The WaterMark Certification Scheme Is Ultimately About Your Health
The WaterMark Certification Scheme is not voluntary. It is a mandatory and legally enforcible certification scheme covering Australia for all plumbing and drainage products. Ultimately it is about guaranteeing community health and safety.
Bear in mind the water you drink, cook with and wash in can conceivably transmit waterborne diseases if the water becomes contaminated. This is a major reason why all products such as taps you drink from must be WaterMark approved.
Every product that is intended for use in all plumbing and drainage installations must undergo a risk assessment to identify any potential risk of manufacturing faults and installation failures.
Looking for the WaterMark
When purchasing any new plumbing products for your home such as taps or toilets you must check that the products you are buying or installing are certified for use in Australia?
Certified products are easy to identify by the WaterMark certification trademark logo, as illustrated below. The WaterMark logo must appear on a product or its packaging, in addition to its WaterMark licence number and the applicable product specification.
Regrettably, many people go online to buy “cheap” plumbing products especially taps. Few of these taps have WaterMark Certification and potentially can be manufactured with large amounts of lead in the metal.
Deplorably there are many companies in Australia who think they can ignore their responsibilities to obey the law where WaterMark Certification is required in the pursuit of profits. Online sales of what are technically illegal plumbing products are rampant. There are advertisements all over social media promoting the purchase and DIY installations of non WaterMark approved products such as My Bidet Australia.
The WaterMark Certification Scheme is administered by the Australian Building Codes Board or ABCB as part of the Plumbing Code of Australia or PCA.
With all of the issues surrounding COVID-19 earlier this year, the ABCB along with the QBCC and Queensland Health became very concerned about online purchasing of bidet seats, tap, shower, toilet and urinal products on eBay and other online stores.
This resulted in the ABCB rolling out theLOOK for the WaterMarkcampaign. The campaign aims to improve compliance with the PCA, by promoting the WaterMark Certification Scheme to increase the understanding of why products must have WaterMark.
The LOOK for the WaterMarkcampaign will be implemented as a succession of WaterMark promotions with three key messages:
WaterMark certified products are all marked with the WaterMark trademark logo, WaterMark licence number and applicable specification.
Plumbing work must be undertaken by licensed plumbers who are legally required to install only WaterMark certified products.
How to search the WaterMark product database to locate and verify all WaterMark certified products.
What is WaterMark?
The video below explains exactly what the WaterMark Certification Scheme is and why we have it to protect your health.
What Plumbing Products Require WaterMark?
The video below explains exactly which plumbing products are required to have WaterMark Certification and how you will know if the product has been certified.
How to Use The WaterMark Product Database
The video below explains how to search for plumbing products WaterMark Certification on the WaterMark Product Database so that you can verify if the product has been certified.
Responsibility for Supply & Installation of WaterMark Approved Products
As Licensed Plumbers, it has always been illegal for us here at Whywait Plumbing to install non WaterMark approved products and non-conforming plumbing products. Since 2017 it has been illegal for anyone to supply a non-conforming plumbing product.
At Whywait Plumbing we have always complied with the laws that pertain to plumbing products. We will notify the QBCC immediately whenever we discover non-conforming, non-compliant illegal plumbing products installed anywhere.
Ultimately all of these laws are for your protection, safety and the security of community health.
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.
As good as Google can be for searching everything and anything I guarantee no-one at Google ever completed a plumbing apprenticeship or a medical degree or an electrical apprenticeship.
I was chatting with my GP recently, and she voiced her frustrations with patients that Google their symptoms and then make an appointment to see her. Almost invariably, Dr Google is wrong. Usually, the patient has typed in symptoms that frequently give an utterly incorrect diagnosis of multiple possible ailments. She said even more frustrating is that she then spends most of the appointment convincing them Dr Google was wrong.
She was so happy when I told her as plumbers we go through exactly the same issues daily. Everyone I know that is in a service industry that has a consumer focus has the same problems and frustrations of being an instant expert thanks to Dr Google or Google Plumbing or Google Electrical.
We all agree Google is excellent, especially for product searches. But when you are in business, it can also be incredibly frustrating when clients tell you they have Googled the problem and you are wrong. Ultimately for doctors or plumbers or electricians, all we can do is diagnose the issues based on the information presented and go through a process of elimination of possible causes.
The headline above comparing Dr Google to a drunk friend I just had to adapt and use after I saw it in a column by Tony Shepherd of The Adelaide Advertiser just after discussing Dr Google with my GP. I must admit it amused me as the description is perfect – dramatic and unreliable. You can read the full column by clicking here as it is a great read. The first lines are “Cyberchondriacs, step away from the search engine. Online symptom checkers are almost always wrong and should never replace a real medical professional, writes Tory Shepherd.”
This advice equally applies to plumbing because it can be difficult enough to diagnose plumbing problems when on site let alone on a computer or over the phone. As I continually reiterate no professional plumber can diagnose issues over the phone or give you an accurate price. There is only one way to diagnose plumbing problems, and that’s by having a real plumber on-site to investigate. Even then, complex issues become a process of elimination.
From the plumbing and ultimately health perspective, the most frightening issue we’ve seen with COVID-19 is all of the online suggestions on DIY installations of bidet seats and douche sprays. Google searches during the “toilet paper crisis” increased tenfold for bidet seats due to multiple social media posts and newspaper articles on so-called alternate toileting devices. Google will only ever give you generalised answers that are tailored to you as Google tracks you online with artificial intelligence.
Tony Shepherd correctly points out – “Maybe it’s best to think of Google not as a medical professional but as Librarian Google, who holds plenty of information and might be able to help you find it, but might also be miffed at the amount of noise you make so just points you in the general direction of some stuff.”
My favourite lines after that are – “Or Friend Google who, after three champagnes, will tell you everything’s going to be great, but at 2 am starts crying into their whisky about how you’re going to die.”
Those lines above sum up precisely the daily frustrations that so many consumer-focused service businesses experience. The old saying about computers of rubbish in, rubbish out is correct. The flawed Google searches of an inexperience person create multiple issues as nonsense input into a Google search will guarantee nonsense results.
Ultimately Google is a tool or research assistant that can help you put things together in a logical manner or can throw a real spanner in the works. A Google search cannot replace a doctor or an electrician or a plumber, no matter how good Google artificial intelligence is.
With all the uncertainly during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is critical Gold Coast homeowners and businesses don’t fall into the trap of using so-called handymen or unlicensed plumbers. In reality, there is no such occupation categorised as unlicensed plumbers. Every person classified as a plumber is licensed by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission or QBCC.
All individuals and companies must hold a QBCC licence for any building works that involve any work that is:
Your plumbing is not a simplistic plaything and worldwide is classified as critical public health infrastructure. All work undertaken on any aspect of your plumbing, drainage or gas infrastructure is legally required to be undertaken by appropriately licensed individuals and companies.
All plumbers frequently experience fixing up after a handyman who makes out that unlicensed plumbers exist and convinces homeowners he can undertake plumbing works as long as it’s under $3300 of value. This is a complete lie by opportunistic unlicensed scammers who put your families health at risk. The benchmark value for undertaking plumbing, drainage or gas work is $0 and always has been.
Any plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work is essential to ensuring the health and safety of the entire community. This is critically important with the COVIC-19 health pandemic we are currently facing.
Every aspect of the plumbing, drainage and gas trades are administered by a strict licensing and legislative regime. This ensures every person in these trades holds the relative QBCC licences that are legally required. This, in turn, ensures the safety and protection of the entire community through the provision of clean, safe drinking water, sanitary drains and sewers to dispose of wastewater, and gas pipes and appliances that are fit for purpose.
We all agree that using a licensed plumber or gas fitter can appear expensive, but it is an investment that protects your families health. Using an unlicensed plumber can null and void your insurance coverage plus leave you with possible legal and financial implications.
Especially now demand to sight the QBCC licences visually. A QBCC occupational licence enables the person to carry out the work physically. A QBCC contractor licence allows the person to engage in contracting for the work.
Can plumbing work be undertaken by unlicensed plumbers or handymen?
Repairing or replacing a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber in a toilet cistern
Replacing caps or covers 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
Fire protection work for testing plumbing carried out by a holder of a fire protection occupational licence or another QBCC licence
Incidental unskilled tasks such as excavating or backfilling a trench
Many of these tasks are much more complicated than they appear. Mixer taps, for example, can be extremely complicated just to dismantle and technically they have no washer so must always be worked on by a licensed plumber.
Despite social media saying yes you can we can guarantee it is entirely illegal for anyone other than a licensed plumber to install a bidet seat or a douche spray to a toilet.
Checking a plumbers licence
Prior to letting anyone commence work on your plumbing, drainage or gas ask them for their plumbers’ licence as they are legally obliged to produce it for you if requested.
We are frequently asked by clients why we are charging them for a Form 4. The simple answer is because it’s the law.
The reality is the Form 4 system for plumbing and drainage work has existed for over 20 years.
Originally licenced plumbers were required to submit a Form 4 to the local authority plumbing inspectors. On the Gold Coast that meant we submitted them to City of Gold Coast’s Plumbing and Drainage section when undertaking replacement of part of the sewer house drain or water main or replacing a hot water service.
In 2012 legislative changes required that we lodge them with the Department of Housing and Public Works through the Plumbing Industry Council, (PIC) and for the first time we had to pay a fee for lodging a Form 4 of $25.90. In 2014 the QBCC took over the Form 4 process as part of their assuming responsibility for plumbing occupational licensing.
Once a Form 4 is lodged, then it is subject to a random compliance auditing process to ensure the work is compliant with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019. This is undertaken to ensure the work is being conducted to the highest standards to protect everyone’s wellbeing, health and safety.
Whywait Plumbing has always supported the Form 4 process as it ensures that all work on your property is compliant and is registered with both QBCC and City of Gold Coast. If you have a significant insurance claim involving a plumbing failure, an accessor can quickly backtrack to ensure that the work was undertaken legally and compliantly.
Ultimately a Form 4 is there for the homeowner’s protection.
What is plumbing & drainage work notifiable work?
The definitions of notifiable work changed on 1 July 2019. These changes were to ensure clarity and usability, coupled with cost-effective plumbing laws and regulations for plumbers and property owners.
There are essentially twelve categories of notifiable plumbing and drainage work that require a Form 4 which are:
Extending water supply pipes – this is any work on water reticulation pipes other than a fire service on an existing building
Extending or removing a fire service – this applies to any class 2-9 building with a development approval as per schedule 2 of the Building Act 1975
Existing sanitary plumbing – this any work on an existing building where sanitary plumbing is removed, replaced, altered or extended
Existing sanitary drainage – this any work on an existing class 1 to class 10 building involving extending, replacing, altering or removing any part of the sanitary drain system apart from a combined sanitary drain plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
Temperature control devices – this is any work with a TMV or tempering valves in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a valve plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
Water heaters – this is any work undertaken in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a hot water heater plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
Backflow prevention devices – this is any work with a testable backflow device or dual check valve in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a valve plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
Greywater treatment plants – this any work involving the installation of a greywater use system that includes a greywater treatment plant installed in a sewered area where the plant generates less than 3kL of greywater daily or for replacing a greywater plant
Fixtures in class 1 or class 10 building – this is any work required for installing a new fixture or relocating an existing fixture in an existing class 1 or class 10 building plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
Fixtures for class 2 to 9 buildings of 1 or 2 storeys – this is for all work other than sanitary drainage required for installing or relocating a fixture provided the work is for an existing class 2 to 9 building up to two storeys above ground
Sanitary drains – this is any work undertaken to seal a sanitary drain after the connection point to the council sewer or a treatment plant
Sealing supply pipes – this is any work undertaken to seal a water supply pipe after the council water meter provided the work is for an existing class 2 to class 9 building
The QBCC publish simple guides to what is notifiable work and the definitions of building classes as defined in the Building Code of Australia which you can download below:
Every reputable professional plumber, I know 100% supports the notifiable work system. It ensures for homeowners and property owners that all work undertaken on their property is performed to the standards required.
If you have had plumbing or drainage work undertaken that you have not been supplied with a Form 4 as per the form shown above and is covered in the categories listed then, you need to report it to the QBCC now or call them on 139333. Ultimately high-quality plumbing and drainage protects your health.
If you are uncertain or need assistance contact us on (07) 5580 4311 and we will give you our considered opinion. Ultimately all plumbing work is not about guesswork; it is about compliance with the law, and the law is the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.