There’s a very real problem that has the potential to cost you thousands of dollars and unnecessary heartache.
It’s the dodgy tradie epidemic that is getting worse, not better.
To stay abreast of industry updates and news, I follow a couple of plumbing related pages on Facebook. While having a scroll through the most recent posts, I saw some pictures and comments that instantly made me feel for the customer and angry that a dodgy tradesperson was getting away with illegal and dangerous work.
The picture on Facebook was posted by a plumber on the Gold Coast who was asked to repair a hot water system. The system had been installed two months prior by another tradesperson. He was no longer answering or returning the calls of the upset homeowner.
The hot water system in question had been installed by a dodgy tradie and it was a ticking time bomb. The major faults were as follows:
- It had been connected in such a way that if the thermostat failed and the water continued to boil there was a very high likelihood of an explosion due to a blocked relief valve discharge pipe.
- A tempering valve had not been installed. This vital component prevents children and the elderly from scalding burns, by blending hot water with cold water to 50 degrees Celsius.
- The non-return isolating valve was not installed. The purpose of this component is to prevent hot water from going back through the cold water supply, thereby preventing melting tap washers and plastic components like toilet cistern filling valves for example.
- The cold water expansion valve that discharges cold water to prevent damage to isolating valves and other pipework, was missing.
- There was no safe tray under the unit to prevent water from flooding the house if there was ever a leak from the hot water system.
- Zero insulation on the pipework for preventing heat loss.
The installation did not comply with Australian standards for hot water systems and the pipework looked like my dog had fabricated it (no offence intended Ebony, my lovely kelpie).
Most hot water systems when installed correctly, will provide hot water on demand without further thought. They require a minor service every few years to ensure the relief valve is operational and the replacement of the sacrificial anode, usually every 5 years. However, when certain unfavourable conditions align, a hot water system can turn into a dangerous bomb inside your home.
The television show Mythbusters conducted an experiment where they removed all safety valves from a hot water system and then pressurised the unit. The subsequent explosion launched the tank over a hundred meters in the air and peppered the surrounding area with dangerous shrapnel.
I’m a business owner, a tradesman and an employer, but foremost I’m a person who wants to help people with plumbing problems and provide quality solutions.
I believe that it’s my duty as a business owner to prevent consumers from having a similar experience to the poor customer referred to above. It is the responsibility of reputable business owners to call out dodgy tradies who should not be in business.
It is my opinion that there has been a serious decline in the standard of workmanship, as well as gaps in the fundamental knowledge of tradespeople. Furthermore, I regularly see a blatant disregard for the law and regulations from dodgy tradespeople.
With that in mind, you should ask the following when choosing a tradesperson to repair or supply and install your hot water system:
- Will you come to my home and discuss the best type of hot water system suited to my needs? Will you consider the number of people in the home, the energy efficiency of the system, my budget and any future plans that I have for my home?
- Do you hold the correct plumbing licence to install hot water systems?
- Do you hold the required electrical licence? If there was ever an insurance claim at the property due to an electrical surge, having your hot water system installed by a licenced tradesperson will be a requirement of the insurer.
- Will the system be installed as per the Australian Standards and local authority requirements?
- Do you offer a lifetime warranty on your workmanship?
- Has the system and its components been thoroughly tested?
- Will the system and its components be brand new and not ex-showroom floor stock?
- Does the system have a minimum 10-year manufacturer’s warranty?
- Will indoor installations have the required safe tray and automatic shut off valve to prevent flooding of my home?
- Do you submit the legally required Notifiable Work form to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission?
You should get a sense of trustworthiness from the trade business and there should be plenty of customer reviews to support the satisfaction of others who have used the business prior to you.
The size of the business is also an important consideration. If there is a problem with the hot water system in the future the business that you choose should have the personnel available to attend to perform a warranty repair.
The following picture is a hot water system that we installed inside a customer’s home the day before I wrote this article.
The customer left a 5 star Google review stating the following:
“All the guys are friendly and professional. Had my Hot Water System replaced within 24 hours of my call. Arrived on time, did a professional job, and cleaned up after themselves. Made the whole trauma of dealing with tradesmen a pleasant experience.”
I truly hope that this helps you when making a decision on the repair or replacement of your hot water system and prevents you from having a potentially dangerous and costly experience.
Please contact us to discuss your needs on 1300 390 361.
Owner of Gold Coast Plumbing Company