Illegal Plumbing Causes Large Insurance Claim To Be Rejected. Why?

Illegal Plumbing Causes Large Insurance Claim To Be Rejected. Why?

A recent phone call I received regarding suspected illegal plumbing from an insurance company assessor was a timely reminder of why property owners and property managers must ensure the following where any plumbing work is concerned:

  • that all plumbing work on your property is undertaken by a licensed plumbing contractor
  • that all legislated council inspections are undertaken and all fees paid
  • get a copy of the Queensland Governments, Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) Form 4 compliance certificate that the plumber must lodge and pay the $29.70 fee
  • and that all products such as taps and toilets are WaterMark and WELS approved products

In this particular incident, the assessor was verifying with us what the property owner had claimed after a child had undertaken some experimental work with a pull out kitchen spray hose. We were able to supply the documentation he was seeking and all was well.

But this is not always the case. We had a situation we had to rectify last year where the owner of a hairdressing salon broken every rule in the book and paid dearly for it when her salon was flooded.

Like us all, she was extremely busy. Needing to replace her taps on the hair washing basins she did a Google search and found the perfect taps online at half the price she was expecting to pay.

A week later the taps arrived with instructions on how to install them so she decided her husband could do the installation as he was a bit of a handyman. The following Sunday when the salon was shut her husband removed the faulty taps and after a few minor mishaps had the taps up and working by that evening all ready for the next days trading.

The taps were a huge improvement on the old ones because they actually worked with the water mixing beautifully to the right temperature at the touch of the handle. Everyone was happy – clients, employees and owners.

The salon owner and staff talked with their clients whilst doing their hair how great the new taps. A major topic of conversation was what a bargain they had been to buy online plus they had saved a fortune on employing a plumber by doing all the installation themselves.

illegal plumbing causes water damage to hairdressing salonThree months after the taps were installed the salon owner got a call at home on a Saturday morning just as she was leaving for work to say there was water coming out of the front door to her salon.

When she arrived at the salon the water was indeed pouring out of the door and everywhere else. Water was flowing continuously from a burst connection hose on one of the new taps. Luckily she knew where to turn the water off on the street. Unfortunately, the taps did not have individual control valves under the hot and cold connections despite it being a required installation of the taps instructions.

A flooded salon meant that she had to get her staff to cancel client appointments despite it being the busiest day of the week. Instead of it being a cash flow positive trading day it became cash-flow negative with staff cleaning up the salon in conjunction with a multitude of tradesman beginning rectification.

a tap without a WaterMark logo is illegal plumbingOn Monday with the rectification work already underway the insurance companies assessor arrived to inspect the damage. As expected he was a model of empathy with her plight taking a number of photos of the damage to the salon.

The Salon owner showed the assessor the faulty tap which he checked over and agreed it was indeed the cause of her flooded salon.

The assessor then asked her where she had brought the mixer taps and who was the plumber who installed them. Proudly she explained how she had saved a fortune purchasing the taps online and that her husband had installed them so they had saved the cost of the plumber as well.

She also told the assessor she had emailed the online store where she had purchased them as they had no phone number demanding that they supply a replacement tap.

On Friday she received a letter from her insurance company not only declining to cover the damage to the salon but also declining coverage on her business interruption insurance. Their reasons were she had through her own negligence directly caused the damage which also caused her business to have to temporarily cease trading. The negligence was:

  • the installation of non-compliant taps with no Australian WaterMark or WELS certification in the salon’s basins
  • the said taps were installed by a non-licensed person with no compliant contractor registration in contravention of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 and Queensland Building Services Authority Act 1991.

So the bargain taps and the do it yourself plumbing installation turned into a financial nightmare for the salon owner. The repairs and rectification cost in excess of $30000. In addition, there was the loss of eight days trading plus the loss of clients who went and found a new salon.

You get what you pay for is an old cliche but with plumbing its definitely true. If the salon owner had complied with the law and done what she ultimately had to do, in employing a licensed plumber to install compliant mixer taps with individual control valves at the connection point she would have had not a single problem. Even if she had still had a burst connector flexihose to the tap her insurance coverage would have covered all of her costs as would have the public liability insurance policy of the plumber.

Ultimately its always to your advantage to:

  • employ a licensed plumber and
  • make sure the products he installs are WaterMark and WELS compliant and
  • ensure you get a copy of the Queensland Governments, Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) Form 4 compliance certificate that the plumber must lodge and pay the $29.70 fee.

If you do all of the above you will never have a problem with an insurance claim being rejected because you have a paper trail for the assessor to follow. And I’m sure you will be surprised but our salon owner never received a new tap or any reply from the online store.

WELS Water Rating Label on Taps and Toilets?

WELS Water Rating Label on Taps and Toilets?

Here at Whywait Plumbing, it gets very frustrating at times when clients want us to install products they have purchased “cheaply” online or bought from non-specialist outlets who import cheap non-compliant product. All products we install are required by law to have a WaterMark certificate and a WELS water rating label certificate. It is illegal for licensed plumbers to install non-compliant products.

WELS Water Rating Label certificates are on every product plumbers install. Unfortunately, many of our clients are confused by the rating requirements, which is mainly because there has been little public education and therefore awareness.

In 2005, the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme as a joint initiative of the Australian, State, and Territory governments became law. Under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme, products that use water must be tested under standardised conditions in a laboratory by a government regulator. Each product is given a comparative rating score of between one and six stars to indicate the product’s efficiency. The WELS Water Rating Label certificates or stickers are very similar in appearance to those used for energy rating labels for things like fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, heaters and air conditioning units.

The WELS Water Rating Label scheme was instituted to eliminate and educate on unnecessary water use. The WELS Water Rating Label scheme on current projections is expected to save 800,000 megalitres of water by the year 2021 across Australia. This equates to about a billion dollars of water bill savings. A further little-known benefit of the WELS Water Rating Label scheme is a reduction in greenhouse gases which is estimated to equal to the removal of 90,000 cars from Australian roads every year.

When the plumbers at Whywait raise the issue of WELS Water Rating Label certificates, many of our clients ask which products have to have WELS labels? Very simply  under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme, the bathroom products that need to be rated in Australia are:

  • shower heads
  • tapware
  • toilets pans, cisterns and urinals

WELS water rating label certificate on showerheads from Whywait PlumbingInstalling water-efficient showerheads in your home’s bathrooms account for 25% of the water savings under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme. This is due to the significant difference in the amount of water used in showers with a standard showerhead using between 15-25 litres of water per minute. A 3-star rated showerhead only uses 6 or 7 litres per minute which means installing a water-efficient showerhead reduces your water consumption in the shower alone by 40%. Using less water in the shower has the added benefit of reducing your electricity or gas bill as you use about 40%-60% less hot water.

All taps used in kitchen sinks, bathroom basins, bathroom showers and laundry troughs must be WELS rated. However, a bath tap although in all likelihood WELS rated does not require to be flow reduced as you use the same amount of water to fill a bath no matter what. Flow restrictors mean the bath takes longer to fill. Most mixer taps and many combination tap spouts have an aerator that is combined with a flow restrictor, installed on the spout outlet that mixes the water with air, and in the process can cut the amount of water used from 15-22 litres per minute down to around 3 – 6 litres per minute.

Finally, the WELS Water Rating Label scheme requires flushing toilets and urinals to meet a basic level of water efficiency. Waterless urinals are not required to have any form of WELS certification. Concerning toilets, an average flush is calculated as one full flush and four half-flushes. Therefore a compliant toilet suite cannot exceed 5.5 litres per average flush. Water-efficient toilets make up a significant amount of the water savings under the WELS scheme with savings of 22% as a traditional toilet used 11 litres per flush compared to water-efficient dual flush toilets that use, on average less than 4 litres per flush. This adds up to savings of 52 litres of water per person, per day, and can add up to $800 less in your water bill over ten years.

When choosing plumbing products for your home, it is a good idea to take into consideration the information on the WELS Water Rating Label and the savings you can make over the long term on both water and electricity or gas bills.

For more information on the WELS scheme, go to waterrating.gov.au.

Call Now ButtonCALL NOW