Perception is reality and nowhere is this truer for us at Whywait Plumbing than when dealing with the issue of hot water temperature and the possibility of a serious hot water burn.
Everyone has a different perception of how hot they want their hot water whether it is for cleaning or sanitation or personal hygiene use.
Recent research in the United States from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, confirms hot water heater temperatures are too high.
In Australia, most manufacturers preset the thermostats for hot water heater temperature at 60-65 degrees. This is dangerously high for a significant proportion of homes, presenting a scald hazard particularly for young children and the elderly. This is because literally hot water burns like fire because:
At 60°C, a serious burn can happen in 1 second
At 55°C, a serious burn would take 10 seconds
At 50°C, a serious burn would happen after 5 minutes
It is estimated a serious hot water burn causes an estimated 1,200 hospital admissions and 50 deaths per year. Young children and elderly adults have thinner skin which burns more quickly putting them at increased risk.
In Queensland, it is the law that hot water delivered to bathrooms used primarily for personal hygiene purposes be regulated by use of a tempering valve or a thermostatic mixing valve that does not exceed 50°C. This is due to the fact that in 1995 the laws were changed requiring tempering valves to be installed on:
all new homes having a hot water system installed
replacement or upgrading of an existing hot water system
or when moving an existing hot water system to a new location on the property
However, homes built before 1995 will frequently still have hot water being delivered at 70°C. It is estimated that 37% of homes still have older electric or gas heaters delivering hot water that presents a scald hazard that will cause a serious hot water burn in one second.
Frequently these homes are rental properties. Many landlords and real estate property managers are unaware that recent litigation has placed a ‘deed of care’ onus on them to ensure the safe delivery of hot water in domestic bathrooms used primarily for personal hygiene purpose.
The installation of a tempering valve is an acceptable solution to hot water scald prevention. Delivering hot water at a consistent temperature is difficult without a tempering valve. This is due to the fact that as a hot water tank is depleted through use then replenished and reheated, the water temperature will not be constant throughout the tank.
Despite a perception by many people, a hot water service thermostat is not designed to provide precise estimates of water temperature. Its purpose is to begin heating when the temperature drops below a set level and turn off when it reaches a set level. Without a tempering valve installed it is almost impossible to assess the exact temperature of hot water delivered from a tap.
The advantage of a tempering valve is that guesswork is eliminated as tempering valves are designed to blend hot and cold water to deliver mixed water at a constant temperature and thus reduce the risk of a serious hot water burn.
Unfortunately for plumbers, property managers, homeowners and property investors hot water has increasingly become a legal minefield with the duty of care provisions.
It is for this reason Whywait Plumbing recommend that you install a tempering valve and maintain it compliantly with annual testing.
I’m well aware everyone loves a bargain especially with tradies giving cash discounts. We all understand household budgets are being stretched to the limit by ever increasing state government charges on electricity, car registration and water charges.
In the 41 years I’ve been in business nothing has changed in one area, and that is so many people expect substantial cash discounts if they pay tradies in cash.
The trade services sector of the economy is notorious for undercutting and giving cash discounts to clients who pay in cash.
Generally, tradies who offer substantial cash discounts are solo operators who are pocketing the cash and not paying for critical business expenses to protect clients such as public liability insurance. As a rule, they are also tax cheats which cost us all more in tax ultimately.
Cash discounts rip everyone off including yourself when you have no invoice to prove who did the work which means no guarantees if anything goes wrong.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been out to defective and non-compliant plumbing jobs where the client cannot get hold of the original plumber who did the work. Frequently this is because they have no record of who did the work as they paid in cash for the work to be done cheaply. This results in the client paying twice to have the same job undertaken and often costs much more to rectify and make legally compliant.
The ATO and the Tax Commissioner, Chris Jordon are 100% correct in saying cash discounts were ripping “billions of dollars” out of the economy that would otherwise be going to services such as schools and hospitals.
Like most other business owners I am 100% supportive of Chris Jordon when he recently issued a passionate plea to Australians to stop paying tradies in cash as the ATO confronts a host of black-economy rorts that include the fraudulent misuse of ABN’s.
“Stop paying cash for a discount,” he has told taxpayers.“Because you are effectively cheating the system or helping someone else to. This is not a victimless crime. If you pay cash for a discount, in many cases you are effectively ripping off yourself as an Australian taxpayer, because this type of behaviour is what sees billions flow out of the tax system and into the cash economy.”
The Australian Government’s Black Economy Taskforce has estimated that the cash economy is now in excess of $25 billion a year. Simply this is $25 billion of cash transactions where no tax is paid in GST or PAYG or superannuation or company tax.
I’m well aware some people like to pay in cash but don’t rip yourself off by not getting an invoice from the tradie who has done your work if you pay him in cash. As a precaution, you should always ensure that you are getting a legitimate ‘Tax Invoice’ that has all the tradies details on it including a legitimate ABN and their QBCC contractors licence number.
It’s very simple to check an ABN to ensure it’s not a fictitious ABN. All you need to do is go the ABN Lookup and type in the ABN. It is quick and easy to do but gives you the assurance that you are dealing with a legitimate business that is paying their fair share of tax.
Every tradie must have a QBCC contractors licence and once again its very easy to check at the QBCC Online Licence Search. Remember if they don’t have a licence then you do not have to pay them.
Scarily the Black Economy Taskforce found 40 percent of ABN’s quoted where cash is paid to tradies, were the Bunnings ABN. There is no suggestion Bunnings has done anything wrong.
The old cliche that you get what you pay for will always be true. There is no need to ever pay cash despite what some tradies will try and force you to do. You should never let a tradie take you to an ATM where they sit with you watching you take out cash.
In today’s world of instant payments and it pays to protect yourself and create a digital trail.
At Whywait Plumbing we will happily take payment in cash or cheque or credit card. But we will not give you a discount for paying in cash ever as every job is invoiced correctly and paid into our bank account.
Remember at Whywait we ensure you always know the cost of your job before we start the job.
Yet again we have come across the installation of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge illegally installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals.
We immediately informed the client that these products known as Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were a non-conforming product in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal. We then informed the client of our responsibilities with respect to reporting non-conforming products to the QBCC. This is due to recent amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Act 1991, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, and the Building Act 1975 in relation to non-conforming building products. These amendments came into effect on 1 November 2017. These amendments were effected through the passage and proclamation of the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.
The client immediately requested that we remove all of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges and replace them with the compliant ZeroFlush EnviroSeal operating system.
Before removing the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges we undertook a thorough inspection of the ZeroFlush urinals. This confirmed what had been reported that all were emitting sewer odours as they were a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim. The cartridges literally slipped up and out as we removed them as they were not sealing to the stainless steel rim on the housing.
As can be seen in the photo on the left despite being relatively new, there are urine stains on the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge as the rubber seal is not designed to fit ZeroFlush urinals and was not only allowing sewer odours to be emitted but urine was leaking down the side of the cartridge rather than going through the waste outlet drain.
These issues can be further seen by the stains on stainless steel rim in the photo to the right. These stainless steel rims were all spotlessly clean when the urinals were serviced by us in December.
All of the non-conforming Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were removed, and the EnviroSeal operating systems were reinstalled along with new BioPur Wonder Wizard Tab kits after cleaning and flushing of the drains.
To the left is a photo of the five ZeroFlush ZF201 urinals after scheduled servicing and with the EnviroSeal operating systems reinstalled.
The EnviroSeal operating systems are a WaterMark approved system for ZeroFlush waterless urinals only. They were tested extensively by IAPMO R&T laboratory at 5001 East Philadelphia Street, Ontario, California 91761-2816 USA from 24/03/14 – 04/04/14. The EnviroSeal operating systems was then given WaterMark certification in Australia on 17/06/14, and it was renewed for a further three years on 07/08/15.
We were informed by the client that the Desert EcoAdapt cartridge was installed as a trial as they are significantly cheaper than the genuine ZeroFlush parts.
It was concerning that we were also informed that the Desert cartridges had been installed by a licensed plumber as it is an offence under the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003, Part 4 Product Certification for a licensed plumber to install non-certified and non WaterMarked products as per the clauses on the right.
Despite claims made by the Desert Eco Systems Company at http://www.desert.com.au/products/eco-adapt-advanced/ the facts are that their cartridges have no WaterMark certification for any urinal in Australia other than their own Desert No-Flush Urinal.
All plumbing products installed in buildings in Queensland have been required to have WaterMark certification since 2003 under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 and the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003.
The Watermark Certification scheme is administered at a national level by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The requirements for WaterMark certification is specified in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
Under the primary duty of care of the new laws being the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017, it is an offence under the Act to supply plumbing products in Queensland that don’t have WaterMark certification as these products do not meet the relevant regulatory provisions.
This change is designed to reduce the likelihood of non-conforming plumbing products being installed in buildings in Queensland.
More information on the Watermark certification system, including a list of certified products and information on the certification process, can be obtained from the ABCB website here: http://abcb.gov.au/ProductCertification/WaterMark-Certification-Scheme
Despite being a non-conforming product and illegal to install it is our opinion that the Desert EcoAdapt system is an inferior product compared to the EnviroSeal system that has been designed, tested and certified only to be used on ZeroFlush waterless urinals.
The Desert cartridge was a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim that created sewer odour emissions that could have repercussions with members of the public that have respiratory conditions. This potentially exposes building owners and their employees to legal liabilities for having installed a non-conforming substitute product.
The Desert Eco Systems Company has a long history of substituting products and making claims that their products are a conforming product when they are not and never have been. Product substitution where the product has not been tested, and WaterMark certified for the product it is substituting is an offence under the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.
Everyone in chain of responsibility needs to be aware that they are breaking the law if they authorise, instruct or install Desert Eco Adapt cartridges in any urinal that it has no WaterMark for. Under Australian consumer laws if you have installed a Desert Eco Adapt cartridge in any waterless urinal other than the Desert No Flush urinal, based on the dubious claims made to you by representatives of Desert Eco System Company then you are not only entitled to a refund of all your money but also compensation to pay for your waterless urinals being returned to a legally compliant status as per your waterless urinals WaterMark certification.