Archives

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.

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.

Tree roots don’t know about Coronavirus

Sydney April 14th 2020

Easter is over for another year.

Although our towns are slowing because of the Coronavirus, and we are quickly changing our daily home and work habits, here at The Lone Drainer and Pronto, we are still working away.

Mostly blocked drains!

Working from home is putting our normal facilities under a little more pressure. That means the internet, the exercise areas and our bathrooms.

With all that extra baking and comfort meals, our sewers are under a more significant workload. Tree roots don’t know about Coronavirus, and still seek food and water in the sewer pipes they can grow into.

So, if you hear your drains gurgling don’t ignore them. They are asking for help.

Dormant, but active underground

Why have a Drainoscopy?

Today our post is simple.

A client from Bronte called. Since Christmas they’d had 3 blocked drains causing the downstairs toilet to overflow. Yuck!

The plumber they had been using didn’t have a drain camera and it was suggested that the pipes were broken.

We were able to clear the blockage quickly, then, give the pipes a Drainoscopy. That’s Lone Drainer speak for “put a specialised drain camera in the pipes and see what is really going on.”

The pipe was full of tree roots. That’s all!

We cut out the roots and had another look.

A simple Vaporooter treatment will keep the roots away. With a Guarantee!

Yes, the pipes are old clay pipes. You can see where the roots have been cut out. But, they work and will for some time to come.

The best way to find out is to see it for yourself.

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

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.

World Toilet Day 2018

November 19th 2018 is World Toilet Day.

With the population of the world now at approximately 7.7 billion people, many of us would be surprised to learn that over 4.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet or running water to wash their hands.

According to a UN report, a third of schools worldwide don’t have any clean toilet facilities and nearly 1 billion school children don’t have hand washing facilities.

It seems extraordinary that in a world where most people have a mobile telephone approximately 892 million people have to squat out in the open.

This, of course, has knock-on hygiene effects with the pollution of domestic drinking water being a direct contributor to many cases of sickness, disease and even death for those less fortunate than us.

Today, as you use your dual flush toilet in the privacy of your home, workplace or school, spare a thought for these people.

You may also consider buying Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. Who Gives a Crap donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those who have none.

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!

How do tree roots get into pipes? #2

In my last post I described how tree roots can easily travel through the soil that has been loosened by excavation for your pipe installation.

Do you know why tree roots grow in sewer pipes from the top of the pipe joints?

Condensation is formed when we run water from our water pipes, through our drains. Especially when we have a hot shower, and wash our clothes or dishes in hot or warm water. When the warm water enters the drains buried in the cold earth, condensation is formed, and it gathers on the inside top of our sewer pipes and drains.

The tree roots moving through our already loosened soils can now move along the top of the pipelines and are attracted to the warmth and moisture inside. All they need now is a way into the pipe.

This 1.58sec clip shows how.

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.
Read More

Wipe your bum for a good cause!

We all poop. Most of us daily, and some of us do so in style. Now your idea of style can be different to mine, but style is a luxury some simply don’t have.

That’s exactly what the World Poop Day is about!

You might have noticed I have been recently ranting about the ‘poop day’ or to be more specific the World Toilet Day 2017 (WTD2017).

This event is not a joke, not a metaphor of some kind – it’s a REAL DEAL.

If your toilet was blocked for a week, then you probably would be jumping out of your skin, right? What if you had no toilet for two weeks or a month? Unthinkable!

Well, some poor folks in third world countries have no toilet at all. If you had no proper toilet you’d need to squat wherever you can, which sometimes may be very uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Imagine this. You watch the footy (your team is hammering the other team!) when suddenly you have to go for number two. Easy, you visit the loo.

But what if you didn’t have one?

Option one, you run outside, squat anywhere. Shoot.

Option two, you run to your neighbour’s house (you don’t want to poop under your own window). Poop.

Option three, poop in your pants. Wash later. You don’t want to miss your favourite game.

Luckily, for most Aussies we don’t have to think about it, we simply head for the throne, and on the throne, we sit. But we need more thrones especially for those who cannot afford one! No need for fancy ones, only appropriate ones.

That’s the appeal of the WTD2017 – build more thrones, and create proper sanitation conditions for those in need. We need appropriate thrones that can properly take care of business without polluting the environment.

On November 19, 2017 (the WTD2017) be sure to pause and feel grateful if you have access to a working toilet. Billions around the world aren’t so lucky!

If you would like to do something positive, you can purchase the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper – we give 50% of the profits towards building more toilets.

Be sure to forward this page on to friends and family. We all need to wipe ourselves after taking a dump – now you can wipe yourself for a good cause!

Something to think about when you reclaim your throne!

I had a few clients and blog readers asking me questions about the upcoming World Toilet Day 2017. To recap, it’s about raising public awareness of the worldwide problem of inhumane toilet conditions that some must deal with.

Today, I would like to answer some of the questions about World Toilet Day 2017, and suggest an easy way for you to make a difference.

What is the World Toilet Day 2017? (WTD2017)

The WTD2017 is a special observance arranged by the United Nations (UN) to highlight the serious problem of the lack of proper sanitation conditions in many third world countries. Over 4.5 billion people have no toilet/working toilet; this is a third of the world’s population!

When will this important observance be held?

The WTD2017 will take place on November 19, 2017.

Am I at risk?
In Australia, you should be fine unless you live in rural areas with no access to proper toilet and sanitation. If you don’t poop in a hygienic toilet or if the poop is not disposed of properly, then with the aid of rainwater it may enter the ecosystem. This is often the problem in many third world countries. That’s why the goal of WTD2017 is to raise public awareness and get people talking about this important issue – hopefully, that will make a positive difference!

Why should I care?
Well, if no one cares, no one cares, right? But we can all make a difference. You see, according to WHO (2014) improved sanitation could stop around 842,000 people from dying each year.

What can you do?
You could, for example, donate money or support a reputable charity or purchase the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. (50% of its profits go to building toilets for people who need them most).

Here’s the link if you would like to support this important cause. The toilet paper has no chlorine, no inks, no dyes, and no perfume or deodorant. It’s good for your bum–it’s good for the world!

Remember, to pause at least for a moment on November 19, 2017 to think about the World Toilet Day 2017. If you wipe yourself with the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, you know you’re also making a difference with every wipe!

World Toilet Day 2017

A UN report claims that worldwide, at least 2.4 billion people are without basic sanitation. The report states some of the peoples of south Asia and sub Saharan Africa don’t have access to a toilet or clean running water.

It appears that people in these parts of the world have a mobile phone but don’t have a working toilet.

Living and working as a plumber in Sydney Australia visiting some of the best homes in the country, it seems crazy that over 869 million people still defecate out in the open.

So what can the average reader do to help those less fortunate than us?

Good Question!

Look out for reputable organisations that are working to deliver the basic hygiene we take for granted and send them a donation.

Even a small donation equivalent of what we Aussies spend on coffee weekly would change the living standard and the lives of many of those less fortunate.

Make a difference during World Toilet Day 2017!

Did you know that some people have to do without a toilet?

In the West, we’re so used to sitting on one when we go for a number two. If the toilet runs smoothly we don’t even think about it; we take it for granted.

But sitting down for number two in comfort and style is a luxury many simply cannot afford. And we’re not talking about having shiny porcelain toilets with fancy fixtures. They have no toilets–be it porcelain, wooden or a metal one. NONE.

So, where does the poo go? Well, that’s why you just have to hear about the important World Toilet Day 2017 or WTD2017 for short.

You see, when you reclaim your throne, billions of people must wing it so to speak and take a dump wherever possible. Their toileting might happen anywhere. In the woods behind a tree, under a bridge, or in some fenced-in backyard. And, we’re not talking about an emergency where you find yourself driving past midnight with your girlfriend, and suddenly you must go.

Of course, those things happen. But imagine having to plan, search and hunt for squatting space every time you need to take a dump! Well, consider this:

According to WHO/UNICEF (2017) a whopping 4.5 billion people either have no toilet or no working toilet. About 869 million people worldwide practise open defecation because they have no proper toilet! But, it gets worse.

A shocking 1.8 billion people drink water that has no protection against contamination from faeces. So, the question ‘where does the poop go?’ becomes a serious issue. Because every time the poop is not disposed of properly it may enter the ecosystem and end up in a drinking water reservoir!

So, count yourself lucky the next time you take a seat on your comfortable porcelain, and you don’t have to use grass or leaves to clean yourself!

Most importantly, be sure to spread the news about the WTD2017.

And yes, there is something you’re contributing by purchasing the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper – 50% of the profits are used to build toilets in third world countries.

Thankfully, we have the World Toilet Day 2017; it puts things into perspective a little, doesn’t it?

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.

My toilet cistern is leaking #1

“My cistern is leaking into the toilet pan.”

If you press the Full and Half flush buttons and they don’t effectively clear the toilet bowl, that means, their isn’t enough water in the toilet cistern to do the job, or the buttons just don’t work, or the cistern just won’t refill or it’s slow to fill.

Then I know how to fix the toilet that won’t flush properly.

This pic shows the water inlet to the cistern and the outlet valve or flushing mechanism that sends the water into your toilet pan.

Either of the valves shown could be faulty.

If the inlet valve doesn’t shut-off, it will cause the cistern to overfill and spill into the overflow tube that will run down into the pan. You may need a new inlet valve.

If the outlet valve is leaking into the pan, the outlet valve may need to be replaced or re-washered.

Either of these valves leaking could be causing leaks into the pan.

If you’re not sure, just ask us.

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

Home Buyers Beware of non-compliant plumbing

Home buyers beware.

For us, the heat in the real estate market is reflected in the lack of due diligence by potential home buyers prior to purchasing properties in our suburban real estate grab.

Yesterday we helped a young couple who just bought their first home in the Ryde district.
house sold
They had bought a house that had the bathroom toilet illegally connected to the surcharge gully which was outside the bathroom and near their front door. The gully had a deck built over the top of it to make the front of the house more appealing.

Every time the toilet was flushed the discharge spilled into the gully underneath the deck. Yuk!

After living in the house for only three weeks they started to question the blocked drain symptoms displayed by the toilet. There was also some consternation about the sewerage smell at the front door.

Apparently the young owners had undertaken a pre-purchase building inspection. Somehow the building inspector did not pick up this illegal plumbing connection.
Blocked WC
The only advice I can give you is, if you have a friend that’s a plumber don’t get him to look at the property before purchase.

Instead, get a plumber who has plenty of experience in looking at domestic homes, who has an eye for the unusual and is prepared to look a little harder than just scratching the surface.

Any rectification work to the problem we have just uncovered will be expensive. In the $3000-$5000 range.

That is not what these new eager homeowners were expecting.

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

View your blocked drain with a Drainoscopy

Today our post is simple.

A new client from Bronte called because since Christmas they’d had 3 blocked drains which caused the downstairs toilet to overflow throughout their basement. YUK!

The plumber they had been using didn’t have a drain camera and it was suggested that the pipes were broken.

We were able to clear the blockage quickly, then did a Drainoscopy. That’s Lone Drainer speak for “put a specialised drain camera in the pipes to see what is really going on”.

The pipe was full of tree roots. That’s all! We cut out the roots and had another look. A simple Vaporooter treatment will keep the roots away. With a Guarantee!

Yes, the pipes are old clay pipes. You can see where the roots have been cut out. But, they work and will for some time to come.

The best way to find out what is causing a blockage is to see it for yourself.

Don’t flush facial tissues

85% of blocked drains are caused by tree roots. However, what you flush down your loo can also contribute to that blockage.

Rain causes Bronte wall collapse

Sydney’s sustained rainfall has almost washed out the third cricket test between Australia and the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The rain may have helped the Windies at the SCG but nearby Bronte residents awoke yesterday to find their Macpherson Street neighbours wall had collapsed into the street.

My initial drive past the site to survey the damage was met by a pile of sand, outdoor table and chairs, a picket fence and kids cubby house that had slipped onto the road.
Bronte collapsed wall
It was interesting to see old earthenware pipes amongst the rubble. Maybe their stormwater pipes were blocked or leaking into the sand, probably washing out the pipe line, and the continuous rain caused the collapse.

I do not believe anyone has been injured. Here’s hoping this family can get back into their home soon.