Plumber Guide Melbourne – Victoria

Learn About The Plumber Industry in Melbourne, Victoria

Plumber Guide

A plumber is a trades-person specialized in the installation and maintenance of piping, sinks, toilets and other appliances that are connected with the water supply and drainage systems. The term plumber comes from the Latin word plumbum. Plumbum stands for lead, the heavy metal. It was widely used in making pipes and baths during the glory days of the roman empire. Back then, a plumbum was anyone who worked with lead, but the term has since evolved. Today, the word plumber denotes a certain group of professionals, those workers we associate with leaky taps, broken pipes and and toilet installations.

Why You would need a Plumber

You will need a plumber if you have a leaky tap or pipe. You will also need a plumber if your drainage is blocked and needs clearing. If you have major installation projects like a new toilet or bathtub, then you also need plumber work to be carried out. In essence, you need a plumber whenever you need to get any job done which concerns the use of piping to control the flow of fluids like water or gas.

Plumber Licenses

In order to legally do plumbing work in Melbourne Victoria, a plumber needs to be licensed, or registered as an apprentice of any plumber, who is licensed by the Victoria Building Authority (VBA). This is because a licensed plumber has a thorough understanding of the job, is experienced, knows the standards that must be complied with and also strictly adheres to them. After the completion of a job, a licensed plumber is also able to issue a Compliance Certificate to the customer, which certifies that the work was done in compliance with the relevant standards and regulations. In such a situation, the customer will be insured against defective plumbing work under the plumber’s insurance policy.

What Qualifications Does A Plumber Need in Victoria?

According to the Victoria Building authority, a plumber must either be registered or licensed in every class of work that he intends to practice. The plumbing regulations of Victoria from 2008 divided plumbing work into eight main classes, they are:

  • Drainage
  • Roofing
  • Fire Protection
  • Gasfitting
  • Mechanical Service
  • Water Supply
  • Irrigation (Non-agricultural)
  • Sanitary

And then, there are six specialized classes a plumber can specialise in, as follows:

  • Refrigerated Air-conditioning work
  • Type A Appliance Conversion work
  • Type A Appliance Servicing work
  • Type B Gasfitting work
  • Type B Gasfitting Advanced work
  • Backflow Prevention work

In order to be eligible for a registration or license, a plumber must meet the requirements for the specific work class according to the Building Act of 1993 as can be seen here.

It is also worth noting that in order to be eligible for licensing, a plumber must first be eligible to be registered in that particular line of work and must also have appropriate insurance where necessary. Registrations can be done here.

Now we will explore some of the common services offered by a qualified and licensed plumber.

Residential Plumber

A residential plumber is one who repairs, maintains or upgrades the plumbing in a home. Residential plumbing is a vast field that comprises drains & sewers plumbing, gas lines plumbing, household plumbing and backflow prevention. You will need a residential plumber when you have to repair leaking pipes or change a shower-head.

Commercial Plumber

A commercial plumber repairs, maintains and upgrades the plumbing system of commercial real estate like restaurants, strip malls, office buildings e.t.c. Commercial plumbers can offer services ranging from drain clearing to installation or maintenance of commercial grade hot water systems.

Emergency Plumber

An emergency plumber are ready to react quickly to a plumbing request at short notice, any time of the day or night. They are usually on call 24 hours a day and assist in reducing the amount of property damage that may result from such plumbing emergencies. Most emergency plumbers offer a 24/7 service and are needed when there are gas leaks, serious water leaks, flooding or a blocked or broken lavatory service.


A gasfitter is basically a plumber who is specialized in installing, maintaining and upgrading gas pipes. Gas fitters must be properly licensed and are needed for the installation and repair of gas flue pipes, gas meters, valves and a wide variety of gas appliances. Most gasfitters are also qualified plumbers.

Toilet Plumber

A toilet plumber specializes in the installation and repair of toilet bowls and cisterns. The following are situations where you will require the services of a toilet plumber:

 > Blocked Toilet
There are times when a toilet starts refusing to flush properly, mainly as the result of insoluble particles that have managed to either partly or fully block the system. It is recommend to hire a plumber whenever you have issues with your toilet. Solving the problem early can reduce the risk of further damage of extra costs.

> Flushing Problems
Toilets can also develop flushing problems either as a result of a defective pump or for other reasons.

> Overflowing Toilets
An overflowing toilet is most probably blocked and therefore needs the attention of an expert.

> Installation of New Toilets
The installation of a new toilet is a job for a toilet plumber. It is not something that an eager DIY hobbyist should try his hand at.

Hot Water Plumber

A hot water plumber is a specialized plumber who is able to install, repair or upgrade hot water systems. You need the services of a hot water plumber in installing new hot water units and maintaining them. You may also need their assistance in choosing which brand of hot water unit to install, if you are installing a brand new unit. Their input will be valuable in such situations because they know the machines and their capabilities and know exactly what fits in, in any given situation and what doesn’t. A proper discussion with a hot water plumber will also help you to determine if the use of electricity or gas, or even solar for heating water, will be the best option or not.

What can a plumber install for you?

There are many things a plumber can install for you. The important thing is to make sure that the plumber is licensed to do that type of work. It is also important to ask questions first, like workmanship guarantees, how long the project will take or how much it will cost in total. Here are a few items a plumber can install for you:

 > Washing Machines
Many DIY plumber fans will try to install their washing machine or dishwasher pipes by themselves. It may work out sometimes, but there are times when you really need to let a professional do the job.

 > New Toilet / bathrooms
The installation of a new toilet or bathroom items like a shower or a bath, is a job best left for a professional plumber in order to avoid later mishaps like leaking pipes e.t.c.

 > Kitchen sink
The kitchen sink is one of the most used items in the house. To ensure its durability with such high rates of use, it should be installed by a licensed plumber.

 > Backflow prevention systems
The installation of backflow prevention valves is another service that is rendered by plumbers.

 > Hot water systems
Plumbers can install hot water systems either for residential or commercial use. They can be powered by either gas, electricity or solar.

 > Gas Grill
If you need to setup a gas grill in your backyard or elsewhere, then you need a plumber, specifically a gas-fitter.

Water Leaks

Common Causes of Water Leaks In Taps

There are a number of conditions that may cause a tap to leak. It is an understandable fact that constant use will wear out even the highest quality taps with time. It’s therefore necessary to understand that not all leaking taps should be fixed, there are times you will just need a plumber to replace the old system. Here are some reasons why taps leak:

> High Pressure
It could be possible that a tap is perfectly normal and only leaks at certain periods of the day. In such a situation, the most likely cause of the leak will be high water pressure.

> Worn out Washers
The washers are constantly under pressure while they hold back the water. At some point, all washers will wear out and water will therefore be able to leak through.

> Worn out cartridge
It is also possible that the cartridge itself may get worn out. Though rarer than a washer wear out, cartridges do wear out too and if you don’t happen to have the right cartridge size to replace it with, then you will have to completely replace the tap.

Blocked Drains

The Causes of Blocked Drains

Blocked drains are the one the most common jobs a plumber fixes. Common causes for your drains to be blocked are as follows:

 > Toiletries
Toiletries include everything from tampons to baby nappies that get flushed down the toilet. At one point and out of random coincidence, they may pile up and block the drain.

 > Hard Objects
Just like toiletries, hard objects can block your drains too. Hard objects include pencils, toys, soaps and even stones that kids flush down the toilet.

 > Hair
When hair packs up together after a while, it can cause the drains to get blocked.

 > Fat/Grease
Grease and fatty residues tend to be a problem mostly in the kitchen where oil is steadily washed down the drains. Over time, these fatty deposits tend to build up and may eventually block the drains. Commercial kitchens, like restaurants for example are supposed to cleanup their drains every few years to avoid a complete blockage. This is because of the high amounts of grease they release into these drains everyday. Most conscientious restaurants will have a commercial plumber who manages their system on a regular basis.

 > Plants
The roots of plants can block drains or even cause other damages. Plants’ roots naturally seek out water and nutrients, so it just may happen that the drains and the roots will cross paths.

Now we will explore and explain the meaning of some common definitions used in the plumber industry.

What is Back Flow?

Back flow is a plumbing term that is used to describe the flow of water in an unwanted direction. This is especially important with potable water, where the potential health consequences would be tremendous if waste water were to mix in with clean water. There are therefore measures that have been standardized in order to prevent any incidence of back flow.

Water Hammer?

Water hammer is a vibrating or banging sound that is caused by a pressure surge or a wave which happens as a result of the sudden stop of a flowing fluid or its sudden change in direction. A water hammer is mainly witnessed when a valve is closed suddenly, usually at the end of a pipeline system, a pressure wave is then generated in the pipe and you have a water hammer.

What is a Soakwell?

A soakwell is an underground water tank that aids in getting rid of unwanted water, especially storm-water runoffs, by allowing the water to soak into the ground, where it then merges with the local groundwater. Rainwater for example, can be directed into a soakwell through an inlet pipe, making use of gravity. The water is also absorbed into the soil using gravity. A soakwell is therefore a passive device that is quite effective.

What is Pipe Relining

Pipe relining is the process of fixing drains without the need for digging up anything. Pipe relining uses a very strong synthetic material to replace broken pipes around the areas where they got broken or they can even be used to replace entire pipeline systems like it has been done extensively in Europe. The main benefit of pipe relining is that no damage is done to the environment or landscaping by digging up old pipes. It is also relatively faster, needing just days for work that would normally take weeks.

Plumber Prices

Although the PTEU plumbers union recommends wage rates of at least $45 per hour for registered plumbers, the real average cost for hiring a plumber in Victoria is $73 per hour. The actual rates of the individual plumbers range from $50 per hour to over $100 per hour on the high side and it depends on the skill level of the plumber and where exactly you live. Do note also, that most plumbers will charge a call out fee starting from $50 upwards that must be paid even when there is no work to be done, or absorbed into the hourly rate when there is work to be done. Furthermore, the average costs for certain types of jobs are:

 > Drain blockage clearing with a machine – Starts at about $200 for the first hour, plus the standard hourly rate for additional hours.

 > Fixing a dripping tap or a leaking toilet – Will cost you about $100. Could be more or less, depending on the plumber.

  > Installing a toilet, sink or bath – This will cost between $160 to $550 depending on what exactly needs to be done.

 > Hot water Service replacement – This will cost between $1000 and $5000 depending on the specification.

 > Replacing a shower head or basin & bath taps – This will cost anywhere between $80 and $250.

Although we try to give the most accurate information, it is always best to ask your plumber for a quote prior to any work being completed.


As you might have become aware by now, plumbing is an ages old discipline that has survived the test of time and evolved into an integral part of modern life. There is no doubt that civilization would be hopeless without the services of the modern plumber. To be more specific, it has been estimated at times, albeit jokingly, that King Louis of Medieval France would have happily given up half of his Kingdom for an air-conditioner and a flush toilet.

As you are aware by now, the plumber renders an honorable service to society. When you need plumbing work to be done, please do the right and enlist the services of a licensed plumber.

Further Reading