Water Damage Insurance Claims Are Still Increasing

Water Damage Insurance Claims Are Still Increasing

Water damage insurance claims are an issue we deal with every week. We are continually called upon to deal with insurance companies or assessors on behalf of clients when they have sustained water damage to their homes.

With COVID-19 lockdowns keeping a large proportion of Australians at home, research from QBE Insurance indicates water damage insurance claims remain at high levels.

New research from QBE Insurance revealed that 77% of people who experienced water damage were home at the time of the incident, unravelling misconceptions that flooding mainly occurs when the house is unoccupied.

The QBE Insurance research statistics reveal that:

  • 77% of claimants impacted by water damage were at home for the water damage incident.
  • Burst pipes, blocked pipes, damaged roofs and old plumbing are the main water damage culprits.

According to the research, internal water damage is typical, with 58% of survey respondents having experienced internal water damage themselves or know someone who has, or both.

This coincides with QBE claims data, which found water damage incidents account for almost a quarter (24%) of all home insurance claims. Water damage insurance claims are one of QBE’s most regular home insurance claims. An average claim is $5,000, and more severe water damage claims commonly reaching over half a million dollars.

“Preparedness and prevention are key to limiting the potential damage caused by internal water damage,” says Arron Mann, General Manager, Short Tail Claims at QBE.

“Water damage can happen whether a household member is at home or not being home more often, as many of us are right now, can increase the pressure on our plumbing and risk to our homes. However, this kind of damage can also be sudden and severe regardless of whether you’re home or not, which is why prevention and knowing what to do when something goes awry are so valuable.”

Despite 53% of research respondents saying their first response to water damage would be turning off the water main, 1 in 5 Australians (21%) don’t know where their water main is, and worryingly, 1 in 5 (18%) also don’t know how to turn it off.

The QBE research also revealed that almost 30% of Australians don’t know what home maintenance tasks can prevent water damage in their homes, with 16% not knowing that home maintenance can prevent it in the first place. Cost is also a factor, with 21% not undertaking any home maintenance because it’s too expensive, while 8% say they don’t have the time.

“Sometimes, the difference between no damage and severe damage can be in how quickly a householder responds. Yet concerningly, many people are unaware that much of this damage – and the stress and cost that comes with it – is often preventable,” says Arron Mann.

The best way to avoid water damage insurance claims is by regular maintenance from Whywait Plumbing. Now this will not prevent every possible water leak scenario from happening, but it will demonstrate to the insurance company that you have been undertaking regular maintenance if claim difficulties occur.

At Whywait Plumbing, we see instances every day of water damage that has occurred through the failure to maintain your home regularly. That is why we recommend all our clients to become a Service Partner and enjoy the VIP benefits of having a Service Partner Plan to maintain your most valuable asset, your home, proactively.

Detecting COVID-19 in Your Wastewater Drain

Detecting COVID-19 in Your Wastewater Drain

Your wastewater is one of the key sources used to identify the presence of the COVID-19 virus in your local community because plumbing is public health

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for every level of government in Australia. The pandemic has reiterated that plumbing is all about public health. With vaccination rates being hailed as our pathway back to the new normality, we need politicians and bureaucrats to embrace that plumbing protects the entire community and individually plumbers preserve the nation’s health.

A pivotal component in managing COVID-19 is establishing where transmission of the virus occurs. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the identification of exposure sites by health authorities and the requirement for people who were at the same areas during the same time to monitor for symptoms or get tested themselves have been a ceaseless part of the public health response.

Wastewater testing has been crucial for health departments to identify where COVID-19 may be present in the community to help to stop the spread.

Wastewater or the used water from toilets, sinks, showers, baths, basins and dishwashers are analysed and tested for fragments of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Fragments of the virus potentially enter the wastewater system through people who have or have recently had COVID-19. People shed the virus fragments through toilet paper, used tissues, off their hands and skin or in faeces. This shedding can continue for weeks after a person is infectious.

“The COVID-19 virus, SARS-Cov-2, can enter wastewater infrastructure through any of those means. However, it is likely to enter wastewater principally from faecal and respiratory shedding. Shed virus is then detected by analysing the wastewater using analytical methods that are specific for SARS-CoV-2,” says Dr Nick Crosbie, Recycled Water and IWM Research Manager at Melbourne Water.

“Wastewater monitoring is equivalent to obtaining and analysing a large community-based composite sample of faeces, saliva, vomit, sputum, urine, shed skin and other material shed during personal cleansing, washing, bathing, and excreting.”

Throughout Australia, wastewater samples are taken from wastewater treatment plants, regional wastewater treatment plants and multiple locations throughout any metropolitan sewerage system.

Dr Crosbie describes surveillance as dynamic, adjusting it to meet changing needs such as surge testing during outbreaks.

“Samples are obtained by ‘grab sampling’, auto-sampling, and by the deployment of so-called ‘passive samplers’ which accumulate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the period of their deployment. Between a few 100 to more than 1,000 samples are collected and processed in a seven-day period. The samples are analysed of the passive samplers with presumptive detections confirmed by third-party analysis.”

Wastewater testing has come to public prominence during the pandemic, although it has been regularly undertaken worldwide to monitor poliovirus, norovirus and adenovirus for close to twenty years.

Dr Crosbie says the public identification of locations in which viral fragments are identified in wastewater – announced by the Department of Health regularly, including sending text messages to people in affected postcodes – allows health authorities to target their responses.

“Information can be used by health departments to focus their investigations further and to encourage an increase in local clinical testing rates,” he says.

The role of plumbers in effective wastewater testing is critical. The provision of safe and effective plumbing and sanitation illustrates how plumbers contribute to strengthening public health. Master Plumbers CEO Peter Daly is unequivocal in stating that “Plumbers play a vital role in developing, maintaining and promoting public health among the community. Plumbers prevent against disease and illness stemming from poor plumbing and sanitation and against the dangers of unsafe gas appliances, some of which can be deadly. Our day to day work in plumbing and sanitation also supports the overall wastewater testing process to play a big role in the COVID-19 response.”

Dr Crosbie agrees, “the COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program is a huge team effort between people working in the plumbing industry, water industry, and the laboratory and health sectors,” he says.

Dr Crosbie understands that plumbing is public health, “More generally, the safe operation of our water and wastewater infrastructure ensures that the community do not suffer from significant health effects from water and wastewater-borne diseases.”

The World Health Organisation and leading doctors state that the world’s most significant medical milestone since 1840 was sanitation. Despite the tremendous medical breakthroughs and scientific advances, the seemingly mundane advance of reliable sewage and reliable, clean water supply is the most significant medical advance over the last 200 years.

How much does a burst pipe add to your Gold Coast water bill?

How much does a burst pipe add to your Gold Coast water bill?

Your Gold Coast water bill issued by the City of Gold Coast as a Water and Sewerage Rate Notice arrives every three months. Currently, every water meter is manually read every three months, with your Gold Coast water bill coming soon after. The cost of Gold Coast water is set every year as part of the budget process with the detailed current water pricing for 2021-22 available from Gold Coast Water.

What are the costs of your Gold Coast water bill?

For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly Gold Coast water bill are their sewerage and water access service charges. If you look closely at your water bill, you can see that you have the following access charges:

Residential Charges Cost
Sewerage access charge per quarter

$181.03

Water access charge per quarter

$53.02

Total Access Charges per Quarter

$234.05

The usage charges per kilolitre as measured by your water meter are made up of council charges and Queensland Government charges as below:

Residential Charges Cost

City of Gold Coast water per kilolitre

$1.117

Queensland Government water per kilolitre

$3.231

Total Cost of Water per Kilolitre

$4.348

In reality, even if you did not use one drop of water, you would still pay for water and sewerage access service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.

Our experience is that the average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property shown on Gold Coast water bills is not an accurate guide to your water use.

Most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. However, remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly, as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption and alert you to a potential water leak.

The actual cost of water dripping from a tap

What will cause your water usage charges to blow out is having leaking water that you are unaware of. Leaking taps and toilets are frequently overlooked and put off to another day. A dripping tap that drips one drop every second will use 40 litres of water a day. The reality is that it becomes 280 litres a week and then 1214 litres a month, and then 14560 litres a year. This is all water charged for on your Gold Coast water bill that you never utilised for any practical purpose.

If we translate the litres wasted to the cost of water, then the numbers become real very quickly.

Cost of a Dripping Tap at 1 drip per second Residential Cost at $4.348 per kL or 1000 litres Business Cost at $8.909 per kL or 1000 litres

1.66 litres per hour

$0.007

$0.015

40 litres per day

$0.174

$0.356

280 litres per week

$1.217

$2.495

1214 litres per month

$5.278

$10.816

14560 litres per year

$63.307

$129.715

The actual cost of a leaking underground water main

You can visually see a dripping tap or running toilet, but the real killer to your Gold Coast water bill is your underground water main pipe leaking. For residential users, these are usually leaking polypipe water mains that were never installed correctly when the house was built. Only occasionally is a water leak apparent and bubbling to the ground. Most of the time, they are a silent Gold Coast water bill killer leaking 24/7 undetected.

There is no accurate average for any leaking water main supply pipe because it depends on the type of break in the pipe, what the pipe size is and what the incoming water pressure is.

Recently we had a client with a small leak where we have 24/7 electronic water monitoring installed that is leaking on average of 45 litres per hour, so we use that as a basis for what leaking water main will cost on a Gold Coast water bill.

Cost of a leaking underground water main at 45 litres per hour Residential Cost at $4.348 per kL or 1000 litres Business Cost at $8.909 per kL or 1000 litres
45 litres per hour

$0.196

$0.401

1080 litres per day

$4.696

$9.622

7560 litres per week

$32.87

$67.352

33480 litres per month

$145.57

$298.731

401760 litres per year

$1746.85

$3579.280

A water leak at 45 litres per minute is only a relatively small leak in larger pipes. It is unlikely to show up as bubbling at the ground unless it is directly under the grass in a shallow trench. Even looking at your water meter, it will not be evident unless you are testing your water use at the meter by checking for a water leak.

How much does a leak cost per litre?

We have always recommended that you test your water usage through your water meter every month. By having comparable figures, you will soon ascertain whether you have a leaking pipe.

We have always recommended that you install an AquaTrip water leak detection system after your water meter. An AquaTrip Water Leak detection system with an integrated automatic shutoff valve supplied and installed by Whywait Plumbing is a permanently installed leak detection protection system that quietly protects against leaks 24/7. It is a one time only insurance payment.

With our modern leak detection methods, it’s an easier task to locate a leak. However, unless you have an AquaTrip installed or use our 24/7 water monitoring service, you will still pay for a large amount of lost water before you become aware of the water leak.

If you think you have a water leak contact us because every litre that you lose is costing you $0.004348 for residential properties or $0.008909 for businesses on your Gold Coast water bill. If you naively feel that is inconsequential, we have just rectified a leak for a commercial business client in a 50mm underground polypipe water main that was leaking 106 kL every day, which is 106000 litres every 24 hours. This leak cost $944.354 every day.

Is bacteria & mould in your showerhead making you sick?

Is bacteria & mould in your showerhead making you sick?

The wet and warm environment of your shower head is a prime real estate for germs, bacteria & mould

Bacteria in your showerhead is reality. Your showerhead is prime real estate for sediment build-up from fine particles in the water, bacteria and mould.

You no doubt think that stepping into your shower will wash away dirt and germs in the showerhead. However, studies from the University of Colorado, NYU Langone Medical Center and Manchester University have concluded that bacteria thrive inside and outside showerheads. Furthermore, they have found showerheads have the potential to harbour more bacteria than your toilet.

 We live surrounded by bacteria, some being beneficial, some being harmless, and a few are potentially lethal. These potentially lethal bacteria in a showerhead may cause lung infections, yet few of us consider the implications of bacteria in your showerhead.

Mycobacteria are found in abundance in showerheads

All the studies concluded that bacteria in your showerhead is real. These bacteria can cause illness live in our showerheads. Therefore, it’s important to understand how people can be exposed to them.

The most likely cause of lung infection that you can get from a showerhead is mycobacteria.

Mycobacteria is a bacteria distantly related to bacteria that cause tuberculosis and leprosy. It is part of rapidly growing mycobacteria and is typically found in water, soil, and dust.

Dr Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, confirmed that bacteria grow in moist wet places like showerheads. “This is a reminder to clean your showerhead, which nobody does,” he said, though “most of us are likely to tolerate mycobacteria and not get sick from it.”

Bacteria in showerheads won’t cause an outbreak of lung infections. However, Dr Siegal suggested people who are run down or who have a compromised immune system or a chronic condition may be vulnerable. Dr Siegal said bacteria also live on your toothbrush and in your basin, and on any moist surface to put it in perspective,

Dr Siegel recommends cleaning your showerhead every week or two with a disinfectant that contains ammonia to be sure you kill all the germs nesting there. “Add your showerhead to the list of things in the bathroom that need cleaning,” he said.

What is mycobacteria bacteria in your showerhead?

As Dr Siegal pointed out, you are unlikely to get sick with mycobacteria. Infections with atypical mycobacteria in Australia occur at a rate of 1.8 cases per 100,000 population.

In Queensland, all cases of mycobacterial infection are notifiable under the Queensland Public Health Act.

The Australian Government Department of Health undertook the last national survey on mycobacteria in 2000. The main sites of infection are identified in the respiratory tract, soft tissue, pulmonary and lymphatics. 

To read the mycobacteria survey for consumers, click here.

 

Bacteria that could be found in your showerhead

Manchester University has conducted studies into the condition of the inside of showerheads. There were multiple bacteria and fungi found in the showerheads that they tested which were:

The solution is to clean your showerhead regularly

As Dr Siegal recommended, you should regularly clean your showerhead, which doesn’t mean just the parts you can see. While infection rates are low, it makes sense to keep your showerhead clean – particularly if you have recently been ill, or are run down or are more prone to infection due to a compromised immune system.

Cleaning your showerhead means removing it from its arm or hose and then dismantling it to clean both inside and out to remove any scale, debris or bacteria that potentially is lurking unseen inside the showerhead itself.

Few of us have ever contemplated the simple act of jumping into the shower in the morning to wake you up or to leave you feeling relaxed and fresh last thing at night before getting into bed is potentially a health risk.

Should you replace your showerhead regularly?

According to some “experts”, Bacteria in your showerhead is so much of a risk you should replace your showerhead every six months.

This is pointless as good quality showerheads that are cleaned and maintained will last ten years plus. Imagine the cost of having new showerheads installed every six months, especially if you have three bathrooms, all with showers.

The range of modern showerheads available is extensive with most of the quality brands from manufacturers coming with full 2-5 year warranties.

In South-East Queensland, we don’t have hard water that destroys plumbing fixtures. This means cleaning your showerhead regularly is all that is required.

How to clean a showerhead?

Bacteria in your showerhead is controllable by cleaning a showerhead properly. Despite the urban myths you hear, bleach will not clean your showerhead.

The reality is, as the research clearly indicates that keeping your showerhead clean could mean the difference between good health and bad health, so reduce the potential risk and keep your showerhead clean with this simple method.

Your plumbing hates you! All homeowners find this out eventually

Your plumbing hates you! All homeowners find this out eventually

Your plumbing hates you! It’s a fact.

Your plumbing hates you because you show no respect for your plumbing systems. You routinely do hideously disgusting things to it, with it and into it.

You routinely ignore the needs of your plumbing systems to be given some tender loving care. You just assume your plumbing will always work for you as you desire.

Your plumbing literally sees you at your worst. As a consequence, it’s always plotting revenge on you. Those gurgling sounds you sometimes hear when you flush the toilet is your plumbing waiting for the right moment to strike back in revenge.

The favourite time for your plumbing to strike back with a lethal attack is at Christmas or Easter when plumbers are scarce and have to charge expensive call-out rates.

That gurgling sound you hear when you flush the toilet is liquid evil

The most mistreated plumbing fixtures in any home are the toilet and kitchen sink. The toilet is the most abused plumbing fixture as it’s considered a receptacle to dispose of anything and everything.

Describing gurgling sounds as liquid evil is a perfect description. The photo below illustrates perfectly why paper towels should not be thrown into the toilet.

Paper towels as you can see are not designed to be flushed down a toilet. Paper towels are not designed to enter your sewer drains. If you choose to flush paper towels into your toilet the photo below perfectly illustrates why your plumbing hates you.
As you can see the plumbing systems had the ultimate revenge for the lack of respect. In this instant, the paper towels work their way through to the manhole and blocked the entire sewer drainage system.

The paper towels will frequently block your toilet pan but they can flush through into the sewer drain where they will slowly go down the drain until they jam against a junction or a point where flow is restricted such as in a manhole.

From there on the whole plumbing system will grind to a halt as the water from every drainage point in your house fills up the sewer drains.

Foreign objects that cause a blocked toilet are flushable wipes, paper towels, facial tissues, cotton tips, Q-tips, cotton buds, ear cleaners, hair removal wax strips, cotton balls, pantie liners, sanitary napkins and our old favourite of children’s toys.

Gurgling drains don’t clear themselves ever!

If your main sewer drains block, it doesn’t take long for your homes toilets and internal drains to begin to back up.

Hopefully, your overflow relief gully works correctly, and the sewage overflows into your garden rather than inside your house. Either way, it’s messy and yucky having to clean up sewage that has overflowed.

Blocked drains, whether backed up or overflowing, are not only inconvenient but can also pose a risk to your health.

Gurgling drains, smelly drains or slow draining sinks are all signs that your blocked drains need urgent attention.

Plumbing problems are confronting

Solving plumbing problems can be a challenge for us as plumbers and you as a client. The reality is solving plumbing problems takes time, patience and, above all, experience.

Google searches do not make you into an instant plumber. In our experience, a Google diagnosis is generally wrong.

Regretfully many people associate plumbers with unpleasant events that they have experienced with their plumbing, such as a burst pipe or overflowing sewage that flooded their house.

Due to the emergency type situations that most people call a plumber out for, there are numerous misconceptions about what a plumber can do and cannot do quickly. In too many circumstances, this is aligned to the cost rather than the outcome which seldom solves the problem.

Your plumbing hates you since you have a lot of plumbing infrastructure 

Bear in mind you have considerable plumbing infrastructure that is out of sight and consequently out of mind. That is until it stops functioning.

The reality is 90% of your plumbing infrastructure is concealed in walls, under your floor, in your roof space or underground outside.

Below the photo of sewer drains, we installed at Southport Sharks illustrates what we face as plumbers when diagnosing your plumbing problems.

The sewer drains inside your house under the floor once installed are inaccessible as they are covered by concrete. To repair the drains is a significant cost in just accessing them coupled with rectification and then replacing the concrete.

sewer drains at Southport Sharks installed by Whywait Plumbing illustrate why your plumbing hates you
Maintaining your plumbing infrastructure is an investment. In our experience, most unforeseen problems with your plumbing originate from when your home was originally constructed. As I’ve said many times these days, in reality, all buildings are constructed to a cost, not to the legal, regulatory standards of the National Construction Code (NCC) administered by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).

The photo below illustrates how much work we have undertaken to repair broken sewer drains under your concrete floor. In this instance the work required was:

  • locate by CCTV drain camera the exact location of the broken pipes
  • cut the concrete slab with a quick-cut demolition saw
  • remove the slabs of concrete and dispose of off-site
  • excavate by hand to expose the sewer drain pipes
  • cut and remove the broken and crushed sections of the PVC sewer drain
  • install new PVC pipes with flexible joints
  • test the drain to ensure there were no leaks and it was fully functional
  • backfill and compact the excavation
  • drill into the concrete slab to install reinforcing steel to tie the replacement concrete to the existing slab
  • install a replacement concrete slab
your plumbing hates you until Whywait Plumbing repair the drain

Concealed plumbing infrastructure will always be expensive to repair

We understand how you can feel that your plumbing hates you when we have to undertake major work to repair plumbing infrastructure that is concealed in walls or under your concrete floor.

From our perspective, we know we are delivering bad news that you don’t want to hear. The frustrating thing is that you frequently don’t see all the work that goes into repairing a broken sewer drain as by the time we are finished there is literally nothing to see. The video below illustrates perfectly the repairs we undertook on a drain under a 50 year old stone wall and when completed you would never have known we had been there.

Proactive prevention is preferable to a reactive emergency

There will always be unplanned plumbing emergencies that you can never foresee. That is a simple fact of life.

But proactive preventative maintenance can eliminate the majority of potential plumbing emergencies.

This is why we recommend our Service Partner Plan© to all our clients. The annual audit is focused on locating potential problems before they occur.

Enquire today how you can simply be signed up to get extra benefits and service advantages in managing your properties plumbing, drainage, roofing and gas infrastructure.

service partner plan from Whywait Plumbing
Whywait Plumbing are Master Plumbers
Call Now ButtonCALL NOW