More than one in five plumbing installations in Victoria which were audited in April failed compliance with required standards, according to the building industry regulator in that state.

Unveiling the outcome of its audit work associated with 1,032 Compliance Certificates conducted throughout the month of April in the latest edition of its e-newsletter, the Victorian Building Authority said that 212 or 20.54 percent of the works fell short of required standards.

According to the regulator, the most common problems occurred in three areas: inadequate clearances for domestic gas cooking devices, excessive heating of hot water in showers and bathroom taps and inadequate overflow provision to eaves gutters.

In respect of the first point, the VBA found a number of problems associated with installations not allowing for minimum clearance between the highest part of the highest burner associated with a gas cooking appliance and overhead combustible surfaces, rangehoods or exhaust fans.

On this problem, the VBA says minimum clearances are set out in AS/NZS 5601.1:2013 – Gas installations Part 1: General installations, clause (a).

Practitioners installing rangehoods and exhaust fans must also observe manufacturer installation instructions, the VBA said, as these may specify greater clearances compared with those outlined in the standard.

In respect of hot water, the VBA uncovered instances whereby installations delivered water of above 50 degrees Celsius at the outlet of fixtures used primarily for personal hygiene, such as showers and bathroom taps.

On this point, it said temperature control devices must be installed upon the installation or alteration of a hot water heater and its associated pipework.

Finally, there regulator found examples of inappropriate overflow provision to eaves gutters.

Obviously, these types of problems can have consequences as inadequate domestic gas cooking clearance could create fire hazards, excessively hot water could cause burns and inappropriate overflow provisions could result in water flowing back into the building.

The audits were carried out as part of an ongoing compliance program which the VBA conducts in order to identify and rectify problems with work which has been installed.

In its e-newsletter, the VBA said practitioners should consult relevant standards and regulations as well as its own technical solutions sheets for the type of work being performed and should contact the regulator if uncertain about these.

It says the need for compliance should not be underestimated.

“Non-compliant plumbing installations cause additional work and cost for licensed plumbers and may have serious safety consequences or other long-term consequences for consumers,” the regulator said.