Office Hours

Mon to Fri 7.30am – 4pm

Book a Service

(07) 5580 4311

Gold Coast Sewer Blockages – Who’s Responsible & Who’s Paying?

Property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their property’s sanitary drain and house sewer pipes. The City of Gold Coast is responsible for maintaining and repairing the sewer mains and junctions that connect to the property’s sewer system.

 

Gold Coast Sewer Blockages Enquiries

For same-day service, call (07) 5580 4311. For non-urgent repairs, feel free to send us your details.

4 + 14 =

Gold Coast Sewer Blockages – Who’s Responsible & Who’s Paying?

Property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their property’s sanitary drain and house sewer pipes. The City of Gold Coast is responsible for maintaining and repairing the sewer mains and junctions that connect to the property’s sewer system.

 

Rights and Responsibilities in Dealing with Gold Coast Sewer BlockagesYour Title Goes Here

Defining Gold Coast sewer blockages is essential, as they refer to obstructions and blockages in the sewer drainage system, which are technically the responsibility of the City of Gold Coast.

However, the issue of who is responsible for these blockages and who pays for them has long been confusing for both licensed plumbers and property owners. The fluidity of enforcement is due to the Council officers’ frequent rule tweaking and interpretation changes. Ultimately confusion reigns.

In reality, the responsibilities are straightforward and clear. There are clear definitions of which drainage infrastructure belongs to the declared council sewer and which part belongs to individual property sewer house drains.

The responsibilities are:

  • Property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their property’s sanitary drain and house sewer pipes.
  • The City of Gold Coast is responsible for maintaining and repairing the sewer mains and junctions that connect to each property’s sewer house drain system.
  • If a blockage is found in the property owner’s system, they are responsible for fixing it at their own cost, including installing an inspection shaft if required.
  • If the blockage is found in the City of Gold Coast sewer main, they are responsible for fixing it.

The diagram below provides clear, unambiguous information on who is responsible for which sections of the sewer infrastructure.

Gold Coast Sewage Blockages
Gold Coast Sewage blockages repaired by Whywait Plumbing
gold coast sewage blockages

What distinguishes a sewer blockage from a blockage in the house sewer drain?

The diagram above makes it easy except for one fact. As plumbers, we cannot see a longitudinal view of the pipes underground despite all our technology.

Differentiating between Gold Coast sewer blockages and a blockage in the property’s sewer house drain is where experience and knowledge count. 

Making decisions on houses and buildings constructed after 1994 is relatively easy. This is because, for the most part, their sewer house drains have an inspection shaft with an IOS or inspection opening to the surface at the connection point with the council sewer.

For these properties, the first investigation area is to open the inspection cap on the shaft. If the inspection shaft is full of water, the sewer blockage is in the council sewer drains. The solution is straightforward: we call Gold Coast Water on 1300 000 928 to report the blockage, and they will assign a work crew to investigate, and we can leave the site.

If there is no water visible in the inspection shaft, then the blockage is within the property sewer house drains, and we can proceed to unblock the drain.

From our perspective, the issues begin when there is no inspection shaft IOS able to be located on the property.

The Implications of an Absent Inspection Shaft (IOS) on Your Property

As professional plumbers, our ability to effectively unblock your drains hinges on having easy access to your sewer house drain infrastructure. In cases where an inspection shaft (IOS) is not present on your property, we may encounter difficulties in determining the root cause of a blockage. This is because the IOS is a reference point for distinguishing between blockages in your sewer house drain infrastructure and blockages in the council’s sewer infrastructure.

Properties constructed before 1994 may not have had an inspection shaft installed during construction, and the IOS cap may have been covered with soil and vegetation. Despite this, we can often access the property sewer house drain through alternative access points and use high-pressure water jetrodding technology to clear the blockage.

Once the blockage is cleared, we can use a CCTV sewer camera to investigate the extent of the problem and identify the cause of the blockage. If the issue is contained within your sewer house drain infrastructure, the council is not required to be involved.

However, suppose we determine the blockage is in the council’s sewer infrastructure. In that case, we must report the issue to Gold Coast Water on 1300 000 928 for further investigation and for them to determine responsibility. At this point, most property owners mistakenly assume that the council will reimburse us for clearing their drain.

Installing an Inspection Shaft IOS

It’s worth noting that the City of Gold Coast now requires plumbers to discuss with property owners the need to install an inspection shaft if one does not exist. It is essential to note that property owners are responsible for installing and maintaining an inspection shaft on their property to comply with the National Plumbing and Drainage Code. Therefore, any work required to install an inspection shaft, even if a blockage is found in council infrastructure, is the property owner’s responsibility.

It is indisputable that having an inspection shaft on your property can help ensure we can quickly and accurately diagnose and resolve blockages in your sewer house drain infrastructure. In addition, the inspection shaft IOS can avoid any potential confusion or disputes regarding responsibility for repairs.

Beware of False Assumptions: The Reality of Who Pays for Unblocking Your Drain

Property owners must understand that assuming the City of Gold Coast will cover all costs related to unblocking drains is a false assumption, even if the council accepts responsibility for the sewer blockage. The council policy is reprinted below:

“We will consider reasonable requests relating to out-of-pocket expenses for an investigation to identify a sewer blockage that we confirm to be our responsibility. We consider up to two hours a reasonable timeframe to investigate a blockage on private property. Properties with easy access to the sanitary drain via the house inspection shaft should take considerably less time to investigate.”

Furthermore, the council will not reimburse plumbers or property owners for any of the following work even though the work, in all likelihood, was integral to unblocking your drain:

  • Any work to identify the blockage that was not reported to the council.
  • Any work on clearing a blockage in a sanitary drain, such as the kitchen sink
  • All work a plumber does on council infrastructure, such as clearing the blockage in the council sewer.
  • All work involved in exposing, installing or raising house inspection shafts or sanitary drains to conduct investigations.
  • The removal of toilets or other fixtures to gain access into the sewer house drain to conduct investigations into the cause of the blockage.
  • All machine hire, equipment fees or sub-contractor fees.
  • Any call-out fees or return visits to the site.
  • Any blockages that were caused by inappropriate disposal of materials from the property sewer house drain, such as toys, wet wipes or other foreign objects

The Bottom Line: Who’s Responsible & Who’s Paying for Gold Coast Sewer Blockages?

The bottom line is that if your drains get blocked, you are responsible for paying for them to be cleared.

As you can see above, despite being the owner and legally responsible for all the declared sewer infrastructure, the City of Gold Coast takes minimal responsibility for reimbursement if its infrastructure fails.

The applicable words in their policy are “We will consider reasonable requests…” 

Here at Whywait Plumbing, we have observed the continual tightening of reimbursement guidelines over the last twenty-five years. In addition, we have attended multiple meetings with council officers over the years to discuss the areas of responsibility for a sewer blockage determined to be the council’s responsibility.

We believe there is a significant disparity in individual interpretations with continual rule tweaking and interpretation changes. As a result, confusion reigns even though responsibilities are straightforward and clear, with clear definitions of which drainage infrastructure belongs to the declared council sewer and which part belongs to individual property sewer house drains.

As licensed plumbers who have invested substantially in purchasing state-of-the-art equipment to unblock drains and investigate the causes of sewer blockages, we must charge property owners for this work.

The bottom line for us is that the property owner is responsible for paying for these services and seeking reimbursement from the council. We have no desire to be dictated to by council bureaucrats on what our business is entitled to charge for our work.

CCTV drain camera
Call Now ButtonCALL NOW