Are they qualified?

14 January 2005 Angelo Coppola

A recent incident involving the explosion of a domestic geyser, which caused massive damage to a home, has highlighted the fact that safety when installing these appliances is paramount.

In this case a “plumber” was called in to replace a leaky valve. The faulty 100kPA valves were replaced with 400kPA valves and this caused the geyser to explode within 10 hours after installation.

The tenants were in the house at the time of the explosion, which destroyed almost half their home. Fortunately no-one was hurt in the but they were lucky to escape unhurt.

The estimated damage to the property is R232 000.

According to the South African Insurance Association, regulations were implemented in June 2001.

All installations must comply with SABS regulations, specifically SABS0254, SABS0252 and SABS0142. Failure to observe this legislation could result in the plumber facing civil prosecution.

However, these regulations are not always enough to protect consumers and insurance companies.

Using SABS approved equipment is one thing, but what if the plumber doing the work is unqualified? Currently insurance companies appoint maintenance plumbing contractors onto their service provider panels to repair or replace and install plumbing work for insurance company clients.

However insurance companies have no standards in place to check whether the contractors they appoint are qualified in terms of the law to work in the plumbing industry.

In an effort to prevent incidents like these from happening again, the South African Insurance Association, SAIA Approved and the Institute of Plumbers of South Africa (IOP(SA)) are taking steps to help tighten up control in the industry.

Specific criteria have been set down and only those plumbing contractors who meet the requirements will be registered with SAIA Approved. Only these registered and recognised plumbing contractors will be used by insurance companies in future claims.

These measures will help ensure that all persons working on plumbing installations are suitably qualified, and will hopefully reduce the amount of faulty geyser installations.

This will also give the insurance industry a mechanism to control geyser claims costs and to underwrite the risks more effectively.

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