Should you DIY it or call a plumber? What plumbing you can and can’t do in WA

17th April, 2023

Key points: 

  • Any work relating or interacting with your sewer or drinking water systems, or any kind of gasfitting work, must always be carried out by a fully qualified and properly licensed plumbing and/or gasfitting professional.
  • WA homeowners may carry out limited private DIY in-house jobs if comfortable:
    • repairing or replacing a shower head
    • repairing a tap or tap mixer valve but not a thermostatically controlled tap
    • replacing an inlet or outlet washer in a toilet cistern
    • replacing a domestic water filter cartridge
    • clearing a blocked waste pipe by the use of a plunger.
  • Any other plumbing or commercial plumbing work must be carried out by a properly licensed plumbing and/or gasfitting professional under the Australian Plumbing Code. 

We’ve all had those moments where something goes wrong with your plumbing – whether it’s a burst pipe, leaky tap or faulty hot water system – and dreaded making the call to your local plumber for an emergency fix. Noting your alternatives, you take a look online and see just the thing you need: How to Replace Your Hot Water DIY | Full Install, with a smiling thumbnail of a scruffy looking mate holding up a spanner telling you it’s as easy as 1-2-3.  

It’s not until you walk out and take a look at the hidden beast that connects your hot water to your house that you realise just how in over your head you really are. Not only is it complicated, turns out it’s slightly illegal and mighty unsafe too! But with so much information hidden away online and regulations differing between states and territories across WA, it can be hard to figure out just what you can and can’t do when it comes to your home plumbing. 

Join your local plumbing professionals as we go through the best way to identify which jobs are safe and legal for you to do at home, and where you might need to call up your local professionals to flex their plumbing know-how (and how not to get ripped off by botch jobs or unneeded costs!)

What work can I do myself, and when should I call a plumber? 

According to the Australian Plumbing Code, any work that is done that involves sewer or drinking water systems, including both appliances and their connected infrastructure, must be carried out by a properly approved and licenced plumber.

The confusion comes in when looking across states and all the different laws that apply – it can be confusing trying to parse through all the information online even for us, and we live and breathe Perth plumbing! Fortunately, we’ve managed to track down everything you need to know to be able to ensure any work you’re doing at home is both safe and legal, and how to get anything else that might need doing done properly. 

Australian Plumbing Code 

The Australian Plumbing Code states that any work relating to sewer or drinking water systems must be carried out by a qualified and properly licensed plumber. The confusion tends to arise when defining what the work is and what determines a properly licensed and qualified plumber, as it differs across states – sometimes drastically!  

Here in WA, our licensing is determined by the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and, subsequently, the Plumber’s Licensing Board. However, before 2019, we had no allowances for what a private homeowner could do in their home – that means, you were legally not allowed to touch your tap fittings or check your change washers and filters without a plumbing license! 

WA Plumbing Reforms 2019 

Thankfully, the WA Department of Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety introduced many reforms to the WA plumbing industry in 2019 after an extensive consultation process. Previously, WA was the only state where it was illegal for the private homeowner to carry out basic plumbing repairs in their own homes, instead fully licensed plumbers were required for the most basic of jobs – from changing a worn tap valve to even unblocking a drain with a plunger!  

After the introduction of the reforms in 2019 (check out the Reforms to Plumbing Regulation in Western Australia | November 2019 public document from DMIRS for the full list of decisions) some freedoms were allowed, bringing WA in line with the rest of Australia when it comes to private plumbing housework.  

Decision Ten

The Plumbing Regulations are to be amended to allow the following tasks to be carried out by a private homeowner in his/her own home or by a non-licensed person acting on behalf of that private homeowner in a non-commercial capacity (i.e. not for payment or reward): 

  1. Repairing or replacing a shower head; 
  2. Repairing a tap or tap mixer valve but not a thermostatically controlled tap; 
  3. Replacing an inlet or outlet washer in a toilet cistern;
  4. Replacing a domestic water filter cartridge; and 
  5. Clearing a blocked waste pipe by the use of a plunger.

Importantly, decision ten only allows for private, non-commercial work to be done in relation to the above points – unlicensed handymen and the like are still not allowed to be paid to work on anything related to plumbing in WA. If you’re not sure you’re ready to open up your toilet cistern, we still recommend giving your local professional plumbers a call for advice or repairs, rather than risking your safety, money and potential legal consequences on low-quality repairs.

For those who use gas water heaters or other gas-fueled systems, note that any gasfitting work (that is, any system connected to either a gas outlet or LPG bottle), as per the WA Gasfitting Regulations, must be carried out by a professional holding the relevant gasfitting license

How do I know if the tradie I call is properly qualified? 

You’ve found out your toilet is leaking and went through the trouble of replacing the drainage and fill valves, but the problem still hasn’t been fixed – time to call a plumber! You get hooked up with the number of a mate’s mate you kind of know, and you book in a repair the next day. Then Joe Somebody rocks up in his unmarked white ute, armed with a wrench and drill. Something seems off… but you can’t quite figure it out (maybe it’s the drill – who needs a drill to repair a toilet, you wonder?) 

Luckily, WA has made it easy to know if your saviour is a licensed plumber or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Every single plumber in WA has to: 

  • Be licensed by the Plumbers Licensing Board,
  • Be listed in the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s licensing database (a publicly accessible database consumers can use to look up qualified plumbers),
  • Hold a current identity card that includes their respective licence number, any conditions on the type of work they are able to undertake, and photograph of the holder to help you quickly identify you’re dealing with an appropriately qualified plumber. 
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Every qualified plumbing contractor and tradesperson in WA are issued a personalised identity card, making it quick and easy to check your plumber’s qualifications on the job.

These rules also apply to gasfitting professionals too though their card is yellow, rather than silver!

There’s also some obligations your tradie has to meet to ensure you get the work you need done to an acceptable standard. These standards, which you can browse a consumer-friendly version freely on the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s website, set out to make sure that your family stays safe and secure in your home at all times. 

These regulations mean that, for any plumbing or gas work done in your home, you can expect to see: 

The Australian Government also has an easy system in place for certifying the products used in any plumbing work are fit for purpose and safe for use. The WaterMark Certification Scheme, a mandatory scheme for most (but not all!) plumbing and drainage products used and installed by your tradie, makes sure that the water you use is safe and works properly every time. Keep an eye out for the WaterMark marking on these products, and if you can’t see it, ask your plumber why! 

Examples of the WaterMark trademarks (source:

The golden rule: if you’re not sure, ask a trusted plumber! 

While there are some things you can do yourself in WA (more than we used to be legally be able to do that’s for sure!), anything to do with your plumbing system can turn into a complex and often dangerous job quickly.  If you’re not sure how to do something, reach out to your friendly plumbing professionals here at Ritz P&E and we’ll have one of our specialist tradies come out to fix whatever complicated or potentially dangerous problem you might be facing in a jiffy!  

While our friendly plumbing professionals have some favourite DIY plumbing channels they love to watch and share with friends and family, we reckon it’s always better to be safe and smart when it comes to dealing with anything to do with your home plumbing systems.
While we love channels like “Dad, How Do I?” for teaching valuable life skills to his ‘kids’ all over the world (thanks Dad!), remember to make sure that what you’re doing is safe and legal in your home before working on anything related to your home plumbing. 

If you’ve got a plumbing issue that needs urgent fixing or replacing, a leaking tap valve that you’re not comfortable replacing or anything else related to plumbing or electrical, the friendly team at Ritz Plumbing & Electrical are here to help. Chat to one of our friendly representatives now by calling 13 74 89 or send an enquiry using our easy online contact form.