Plumbing as a trade not only involves following by-laws to ensure all installations abide by the National Standards, it also includes using common sense and working out the most economic option for a client when fixing a plumbing issue.
I recently quoted on replacing a leaking hot water unit to a domestic household. The old hot water unit was a Saxon coil-line tank that had started leaking from the bottom and was completely rusted out. I explained to the client that the hot water unit needed to be replaced and went about getting her a quote.
Recent laws have changed as to what type of hot water unit you can replace and old one with and I have mentioned this previously on my blog. The electric hot water system phase-out started in 2010 and the basic nuts and bolts of the law is if a domestic household needed to replace their existing hot water unit, they would need to replace it with a Heat Pump, Solar Hot water unit or Gas Hot Water unit. All new houses being built would need to install one of these options automatically.
The only exclusion to the rule is if the existing house does not have a natural gas feed. In this case, the client would not be forced to install a greener option, but could opt to install an electric hot water unit.
Back to my client, I asked her if she had a gas line to her house, which she didn’t. She was the sole occupant of the house and after seeing where the hot water unit was situated, realized that her only option would be to install a 125Lt electric hot water unit due to the space between her property and the neighbors.
She lived in a western suburb in Brisbane where the houses were practically built next to each other and there was no side gate access to her property. The hot water unit was positioned in an alcove next to the main bathroom of the house. There was no way we could have installed LPG gas bottles to install a gas hot water unit, nor was there anyway that we could install a Heat Pump because of the limited space and access to the property. There was no natural gas main in the street either, so I knew that we were still abiding by the law by installing this option for her.
The reason I have written about this particular job is to explain to plumbers and consumers that it’s important to understand exceptions to plumbing laws and to apply them when needed. In most cases, I advise clients to install an LPG gas hot water unit or natural gas unit if they already have a natural gas meter. I have heard through clients that heat pumps are failing after so many years of installation. If you are a client that has a faulty heat pump, ensure you speak to the manufacturer straight away to get the issue resolved.
If you do get into the situation of having to replace your old hot water unit, look at all the legal options and work out the most economical and practical option for you and the plumber.