Non-Conforming & Non-Compliant Plumbing & Building Products Are Illegal To Supply, Specify & Install
Non-conforming plumbing products that have not the appropriate WaterMark certification have always been illegal for licensed plumbers to install.
The WaterMark Certification Scheme is not voluntary. It is a mandatory and legally enforcible certification scheme for plumbing and drainage products. This is to ensure they are fit for purpose plus appropriately tested and authorised for use in all plumbing and drainage installations.
It has been illegal since 2017 for anyone to supply, specify, instruct others to install or for anyone to install non-conforming plumbing and building products in Queensland. Unfortunately, many companies think they can ignore their responsibilities to obey the law. Online sales of non-conforming plumbing products are rampant. There are advertisements all over social media promoting DIY installations of non-conforming plumbing products such as My Bidet Australia.
On 30 August 2017 the Building and Construction Legislation (Non-conforming Building Products-Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017, regarding the use and sale of non-conforming building products became law.
These laws further strengthened how compliance must be achieved with amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Act 1991, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, and the Building Act 1975 concerning non-conforming building and plumbing products.
These laws create a chain of responsibility so that designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plumbing and building products have as much responsibility as licensed plumbers to ensure a product is compliant and fit for its intended purpose.
These laws give the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) new powers to investigate the manufacture, sale and use of non-conforming building products.
Building and plumbing products are regarded as illegal, non-conforming or non-compliant for an intended use if;
- the product is not, or will not be, safe; or
- does not, or will not, comply with the relevant regulatory provisions; or
- the product does not perform or is not capable of performing, for the use of the standard it is represented to conform by such as Watermark certification.
Definitions of Non-Conforming Plumbing Products
There are 1000’s of plumbing products manufactured both in Australia and overseas. Consequently, it can be challenging to know whether or not a plumbing product is genuine and will perform as required plus will comply and conform with the WaterMark Certification Scheme.
You can check the WaterMark Product Database which lists all plumbing products that have been certified and marked in accordance with the requirements of the WaterMark Certification Scheme.
In general, everyone should be aware of the following terms regarding compliant plumbing products:
- Non-compliant plumbing and building products and materials are any product used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC) which encompasses the WaterMark Certification Scheme. You must be aware any plumbing product can be both non-conforming and non-compliant.
- Fraudulent documentation refers to a recorded claim that a plumbing product’s performance meets specified Australian plumbing standards when used or tested, do not meet that performance claim. This frequently will include falsified documentation, fraudulent certification or test results.
- Product substitution is commonplace and can occur when a product is submitted for third-party certification testing and, after the WaterMark certification is granted, the manufacturer/supplier alters it and does not retest or recertify the product. Product substitution is also a widespread problem where a seemingly identical but non-conforming replacement plumbing product is offered to replace the WaterMark certified product.
- Counterfeit plumbing products are also widespread and are an unauthorised copy of a plumbing product, created with the intention to deceive. They are illegally sold to suppliers, plumbers, building owners and consumers, as genuine.
These laws have created a legal chain of responsibility for everyone for reporting non-conforming building or plumbing products to the QBCC. This duty applies to every person in the chain of responsibility who becomes aware or reasonably suspects that the building or plumbing product installed is non-conforming and or non-compliant for the intended use.
As Licensed Plumbers, it has always been illegal for us here at Whywait Plumbing to install non-conforming plumbing products. However, it is now illegal for anyone to supply a non-conforming plumbing product.
At Whywait Plumbing we have always complied with these laws. We will notify the QBCC immediately whenever we discover non-conforming, non-compliant illegal plumbing products installed anywhere.
Ultimately these laws are for the protection, safety and security of everyone.
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.