“Just as Vaccination Protects Individuals and the Community. Plumbing Protects the Whole Community and Individually Plumbers Protect the Health of the Nation.”
Albert Einstein towards the end of his life in 1954 wrote “If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber.”
Einstein, like many others, recognised that plumbing is public health, now, and in the future.
A survey of 11000 doctors by the British Medical Journal in 2007 voted hands down that the world’s greatest medical milestone since 1840 was sanitation. Despite all the staggering medical breakthroughs and scientific advances, the seemingly mundane advance of reliable sewage and a reliably clean water supply was judged the greatest medical advance.
The recognition of reliable sewage and water supply is a testament to the strength of plumbing laws, standards and licensing in not only Australia but also in Europe and North America. This is because doctors recognised the best measure of medical advance is not its complexity but what it does for the average person with respect to length and quality of our lives. The average life expectancy has increased 35 years since 1840 and roughly 30 of those years are attributable to the advances in sanitation and living conditions.
For most of us in Australia plumbing is something we take for granted. We have never known what it is like not to have on-demand clean running water inside our homes or a fully functional sewer system to take away the used water. Close to 90% of us live in an urban environment, and for that, we can thank plumbing, that allows us to do so safely, without fear of contracting water-borne diseases. Yet even plumbers fail to understand the impact that they have on a modern urban society.
Clean potable water is the basis for life and without it the risk to public health and the population as a whole increases. The cost to the community of plumbing failures are substantial and always have been. Plumbing is and always has been a major part of the public health system. This was first learnt by the Romans who were the first civilised society over 2000 years ago to realise the requirements to have an integrated plumbing system to pipe in clean water and dispose of used water.
In Asia alone, some 2 billion people, which is over 60% of the population of Asia, live without an adequate access to sanitation such as toilets. In many places, open sewers are the norm. This would not be tolerated in Australia and we are protected from it by our plumbing laws.
Recent natural disasters here in Australia and internationally are important reminders of the role plumbing plays in modern life. Homes in Brisbane during the recent floods were made uninhabitable with the loss of plumbing. This is further reinforced by the earthquakes in Christchurch, the tsunami in Japan, cyclones in North Queensland, and the floods in Victoria where homes were not suitable to be lived in again until full plumbing services were reinstalled. In all of these natural disasters, the restoration of plumbing was a major component of the recovery process.
As with everything in life, change is the constant and this is certainly true of plumbing. As we solve one problem another one arises. Diseases related to water have always required vigilance in preventing their spread. This is as true today as it has always been. As always this is where plumbing will once again prove to be a major part of the solution.
The mosquito has always been a major source of transmission of serious diseases such as malaria, ross river fever, dengue fever to name a few. New arboviruses such as Chikungunya are increasingly a threat to Australia. These emerging infectious diseases are all spread by mosquito and are dependant on water. This intimate dependency on water increase risk without high plumbing standards of becoming endemic in Australia.
With the increasing threat to the community from the mosquito-spread of waterborne strong plumbing, practices are essential.
Plumbers have a continuing obligation to the community to use their knowledge and experience to demonstrate the impact that poor plumbing could have in the future.
Chlorinated Water – Great for Your Pool – Not in Your Stomach!
And That’s WHY You Want to Consider De-Chlorinating Water for Drinking.
Whywait Plumbing Services recommends filters be installed in your home for de-chlorinating water before it enters your home. There’s Chlorine in the Water Distribution Pipe Lines…Here’s Why.
Understandably Chlorine is necessity for use within your swimming pool. This will eliminate bacteria and the possibility of any harmful side effects. The odour and stinging eyes may not be something you enjoy, but to swim in a pool that doesn’t have chlorinated water would be putting yourself at risk of major water born infections.
Chlorines Harmful Effects
Distribution pipe line systems of potable drinking water also contain bacteria killing chlorine so drinking or ingesting chlorine is an unfortunate additive when drinking any tap water. Similarly each time you shower or take a bath you ingest the free chlorine gas contained within the water supply. A side effect and sure sign of unacceptably high levels of chlorine is Dry flaky skin and an odour in your shower, bath or drinking water.
Chlorine is a chemical and a poison which, once ingested, randomly kills bacteria within your body – good and bad, including the natural flora within your stomach, which will negatively affect your digestion. It can build up in fat deposits. It can settle in your arteries leading to heart disease and can cause bladder cancer. The human body is not designed to filter out chlorine and yet it will remain in the potable water pipe line systems for the foreseeable future,.
Whywait Plumbing Gold Coast is passionate about this situation and we’ll continue to rally against the use of chlorine within our water supply and the negative affects chlorine has on our bodies. We’ve researched the finest water de-chlorinating filtration systems and now install, maintain and repair these and all types and models – whole house or single source, you can trust Whywait to provide the right solution for you and your family.
By Gary Mays
Whywait Plumbing Services.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, it gets very frustrating at times when clients want us to install products they have purchased “cheaply” online or bought from non-specialist outlets who import cheap non-compliant product. All products we install are required by law to have a WaterMark certificate and a WELS water rating label certificate. It is illegal for licensed plumbers to install non-compliant products.
WELS Water Rating Label certificates are on every product plumbers install. Unfortunately, many of our clients are confused by the rating requirements which is mainly because there has been little public education and therefore awareness.
In 2005, the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme as a joint initiative of the Australian, State, and Territory governments became law. Under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme, products that use water must be tested under standardised conditions in a laboratory by a government regulator. Each product is given a comparative rating score of between one and six stars to indicate the product’s efficiency. The WELS Water Rating Label certificates or stickers are very similar in appearance to those used for energy rating labels for things like fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, heaters and air conditioning units.
The WELS Water Rating Label scheme was instituted to eliminate and educate on unnecessary water use. The WELS Water Rating Label scheme on current projections is expected to save 800,000 megalitres of water by the year 2021 across Australia. This equates to about a billion dollars of water bill savings. A further little-known benefit of the WELS Water Rating Label scheme is a reduction in greenhouse gases which is estimated to equal to the removal of 90,000 cars from Australian roads every year.
When the plumbers at Whywait raise the issue of WELS Water Rating Label certificates many of our clients ask which products have to have WELS labels? Very simply under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme, the bathroom products that need to be rated in Australia are:
- shower heads
- toilets pans, cisterns and urinals
Installing water efficient showerheads in your home’s bathrooms account for 25% of the water savings under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme. This is due to the significant difference in the amount of water used in showers with a standard shower head using between 15-25 litres of water per minute. A 3-star rated shower head only uses 6 or 7 litres per minute which means installing a water-efficient showerhead reduces your water consumption in the shower alone by 40%. Using less water in the shower has the added benefit of reducing your electricity or gas bill as you use about 40%-60% less hot water.
All taps used in kitchen sinks, bathroom basins, bathroom showers and laundry troughs must be WELS rated. However, a bath tap although in all likelihood WELS rated does not require to be flow reduced as you use the same amount of water to fill a bath no matter what. In fact, flow restrictors just mean the bath takes longer to fill. Most mixer taps and many combination tap spouts have an aerator that is combined with a flow restrictor, installed on the spout outlet that mixes the water with air, and in the process can cut the amount of water used from 15-22 litres per minute down to around 3 – 6 litres per minute.
Finally, WELS Water Rating Label scheme requires flushing toilets and urinals to meet a basic level of water efficiency. Waterless urinals are not required to have any form of WELS certification. With regard to toilets, an average flush is calculated as one full flush and four half-flushes. Therefore a compliant toilet suite cannot exceed 5.5 litres per average flush. Water efficient toilets make up a significant amount of the water savings under the WELS scheme with savings of 22% as a traditional toilet used 11 litres per flush compared to water-efficient dual flush toilets that use, on average less than 4 litres per flush. This adds up to savings of 52 litres of water per person, per day, and can add up to $800 less in your water bill over a ten year period.
When choosing plumbing products for your home, it is a good idea to take into consideration the information on the WELS Water Rating Label and the savings you can make over the long term on both water and electricity or gas bills.
For more information on the WELS scheme go to waterrating.gov.au
Here at Whywait Plumbing we are often left wondering at the stupid things people do to their plumbing which ensures plumbers are never short of or will run out of work.
Essentially at Whywait Plumbing we are maintenance plumbing specialists and our primary work is to make house calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. The basic reason plumbers never run out of work is based on two truths:
1) our clients will always need plumbing—or more specifically, plumbing that works—and,
2) some of our clients will always do stupid things that stop their plumbing from working.
Keeping in mind that the maintenance side of plumbing often requires a strong stomach and the need to suppress amusement with other peoples’ self-imposed misfortune. But rest assured that the two truths mentioned above will always ensure the plumbers at Whywait Plumbing will keep your plumbing working to keep your business. Listed below are samples of stupid things that some of our clients do to their plumbing that require Whywait staff to suppress their amusement or often bemusement.
- Leaving hoses connected and turned on at the tap and then going away on holiday. This is a classic plumbing error that one must assume is caused most often by extreme laziness with the only beneficiary being Gold Coast Water with all of the extra water this client ultimately had to pay for when the hose burst.
- Using the drain vent pipe for anything other than venting because there is plenty of room inside the pipe. This client was running TV aerial cables, pay TV cables and computer cables down the drainage vent pipe that come up through the roof. For this client it was the solution for getting all of the cabling into the house through a single 50mm pipe. But as he learnt vent pipes are not just there for their bad looks. Vent pipes not only provide air to drains inside the house and to prevent a suction effect that inhibits drainage but they also get rid of sewer gases that come up from the Gold Coast Water’s sewer main. If you cut a hole in your vent inside the house to run a cable through, you’re tapping into an endless supply of your neighborhood’s sewer gases. He had a nice picture on the TV in his lounge room with full access to the Internet but made the house almost uninhabitable with the fluctuating sewer gases entering the house.
- Using too much drain cleaner. When used judiciously and as directed on the right kind of blockage, drain cleaners can be effective and relatively safe for drains. When used with abandon, they can corrode some drain pipes such as copper which this client managed to achieve while making Bunnings very happy with all of his purchases. Plus so much was poured down the pipe it made the blockage worse.
- Pouring chemicals into a septic system. If you’re used to living with a septic system, you probably know how to take care of it. But this client was renting a house on acreage and did not think twice about using chemicals like drain cleaner, chlorine bleach, paint and even anti-bacterial soaps. These chemicals killed the essential bacteria in the septic tank, and caused it to stop working but of course waited until Christmas Day to finally block when he had a house full of family visiting.
- Screwing, nailing or cutting into a wall without checking for hidden plumbing pipes. The advent of multiple types of plastic water pipes have turned this into a nightmare for plumbers as they cannot be welded up like a copper pipe plus none of the systems are compatible. Doing this with a screw and you might hear a fine spray of water hitting the back of the wall. But this client did it with a chainsaw and got the ultimate gusher hitting not only the hot and cold pipes but also the hot water storage tank.
- Pouring cooking oil and fats down the kitchen drain. If you’re in the habit of pouring cooking oil and fats down the kitchen sink drain you are guaranteeing a drain blockage sooner rather than later. Cooking oil and fat is one of the best things for blocking drains as a recent client discovered managing to block up his entire unit and that of her neighbour in a duplex block on Australia Day when the neighbour was entertaining friends for a traditional barbecue.
- Putting everything down the kitchen waste disposal unit. Unfortunately this client was one of those people who thought a waste disposal unit was the equivalent of a space-fantasy laser gun. Unfortunately she found out it was not in the middle of a dinner party for important clients of her husbands business. A waste disposal unit is essentially a motor with a spinning wheel that has two metal blades, and it does very little to stop the following from blocking your drain even if you do run copious amounts of water into the kitchen sink: bulk flour, bulk rice, flower stems, prawn shells, oyster shells, filleted fish scales and skin and a couple of spoons. The smell was not great either.
- Using the toilet as a rubbish bin. We all know it is stupid to put a lot of solids or newspaper down the toilet but many people do it anyway. This client like many others we rescue believed that if she could just get it to flush away it would be magically out of her life forever. Like many people she had the mistaken belief that at the other end of the toilet there is nothing but a black hole which is a portal to a subterranean outer space that swallows up everything she could discard and it is then whisked off into oblivion. Unfortunately, that oblivion is a 100mm pipe that leads into another 100mm pipe, which was the drainage pipe to her entire house. In other words constantly flushing incorrect items down the toilet over an extended period ultimately caused the entire house to block up and the drain had to be dug up to remove all the solidified debris that had mounted up. The bottom line is if it is not toilet paper or faeces or urine it does not belong in the toilet pan.
And those are just a few of the stupid things we have rectified this year to date at Whywait Plumbing Services.