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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.

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.

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.

 

Don’t do this in the bathroom!

During our Coronavirus work schedule, I’ve found some fun hints and tips about plumbing and health that are worth sharing.

How germs spread:

  • on your toothbrush,
  • your toilet seat,
  • and the toilet flush button, are just a few examples.

How is water connected to my toilet cistern?

Many modern toilets have a concealed cistern. That’s the tank that holds the water that flushes the loo. Now, they do look fantastic and they do save water.

The small dual flush buttons are the access panel for the internal workings of the cistern. When they need maintenance, the only way to repair them is through that access panel.

The water tap is usually built into the wall and this one couldn’t be replaced without cutting into the wall behind.

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!

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!

Plumbers bathroom cleaning tip #1

Some bathrooms are a little neglected; especially if there are boys in the house.

Like many among us, during Coronavirus isolation, I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on a few old recipes, a stack of books and some cleaning. And, I feel sharing the following cleaning tip would save everyone some time.

You will need:
1. A can of the cheapest shaving cream you can find in Woolies or Coles.
2. 2 Old bath towels

Spray the shaving cream on and around your toilet, including the floor.
Taking the toilet seat off would earn extra points.

Leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Then, wipe off the excess with an old bath towel and some hot water and wipe over with the other towel.

I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Why you need a sewer diagram

One of the handiest tools for a plumbing professional is a sewer service diagram. It’s a map of where the pipes run within your home.

It’s easily obtainable, and you can get it from Sydney Water, reputable plumbing suppliers and, even your local plumber can get it for you.

It’s simply an A4 sheet that has an outline of your home, your property. It shows where all the pipes run within your home and how they connect to the sewer.

The sewer service diagram will make it easier for your plumber to get into your sewer pipes to clear your blockage. And if you are planning a preventative maintenance program, it shows points of access where we can get into your pipes with a minimum of fuss.

In the long term it will save you money.

So if you have repeat problems with your sewer pipes, get a sewer diagram and keep it handy.

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.

Be careful what you flush down the toilet!

Sydney March 31st 2020

As we work through COVID-19, our work, social distancing, hygiene and consumption habits are being challenged daily.

The run on toilet paper in our supermarkets has left me bewildered.
I had to see it for my own eyes. And did!

The take away for me is that those who couldn’t purchase their normal supply have resorted to buying and using baby wipes, paper towels and facial tissues. Please remember they’re not for flushing down the toilet because they don’t break down and can block your drains!

If you’re desperate for toilet paper we have a few boxes at our Coogee office.

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

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!

Use Toilet Paper not Tissues

Here is a simple demonstration by Tristan from The Lone Drainer And Pronto showing why you should use toilet paper rather than facial tissues in the bathroom.

Toilet paper breaks down when it gets into water, whereas facial tissues bind together rather than falling apart.

Beware, facial tissues can cause a costly blocked drain.
Use toilet paper, not tissues.

Shower outdoors more often

With our hottest summer on record, many of us have been showering outdoors. It’s a perfect opportunity to water the garden and the lawn, stay cool ourselves and save water.

Some clients have us set up a permanent outdoor shower in the garden or near the swimming pool just to rinse off.

I reckon simple is best. Good old corrugated and canvas.

Our correspondent enjoying the Three Capes Track in beautiful Tasmania, also reports it was 13°C.

Urgent hot water help

Its really important to know a few simple things about your water heater.

I just had an emergency call from Emma, who returned from visiting the UK for Christmas. While she was away her water heater leaked through the kitchen cupboards, ruined the carpet throughout her home and flooded the property below.

The neighbour below had to force entry into her unit to turn off the water to protect his property.

Over the phone, Emma asked for help replacing her existing water heater.

I asked her to send a picture of the heater and I now know:

  • There is no safe tray under the heater. Installing a safe tray to prevent future flooding should be considered.
  • The water heater currently is an 80Ltr unit. The modern version is slightly larger and won’t fit in the cupboard. The cupboard may need to be dismantled to remove the existing and fit a new unit.
  • A 50-litre heater may also be too big. (Please check the cupboard dimensions)
  • The current water heater does not have a tempering valve fitted. Australian Standard states “A tempering valve to be a part of any new hot water installation”.
  • There is a flexible connection between the Duo valve and the heater. Australian Standard states “Flexible connections do not comply”.

Does the cold water control valve that shuts off the water to your entire home work efficiently? It will need to, so that the Duo (control) valve  the water heater can be worked on.

Take 3 tips.

  • Know where your water heater is.
  • Know how it turns off.
  • Turn off the water and electricity or gas before you go on holidays.

If you’re not sure…ask me.

Why you should look inside your pipes

You’ve got a blocked drain and your plumber puts a camera in the drain to see whats going on down there!

What happens after that?

Plenty of homeowners don’t get to see the footage their plumber has taken of the inside of their pipes. For some reason, the plumber chooses to keep what is going on in your pipes a secret from you.

Why?

Like any medical scan or x-ray of your body, it shouldn’t be kept a secret from you.

You should be able to see what’s going on in your drains so you can get a greater understanding of how the drains work. Or don’t!

Then, you can make an informed decision about how to repair your pipes and get other professional opinions on how to do that.

There are many ways to maintain your pipes and drains.

So if your plumber recommends a particular method of pipe repair after he puts a camera in your drains then tells you what he saw… but doesn’t show you, ask him for a copy of the pipe survey.

After all, he has billed you for it.

This survey shows a section of re-lined pipe with earthenware pipes and tree roots.

Toilet Hygiene #2

A recent study showed  95% of men and women say they wash their hands after using the toilet, especially a public toilet.

Funnily enough, only 67% of people actually do wash their hands after using a public loo or the toilets in their workplace. There have been quite a few surveys done on this topic and some innovative ideas to check on whether we did or didn’t wash.

It’s quite well documented that the toilet flush button is one of the most un-hygienic places in the bathroom and I’m hoping that all our readers apply the simple rule.

Flush when you’re finished! But, think about it, What did you do before you flushed the loo?

So, wash your hands after a trip to the bathroom.

Wash your hands

Wash your hands

Should plumber’s quotes be free?

Some plumbers provide free quotes. Many don’t!

For the simple jobs a plumber can usually give you a rough estimate over the phone. However, more complicated projects usually need a site inspection and sometimes exploratory surgery if you want a realistic quote.

A great plumber will blend technology and experience to give you a quote complete with site pics and designs to include in the proposal and that comes at a cost. That same plumber, unless he is waiting on information from another tradie like a landscaper or electrician, should get his quote to you the same or next day.

Almost all plumbers who ask for a quote fee know their stuff from years of experience. Just like a consultation fee with your surgeon to plan and discuss your procedure before you go “under the knife”. I’ve paid for that experience. It was money well spent.

If your plumber charges for a quote, you’re more likely to get a professional and well considered opinion for your problem and he should offer a number of alternatives to suit your home and your budget. Quite often your plumber will deduct the quote fee from the price of the job; so effectively you end up with a free quote.

Plumbers are real people too and we get quotes for projects on our own homes and gardens, cars and boats, pets and holidays, and occasionally the quote is more than we expected. I’ll usually ask questions and discuss the task with the professional providing the service. With a better understanding of “what” and “why” the quote is so, I can ask for recommendations and if necessary, scale back the project without compromising my home. Then, depending on my budget, I’d undertake the entire project or just a part of it.

Interestingly, the internet has made us all experts in many fields. I reckon you get what you pay for!
Google an expert

Toilet Hygiene #1

Q. What’s the 3rd most un-hygienic place in the bathroom?

A. The toilet flush button.

Who’d have thought? Now, wash your hands!
toilet flush button

Why this plumber makes a regular blood donation

New Blood 2
Its a simple thing to give blood. It doesn’t hurt at all! In fact it makes you feel really good…. and you get to help someone else.

Who knows, I may get to help you or your loved ones.

So what does that have to do with plumbing……

Well, only that all of your pipes need flushing from time to time. Even your personal pipes!

This is Furk! Having FUn at woRK.

Think before you flush the toilet.

Christmas 2015 is upon us. This is the time most of us slow down and enjoy the festive season and the Aussie summer. But please think before you flush. We are here to help you with any plumbing emergency over the Christmas holidays.

A blocked drain can be caused by putting the wrong things down your sinks, pipes and toilets. This can leave you with an expensive plumbing bill to unblock your pipes. It can also lead to an increase in the amount of waste moving through our sewage treatment works at Malabar, Bondi and Manly.

These extra items have to be screened out, dumped in bins and trucked off to a landfill site. Unsuitable flushed items can lead to sewer overflows and problems in the sewer mains which are simply caused by small items getting caught and blocking the network.

Don't do it.

Don’t do it.

An overflowing sewer main in your property or worse, in your home, is very unpleasant. So, keep it simple and flush only the three Ps….. pee, poo and paper.

Storm drains overflow

We had another storm blast through Sydney this afternoon.

We were safely on a boat in Rushcutters Bay fitting the gas cooker as the 60 knot wind blew through.
Safe from the storm
The rain poured down with hail stones thrown in. The storm flooded all the local street drains and in some places the gutters were up to 400mm deep in stormwater.

Please check the grates and drains around your home and ensure that they are clear and running freely. The storms come quickly and can create lots of damage fast.

If you need help…… Call us!