DIY Plumbing

What Plumbing, Gas, or Drainage Work Can I Do?

diy plumbingA home and its property hide a complicated network of cables, pipes and fittings carrying drinking water, waste water, sewage, electricity, and gas. Some of these also operate under high pressures and temperatures and are potentially hazardous. If water, gas, or drainage systems are installed or repaired incorrectly, the results can be disastrous, and costly. Insurers frown on homeowners who carry out unlawful repairs. You risk having your insurance invalidated. Renovators beware!

The best way to go is call a professional, and make sure they are one by asking to see their practising licence.

Know the law!

To protect health and safety, the law is explicit in New Zealand about what DIYers can and can't do. However, many still may not know the law. In 2017, for example, the then deputy leader of the Labour Party, Jacinda Ardern, volunteered to the media that they had successfully installed a new toilet in their home, unware that such work must, by law, be carried out by a registered plumber. Remember, ignorance is not a legal defence! If in doubt, engage a qualified tradesperson.

Is there any plumbing work I can legally do myself?

DIYers can install appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, or replace or repair taps, ball valves and plugs without breaking the law.

Fixing a leaky tap

This article from the NZ Handyman Magazine website gives good guidance about fixing a leaking tap. And Mitre 10 chime in with advice, including video, on changing a tap washer.

Fixing a leaking shower tap

NZ Handyman Magazine shows you how to do this in their online tutorial.

Sorting a dripping mixer tap

Green Ideas have come up with how to fix a leaking mixer tap yourself on their website.

Changing a tap

Mitre 10 have a guide on their website about how to replace a tap.

I'm buying a water filter online - can I fit this myself?

No. They have to be fitted by a licensed tradesperson. There's a lot that go wrong trying to fit a water filter yourself. Exceptions are filters with a push-on connection fitted to the outlet of a kitchen tap or the stand-alone tank or bottle type of filter.

Toilet cistern won't stop running

If the water in your toilet won't stop running following each flush, lift off the lid of the cistern to get at the tank. Lift the float up and see if this stops the water. Or jiggle the flush button to make sure it hasn't been sticking.

What gas-related work can I do?

DIYers can work on portable gas appliances with a gas bottle attached such as barbecues, cabinet and patio heaters without breaking the law, though it's strongly recommended that you let a gasfitter do this work. You can't paint, move, or enclose gas cylinders yourself.

Can I work on the gas appliances installed in our motor home?

No. The law says that work on appliances fitted to ships, boats, caravans, motorhomes, trains and any other vehicles, and also work on gas appliances fixed within buildings that are supplied by gas bottles of any size, must be done by a licensed gasfitter.

Our gas hob won't light

This common problem is often caused by a spill or arises after cleaning when there's too much moisture present. Carefully clean and dry away any moisture from the area of the spark igniters, and check to make sure the burner tops are positioned correctly.

What drainage work can I do myself?

People who are not registered as a drainlayer can clear blocked drains, but only if this doesn't involve altering or repairing the inspection pipe or ventilation pipe in any way. A blockage in a drain will usually require the services of a tradesperson.

Unblocking a drain

Blockages are the most common problem with drains. They can be the result of things dropped down the drain, tree root intrusion, overloading, collapse, or misalignment. Clearing a drain blockage can be done by anyone, however, whenever a drain is opened up, altered, reconstructed, extended or repaired then this work can only be legally undertaken by a licensed drainlayer.

To remedy basic clogged drain issues, check out WikiHow on how to use a plunger to unclog a drain.

If you've got a blocked toilet, try using a type of plunger called a flange plunger, specially made for unblocking loos. You can also use an unclogging chemical but if you do need to call a plumber, make sure you let them know you've used it to avoid a health and safety incident.

More information?

Check out our questions and answers page.