Flood timebomb under your sink prompts calls for standards to be policed

Warning: If you have these under your sink, you need to keep a close eye on it for signs it's failing.
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Warning: If you have these under your sink, you need to keep a close eye on it for signs it's failing.

There is a ticking timebomb under kitchen and bathroom sinks that could cause thousands of dollars of damage.

They are flexible braided hoses connecting taps to homes' rigid water pipes, and many will fail causing floods.

In Australia giant insurer IAG has raised concerns about a rising tide of flexible braided hose failures, which caused 22 per cent of its more than 15,000 water damage claims last year.In New Zealand the scale of the issue is not known, but plumbers' associations say the same flexible hoses are being installed as a result of a race to the bottom on price.

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Once the piping under New Zealand sinks was typically robust fixed copper piping, but there has been a shift towards cheaper, more quickly installed flexible braided hoses.

A plumber installs flexible braided hoses.
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A plumber installs flexible braided hoses.

Under the building code, these hoses have to last only five years, but the code is not policed.

Have you suffered flooding from a broken flexible braided hose, contact us

"If they burst they can cause a lot of damage," Glen Burr, chairman of the Plumbers, Drainlayers and Gasfitters Association said.

"We have been seeing a lot of hoses burst."

The braided hoses are just one example of poor product that has been coming into New Zealand.

Master Plumbers chairman Craig Foley said the association had been lobbying Building Minister Nick Smith and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to start policing standards as Australia did.

"We've been talking with the Government and lobbying them about this because it is an issue without a doubt," Foley said.

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"We have been asking for standard to be upheld and policed."

Poor quality flexible braided hoses were not the only subs-standard plumbing product going into New Zealand homes.

"You get cheap PVC pipes coming in which has supposed standard stamped on them, but it's just a stamp the manufacturer put on it," Foley said.

"I had one and when I held it up to the light, I could see through it because it had air pockets in it."

Burr said importation of sub-standard plumbing products had "been happening for a while".

"You could put a halt to this pretty quick by testing and enforcing standards," he said.

Nicholas Lourens from NZBC Compliant Products has set up a database of plumbing products that have been independently tested to check they comply with the building code.

"The manufacturers and suppliers are not interested. There's no incentive for them to put their products on it," Lourens said.

To be included in the database, companies must supply independent testing results to show products meet New Zealand standards.

Lourens offered the database for free to MBIE officials this week, but was rejected.

Until the Government acts to police standards nothing would change, he said.

"I have first hand experience of large companies supplying product that is not compliant with the building code. That's why I started this."

Burr advised homeowners to keep an eye on plumbing, and not to ignore any signs a pipe may be coming to the end of its life, such as drips, damp, bulging, rust and external build up of salts.

If any of those signs are present, call a plumber immediately, he said.

But Burr said it was "a bit silly" to expect most homeowners to regularly the plumbing checks on their homes.

"Kiwis don't do a lot of preventative maintenance," he said.

 - Stuff

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