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When Wylie’s Baths needs a plumber

Wylie’s Baths in Coogee 2034 has kept within the Covid 19 guidelines to remain open for their patrons during the StayInside orders of 2021. They have over 50,000 swimmers a year and occasionally need help from their local friendly plumber.

The baths manager Courtney tells in 1 min 27sec what goes on behind the scenes to deliver a unique ocean pool where you can get a great cup of coffee and a sandwich.

Check it out!

Don’t flush our drinking water?

As the summer of 2021 approaches, our water consumption is back on the menu.

Even though our borders have been closed to tourists and immigration and Australians returning home to sit out the pandemic have had their numbers slashed, our water consumption continues to rise.

During our current building boom, its not unusual for every new home to have at least two bathrooms with his and hers showers and hand basins’. And even the most modest Sydney home has at least two toilets.

Australians have been world leaders in water conservation with water saving taps and showers now the norm. If you didn’t know the dual-flush toilet cistern is an Australian invention.

Don’t be surprised but the dual flush toilet is still a big water user. Here in Sydney, with a few exceptions like urban domestic rainwater harvesting that uses rainwater to flush our household toilets and fill the washing machine, most of the water flushing our toilets is from our potable water supply. That’s our drinking water!

I grew up as one of six kids in a NSW country town of 13,000 people and our home in town had a metered water supply. But our family had a weekend shack on acres out of town where every drop of water we used was caught in rainwater tanks. The toilet was flushed with water piped from a dam over 300 metres from the house. It was a simple gravity system that piped muddy dam water across a paddock to the toilet cistern and flushing the toilet with the dam water left a brown stain on the toilet bowl.

There was a time when we didn’t go to the shack for a few weeks and what started as a simple toilet cistern leak that went unchecked, drained the farm dam down to a muddy sludge by our next visit. That weekend, as we flushed the toilet with our drinking water from the tank, I learned that our drinking water was way to precious to waste on flushing a toilet.

So, what does that mean here in Sydney?

Simply put, if you have even a slight toilet leak DO NOT IGNORE IT otherwise it will drain our dam.

Raw sewer overflows to Coogee Beach.

During the Stay at Home orders we’ve been doing emergency plumbing repairs like hot water, leaking pipes and Blocked drains.

The blocked drain that got my interest is the one taking the waste from 28 houses on Raleigh Street and Carrington Road, Coogee.

The filthy waste water has been bubbling up through the ground about 50 metres down the hill from the houses and running across the footpath in front of other homes not connected to the service, into the street gutters that drain into the creek at the north end of Coogee beach for most of July.

Apparently the 28 home owners are unaffected by the blockage because it’s not in their backyard and a Sydney Morning Herald article reports Sydney Water and Randwick City council cannot force the home owners to pay for any repairs.

It’s well known that every home owner is responsible for the maintenance of their waste water pipes up to where they join the Sydney Water sewer main out in Carrington Road.

This pipeline is known as a common sewer and the costs for any maintenance should be shared equally between all those home owners connected to it.

Come on Randwick Council, Stop this river of sewage running down to Coogee Beach!

Get a contractor to fix the problem and split the costs among the 28 property and home owners.

Click here to read our earlier post on Common Sewer lines.

Clean your gas room heater

Since June 25th 2021, we are being asked to stay at home with the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

Greater Sydney is settling into winter and it’s wet! So, if you have a gas room heater, now is the time to clean it!

Dust is the thing that diminishes the efficiency of a gas room heater. The simple thing to do is clean and vacuum the air filters and ensure the fans are turning freely.

Most heaters have a service manual that demonstrates how to dismantle, clean and reinstate the relevant parts.

Please remember Safety First.

If you don’t feel confident, call us on 02 9664 4990 for help or arrange for our gasfitters to do a gas heater health check.

Is it O.K. to take a longer shower?

As Sydney and most of New South Wales is knee-deep in floodwater I had a friend ask me this morning, “is it OK to take a longer shower?”

I encouraged him and his entire family to take a longer shower over the next few days. Using the water may actually help those that are living downstream from Warragamba Dam where the residents and farmers are flooded by the water running over the dam spillway and overwhelming the Nepean and Hawkesbury river systems downstream.

Just over twelve months ago we were in the grip of a drought that was choking our country cousins and dust storms were commonplace across New South Wales.

The rain won’t last forever, in fact, it’s forecast to clear up this afternoon and deliver a 29° hot sunny day tomorrow.

The rain has exposed many blocked drains and stormwater pits and pipes. So when the sun comes out, make the most of the abundant water in our catchment dams and clean out those pits, grates, drains and the rainwater down pipes blocked with leaf debris.

World Plumbing Day 2021

Today is the 11th of March 2021 and it’s World Plumbing Day!

I just wanted to remind you that twelve months ago today, which was also World Plumbing Day, that we had a pandemic declared in Australia. While we’ve all had our lives changed over the last twelve months, the trees that you can see around me here are still growing in the drains in this house.

We have come back for our annual application of Vaporooter to STOP tree roots growing in the sewer pipes of this beautiful home.

Enjoy World Plumbing Day. Thank your local plumber, enjoy his company. Make him a cup of tea or coffee.

World Toilet Day 2020

Today is World Toilet Day 2020.

I’d like you to take a minute today and think about the Toilet. Imagine if you didn’t have one?

Spare a thought for the 4 billion people worldwide that don’t have access to a flushing toilet.

Its astounding BUT there are more people with a mobile telephone than a toilet and clean water to wash themselves.

Now, telling your workmates and classmates is a simple way to raise awareness of a sometimes very private subject.

Another way to help is stock up on toilet paper like Who Gives a Crap.
They donate half of their profits to improve sanitation for those less fortunate.

What if Waverley Council trees cause my Blocked Drain?

Did you know 85% of blocked drains are caused by tree roots?

In Waverley Council’s jurisdiction, blocked drains are cause quite often by the roots of the trees that line the streets.

They can block drains and sometimes damage the sewer and stormwater pipes that take wastewater off your property.

Many homeowners hold Waverley Council responsible for their blockage and expect they will clear their blocked drains for free because they own the trees.

Well in some cases they do!

But, Waverley Council gets their income from you the ratepayer and as you would expect, they have guidelines for spending ratepayers money to fix your blocked drains.

If you have a Blocked drain and live in one of these suburbs managed by Waverley Council including Bondi, Bondi Beach, Bondi Junction, Bronte, Charing Cross, Clovelly, Dover Heights, North Bondi, Queens Park and Waverley, click here to see the Waverley Council Sewerage Stormwater Drain Blockage Policy.

The top points are that you the homeowner:

Must have a sewer service diagram for your building.
Must maintain your sewer pipes.
Must prevent sewer blockages.
Must prevent sewerage from escaping into the environment.
May be entitled to the Council plumber clearing your blocked drain.

Bathroom cleaning tip #2

We plumbers wash our hands 10 or more times a day.

The Coronavirus pandemic is making us all think about the transmission of germs and how the virus is transmitted on the surfaces we come in contact with. Any time we work in your bathroom we more than likely touch the hot and cold taps in your bath, shower or hand basin and the cold water tap to your toilet.

The tap supplying water to the toilet isn’t touched regularly, so, it has a reduced chance of transmission through touch. But, it is near the toilet so airborne germs are a concern.

The simple task of using the toilet and then wiping ourselves is something we all learned as kids, but, in researching this article I’m surprised to learn the number of different methods people use.

No matter how you do it, the first thing we all do is flush the toilet.

Before we wash our hands!

Alarm bells are ringing for you right now. As they should be!
But(t), let’s be practical.

Whether you have a plumber working in your bathroom or not, keep an atomiser spray bottle with a mix of water and disinfectant with an appropriate cleaning cloth in your bathroom. Spray the toilet flush button, the cistern lid, the toilet seat and lid and wipe them over thoroughly.

And if you’re keen to clean the entire bathroom, click here to see another of our easy cleaning tips.

 

Randwick Council trees are responsible for my Blocked Drain

Blocked drains are a large part of our workday; every day! And 85% of blocked drains are caused by tree roots. Our home is Coogee Randwick, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney Australia.

Tree-lined streets in Randwick Council are the reason for a lot of the blocked drains that we attend to. They damage the sewer drains and stormwater pipes that take wastewater off your property.

Many homeowners hold the council responsible for their blockage and have expectations that the council will clear their blocked drains for free because they own the trees.

Well in some cases they do.

But, Randwick Council gets their income from you the ratepayer and as you’d expect they have guidelines for spending ratepayers money to fix your blocked drains.

If you live in one of these Sydney suburbs managed by Randwick Council including Centennial Park, Chifley, Coogee, Kensington, Kingsford, Little Bay, Malabar, Maroubra, Matraville, Pagewood, Phillip Bay, Port Botany and Randwick, click here to see Randwick Council Sewerage Stormwater Drain Blockage Policy.

The top points are that you the homeowner:

  • Must have a sewer service diagram for your home
  • Must maintain your sewer pipes.
  • Must prevent sewer blockages
  • Must prevent sewerage from escaping into the environment
  • Maybe entitled to the Council plumber clearing your blocked drain

Know your water heater #2

The hot water tempering valve
Knowledge about your water heater will save you money!

Second in the series, this 44-sec clip will show you a typical tempering valve on a gas water heater. That’s the blue valve on the side of the heater.

It should be checked by your plumber annually and replaced every five years.

The tempering valve is fitted to prevent scalding of the aged, the infirmed and young kids. It should be on every storage(and continuous) water heater like this.

If you are changing or upgrading your water heater, you should have a Tempering valve fitted.

Get into hot water this Winter!

With the winter season underway, its time to think about hot water.

Take 10 minutes to check on your water heater.
Is it gas or electric?

Check it’s location. Ensure that it’s not leaking on any of the pipes or connections.

Check the cold water control feed tap, usually on the bottom left of the heater. Make sure it turns off and back on.

If you have a storage tank, make sure you check the pressure relief valve is working correctly. And that it’s not leaking.

An efficient water heater will supply all the hot water your family will need this winter.

If you’re not sure, call me on 02 9664 4990!

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries. Madrigal Communications

The Lone Drainer Coronavirus Diaries has been a chance to check in with small businesses to find out how they have been getting on during the Coronavirus lockdown of 2020.

In this clip, I speak with Tim Entwisle from Madrigal Communications.
Tim writes up tender documents for Aussie companies that are applying for large government contracts in the construction, energy and telecom sectors.

I’ve known Tim for about eight years. He’s a Rugby fanatic, an ocean swimmer, a wordsmith. Tim loves language, and he blogs about our language. He has written several blogs about Coronavirus.

Check them out on his website. https://madrigal.com.au/word-of-the-week-blog/

Know your water heater #1

Hi, its Dave Conroy here from The Lone Drainer and Pronto.

As we approach the winter of 2020, my message for today is about hot water.

You need to know how to turn off the water supply to your water heater.
And most importantly, I want you to know what a temperature and pressure relief valve is.

This 1min 48 sec YouTube clip will show you how it’s done on a 50-litre heater. Yours may be different. If you would like to know more……Call me!

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries The Fudge Shop #1

The Lone Drainer Coronavirus Diaries is a chance to catch up with some friends and businesses that we help to see how they are affected during the Coronavirus lock down of 2020.

In this short clip I chat with Adam Joseph, owner of The Fudge Shop in Darling Harbour Sydney NSW.

The Fudge Shop has been shut down and Adam shares how the Coronavirus has affected his family and his business.

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries #1 Wylies Baths

The Lone Drainer Coronavirus Diaries is a chance to catch up with some of our friends and businesses that we help, and that help us, to see how they are affected during the Coronavirus lock down of 2020.

In this short 4.33 minute YouTube clip I speak with Courtney Tallon, the manager of Wylies baths in Coogee NSW.

Can Coronavirus be spread through wastewater pipes in a home or hospital?

Sydney April 15th 2020

“Staying connected” has become a part of our language lately.

Did you know we are all connected through the wastewater pipes in our homes?

Whether you live in a single level detached home or a multi-storey building, all our plumbing fittings drain into the same city sewer. That’s your shower, bath, basin, your WC, kitchen sink, washing machine, laundry tubs and floor drains.

A study showed the 2003 SARS virus spread through the plumbing system of a HongKong residential complex whose residents had 300 confirmed cases and 42 deaths- about 1/6th of the infections and fatalities on the entire island.

Our Australian Standards state “all plumbing fixtures must have a working trap or water seal”. That is, the S-bend at the outlet of the fixtures should have water sitting in them OR flowing through them.

Regularly we’re asked to investigate “a sewer smell” in a bathroom or laundry that is nothing more than a dry trap.
But, its allowing smells and bacteria to come from the wastewater and sewer pipes into your room.

Hypothetically, if an infected neighbour flushed their toilet and that wastewater entered a pipe you’re connected to, then bacteria could pass through a dry trap and enter your bathroom.

While person-to-person and surface-to-person is the most common means of spreading Coronavirus, I want you to be aware that any open or dry traps may allow contaminated droplets into your space.

So:
• Do not ignore unexplained foul smells in bathrooms, kitchens or washing areas.
• Ensure all your sink traps and S-bends have water in them.
• Run water into all tubs and showers for a few seconds in the morning and evening, paying particular attention to floor drains in bathrooms and laundries.
• If the wastewater pipework from a toilet, sink or other household appliance appears to be disconnected or open, seal it immediately.
• If you find any crack or leak in pipework, seal it with strong tape.
• Encourage your facilities managers to monitor the wastewater system performance of your building, looking out for things such as drainage overflows or sewer smells.

If you have any questions about this, I invite you to call me.

Sydney Water restrictions

Sydney November 29th 2019

The continuing drought is having an effect on all Australians. The dry conditions have added bushfires to that list, and the forecast is for a hot summer.

Here in greater Sydney we sometimes forget about our country cousins, the farmers that produce most of our food supplies, and how the lack of rainfall is affecting them. But that is about to change.

Sydney dam levels have dropped below 46% capacity, and with our growing population, we’ve got to slow down on our water usage. Thankfully we have a desalination plant to help out. It may add a nominal charge to our water bills, but I believe that’s a small price to pay.

Sydney Water has announced that from Tuesday, December 10th 2019 greater Sydney will move to Level 2 water restrictions. For householders, it means there will be a few more rules about how and when we can water our gardens, wash our cars and generally use water around our homes.

We can all save water!

Our business has to apply for a water use exemption. The exemption doesn’t mean we can waste water. It means being more thoughtful about how to use it.

How to Change a Tap Washer

Everyone should know how to change a tap washer!  Not everyone wants to, but its a handy skill to have. Read More

Storms bring blocked drains

The well-needed rain that arrived in Sydney over the last few days has created many blocked drains and grates that can easily be fixed.

Take the opportunity in between showers to check any pits or drains around your home that may be blocked by leaf debris or dirt. Put on your gardening or washing up gloves to clean them out; it may save you from some unexpected flooding.

The blocked drain shown here was covered by leaves and gum nuts blown off in the storm. It wasn’t able to cope with the deluge of water that caused the garage to flood.

If your roof gutters are full and overflowing, it may be leaf debris and twigs or even a tennis ball from the summer back yard cricket series blocking the gutter outlets.
If you choose to put a ladder up to the roof gutters to have a look, please be very careful.
Take care climbing on your roof.
It may be very slippery!

The Lone Drainer’s Recipe #3

The Lone Drainer’s Mushroom Sauce for Pasta

This doubles as a fabulous addition, as a sauce for steak the next night, and takes care of two of the five vegetables per day that you are meant to eat.

This recipe is an example of The Hardworking Plumber’s Secret Timesaving Tip: Cook It Once, Use It Twice, (tastes sensational both times!).

This recipe is so simple that it is hardly a recipe; but it’s impressive to eat nonetheless and made in a matter of minutes. I put this on the stove, on a low heat, go have a shower, (yeah, yeah, I know its dangerous, but The Lone Drainer and his Team are tired after a hard day on the tools and a shower while dinner cooks saves precious minutes which means we get to eat earlier).

(Ed: gotta give it to Dave Conroy, always thinking, thinking…).

And credit where credit is due, this recipe was pretty well invented by Leigh, the best gasfitter in Sydney’s east, then developed by me, whom some experts would say is the best and most modest plumber in the Eastern suburbs….

INGREDIENTS:
½ a box of already cut up mushrooms, the kind you buy at the supermarket
Left over white wine
Garlic (buy the bags of single clove garlic from Harris Farm Markets as they take less time to cut and peel- see pic)
Three tablespoons of cream
A tablespoon of parsley – if you have it
A decent glug, glug, glug of olive oil, i.e. three big tablespoons if you want to be accurate
A bag of salad mix

METHOD
Chop up the garlic any old how. Small is good.
In a largish frypan, heat the olive oil on a medium heat, add the garlic, fry until it smells good but not brown, tip in the half box of mushrooms, stir, turn heat down, add a cup of white wine, and half a cup of water or stock, (the mushrooms should be more or less covered with liquid), stir and let stew while you take a shower or set the table. Put a big pot of salted water on low heat, (again the amount of salt doesn’t really matter, but if you like precision, a tablespoon will do).

Okay, all cleaned up now, turn the heat up under the pasta water till its boiling, add the pasta.

Throw some of the salad leaves into a bowl and dress with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of vinegar. Put on the table. This is your salad to go with the pasta.

Add three tablespoons of cream to your mushrooms and stir. Turn off the heat under them but leave in pan on stove.

Once the pasta is cooked, (it should still have a bit of bite to it as it will go on cooking in the sauce) drain it, put in a largish bowl and add the mushroom sauce to it. Stir and eat. Delicious!

Here is a pic of the pasta in the bowl, ready to eat: (note the inspection outlet in the background – we plumbers are always experimenting with the latest technology)

Next week, we’ll talk about the Plumbers’ pantry cupboard and what you need to keep in it in order to be able to make a delicious dinner in ten minutes flat every night.

Until then,

Read our blog. Cook our food. Admire our plumbing.

The Lone Drainer’s Recipe #2

I scream, you scream, we’ll all scream for The Lone Drainer’s Passionfruit Ice Cream.

I, Dave Conroy, the master of the fast but excellent tasting recipe, have developed a speedy, easy, no-equipment-necessary recipe for fantastic ice cream. OK, it’s not super healthy, but it is home made, you know every single good ingredient (3) that’s in it because you put them there and its 100% natural.

Here is the recipe:

Go to the supermarket on the way home from work.
Buy 1 can of condensed milk and 1 carton of cream and 6 passionfruit.
Stir the cream and condensed milk together in a saucepan over a low heat.
Add the insides of the 6 passionfruit and let it sit off the heat while you open a beer, watch the news, have a shower or water the garden.

Then, (and this is the good bit) raid the grog cupboard, find some vodka. Any other liquor will do, but vodka is good because it has no flavor or colour. Gin will work just as well. Anything that won’t mask the flavor of the passionfruit. Add a good slug, around two tablespoons. Stir. Put the lot in a plastic container and stick it in the freezer. It’ll be ready in about an hour.

This wondrous creation has been tried and tested in the The Lone Drainer’s Test Kitchen many times. There is science at the back of it too. The alcohol in the vodka stops the ice cream forming crystals, which make for an unpleasant texture. Alcohol just won’t freeze in a normal domestic freezer. So it keeps the ice cream creamy. Ipso facto, you don’t have to do all that churning with machines and gadgets and what not.

We’ve tried it with whisky and two espresso coffees instead of the passionfruit and that came out tops too. It’s just not a fussy recipe. But it won’t work without the grog. Trust me. I’m a plumber. And I don’t like to waste good alcohol.

Here is a picture of two thirds of my last batch of passionfruit ice cream. I did want to photograph it BEFORE eating it, but just couldn’t resist. Evidence of how good it is.

Read our blog. Cook my food. Admire our plumbing.

How much will it cost to fix my toilet?

“Running toilet”…..Is all that was stated in an email earlier this week, along with the attached picture.

It’s hard to say from this picture, but I tried to help the writer by asking a few simple questions:

Is it a close coupled suite or are the pan and cistern separate?
Is it the inlet or outlet valve leaking?
Does the water turn off at the control valve?
Is the connection between the control valve and the cistern hard drawn tube or is it one of those flexible braided connections?

The outlet valve is redundant. It could be rewashered if that’s the problem, was part of my email response

The flushing toilet is a wonder of the modern world we can take for granted considering our previous post about 4.4 billion people not having a toilet.
But our local bathroom suppliers currently have 48 different types of toilet cisterns on display and that’s not including the antique in our picture. They all have different water connections and flushing mechanisms.

So please, help us help you by providing as much information as possible about your particular leaking toilet.

In the meantime, you can turn off the water and flush your loo with a bucket.

Gas heater time again

Winter 2018 is coming to Sydney.

With some much needed rain approaching as we head towards June 1st, it’s time to go looking for some indoor heating.

If you haven’t run your gas heater since last winter, please dust it and ensure the bayonet fittings are well lubricated before inserting the heater hose. Check for leaks.

If you’re not sure about anything – Call Us!

Giving a Crap on World Toilet Day 2017

The Lone Drainer and Pronto in Sydney will pay tribute to a unique and special observance whose goal is to install a working toilet in emergent nations.

On November 19, The Lone Drainer and Pronto (TLDP), will participate in the World Toilet Day 2017 (WTD2017). This is a United Nations’ (UN) worldwide event that will highlight the lack of proper sanitation and safely-managed toilets; a problem affecting over 4.5 billion people in economically developing nations.
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