Plumbing industry under the pump after Auckland floods

Last week's torrential rain and flash flooding has created more work than the plumbing industry can handle, and blocked gutters and leaky roofs are often having to wait more than a week just to be looked at.

It's putting additional pressure on an existing shortage of plumbers - an estimated 600 in Auckland and 2000 nationwide.

BT Plumbing and Gas director Bruce Trenwith says he's struggling to meet demand and can't get to jobs fast enough.

His company is now hiring from Australia, because so few apprentices are coming through here.

Put simply, plumbing firms often don't earn back the money - or time - they spend on training apprentices up, Mr Trenwith says.

Master Plumbers CEO Greg Wallace says taking on new apprentices is a challenge, and there's not much support available.

"People taking on apprentices is a real challenge - they don't get any funding from the government for employees. And training is an investment in time. The first year in particular is very tough for an employee so it takes a while to get a payback."

The housing boom is also creating problems for those wanting emergency plumbing work, because firms can risk massive financial penalties if they push back their work on new builds.

"They can't pull all their plumbers off those jobs to go and handle these emergencies that are going on, and a lot of people are in a really bad way. But the financial implications from that can be thousands of dollars a day in not completing on time," Mr Trenwith says.

Large scale contractors are also being kept busy - Auckland Council says it's had 900 calls about its stormwater system since Tuesday, in addition to 400 others that came through 111.