and release harmful chemicals such as chlorine into your drinking water. This ability to absorb chemicals also results in a potential burst flexi hose. With the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker the inner lining is manufactured from Softpex Core. The Softpex Core inner liner gives a superior mechanical performance to EPDM guaranteeing a longer life due to its higher tensile strength, higher abrasion resistance, higher working water pressure and non-corrosiveness. The extensive age/stress testing undertaken resulted in an amazing 0% failure rate.
We strongly recommend that you get us to check your flexi hoses every year for rust and/or corrosion and that they are replaced every five years. This will give you the peace of mind in knowing that the flexi hose in your home or business is not rusting and about to explode releasing water at 25 litres every minute that it flows. Rust is the #1 enemy of a braided stainless flexi hose.
When we replace your existing stainless steel flexi hoses with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we guarantee you will get:
- superior strength and corrosion resistance
- tested and WaterMark approved for use in Australia
- superior tensile strength
- superior working water pressure
- a superior mechanical performance with the Softpex core inner liner
- a 15-year rust resistant warranty from the manufacturer
As always we must caution you that installing or replacing a flexi hose is not a legally compliant DIY installation and under Queensland law must be done by a licensed plumber. You need to be aware that undertaking a DIY installation has the likelihood of making your insurance coverage null and void and the manufacturer’s warranty null and void if the flexi hose bursts and causes damage. Don’t wait for the ticking time bomb of your existing stainless steel braided flexi hoses to strike! Call us now to get us to upgrade you to the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker.
Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.
The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.
The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.
However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.
Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.
Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.
These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.
For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:
- Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
- City of Gold Coast distribution $1.09 per k/L
- Total water consumption charge $4.00 per k/L
The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:
- water access charge of $212.08 per year
- sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.
Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.
Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.
The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”
As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.
Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.
Desert eco adapt cartridge illegally installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals
Yet again we have come across the installation of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge illegally installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals at Queensland Tennis Centre.
We immediately informed the facility manager that these products known as Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were a non-conforming product in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal. We further told Tennis Queensland of our responsibilities concerning 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 concerning 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.
Tennis Queensland immediately requested that we remove all of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges and replace them with the compliant ZeroFlush EnviroSeal operating system.
Removal of the Desert eco adapt cartridge at Queensland Tennis Centre
Before removing the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges, we undertook a thorough inspection of the ZeroFlush urinals. This confirmed what had been reported that 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.
These 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 we serviced the urinals 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.
To 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 Tennis Queensland’s facility manager that the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge was installed as a trial as they are significantly cheaper than the genuine ZeroFlush parts.
It was concerning that the facility manager also informed us that a licensed plumber had installed the Desert cartridges. 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.
Building and Construction Legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017
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 doesn’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 Eco Adapt cartridge 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 the 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.
If you have the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge installed in your urinals, then its 99% guaranteed its a non-compliant installation so contact Whywait Plumbing on (07) 5580 4311 today to organise a site audit of your urinals to ensure they are legally compliant.
Sadly employing an apprentice plumber has become an expensive luxury for many small plumbing companies throughout Australia. This is due to the complexities of the Fair Work Act, to their high wages and the length of time away from work on holidays and at TAFE training.
This has been further exasperated by the explosion in sub-contracting with 65% of all plumbing businesses being a one-person operation who employ no staff at all.
As an industry, if we don’t train for the future, then we have no future. This is why we at Whywait Plumbing have always made it a policy to employ and train at least three apprentices at any given time. Even throughout the GFC in 2008-10, we maintained employment and training for four apprentices.
If you go to university, you don’t get paid and incur a hex debt that you eventually payback for your study. However, if you become an apprentice plumber, your employer pays you for the entire four years of your training, every week, with annual increases.
Currently, the archaic document that purports to be a ‘Modern Award’, the Plumbers and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 requires a first-year apprentice plumber who has completed year 12 to be paid $13.18 per hour. If the apprentice plumber is aged over 20, he starts on $19.07 an hour. Compare this with how much you will get paid to attend university in the first and subsequent years.
Apprenticeship numbers have been declining for the last 20 years. Much of the reason for this is due to decisions 20 years ago to focus everyone at high school on obtaining a university education. This has lead to many young people graduating with degrees and then being unable to gain employment in their chosen field of study.
The importance of well-trained plumbers to society as a whole cannot be underestimated. Plumbing as a trade will continue to exist and ensures young people taking up apprenticeships will always have a good job and a good future.
Interestingly apprenticeship completions at 64% is almost on par with university graduations of 67%. In plumbing, 80% of those who never finish their apprenticeship drop out in the first two years.
This decline in numbers of plumbers as a whole available to be employed has been brought home to us in recent months. We have been advertising for two licensed plumbers at that time, and these are fulltime jobs, not casual or sub-contract. It’s been alarming at how few plumbers applied for the job. Interviewing potential employees has been an intriguing and challenging exercise.
Dillon Lowes installing new sewer pipes at Niecon Plaza
We have employed two new employees in the last month as an apprentice plumber and welcome to Whywait Plumbing, Scott Moir and Dillon Lowes.
Unlike many of our competitors, we don’t employ sub-contractors, so everyone who works at Whywait Plumbing is a full-time employee. That means everyone working here is paid for six weeks of annual and personal leave plus two weeks of statutory holidays. Sub-contractors don’t receive those benefits plus they have to pay their own superannuation and work cover.
The combination of a reduction in plumbing businesses employing an apprentice plumber and the numbers of plumbers retiring means there is a shortfall of 13% between the number of plumbers available and the demand for plumbers.
All of these issues are increasing the cost of employing plumbers. This, in turn, increases the cost for plumbing businesses to undertake work across the board in both construction and maintenance. Ultimately it’s always a balancing act between supply and demand.
Fire is a likely consequence of DIY electrical or gas fitting.
Voiding insurance coverage is the risk you take every time you decide you can undertake your own plumbing, gas fitting or electrical repairs or installation.
Sure the rules and regulations differ slightly between each state in Australia but essentially there are no grey areas in the laws in each state because its completely black and white legally that when it comes to working on the plumbing, gas or electrical systems in your home or business you must be licensed.
Here at Whywait Plumbing every week we deal with the consequences of the weekend warriors who go to Bunnings or Masters and are convinced they can do it themselves after getting advice from a shop assistant. Usually the consequences are that we have to rip everything out and start again.
Everyone in the plumbing industry be it plumbers, manufacturers or council inspectors do not need convincing that DIY plumbing is no good for anyone and most of all it is ultimately no good for the general public. Unless you have a licence you are not insured to undertake plumbing, gas or electrical work.
What they don’t tell you at Bunnings or Masters when selling you all the plumbing pipes and fittings is that it is illegal to undertake you own plumbing. Certainly they do not inform you that DIY plumbing, gas or electrical work will most likely void your home insurance policy in the event of a insurance claim.
There are some plumbing tasks you can legally undertaken without a plumbers licence in Queensland and they are limited to:
- Replacing a shower head or shower rose
- Replacing a tap washer or jumper valve
- Replacing a domestic water filter cartridge
- Replacing a washer in a toilet cistern inlet or outlet valve
- Installing, repairing or maintaining garden irrigation system
- Cleaning or repairing the grate to a drainage gully trap
- Replacing a cap on inspection opening to a drain
These plumbing tasks listed are all you can do without running the risk of voiding your insurance cover. More importantly there are no gas fitting or electrical tasks you can legally undertake that will not void your insurance cover. Listed below are links and warnings from Queensland Government and Allianz Insurance.
Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC)
|Using licensed plumbers and drainers is the simplest and most effective way of ensuring that plumbing work complies with regulations to minimise unnecessary risk to your family’s health and safety. Rectifying defective or non-compliant work can be far more expensive than the original cost. As a consumer, using an appropriately qualified plumber or drainer will help to protect you and your family as well as your bank account.
|Illegal DIY work can put you at risk of extra costs, injury or death. Leave electrical or plumbing work to qualified professionals. Some of us enjoy a spot of weekend DIY. Others are less enthusiastic but do the fix-ups anyway. And while there are many benefits of doing-it-yourself such as saving on labour costsi, there are safety and legal reasons why the majority of plumbing and electrical tasks need to be left to the professionals. DIY jobs can put you and other people at risk of injury or death. And if you don’t get something done right, you could end up putting people at risk and damaging property in the future.
We recommend that you should avoid DIY plumbing, gas or electrical as frequently you end up costing yourself more with the problems never being repaired.
By Gary Mays