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  1. #1
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    Question changing tap washers on hot water taps

    Hopefully this isn't too dumb a question .

    I want to change the tap washers on my hot water taps. I've done this before in my house in England and turned the hotwater off where it exited the hot water tank then just ran the surplus out of the pipes.

    My hot water tank in the new house sits in the laundry. It is electrically heated and large enough to hold a dead body or two. So far I haven't been able to find anything that looks like a tap associated with it ( I've even been under the house among the spiders and inspected the pipework ).

    Do I have to run off a whole tank full of water ( or at least enough until the level in the tank is below the top of the pipe to the tap .. a lot of water ) or am I just not looking hard enough for somewhere to turn the hot water off, or .......:confused:
    no-one said on their death bed I wish I spent more time in the office!

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  3. #2
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    I found that turning the external cold water tap into the house off also stopped hot water comming out of the main tank.

    Quite easy to try - turn main supply off and run the cold tap for 10-15 seconds and see if it stops - mine did.

    Heaters here in AUS seem to be mains pressured and only give water out when there is mains pressure in. Maybe a plumber can explain why (ie how the valve works etc).

    Came over over 2 years ago and still can't get used to the fact I'm not allowed to change sockets or do plumbing even though I did a complete house re-wite in the UK!!

    James.

  4. #3
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    thanks, i'll try turning off the mains when I get home and see what happens.

    I agree it is a bit of a shock to the system to find that I'm not even supposed to change a light fitting. In UK I've put in two way switching, moved light switches from one wall to another, put in extra sockets etc etc.

    When I rented my uk house out I had to have a full electrical check on the house and it wasn't my wiring that failed it was the stuff done by a regular electrician!!!

    I would be interested to know whether the electrocution/electrical house fire rates differ between here and the uk.

    Does having lots of info on wiring readily and cheaply available ( i.e. leaflets given away by the equivalent of bunnings ) reduce the risk of electrocution/electrical fires because people understand more of what they are doing or does it increase it because more people are tempted to "have a go"?

    Ditto plumbing ... do people secretly do their own plumbing anyway without being able to find out what they are doing wrong?

    I have both plumbing and electrical work needing doing to my house and so far asking around for recommendations of tradesmen has drawn a blank. The plumber who "repaired" my leaking toilet did a complete bodge job ( I currently have a bowl sat under the weeping join between pan and outlet point ) because I can't face ringing round plumbers to remove the toilet pan fit a new gasket and replace the pan - a job which I'm quite capable of doing myself (
    no-one said on their death bed I wish I spent more time in the office!

  5. #4
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    I tried to change over some light fittings on the weekend. I have never really felt comfortable with electricity as it is so dangerous and there isn't any tell tale signs that you have done anything wrong. After speaking with a friend of the family who was previously an electrician I decided to give it a shot after being told it was simply a matter of swapping over the fixtures.

    Well after plenty of cursing on the weekend I ended up having the outside light switch turning on the kitchen, but only if the laundry light switch was on that turned on the toilet at the same time. Getting very frustrated I called it a day and got the electrician in on Monday to sort it out. As it turns out our lights didn't have an earth. The electrician was able to sort out the sequence of switches without a problem but was dumbstruck at how I didn't kill myself as I had managed to make the entire light fitting active. There were multiple occasions where I had touched the fittings so it must have just been luck that I didn't get zapped. What was really scary was there were a few fittings that I changed that worked well with the correct switches .... I would have walked away thinking all was well except that the fixtures themselves were live.

    3.5 hours later of Mr Electricians time I now have new light fittings and it is safe ... I really should have called in the sparkie to start off with and now I will in the future. I do have to move a garden tap shortly ..... but hey anybody can do their own plumbing .... right?
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  6. #5
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    I'm still trying to work out what building work is legal to do and what isn't legal to do.

    Judging by the notices in bunnings even changing a light switch plate seems to be illegal ( I notice that nothing comes with helpful diagrams telling you how to wire it - just in case you were feeling tempted ).

    Having lived in a house where I accidentally found out that you had to remove two fuses to disable one power point ( i.e. it was still live when only one of the fuses was removed ) .. someone had wired the plug into both the upstairs and downstairs rings .. there can be disadvantages in it being open slather on doing your own wiring.

    Plumbing regs confuse me a bit. I'm used to the idea that a roofer or a builder does guttering and downpipes and the plumber who does your central heating ( normally hydronic ) will also happily put in a toilet or change your taps. Here the trade demaration lines seem to be split differently. Am I allowed to fit my own guttering or not? Can I rip out the toilet pan and put in a new one or not? I'm not talking about putting a completely new toilet in where there has never been one before? I've been assuming that I'm allowed to change my own tap washers but a post on another thread seems to imply that is illegal in NSW!!!!

    I'm really quite a law-abiding soul ( though keeping to the speed limit on my m/bike can cause some mental anguish ) so if anyone can point me at a definitive link on what consitutes legal and illegal home plumbing / electrical I would be very grateful.

    cheers, Jackie
    no-one said on their death bed I wish I spent more time in the office!

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    Im in Adelaide and here its fairly straight forward, but I am a little confused jackiew.
    If your hot water unit is mains pressure it should have an isolation valve (stopcock) near the heater cold water inlet, if its low pressure you may have a header tank (that makes the system work by displacement) in the roof and the isolation stopcock could be near that. Either way shutting off your water mains stopcock at the meter, will stop the water.
    If it is a low pressure unit you will have to drain off the header tank and then go for it.
    Try using Doust tap jumpers (from WA and available at Bunnings) I have found them to be fool proof in stopping drips.

  8. #7
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    I think it comes down to the fact that if you do your own eletrical/plumbing etc and then something goes wrong, your insurance wont cover you?

    Changing your own tap washers shouldn't be a problem.
    If there is a problem when you turn the mains water back on, call someone

    When I bought this house that was built in the 70's, all the electrical outlet sockets needed changing... plugs not sticking in etc. I did several by myself after seeing an electrician change one while he was here previously on another job. It's not rocket science, but you still have to be careful with anything electrical.

    Make sure your house has a working safety switch installed above anything else. Might come in handy if you zap yourself. All new houses must have them installed, but I dont think that requirement etends to older houses (unless they are being rented etc), but I might be wrong there?
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    Who gives a Sh@t what the law says. If you can do it then you can do it. It really is mostly a very simple thing to change a light switch or put in an extra power point. If I feel at all uncomfortable, I do the work, then I call in a Sparky to check it out.

    Plumbing is almost entirely a no brainer. The only problem areas that might be encountered are when plumbing and electrical intersect.
    Bob Willson
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  10. #9
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    Donít get me going down this path; i am currently a Handyman/ cabinetmaker after being retrenched 2 years ago from the telecoms business. I am from the UK where I did my city and guilds and am an electrician over there; I also did a OND, HND in electrical and electronic engineering.
    However after moving here and trying to get my Vic electricians licence I eventually gave up after all the bullsh*t they wanted me to do e.g.:
    Do an apprentiship for 4 years
    Got to school for 4 years
    Then only then could I get a licence if I work for another sparky for 3 years, for god sake i am 38 now are they living in cuckoo land in the Office Chief Electrical inspector.
    I ask the question to a senior manager there about why do all hardware store sell electrical gear and was told that it is not illegal at this stage but they are planning to ban all hardware store selling electrical part and only wholesalers will be able to. He also said the reason they can sell it is so that people who know what they are doing can do there own installs.
    After working as a electrician for 10 years in the UK do they think that im not suitably qualified, I understand AS3000 and have made up my own drawing on how here in Aus we use Live switching for the light circuits, ie usually only a red and white wire is located at the switch rather than all the wires, saves on copper.
    I thought this was rather contradictory.
    In my own house I do my own electrical and plumbing works but refuse to do for anyone else, my neighbour is an insurance assessor and he has mentioned that when he goes to the after effects of a house fire they look at how the electrical installs have been done, if they are thrown in roughly then they know the electrician installed it, if neat then the home handyman did it and they will question him whether he did it or not.

    As to plumbing the European system of having a hot water tank and an airing cupboard is so much more logical than the antiquated mains pressure systems used here. We are living in most states with water restrictions and get the govt beurcrats asking us to save water; we probably waste about 10 litres of water waiting for the hot water to come out of the tap. If a system was to be employed where the hot water was run around in a ring where the water was continually hot by using a small pump and a single tank with a water inlet to top up the tank and a hot out to the ring and a return we could save millions of liters of water each year in this country.
    Maybe I should write something up and go see the dicks in office and suggest this along with all new houses should have a 2000 ltr underground water tank for storm run off via a trap to collect the rubbish, which could be used for toilets and external watering.
    Enough of my ramblings

  11. #10
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    Is this the U.K. bitch forum.

    We Aussies like it here and put up with the rules. So I think all our friends from U.K. should put up with them also.

    Just my .02c worth
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    The views expressed by the poster are general in nature and any advice should be taken in this vein. The poster accepts no responsibility if this advice is used. When undertaking any work personal professional advice should be sought from suitably qualified persons in the field of work being undertaken.


  12. #11
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    Interesting topic. I think you'll find that officially most people here recommend that you get a licensed tradesman in to do any electrical or plumbing work and that you don't try to do it yourself. Particularly since we don't know you or what you're capable of.

    At the end of the day, if you do it yourself, you wear the risk. No-one can stop you. Bunnings don't give out wiring advice because a) you shouldn't be buying electrical gear if you don't know how to wire it up and b) because if they do, they leave themselves wide open to a law suit. I don't blame them, I wouldn't do it either.

    Let's make this clear: electricity will kill you. It doesn't take prisoners. If you don't know what you are doing, you are foolish to play with it. Having said that, it's not rocket science.

    What they do in the UK is totally irrelevant here. Infact, it surprises me to hear what you ARE allowed to do over there. Makes me wonder how the population got so large. I wonder how easy it would be for an Australian plumber or electrician to get a license over there. By the sounds of it, there's probably little demand for them anyway, seeing as everyone is doing their own.

    Guy, I have personally tried the system of circulating water to keep it hot in the pipes. Yes, you save water but watch what it does to your power bill. The water comes back cold and has to be heated up again, doesn't it? This is especially a trap if you have a double-element heater with the top one wired to standard rate. If you're on off-peak only, you might find you run out of hot water quickly.
    "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

  13. #12
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    Jackiew and Guy

    May I suggest that u take a course in 'passing the buck'

    In Oz you only take 'limited' responsibility if you have a piece of paper to cover you, known as a license. I know some other countries are different, as is the one I originate from ( not the UK) , but just trust me....you are in Australia now......either you conform or cop it.
    I don't know how long u have been here, but I asked questions like you for about 5 years. After that I finally realised that I am the new boy on the block, and have to conform wether I like it or not.

    The sooner you accept the system, even if you think it is daft....the sooner you can discontinue your ulcer medicine and enjoy this great country.

    I learnt the hard way.
    Cya
    Joe

  14. #13
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    Joe, you make us sound like a bunch of backside-coverers

    On the subject of liability, at least in NSW, contractors are required to provide warranty for all the work they do. The way it is supposed to work is that when a contractor undertakes a job, he provides a contract and agrees to warrant the work for 10 years. This means if anything he does screws up in that time, they have to make it good. In practice, it's the builder who bears the burden and this is putting a lot of people out of business because it requires them to have huge amounts of liability insurance. This extends to owner/builder works as well, although in this case the warranty is 7 years.

    If you do work on your house as an owner/builder, and then sell within 7 years, you have to provide warranty insurance to the new owner. This means that if anything screws up, the insurance company pays to fix it and then chases you for the bill. So if you use a licensed tradesman to do all your work, you keep their details and you in turn chase them.

    The reason for this is to cut back on the shoddy, home handyman jobs that were done in this country over the last few decades and to protect new owners from finding that half of their newly bought house has to be demolished and rebuilt at their own cost.

    So imagine if anybody could wire up a house and then sell it to someone else without such a system in place. If it burns down the next day, who's going to pay?
    "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

  15. #14
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    Unhappy

    Hmm ..... bit bemused why anyone should think that asking what is legal and what is illegal should be taken as a criticism of how things are done here. I came here by choice and am a firm believer in when in rome do as the romans do. Unfortunately learning what the romans do ( or in this case the australians ) doesn't come easily - you don't get given a handbook when you step off the plane.

    When you change country and buy a house ( as opposed to rent ) you realise how much people learn about how things work/ are done in their own country by a process of osmosis as they grow up, listen to their parents, relatives,friends, work-mates, watch TV programs, read books.

    Even though I've been here 5 years now having recently bought my house I'm having to have a crash course on changing how I do things, what I call things, what I can and can't do. Just because its different in the UK doesn't mean its better or that its worse, it just means its different and I've got to learn and understand the differences.

    Just buying paint is totally bemusing, I stand in Bunnings and look at the brands - some I know, some I don't know. Even when I know the brand the paint is different - my first reaction was "what the hell is Acrylic paint?" - eventually I worked out its what I would call emulsion. And then I discover that you have to get paint coloured rather than buying it already coloured - am I allowed to use brand X's colour in brand Y's paint - do I have to pay to get the colour added? If you've been to the paint shop with your dad and watched and listened these will seem really dumb questions. If you're used to something different then you don't know til you ask ( and believe me the staff in Bunnings are really good at looking at me like I'm some kind of moron ). The vocabulary is totally different too and I don't seem to have an appropriate dictionary. I wouldn't use acrylic paint on woodwork back home, especially exterior woodwork but this seems to be the norm here .. I don't know why we use oil based paint and you guys don't for woodwork ... is it becuase its cheaper, because it dries quicker, because its made differently here, because your climate is different and it copes better with heat ? So I have to make decisions with not enough info. I don't want to break the law but I don't have enough knowledge to know what the law is. I don't want to use methods and materials that are appropriate in a damp, cold, termite free environment when there are better methods and materials for my new locality.

    So please bear with the dumb questions and don't assume I'm bagging the way things are done.
    no-one said on their death bed I wish I spent more time in the office!

  16. #15
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    If one does a search on this BB you will find numerous postings in regard to our antiquated rules.

    When at Bunnies I was buying some electrical supplies and asked an employee in the electrical department who happen to be a qualified [apparently their policy to hire qualify trades staff], for some advice who was extremely helpful and informative.

    He was no doubt aware I should not have been doing the task.

    It is disappointing that no serious DIY material is not printed for all to be informed.

    As for the suggestion that there is little demand for electricians and or plumbers in the UK due to the fact anyone can do the work, well that must be the same in NZ and the US.

    What about painters, carpenters, brickies, interior designers, and hundreds of other jobs that anyone can do themselves if they desire with out any licence requirement.

    And just for the record I'm not a pom having a whinge.

    I'm uncertain as to whether the simple washer for the tap is allowed to be replaced by just anyone, unlikely.

    I would also agree the water wasted versus the increase in the power bill on a reticulated hot water systems would leave me with wasting water.
    I'm sure there would be empirical evidence to suggest the best choice.

    Pulpo

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