27 August 2021

Burst a pipe? Don't try to fix it yourself, even in lockdown

| Lottie Twyford
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O&B Plumber

It’s essential you call a plumber if something goes wrong while you’re at home. Photo: Region Media.

With more of us stuck at home than ever before (and plenty of toilet paper to use up) Master Plumbers ACT is warning there’s a potential storm brewing in the pipes, and it’s one that could see you throwing money down the toilet.

During COVID-19 lockdown, essential plumbing work is allowed to continue, and Master Plumbers ACT CEO Claire Howe says it will be especially necessary because plumbing resources will be under extra pressure.

“In an environment where people are at home for longer than usual, and many more people at home, any plumbing issues are going to be amplified,” she says.

“We’re using more water, gas heating and air-conditioning, flushing toilets more often, and just generally using resources more than we normally would.”

Claire says this is very much a perfect storm where the system is put under additional stress, and issues are exacerbated.

Under the current lockdown rules, essential plumbing work includes, but is not limited to, burst pipes, hot water breakdowns and maintenance, repairs to blocked toilets and drains, as well as gas leaks.

From what Claire has heard so far, blocked toilets and drains are the most prevalent issues across town.

She is keen to remind people to do a thorough background check of the plumber they employ to do any work because scammers are always looking to make an easy buck during stressful periods such as the ongoing lockdown.

“If you’re not sure, use a Master Plumber because we have done all of those background checks, and all consumers are safeguarded with a $5000 consumer guarantee, giving you peace of mind and protection against scam operators,” says Claire.

In terms of safety, Master Plumbers has asked its member plumbers to think in terms of worst case scenario. “You could potentially be carrying the disease, and so could the residents of the home you’re going into,” says Claire.

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But Claire is also reminding Canberrans that they should not be attempting any plumbing work themselves.

“It is a licensed profession so leave it to the professionals,” she says.

Water Tight Canberra director Tom Martin agrees wholeheartedly with this point, and says that unfortunately attempting to do your own plumbing work is going to put you more out of pocket in the long run, and can leave you without water for an extended period of time.

“You’re not supposed to do any plumbing work unless you have a licence, which takes six years to earn,” he says. “There is a reason for that because water can cause an awful lot of damage to property.”

Tom and his team are supportive of the COVID-19 lockdown, but there are some things which can’t wait until after it lifts, such as blocked drains, leaks and broken hot water systems or heating.

“We’ve had a couple of these to attend to in the past week,” he says.

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Entering people’s homes is risky business so Tom gets his team to call ahead to double check the health status of clients – whether they have been identified as a close, secondary or casual COVID-19 contact, are in quarantine or in isolation.

“If they’re not in quarantine, we let them know we will be wearing a mask and gloves while onsite, and we need them to have a mask on, too,” says Tom.

“If the client is in quarantine, we call them when we arrive and ask them to leave the door unlocked and to go into another room along with other occupants, and if we need to talk to them, we do so on the phone throughout the job.”

TIC Bathrooms owner Damien Holder says these kinds of safety precautions are necessary under the current restrictions.

He says if his team comes across customers who are under quarantine requirements, they will try to talk them through isolating the problem until someone can attend.

“Otherwise, we work on zero contact and pretty much full PPE [personal protective equipment] – disposable overalls, gloves, mask, eye-shield and boot protectors,” says Damien.

“We might not do an extensive repair. Instead, we might just make it safe.”

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Extra helpful to see guidance on what plumbing work is considered essential during lockdown https://masterplumbersact.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Essential-plumbing-services-COVID-19.pdf

“But Claire is also reminding Canberrans that they should not be attempting any plumbing work themselves.”
No Clare, I don’t need a plumber to change a washer, replace a tap or fix a leaking toilet. These are all simple household jobs that everyone with a house should do themselves. Nor do I need an electrian to change my light bulb, a painter to paint my wall or a gardener to water my lawn.

I replaced all the standard taps in my house with Mixer taps, replaced all the hoses under the sinks. There was only one tap I couldn’t replace and that was for the ducted A/C. A plumber did that, then it failed. I’m not a plumber. Sorry, but I’m not paying $150 just for a bloke to rock up to the front door. All this long before COVID

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