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When there’s work to be done around the house, the budget is tight, and you’ve got time on your hands, sisters are no longer the only ones doing it for themselves. In today’s online digital age, it seems like everyone is searching the internet so they can DIY everything themselves, and plumbing is no exception.
Some home handymen are watching plumbing repair videos on YouTube, whereas other odd jobbers are reading instructional “How To” plumbing guides on WikiHow, but all of them are forgetting one very important thing…
Plumbing is a licensed trade in Australia
That means only someone who has completed trade school and has a valid plumbing license is legally allowed to work on your plumbing. It’s also important to be aware that the laws and regulations vary between each state regarding which aspects of plumbing you’re legally allowed to do yourself.
So if you checked the national plumbing laws but not your local state regulations, you might still end up being legally and financially penalised if you attempt to fix your plumbing problem yourself.
So, what DIY plumbing work is illegal?
According to The Australian Plumbing Code (PCA), only a licensed plumber is authorised to complete any works involving plumbing or drainage. That means a licensed plumber is required to carry out any work dealing with the installation and plumbing of drinking water systems or the drainage of sewer lines.
When it comes to state laws of NSW, only fully licensed plumbers can do before any plumbing and drainage works. This also includes any roof plumbing as well as anything involving gasfitting works.
Basically, most of the plumbing jobs the DIY tribe want to do themselves, from leaky pipe repairs and toilet installations, to even the most seemingly-basic maintenance work, are all illegal to DIY in Australia. Because the list of DIY plumbing jobs that you can’t do legally is so much longer, it’s a lot easier to go through what you can do.
But it looks simple enough, right?
It’s all too common for people to get caught out trying to carry out illegal DIY because it seems easy enough to manage, but it’s never worth it. The three most common and surprising illegal DIY tasks carried out are:
- Moving power points – despite there being a thousand online how-to guides, it’s illegal to move a powerpoint unless you are licensed to do so – in NSW at least
- Connecting, maintaining and repairing sewage lines – unless you are licensed contractor, it is illegal to get involved in any work relating to sewage
- Replacing a light switch – Bunnings sell them and it looks easy – but again, without the proper licence, it’s a big no no.
When you carry out DIY you’re not supposed to, it leaves you wide open to consequences. Not only will your insurance company not cover any work that hasn’t been legally carried out by a certified professional, but even if you hire someone licensed to check it over, they can’t then back-track and certify any work you’ve already had a hand in.
So, when it comes to anything to do with sewer systems, gas, hot water, wiring, power points and safety switches, it’s time to call in the experts.
What about rainwater tank plumbing?
Whilst most rainwater tank plumbing seems simple enough, any plumbing used by hot water systems, toilets or laundry facilities must be completed by a professional, licensed plumber. Licensed plumbers must provide a ‘Certificate of Compliance,’ the purpose of which is to:
- Specify the plumbing work that has been carried out
- Verify that the plumbing work and related equipment are compliant with the Water Industry Act 2012
- Confirm that the plumber is licensed to perform the work
Engaging a licensed contractor for your rainwater tank plumbing will also ensure that your tank remains covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Okay, so what DIY plumbing work is legal?
Well, there are a few plumbing repairs and minor jobs which you can legally do yourself which won’t get you into any hot water. Just remember to check your local state laws first, as well as federal laws to ensure there have been no recent changes.
As a DIY handyman, you can install new toilet seats, drop valve washers, jumper valves, tap washers, showerheads, and floor grates. Plus, you can connect residential water filters, some aspects of irrigation systems, as well as washing machine hoses to existing taps. And as long as you’re using natural methods, you can also clear clogs and blockages from basins, showers, baths, sink drains, gutters, downpipes, and stormwater grates.
Legal DIY plumbing at a glance:
- Irrigation systems downstream from an isolating valve or a tap
- Replacing a shower head
- Replacing caps on sanitary drain openings
- Changing tap washers
- DIY drain clearing using a drain snake or plunger
- Cleaning and maintaining ground level grates to drain traps
- Connecting washing machine hoses
- Residential water filter connection
So, when it comes to plumbing in Australia, there’s really only so much work you can actually get away with doing yourself before you need to call in a professional. Whether you need to modify a pipe, move a drain, install new lines, or even plumb in a new appliance, they all need to be completed by a fully licensed plumber.
State plumbing regulations
As well as national regulations in Australia, what is and isn’t permitted also varies between the states and territories. For example, DIY waterproofing of your bathroom is fine in Victoria, but is only legal in NSW and Queensland if you have a licence to do so. Further information relating to state-specific DIY plumbing regulations can be found at the following sites:
What happens if you do DIY plumbing illegally?
Deciding to do any DIY plumbing without being licensed is a terrible idea for many reasons, so it’s super important that you consider all of the consequences beforehand. Not the least of which being that you could very well be breaking the law, which could mean anything from fines to jail time when your unlicensed work is eventually identified.
Compliance certificates are vital for any plumbing works. Not only do they show everything has been completed to meet Australian safety and quality standards, but they are also required for insurance purposes. If you decide to complete plumbing work yourself without a compliance certificate, you’ll be in a lot of trouble if it is ever defective. Especially if someone is injured or dies as a result of your work.
Unlicensed DIY plumbing can also cause problems during the property sale as well. When any illegal plumbing works are uncovered during the pre-purchase conveyancing checks because they don’t match the lodged building inspection plans, they will need to be corrected at your expense by a licensed plumber before the sale can go through. And as every homeowner understands all too well that you always want to be increasing the resale value, not paying for things to be done twice.
Sometimes cutting a few corners and saving a few bucks by doing a little DIY work around the house yourself is a great idea, as long as you’ve got the tools and the talent. But, while it may be tempting to do the same with a plumbing problem, it’s not worth the risks involved. To be safe, rather than doing it for yourself, you should always get a licensed plumber to do the job safely, legally, and correctly the first time.
You can still do some detective work
What you can certainly do is conduct some preliminary investigations to ascertain what may be the problem. If you notice that your water bill is rising, try turning everything off and see if your water meter is still going. If you notice that your hot water pressure seems low, check to see if all outlets are the same, or only hot water taps etc.
This kind of information can help a licensed plumber to diagnose a common plumbing issue quickly and even provide you with some guidance before arriving on site.
Finding the right professional
Here are a few tips to ensure you find the best plumber for the job:
- Check for genuine online reviews
- Check their licences
- Ask whether they provide a guarantee on their workmanship
- Ask about upfront pricing options
For even more peace of mind, why not get a quick and easy quote for your plumbing needs from Houseace! We ensure that every tradesperson we choose to work with is fully licensed and insured, to further protect you and the success of your project.
Or, if you’re thinking of taking on a full renovation, go to www.aireno.com.au and get started with a DIY quote! They can offer a fully managed service, walking you through every step and devising a detailed project plan to guarantee the best possible outcome.
We also ensure you’ll get razor-sharp pricing, protect you from falling victim to hidden costs, and keep your renovation cost clear. Get an instant quote today!