Questions to Ask a Plumber, Gasfitter, or Drainlayer


When should I call a plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer?

Issues requiring the urgent attention of a tradesperson include:

  • no hot water
  • low water pressure throughout your home
  • extremely hot water
  • leak in the ceiling
  • soggy patch on a wall
  • blocked or overflowing drains
  • sewerage smells
  • burst pipes
  • extremely leaky or overflowing gutters
  • gas smells
  • a faulty gas appliance.

What do I do in the event of a plumbing, gas, or drainage emergency?

There is a page of very useful information on the types of emergencies and what to do when they strike on the NZ Master Plumbers "Don't Risk It" website. Call me, Rob on 027 240 9534 for help in the event of a plumbing emergency in Wellington.

Are you qualified to carry out plumbing, gas fitting and drainlaying?

Yes, I'm currently licensed as a certifying plumber, gasfitter, and drainlayer with the New Zealand Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board. This is the highest qualification available, and assures customers that I'm qualified and registered. I'm responsible for ensuring both my own work and the work of anyone I supervise is done competently.

How do we know you're qualified?

Everyone authorised to undertake restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work must carry their NZ practising licence and are required to show it to you when you ask to see it. The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board also keeps a public register of people qualified to undertake sanitary plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying.

What does it mean to be a Master Plumber?

To be accepted as a master plumber and gasfitter by NZ Master Plumbers, I completed a quality assurance business audit, comply with the code of conduct, and follow the code of practice.

Are there any guarantees of workmanship?

Residential homeowners who hire a NZ Master Plumber are covered by a 12-month guarantee.

Do you have references?

Yes, I provide references when asked to. There are several client testimonials on our website, as well as my peace of mind guarantee.

How do I avoid issues with my bill?

NZ Master Plumbers recommend asking yourself four questions before you hire a plumber, to avoid having problems with your bill.

What if I want to make a complaint?

If you have a complaint about invoicing or charges, take this up with your plumber directly. If it's the service you're not happy with, then get in touch with the business owner and make your concerns known. Give them at least five working days to respond. NZ Master Plumbers deal with complaints about their members' workmanship, otherwise contact the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.

Will you be doing the work if I hire you?

Yes, and I also have a couple of tradies I can call on to help with bigger jobs. As a certifying plumber, gasfitter and drainlayer, I am responsible for verifying that their work is compliant and safe.

Do you clean up after you as part of the price?

Yes, I always clean up after myself - I intend to leave your property at least as tidy as it was when I arrived.

What is "sanitary" plumbing?

The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board defines sanitary plumbing as any work involved in fixing or unfixing any pipe, plumbing fixture or appliance including any trap, waste or soil pipe, ventilation pipe, or overflow pipe and any pipe that supplies or is intended to supply water.

By law, sanitary plumbing must be undertaken by a plumber with a NZ practising licence. The work must comply with the Building Code, and be checked by a building inspector where a building consent is required.

What are the risks of attempting sanitary plumbing work myself?

You'll be breaking the law by doing sanitary plumbing work. The fines for this are substantial ($10,000 - $50,000). As well, your insurance may be voided. The main consideration, of course, is the potential to wreck your property, and create serious health risks.

Water is streaming from my hot water cylinder overflow pipe

If the hot water cylinder overflow pipe is dripping, this is probably a result of the normal heating cycle, but it shouldn't be dripping continuously or streaming out. If this is happening, there could be a faulty thermostat, or a problem with the pressure valve, or with a mixer. Time to call a plumber to sort it out for you. Note that it's actually really important to make sure your hot water is at the correct temperature. A plumber can check and adjust this for you too.

What is gasfitting and who can do it?

The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board defines gasfitting as any work involved in installing, altering or repairing gas appliances including the fixing or unfixing of any gas pipes, ventilation or flue pipes, commissioning gas appliances and ensuring their safe operation. By law, only those holding a NZ practising licence can carry out restricted gasfitting work.

How can I tell if I have a gas leak?

Your appliance may have a leak if you can smell gas. However, carbon monoxide, produced when gas is burned, doesn't have a smell. If you and others in your home develop headaches, dizziness, nausea, get short of breath and become confused then you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. This means you need to call a gasfitter to take a serious look at the ventilation around your appliance.

Signs that your gas appliance isn't working correctly and needs checking include burning with a yellow or orange flame or the pilot light keeps going out.

Who can undertake drainlaying?

If you require new drains to be installed or existing drains altered you must by law engage someone who holds a current NZ drainlaying licence. A licensed drainlayer can lay, alter, reconstruct, extend, repair and open up drains and associated traps and connect drains up to and away from waste water treatment stations.

What advice would you give someone looking to hire a tradesperson?

At some point your home or business is going to need to call on the services of a plumber, gas fitter or drainlayer. Shoddy workmanship can have a major impact on you in costs down the track, and stress levels, which is why we encourage you to understand who you're hiring.

  • Do your homework and get a range of written quotes before you make a decision on hiring someone.
  • Ask to see their licence card and check the expiry date to make sure it's current.
  • Check the authorisation class on the card so you can be sure that the licence permits the type of work you want to be carried out.
  • If you're thinking of hiring someone who is not a certifying tradesperson, check the name of the registered certifying tradie responsible for verifying that the work is compliant and safe.
  • Search the PGDB's online public register for the licence number of your chosen registered tradesperson.

The government's consumer protection website also has some helpful guidance about hiring a tradesperson.

* Check out our page on the work you can do yourself without needing a plumber, gasfitter, or drainlayer.