Negligence causes plumbing emergencies as a fact I am becoming acutely aware of with over half of the plumbing emergencies we attend having been caused due to a plumbers negligence in the initial installation.

 

A large part of this negligence is driven by plumbing work being undertaken to a cost and not to the legislative requirements or standards that plumbers are legally obliged to comply with.

 

As I constantly have to remind clients who are victims of this negligence in near new or recently renovated buildings – everyone who worked on your home did so because they were the cheapest not because they were the best qualified and skilled to undertake the work. Sadly that is the reality in the construction industry.

 

The most common plumbing emergencies we see that are in most cases attributable to deliberate negligence by the plumber who did the initial work are:

  • leaking water-mains laid in rock and backfilled with rock with no compliant bedding or backfill material
  • broken house sewer drains once again laid in rock and backfilled with rock
  • mixer taps installed without isolation valves

Negligence by a plumber in installing the examples above are just the tip of the iceberg that we see daily but all cause a great deal of damage and are frequently expensive to repair.

 

The pressure by builders on plumbers to reduce prices and take “shortcuts” increases daily but is not an excuse to ignore undertaking the work in as set out in AS3500 and called into law through the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.

 

Under common law, the term “negligence” generally describes damage causing conduct that arises because of the defendant’s carelessness or failure to take reasonable care.

 

As an example, a plumber who installs a plastic polypipe water main straight onto the rocky ground and then backfills it with the same spoil he dug out has breached his duty of care. As a professional licensed plumber, he is fully aware that the job is not in accordance with clause 5.12 of AS3500 Part 1 for Water Services which states:

 

The water services shall be surrounded with not less than 75mm of compacted sand, or fine-grained soil, with no hard edged object permitted to come into contact with or resting against any pipe or fitting.

Material used for final backfill shall be free from rock, hard matter or organic material and be broken up to contain no soil larger than 75mm.

As you can see the wording and diagram in Australian Standards are quite specific on how your water main should be installed. They are specific requirements under law not options the plumber can choose to obey.

 

Very simply if your water main is not installed as above the licensed plumber installing it has done so knowing it is noncompliant and that it is reasonably foreseeable that failure and damage will occur.

 

In conclusion, I reiterate that most plumbing emergencies are caused by negligence and we are prepared to assist you if you have the willpower to legally seek compensation. It’s your choice but the industry will only be cleaned up when plumbers who continually break the law are hit in their hip pocket.

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