Dodgy plumbing will be exposed during a plumbing inspection. Here are 8 things that make a plumber’s eyes roll and how identifying them during a plumbing inspection can save you future property headaches!
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8 Ways To Make Plumbers’ Eyes Roll | Spotted At A Plumbing Inspection

In the era of DIY renovations and home transformations, dodgy plumbing installations have been at an all-time high. Shows like House Rules and The Block can make renovating look like an easy task to undertake. But the reality is there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes and the teams working on these shows are still governed by the building laws and standards Australia has in place to ensure work is completed to a professional standard. Licensed plumbers must be used for all plumbing installations. A plumbing inspection can unveil a number of dodgy installations, performed by unlicensed persons. Here are eight things that make a plumber’s eyes roll.

Dodgy plumbing can cost thousands to rectify, so an inspection can be a saviour for a potential home buyer, preventing them from future financial heartache.

1. Flexible Hose Connections EVERYWHERE

Flexible hose connections are a watermarked plumbing fitting used to hook water to taps and toilet cisterns. They are only meant to be used in an accessible location. They are not meant to be connected like snakes to run water to various fixtures in the bathroom, laundry or kitchen. A plumbing inspection can easily identify this dodgy water installation by looking under the cupboard. Flex hose upon flex hose is a sure warning of illegal plumbing. This will make the building inspector wary of other illegal plumbing at the property.

Flexible hoses are often used by the inexperienced when connecting water to and from hot water units. External hot water units should be installed with copper pipe, so the moment a hot water unit is seen with these flexible hose connections, the plumbing inspection will note illegal work has taken place and the local plumbing authority should be made aware of the installation.

2. PVC Pipe Connectors Connected Like Jenga

The way a fixture like a basin or sink is connected to the waste can be checked by opening the cupboard doors underneath. Dodgy plumbing can be identified by the way PVC connectors have been glued together. Often, to get the right fall and angle to the existing waste pipe coming through the floor or wall, a plumber will need to use a number of bends with the right angle to get the right fit. For the inexperienced, pipe connectors are connected like Jenga to connect to the drain point. This dodgy plumbing installation can cause the fixture to back up or the slow drainage of waste water down the drain.

3. Backed up toilet

A plumbing inspection by a building inspector won’t be able to identify underground pipe faults, but there are checks that are done to check waste water can flush away as it needs to. Another dodgy plumbing issue is when a toilet cistern can’t flush effluent away in the toilet bowl. Or the bowl fills up with water when the cistern button is pressed to flush. A full toilet bowl means a potential blockage down the sewer line. This could be caused by incorrect items being flushed down the toilet, or it could mean a bigger problem like tree roots, which may require further investigation with a drain camera.


Silicone is a plumber’s best friend in the right circumstances. Unfortunately, in DIY plumbing it is the hero of many installations that leak. Roofs, gutters, toilets, basins, sinks, showers – even the laundry tub can be covered in silicone to temporarily fix a leak. Silicone is meant as a back-up sealant, not as the solution to seal a leak. If a plumbing inspection finds silicone smeared on fixtures and pipes, questions will be raised about the integrity of the existing plumbing.

5. Waste water draining to nowhere

All pipe connections for sewer and stormwater must be connected to the right pipe framework away from the house. Pipes are no longer able to discharge freely into gardens or on footpaths and must be connected underground to existing storm water or sewer pipes. If the plumbing inspection notices water run-off from a pipe outside the home, this will require attention from a plumber to get connected to the correct drainage point.

6. Sewerage connected to storm water pipes and vice versa

Storm water pipes must be connected to storm water drainage and waste water from fixtures in the home must be connected to the sewer. If either of these wastes are connected to the incorrect drainage point, there can be fines from the local council and a demand to get the work fixed in a short time frame. Sewerage dispersing into stormwater is a big health issue and can attract big fines if not fixed within 24 hours of the council notification. No one wants to see poo floating down their street, but this can happen if the sewerage is connected to storm water.
A plumbing inspection can make a note of smells outside the home and can take note of the type of ‘water’ running down the street. Sewerage connected to storm water is easily identifiable as the water will have food particles and human matter floating downstream. A constant stream of water down storm water during a sunny day is an indication of sewerage flowing down the wrong drain.

7. Hot and cold water connected to the wrong side

Hot water should always be connected on the left and cold on the right. This combination should be installed like this in showers, at the bath, at the vanity basin and kitchen sink. Anywhere a hot and cold water tap is located, the hot water should be configured to the left.
This is a council by-law and if a plumbing inspection finds the wrong temperature coming from the incorrect side, it will be deemed a plumbing defect that needs to be fixed. Leaving the water installed incorrectly can cause scalding to the unaware. It’s a negligent fault that could cause harm to others. The plumbing authority in each state takes this defect seriously due to the injuries it could cause.

8.If it doesn’t look right, it’s probably not

Building inspectors have a good idea of how plumbing should be connected correctly. If something doesn’t look right, it usually isn’t. Smaller diameter waste pipes should always flow into a larger diameter. For example, if a 50mm PVC waste pipe from a sink connects to a 40mm PVC pipe at the bottom of the kitchen cupboard, illegal plumbing has taken place. All underground connections will be a larger diameter than the waste outlet of the fixture. The amount of glue on each PVC connection can also indicate dodgy plumbing. Pipes covered in glue can indicate a poor quality installation.

These eight issues will more than make a plumber roll their eyes; it will cost a new property owner thousands to fix.

During the course of a pre-purchase building inspection the inspector does a basic overview of plumbing issues.  This inspection can detect faults the average eye would gloss over during an open home walk through. It should be noted that the building inspector is not a licensed plumber. In all instances a licensed plumber should be engaged to carry out a pre purchase plumbing inspection.

Prevent a poor property purchase that could cause you headaches in the future! Book a building inspection online.



About Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh has been answering home inspection questions in the greater Brisbane area since 1995. He has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections and is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. Being the business owner and the inspector, Andrew is passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property.

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