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What Do You Need To Know About Home Plumbing Certificates ?

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What Do You Need To Know About Home Plumbing Certificates ?

Obtaining Certificates of Compliance (COC) is something that most people will probably only have to do once or twice in their lives – normally when they sell their homes. A “lack of knowledge” is therefore completely understandable but can sometimes lead to unnecessary heartache where the seller thinks the service provider are doing too much and ripping them off while the new owner thinks they have not done enough. The estate agent or attorney (conveyancer) very often get caught in the middle of these sometimes unpleasant misunderstandings.


When is a Plumbing Certificate required?

The Plumbing Certificate is unique to Cape Town – it is governed by a water by-law (since 2011) and is needed when a property is sold within the municipal jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town.

Why is a Plumbing Certificate necessary?

It certifies that the water installation at the property is in line with municipal and building guidelines and introduced water conservation and demand management measures to ensure the sustainability of water supply to consumers. Cape Town lies in a water-scarce region where, while it is a winter rainfall area, most of the demand is during the summer. The by-law also enforces the installation of a hot water cylinder.

What is checked during a Plumbing Inspection?

One of the primary purposes of the Water Installation Certificate (Plumbing Certificate) is the prevention of water wastage, i.e. leaks or dripping taps in the supply pipes or system resulting in un-intended un-controlled usage.

Opening the tap is seen as intended usage. The purpose for which the water is used and the subsequent disposal of the used water falls outside the scope of the Plumbing Certificate.

Any fittings, fixtures or appliances connected to or placed under the tap or supply source are excluded from the certificate. The Certificate covers the supply pipes, the stop tap in the wall and the main tap above the sink, as long as there are no leaks in this system and all the items are properly and securely installed a Certificate can be issued.

The Certificate does not include the sink itself or any of the disposal pipes leading to the outside, these items could be blocked, broken and leaking, or even missing, and it will have no effect on the Validity of the Plumbing Certificate.

There are only seven checks that are currently performed during the “Plumbing” inspection - the seller cannot be compelled to rectify plumbing issues over and above the below seven checks.

  1.  The Hot Water Cylinder is plumbed correctly and complies with SANS 10252 and 10254, PRV of the correct value, vacuum breakers correctly installed, emergency overflow installed with a metallic pipe, all overflows to be plumbed to the outside and discharge to atmosphere.
  2.  The water meter registers when a tap is open and stops completely when all taps are closed. If there is movement on the meter with all taps closed, this points to a leak somewhere on the property.

  1.  None of the terminal water fittings leak, when they are in the OFF position, and they are correctly fixed in position.

  1. No storm water is discharged into the sewerage system.

  1.  There is no cross connection between the potable supply and any grey water system which may be installed.

  1.  The private isolating valve is in place and functioning.

  1. The water pipes in the plumbing installation are properly saddled.

What is NOT included in the “Plumbing Certificate”?

Although sellers occasionally takes umbrage to certain issues that require rectification or the cost thereof, service providers normally receive more “complaints” with regards to the “Plumbing Certificate” from the new property owners who believe they should have done more.

The new property owner believes that a “Plumbing Certificate” implies that absolutely everything to do with the plumbing installation will be 100%.

There are numerous plumbing issues that the certificate does not cover.

Some of the more obvious non certificate plumbing issues include:

Blocked drains, the City of Cape Town is not concerned in any way with blocked drains on your property, this is considered a normal maintenance issue NOT a certificate issue.

Leaks in the secondary, disposal, system are not considered water wastage by the City of Cape Town as the water has already been used for its intended purpose and is now being disposed of.

The inspector only check for leaks in the primary supply system, i.e. from the water meter to the tap itself and only when the tap is in the OFF position. They do NOT check the pipes from your shower, bath, kitchen or bathroom sinks to the outside drain, if these pipes leak it is considered normal maintenance and NOT a certificate issue, even if it is causing damage by leaking into a kitchen or bathroom cupboard or under the floor.

Low water pressure supply. Check this with your supply authority.

Discolouration or odour in water, water quality. Could be rust in pipes or geyser, or as a result of an external leak outside of your property.

Fittings in poor condition. Chips, cracks or discolouration of baths, sinks, showers, toilets etc. is not a concern of the City of Cape Town.

Fittings or connections to appliances that leak in the ON position. The connection to washing machines, dishwashers etc. is NOT covered by the Plumbing Certificate as long as the tap is not leaking in the off position.

Irrigation systems or swimming pool installations. Generally appliances and the connection thereof are not included in the Plumbing Certificate. So if your swimming pool or irrigation system leaks when in use it is a maintenance issue.

Taps or fittings that are not connected to the installation. Occasionally we find a tap or some other fitting that is not connected to the water supply, we cannot compel the seller to upgrade the plumbing installation.

No hot or cold water supply to rooms where you would normally expect both. It is not the purpose of the plumbing certificate to upgrade the plumbing installation. Inspectors do occasionally come across a house that has only cold or hot water supply to a kitchen or bathroom. As long as what exists is compliant they cannot compel the seller to upgrade the installation.

Air blocks in pipes. This can occur when the water supply has been switched off for a while, just open the taps in the house and let them run until the air has worked its way out of the system.

Who can issue the “Plumbing Certificate”?

A plumber who is suitably qualified and accredited in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority must certify that the hot water cylinder complies with SANS 10252 and 10254.

The conveyancer, on behalf of the seller or owner, needs to submit the signed form to CertificateOfCompliance@capetown.gov.za . This applies to domestic, commercial and industrial properties and includes sectional title units.

Author Techno Electrical / Electrabug / Paddocks
Published 18 May 2017 / Views -
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