Choosing an unlicensed storage heater replacement contractor comes with legal liabilities for the homeowner.
The rupture of a storage water heater in a Cote D’Azur apartment in Marine Parade on Saturday (Sept 30 2017) smashed the glass doors and windows of the unit’s balcony. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS
Choosing either a licensed plumber or unlicensed handyman is one of the first decisions homeowners must make when a water heater has failed and urgently needs a replacement.
After searching on Google keying in “heater replacement”, the first page is filled with vendors claiming to be Licensed Plumber or License Plumbing companies who are ready to carry out the replacement. Only a few are.
There’s more involved here than the flashy web pages and possibly saving a few bucks
On This Page
- Defining “Licensed Plumber”
- Protection Against Liability
- Heater Warranty
- Shoddy works and pipe leaking
Defining “Licensed Plumber”
The first thing to understand is that Licensed Plumbers are essentially the person whose name is attached to every regulated work and answerable for it to PUB.
His duty is not just to allow his name and licence number to be “rented” for display at a website or just to show up at the site to make his presence felt.
“BCA Certified Plumber” is an interesting accreditation to an individual that doesn’t exist in Singapore. However, BCA does have a list of contractors that is qualified to tender for government’s Plumbing and Sanitary works.
Any Water Service Installation (WSI) works including a storage heater installation undertaken by a Licensed Plumbers involves the following steps (PUB Handbook):
- Submission of Notification of WSI Works before commencement of WSI
- Submission of Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of WSI Works upon
the satisfactory completion of WSI works; and
The procedure for notifying PUB of WSI works by Licensed Plumber is as follows:
- Prior to the commencement of WSI works, the Licensed Plumber is to
submit a notification together with a copy of site plan (with proposed
location of water meter) and a copy of the water reticulation system
schematic drawing to PUB through the PUB’s BPU portal at
Alternatively, the notification can be submitted through CORENET e-
Submission System at www.corenet2-ess.gov.sg.
- Notifying PUB before commencement of WSI works is a mandatory
- A Licensed Plumber who carries out a heater replacement job with notification to PUB. Job is authorised and safe.
- A Licensed Plumber who carries out a heater replacement job without notifying the PUB. Job is unauthorised and unsafe.
- A person/company without a plumbing licence carries out water storage heater installation works. Job is unauthorised and potentially dangerous.
Protection Against Liability
Most international tenants especially those from the western countries are used to buying Home Insurance to protect against damage due to pipe burst or rapture storage water heater.
Extracted from NTUC Enhanced Home Insurance
In case of an incident, some policies may deny claims from the tenants should it be the result of an unlicensed storage heater replacement or authorised works.
As such, the landlord will have to pay out of their pockets.
The property agent may be responsible if the contractor is engaged by him/her.
For incidents resulting in fatality or serious damage like the heater electrocution in lakeside flat and The rupture of a storage water heater in a Cote D’Azur , it gets a lot more complicated.
Even if you are issued an invoice from a brick and mortar shop indicating an installation works and you have deligently register the warranty online thinking that you have the warranty covered, you may not.
The fine prints will tell otherwise. For the two manjor brands, Rheem and Joven, conditions have stated clearly that warranty will not be entitled if the installation is not Licensed or not in accordance with Singapore statutory requiremetns.
For Rheem, warranty will not be entitled if:
- Installation and/or use which is not in accordance with the Owner’s Guide and Installation Instructions or with relevant statutory and local requirements in the State or Territory in which the water heater is installed.
- Party B is not entitled to make a claim under this warranty if the water heater: Is not installed by a licensed plumbing company
For Joven, warranty terms and conditions:
The water heater must be installed in accordance with Joven Water Heater installation instructions, supplied with the water heater, and in accordance with all relevant statutory requirements.
Warranty claims that require the installation to be corrected and regularize to conform to PUB (Water Supply) Regulations and Singapore Standard SS 636:2018 will incur extra charges.
Shoddy works and pipe leaking
For house owner who wish to be covered under this protection, you need to
- Engage a Licensed Plumber
- PUB must be notified, and the heater replacement job authorised.
- A Licensed plumber name will be tied to that job.
Licensed Plumber doing a shoddy work is not an option, if it requires redoing, he will have to do it.
Should there be a leaking as a result, giving excuses and not show up is also not a choice for him.
Just two unresolved issues, he will have his licence suspended for 6 months.
This is a very effective system by PUB to ensure works are properly carried out.
So, is it smart to save a few bucks going unlicensed storage heater replacement? I guess that depends on how much you’re willing to take on extra financial and legal risks.