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Going Underground

Going Underground.

Diving into the trenches of Commercial Plumbing.

Not all plumbers are created equal. When we think of plumbers we generally think of clearing blocked drains and toilets and whilst this is still something a Commercial Plumber handles, most of the works come prior to any vanities or loo’s being installed and maintained.

Commercial plumbers usually have a big task at hand, from digging trenches to laying pipes and installing large stormwater tanks, this must all be done as per plan and Australian standards. Accuracy is key because once the concrete foundation is poured, it is a costly exercise to have that ripped up to sort out plumbing mishaps underground.

In the trenches. Life of a Commercial Plumber.

Commercial Plumbing on one of Buildcom Construction’s sites.

Deep trenches need to be dug out for pre-lay to commence.

After the plumbing services have been installed and the trenches backfilled.

The Water Corporation and Plumbing.

The Water Corporation in WA is the governing body of all things water, sewer, waste and drainage. Engaging with the Water Corporation in the beginning of a new project is the first step in attaining information needed and setting up the water and fire services. Each new development will most likely need an application to the Water Corp to apply for these services with a fee to paid along with it. BuilderNet is an online service that makes this process straight forward. The requirements of each development may be different and the architectural plans will indicate the services needing to be installed. The Commercial Builder will most likely be in charge of the initial set up and cost involved.

Once all has been approved and fees paid, E-plans are issued. E plans are electronic plans, showing the services area of the development. E- plans show water lines and sewer lines that are existing and indicate where a commercial plumber would need to dig trenches and lay pipe work to connect to the main system.

Example of a Water E-plan.

Image from Water Corporation Building & Plumbing Handbook.

Example of a Sewer E-plan.

Image from Water Corporation Building & Plumbing Handbook.

In most cases commercial plumbers will need to install a Backflow Prevention Device on each service installed at the property (which includes fire services). The device is needed to ensure that the water supply does not become contaminated and unsafe for use and drinking. These devices are to be installed by law and must be done so by a licenced plumber. It is initially tested by the plumber and paperwork is submitted to the Water Corporation to advise of its installation.  Yearly inspections of the Backflow Prevention Devices will need to be made and this is at the responsibility of the owner of the property.

Depending on the nature of the business who will occupy the development, a Trades Waste Permit many need to be applied for. BuilderNet, again will be how the Builder will apply for this. The type of businesses needing such a permit would be in the areas of food preparation, mechanical services and anything in between that would remove grease and waste daily. Commercial plumbers would most likely need to install a “grease trap” which collects waste so it isn’t washed down into our water supply. These grease traps are also maintained by the property owner and need to be emptied on a regular basis.

The link below is a Building and Plumbing Handbook to find out more about what is involved at the plumbing stages.

Playing it safe.

We don’t often associate plumbing being a highly dangerous job to be carrying out but the truth is it can be. Underground pipes can run directly underneath live electrical cabling and the risk of being electrocuted is a real possibility if the right pre-cautions are not carried out first.

Before carrying out any trench digging or drilling to clear any blockages, the area needs to be evaluated. Dial before you Dig, is a company which can be engaged to ascertain the risk and advise on where it is safe to carry out the commercial plumbing works.

Western Power has a lot of insight in working safely amongst electrical cabling and the link below is a good source of information.


On the inside.

Once the building is up the installing of the internal fittings and fixtures can begin. From basins to hot water systems, the plumber is responsible for fitting out the premise as per the architectural plans and to the satisfaction of the client. In most commercial premises, it is a simple installation of a kitchenette and bathrooms but it can be as lavish as the client desires.

Buildcom Construction’s kitchenette installed at a recent development.

Bathroom basin installed at a Buildcom Construction project.

Did you know?

The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596, which is where we get the nickname “the John.” We also call the toilet “the crapper” because of Thomas Crapper, who widely increased the popularity of it.

The word “plumber” comes from the Latin word “plumbum,” which means “lead.”

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