The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) has recently launched a search function which makes choosing the best plumber in your area simple and easy

So what does this mean for you? Plumbing companies who are registered with IOPSA have to conform to the highest standards, both in installation standards and business ethics. In South Africa, there are many companies that claim to be reliable or quality plumbers. It is extremely difficult for a consumer, architect or construction company to sort the wheat from the chaff. IOPSA-registered plumbers need to meet the following minimum requirements;

  1. Employment of suitably qualified and licensed plumbers i.e. registered with the professional body for plumbers (PIRB).
  2. Adequate public liability insurance.
  3. Tax Clearance certificate
  4. Registered company or sole proprietor.
  5. Acceptance of IOPSA Code of Good Practice and Constitution.
  6. Subject to IOPSA complaints and disciplinary procedures.
  7. Continuous Professional Development of all Licensed Plumbers.
  8. Only use approved quality products.
  9. Conduct all installations in accordance with national building regulations, local by-laws and national standards.
  10. Issue a PIRB Certificate of Compliance for the work done.

In the unlikely event that you encounter a problem with an IOPSA plumber, you have some recourse. Our complaints portal is manned by highly trained staff who can investigate, inspect and rule on any installation done by an IOPSA-registered plumber, at no charge.


If you are looking for a safe, quality plumber to do work for you make sure you select an IOPSA registered plumber. Otherwise, you could be in for a very costly and messy affair. For more information and to find out how IOPSA is uplifting the industry visit

The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) is an NPO which was established in 1989 by plumbers. Today IOPSA has evolved to be the largest plumbing body in South Africa and is the recognised voice of the South African Plumbing industry. IOPSA provides a platform to advise on the practice and principles of the plumbing industry. The Institute regularly consults and liaises with the plumbing industry, and governmental and regulatory bodies for the discussion of matters affecting the plumbing industry. IOPSA is recognised and in most cases has representation on most national and international plumbing and legislative bodies.



As a homeowner, you do carry risk in almost if not every part of your home. Therefore you need to
minimise that risk to ensure the safety and health of your family, friends and all visiting your home.

One of the potentially biggest risks is plumbing or more so plumbing not correctly done.

The World Plumbing Council (WPC) of which the Institute of Plumbing of SA (IOPSA) is a member
promotes four simple principles for the plumbers and it works just as well for consumers.

Known as the Four Pillars of Plumbing which are;

PRACTICES: this relates to compulsory standards, regulations and accountability. Plumbing is heavily
regulated for the purpose of seeing that design and installations are done to protect the health and safety
of consumers and the environment. The accountability of the plumber is to ensure that he/she is
correctly qualified, offers added value by their registration with a professional body (giving you
recourse) and installs according to standards as well as using products approved by a recognised
certification body. Membership in a voluntary association like IOPSA is an added benefit to reduce
risk and provide you with comfort.

PRODUCTS: must be of quality accepted by the recognised SA National Standard. Inferior and sub-standard products increase your risk of disease and are hazardous to safety. Indeed, these products will cost more as more is invested in their manufacture and the ongoing process of ensuring
manufacturing maintains its quality. Besides a cheap product will be replaced many times more than
a quality one so buy quality first and be hassle-free. Also if there are problems with quality
products the manufacturer will stand by the guarantee/warranty.

“Goedkoop is Deurkoop” is good to remember.

PROTECTION: sadly even the best installation or product can fault. As stated earlier quality and
recognised products and manufacturer will stand by their reputation. Equally so will a qualified
plumber and you have recourse to the professional body (Plumbing Industry Registration Board) and

PARTICIPATION: this is the pillar that grows the plumbing industry with qualified plumbers and
being part of the process of providing safe water to all a basic human right. As a consumer, you can
be part of the participatory process by NOT employing unqualified people and using only qualified
plumbers. Again, Goedkoop is Deurkoop, and when using an unqualified person your RISK
INCREASES and you endanger the lives of all on your premises.

No amount of public liability will cover the death of people when your geyser explodes, a potential
bomb when installed incorrectly. And husbands please leave the plumbing to the plumbers. It usually
ends up costing more -ask me I know!


Both IOPSA and PIRB will assist when you need a plumber or word of month is also a good reference.

Question for you: how is your risk management now?

Pouring grease, oils and fats down the kitchen drain

If you’re in the habit of pouring bacon grease down the kitchen sink drain, you will definitely be in for blocked drains soon. Grease, fats and oils are some of the best things for clogging drains. In the main sewer, they can build up to massive sizes called “fatbergs” which can weigh tonnes.

Rainwater into the sewer

It is easy, there is a “drain” pipe right there, I’ll just connect to that and all the rainwater will magically disappear…..WRONG! Sewer pipes are not designed to deal with the large volumes of rainwater during a storm, even a small storm. The sewer pipes will quickly fill up and cause manholes to overflow. Now the whole neighbourhood’s poop is floating down the road and will probably end up in a river, dam or on the beach. Suddenly the “clever” plan doesn’t seem so great anymore.

Using the toilet as a dustbin

We all know it’s wrong, and we all do it anyway. It is as though we believe that if it can flush, it will magically disappear from our lives forever. As if, at the other end of the toilet there is nothing but a black hole, a portal to a subterranean outer space that swallows up everything we discard and whisks it off into oblivion.

Unfortunately, that oblivion is a drain pipe that leads into another drain pipe, which is THE drain pipe to your entire house. In other words, flushing one improper item down the toilet ultimately can block up everything in the house. But we do it anyway. The bottom line is, if it isn’t pee, poo or toilet paper, it doesn’t belong there.


Using vent pipes for anything other than venting

This one falls in the “Why not? I’ll tell you ‘why not’!” category. There are reports of homeowners running things like TV cables down the vent pipes that come up through their roofs. Seems like a tempting solution to getting into the house, but vent pipes aren’t just there for their bad looks. They not only provide air to drains inside the house, to prevent a suction effect that inhibits drainage; they also get rid of sewer gases that come up from the city’s sewer main. If you cut a hole in your vent inside the house to run a cable through, you’re tapping into an endless supply of your neighbourhood’s sewer gases.


Using too much drain cleaner

When used judiciously and as directed, on the right kind of clog, drain cleaners can be effective and relatively safe for drains. When used with abandon, they can corrode some drain materials, and they can actually make blockages worse. It is also not very nice for the plumber who eventually comes out to clear that blockage.

Pouring chemicals (and other bad stuff) into the drain

Harsh chemicals can damage plumbing pipes, fittings and components making them brittle or even causing chemical reactions. The drain is not a dump and is not designed to deal with chemicals. Things like old paint are often washed down drains and may cause an unclearable blockage. Chemicals, paints, pharmaceuticals, etc must be disposed of properly and safely.


Screwing, nailing or cutting into a wall with hidden plumbing pipes

Now we’re into the realm of “Oh, yeah. I did that once.” Do this with a screw and you might hear a fine spray of water hitting the back of the drywall. Do it with a drill and you’re in for a gusher.


Joining two different metals in piping

Diy’ers beware: When dissimilar metals, such as copper and steel, are touching, a process called galvanic action leads to corrosion. Corrosion leads to leaks. Such joints must be made with a dielectric union or other approved fitting.


Putting everything else down the kitchen drain

Even if you’re not guilty of grease disposal, you might be one of those folks who thinks a food disposer (garbage disposal – if you have one) is the equivalent of a space-fantasy ray gun. It’s not. It’s a motor with a spinning wheel that has two metal teeth thingies, and it does very little to stop the following from clogging your drain: flour, rice, potato peels (and some other veggie peels) and many fibrous foods such as asparagus and chard.


Removing a sink or basin P-trap

This is not a common mistake, but it warrants mention because it was part of a home-page website feature of a certain newspaper that happens to be the preeminent newspaper in the USA (hint: rhymes with “blue dork limes”). The feature showed a houseful of very well-meaning college students who had taken several steps toward greening their everyday lives. One such action was to remove the P-trap and other drain parts underneath their bathroom sink so the wastewater could be collected in a bucket and used to water plants outdoors. While the use of grey water is becoming more popular, the issue here is the 2-INCH HOLE PUMPING SEWER GASES INTO THE BATHROOM.

If you've done one of these “silly” things to your plumbing and are now sitting with an even bigger problem. We urge you to start thinking about “Where can I find a reliable plumber” so they can come and take care of it for you. Don't worry, they've seen it all before. IOPSA members are a perfect choice and have been fully vetted! Find an IOPSA plumber on

Simply put there are two kinds of plumbers one you can rely on and you will have no need to call
back to fix the job he had ‘originally fixed’ or the one who charges incredibly low prices is not
qualified as a “plumber” and will rip you off if you can get hold of them after they have messed up
your plumbing job. There is a third one but is not the plumber but the husband/DIYer who thinks
plumbing is easy. Once finished they must call in the qualified plumber to (a) repair the mess
created by the DIYer and then (b) fix the plumbing problem!

Let’s get rid of the negatives first

The unqualified plumber cares or knows nothing about your health and safety that he/she is
responsible for. YES the plumber is responsible for health and safety and that of you and your family.
They know nothing about the disease that is caused by incorrect plumbing, water pressure,
hydraulics and the damage that boiling hot water can do to you. He just wants your money and runs
to catch another consumer who also works on price only.

So if you work on price alone you are your own worst enemy.

Let's look at the positives

You must pay a fair price for work to be done according to the plumbing regulations that are
compulsory by a qualified plumber. A plumber is not an idiot who could not get a degree but a
skilled craftsman with knowledge learned over three or four years under the guidance and direction
of an experienced plumber. He/she therefore is entitled to ask a fair price for work done. The
regulations ensure that he/she does the work according to tried and tested methods that are
continually improving as materials become more sophisticated.

Such a plumber will show you his qualification by virtue of his/her membership ofvoluntary body
like the Institute of Plumbing SA (IOPSA) and/or the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB)

These are voluntary bodies so common sense does show that plumbers and plumbing companies are
prepared to put their reputations on the line. Because some qualified plumbers choose not to
belong to such voluntary bodies does not make them poor but one needs to check their

MORAL: don’t skimp on the HEALTH & SAFETY of you and your family it is not just unblocking a
drain but moving away waste that can, if allowed to linger longer, will cause disease to spread. Even
the installation of a ‘geyser’ or hot water storage vessel must be done correctly, failing which it could
explode and cause untold damage and death.


Did you know that whether building a new home or renovating or just plain maintenance, the law holds
you as the owner, responsible for any installation/repair? The insurance company can refute a claim
should this aspect of the law not be followed.

No that is a tall order for the consumer! How can I be held responsible for the work of an electrician,
plumber, builder and so on? Fair question but the law does not say you must follow and check each
installation, it says you are responsible for ensuring that you employ registered and qualified
tradespeople, building contractors and engineers. If in the upper bracket, this includes architects as the
law applies not only to residential but all types of buildings.

Each aspect of the building has a set of design and installation regulations which each discipline must
abide by not a choice a must! Even a rational design has to follow certain rules and use the
regulation as a basis.

Instead of rushing for the cheapest quote and product/s -think what your responsibility is. To ensure the
the best job is done with the compliant product as stated in the applicable standard.

Cheap is costly or goedkoop is deurkoop. By going for the cheapest you risk the lives of your family,
friends and tenants.

Imagine a geyser (hot water storage tank) exploding whilst entertaining friends or your building going up
in flames all because of a cheap product/installation. The law will go for YOU.

Rather be safe than sorry. Reply on your qualified people who have had years of study Yes,
tradespeople can spend up to four years of theory and practical learning before their trade test and
qualifying never mind how long an architect and engineer can spend getting his/her degree.

I have no doubt that you have had an experience or two going down the cheap route. Share them with
us so others can learn and not fall into the same trap.

Thankfully these are far and few between but their sloppy attitude toward solving a customer’s plumbing
problems cause unnecessary frustration, more expense and time wasting.

In this real case recently, the client's concealed cistern inner mechanism (flushing system) had seen its
best days over 10 years old. The plumber spent some time establishing this fact and then announced to
the customer it was likely there were no spares and left the customer hanging.

Now the cistern was a local one, but the customer was not to be taken with this flippant response. We
establish from the local manufacturer who readily assured us that the spare part was indeed available
and the manufacturer sent his plumber out to install the mechanism and charged the customer a fair

The first plumber now sent in his account which was not paid because all he had to do was phone the
manufacturer, get the part and install it. Not only would he be paid for his labour but also a reasonable
loading on the part which he would have had to collect. The customer saw no reason to pay twice and
quite rightly so.

So, beware of this lazy and un-customer-orientated plumber. He was just there to make a call-out fee and
anything after that was just too much trouble. Of course, one does face the situation where spares are
no longer available but the plumber must check first. This fellow was probably hankering for the
customer to tell him to replace the whole concealed cistern which would have meant more bucks for
him but that would have been bordering on cheating!

So, as a guideline check your plumber is a member of IOPSA and is a PIRB plumber or is at least a good
reputation for completing the task. This does provide a means of comeback and protection.

No, it wasn’t a ATM bombing or a terrorist attack, it was a geyser which exploded at a sport centre that severely damaged the building, see below video. During the evening neighbours of a sports complex in Pretoria were awoken by a loud explosion. On investigation they discovered that an explosion had occurred in the building. It was found that the cause of the explosion was a faulty geyser. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the incident.

Mr Gerrie Botha the Technical Manager for Gauteng at the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) was called to the scene. According to Botha these types of incidents occur more often than most people expect “A properly installed geyser is very safe but if it is installed incorrectly or by an unqualified plumber it can be potentially lethal. Geysers are fitted with multiple safety devices which prevent explosions but when these devices are not fitted correctly or are tampered with, that is when a geyser can become a bomb.” He further advises homeowners against using un-qualified plumbers “Qualified Plumbers have been properly trained in all the safety aspects of installing geysers, they know what they are doing. Un-qualified people just haven’t had the training, they think they know but far too often it ends in disaster. You should never let an un-qualified plumber work on your geyser.”

According to the National Building Regulations, all water heaters or geysers must by law be installed by Qualified Plumbers according to the South African National Standards SANS 10254. This Standard gives clear instructions about the required safety equipment and how it should be installed. Botha adds that “one of the main requirements of SANS 10254 is that the Plumber must issue a Certificate of Compliance (COC) from the professional body for plumbers (PIRB). The COC warrants that the plumber is licensed to install geysers and that the work is done correctly. If they aren’t giving you a PIRB certificate, you should be concerned”.

The Water Services Act 1997 (Act No. 108 of 1997) as amended on 8 June 2001 in Clause 14 states, “Every consumer installation must comply with SANS 10252: Water Supply and Drainage for Buildings and SANS 10254: The Installation of Fixed Electric Storage Water Heating Systems”. This places the responsibility on all building/homeowners to ensure that all plumbing installations, repair and maintenance be conducted by Qualified Plumbers.

The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) is an NPO which was established in 1989 by plumbers. Today IOPSA has evolved to be the largest plumbing body in South Africa and is the recognised voice of the South African Plumbing industry. IOPSA provides a platform to advise on the practice and principles of the plumbing industry. The Institute regularly consults and liaises with the plumbing industry, governmental and regulatory bodies for the discussion of matters affecting the plumbing industry. IOPSA is recognised and in most cases has representation on most national and international plumbing and legislative bodies.

Anybody with queries related to geyser installations or any other plumbing related matters is free to contact for more information or assistance.

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