It is illegal to install a douche spray or bidet spray in Queensland unless it complies with AS/NZS 3500.1:2018 clause 12.2.3 below which classifies bidet toilet seats and douche sprays at toilet seat douches.
12.2.3 Toilet seat douches – Where the douche outlet, in all positions, is at least 25 mm above the overflow level of the pan, backflow prevention is not required. Where the douche outlet, in any position, is less than 25 mm above the overflow of the pan, a high-hazard backflow prevention device, conforming to AS/NZS 2845.1 or AS 2845.2, shall be installed. This device shall be either part of the douche or installed separately.
It is entirely illegal to undertake a DIY installation of douche spray or bidet spray despite what you may read on social media.
Yes, they can be legally installed by a plumber provided they are installed with compliant backflow prevention valves and registered with Form 9 at City of Gold Coast or Logan City Council plus lodgement of Form 4 with Queensland Building and Construction Commission. These requirements are not optional; they are required under law as per the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.
Illegal bidet seat attachments
Unfortunately, there are advertisements everywhere on social media or websites promoting DIY such as My Bidet Australia. The product they advertise as an easy install toilet seat bidet is illegal. They promote on their website as – Quick and Easy Installation: Includes everything you need including tools to get your bidet up and running in minutes. Easily attaches to and detaches from any standard two-piece toilet.
The reality is the product has no WaterMark certification. As the photo illustrates clearly on their website, the dual nozzles are deep inside the toilet bowl, creating a high backflow risk. This is categorised as high risk as back-siphonage can occur through these nozzles allowing contaminated water from the toilet bowl to be sucked into the potable or drinking water supply.
The toilet seat bidet from My Bidet Australia sells online for $99, which is an indication of its quality. The price should be a warning enough as to how good this product is likely to be as good quality WaterMark approved bidet seats such as a Toto Washlet start at around $1199.00 in Australia.
The old saying you get what you pay for applies absolutely for this dangerous product. It is frightening that they state on their website – Upgrade your bathroom with beautifully designed bidet attachments, featuring water pressure control knobs. We use high-quality parts that are built to last. They are constructed with high-pressure faucet quality valves and metal/ceramic core. Common sense dictates you cannot produce high quality for $99 that complies with Australian Standards.
Unfortunately, this product is being advertised everywhere on Facebook and Google. Currently, if you do a Google search for a Toto bidet seat the first result in Google AdWords is incredibly for not Toto but My Bidet Australia. It truly is a case of buyer beware and why you need to check it is approved for use in Australia with a WaterMark certification.
What does backflow mean?
Backflow is simply the reverse flow of water. When we refer to it in plumbing terms, it is stopping contaminated water being drawn back into the water supply system that we all use for drinking. In terms of an illegally installed douche spray or bidet spray, this can occur when the water pressure drops significantly. If nozzles or sprays connected to the water supply are in contact with a contaminated water supply in a toilet, there is potential for that contaminated water to be sucked into the drinking water supply. In simple terms, it is like you sucking on a straw.
There are two ways that backflow contamination will occur because of a water pressure drop:
- Back-pressure occurs if there is an increase in the downstream pressure, which creates a reversal of the normal direction of the water flow.
- Back-siphonage occurs when there is a drop in the supply pressure, thereby creating a negative pressure situation in the water supply. Commonly this will happen if the water is suddenly turned off or there is a dramatic increase in demand such as water used for fire fighting.
With a bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray backflow contamination is possible and if occurring it is classified as high risk. This is why all of these products by law must be:
- installed by a licensed plumber
- have WaterMark certification
- have a testable backflow valve installed such as an RPZ valve
- have a Form 4 lodged with QBCC
- have a form 9 lodged with the local water authority
All of the above are requirements under the law; they are not optional extras.
What does high hazard mean?
High hazard is the highest rated hazard in the cross-connection hazard rating in AS/NZS 3500.1-2018, which is covered in Section 4 Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention. As Licensed Plumbers, we know how serious this section is in ensuring that our drinking water is not contaminated and potentially life-threatening. Clause 4.3 below lists all three ratings:
4.3 CROSS-CONNECTION HAZARD RATING
Cross-connections are rated using three degrees of hazard, as follows:
(a) High hazard Any condition, device, or practise that, in connection with the water supply system, has the potential to cause death.
(b) Medium hazard Any condition, device, or practise that, in connection with the water supply system, has the potential to endanger health.
(c) Low hazard Any condition, device or practise that, in connection with the water supply system, constitutes a nuisance but does not endanger health or cause injury.
The high hazard rating is not a scare tactic when we talk about an illegal or a non-compliant bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray it is a health issue with the critical wording being potential to cause death.
As Plumbers, we are not over sensationalising the dangers of DIY installation of a bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray. We are just telling you this is the legal requirements as per the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.
Can a DIY installation effect insurance policies?
Yes, any plumbing fixture installed in your home or business can null and void your home and contents insurance policies.
Any bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray that is not installed by a Licensed Plumber or does not have WaterMark certification has the potential to flood your home. A burst flexihose on these dodgy products can flood your home very quickly.
ACCC and Government warnings
We all understand that COVID-19 has caused a great deal of uncertainty and angst, but a DIY installation of a toilet bidet seat or douche spray or bidet spray is merely breaking the law. DIY of any plumbing fixture has potentially dire consequences, and with products such as the toilet seat bidet from My Bidet Australia, you are risking severe illness or death.
It has become so intense of a concern that the Australian Consumer Competition Commission (ACCC) has issued an alert concerning the supply and installation of bidet products. The ACCC, in consultation with the ABCB or Australian Building Codes Board and Standards Australia, has published a joint warning, COVID-19: Supplying and installing bidet products on the Product Safety Australia website.
The ACCC, the ABCB and every state government has become alarmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in the purchase of toilet seat bidet douches, handheld bidet sprays and trigger sprays, and other bidet type products that are connected to toilet water supply valve are being installed as a DIY project.
The critical message of every alert issued by every state government is that the installation of any bidet product connected to the drinking water supply must be undertaken by a licensed plumber and must hold WaterMark certification.
Renovation shows such as The Block, House Rules, Selling Houses Australia and Grand Designs command high television ratings in Australia, and while they are generally good television, they are not factual in what goes into the renovation of a house and in particular bathrooms.
Television renovation shows have been correctly described as dazzling high resolution, high fructose renovation eye candy. This is due to the more critical but unfortunately mundane areas of bathroom renovation not being easily translated into making excellent television programming so are at best skimped over and are generally completely ignored.
Every real estate industry expert will confirm a bathroom renovation will improve the value of your home plus improve your lifestyle. A stylish and affordable bathroom renovation is a matter of being methodical in your planning, especially if you are renovating for yourself. Above all, do not be fooled by what you see on television renovation shows as there is a substantial difference between what you see on television show’s and what is really involved. This is often when bathroom renovation regret steps in.
As a rule in homes that are over ten years old, the bathrooms are small rooms compared to homes built in the last few years. This makes older bathrooms more challenging to renovate as they are sophisticated and compact spaces. This can result in compromises having to be made but be very aware that short cuts causing mistakes and defective work in a bathroom can cause significant problems in the future and be very costly to rectify.
After 36 years in business, Whywait Plumbing has undertaken numerous bathroom renovations, and we frequently see bathroom renovation regret creep in halfway through a project. The best advice we can give you is to go slowly whether you are undertaking a full renovation or just a makeover. You must avoid the mistakes we see repeated over and over again, all of which should be reasonably obvious, and that is:
- do your homework thoroughly on what you want to achieve
- plan carefully how you are going to undertake the project
- work with companies that know what they are doing
A bathroom renovation or makeover can be project managed in two ways, both of which require you to do all of the above. Managing the project yourself is simply a matter of being organised and knowing what you want. Hiring a builder to project manage your bathroom still requires that you are organised and understand what you want but saves you the burden of dealing with the specialist trades.
No matter which route you choose, ensure you hire skilled and talented specialist trades as inevitably they will dictate how smoothly the bathroom renovation runs and the quality of the finished product.
One pitfall of using many of the so-called builders to project manage is that they are no longer a tradesman in their own right but have undertaken courses to gain a BSA builders licence. In our experience, the specialist trades they subcontract your bathroom renovation too are not hired because they are the best to undertake the job but are the cheapest companies that the builder can obtain to maximise his profit.
When choosing the specialist trades to undertake your bathroom renovation, you should always:
- check that they have a compliant contractors license
- check that they have public liability insurance of at least $10 million and can supply you with a certificate of currency
- check that they have a WorkCover insurance policy and can provide you with a certificate of currency
- check their references as many of the so-called online references are of dubious quality
- write a specification of the work you wish them to perform so that when you receive the quotes, you are comparing like for like and if getting multiple quotes this is critical so that you are setting benchmarks
- Be cautious about quotes that seem too high or too low because as always the devil is in the fine print or lack thereof
- check before you sign anything to ensure that quotes include all the smallest details and are compliant not only with your specifications but local laws and Australian standards and that it consists of the brands and models of fittings you specified and not a substitute
Despite what you see on television programmes there is a limit to what can be achieved by DIY especially in areas such as plumbing and electrical, which are two of the main specialists you will require in a bathroom renovation. While doing some work for yourself is a wise way to save some money, you also need to understand that many legal restrictions are in place for a good reason. DIY in regulated trades is a recipe for disaster with the possibility of insurance cover being denied if something goes wrong.
No matter what you get told by well-meaning shop assistants in large hardware outlets always use qualified and licensed tradesmen for regulated work such as pest control, electrical work, plumbing work, gasfitting work and waterproofing. Part of your initial planning is to know which aspects of the bathroom renovation must be undertaken by experienced, specialist and licensed trades companies.
The old saying about only getting what you pay for has never been so true, especially when it comes to plumbing products. Buying cheap or non-standard fittings is an easy trap to fall into with the proliferation of outlets selling plumbing materials, accessories, fixtures and even tools. Purchasing the bargain that is frequently an unbranded toilet or tap that looks the same as the one you saw in a shop elsewhere can quickly become the product from hell that will cost you a lot more in the long run.
If you’re buying the fixtures and fittings for the bathroom renovation yourself, always ensure that everything you buy conforms to the relevant Australian Standards. As a rule of thumb be careful about who you buy from online outlets as in our experience many of the products they are selling are brand-name fakes and are claiming to comply with Australian standards when in reality they don’t.
A bathroom renovation is expensive and needs to last for at least ten years so avoid being too trendy or bold because what is exceptionally fashionable now, and you can be sure will unfashionable in 10 years when you want to sell your home.
No matter what avoid a bold colour and design if it is a permanent feature such as the tiles or vanity or a toilet. In the permanent features always aim for a neutral understatement that will last passage of time. Painted walls can be bold and fashionable as long as they can be repainted. Otherwise, bright colours and designs should be left to the removable decorative features that you put in after you have finished renovating the bathroom.
No matter what, you need to make sure you know exactly what you want before beginning your bathroom renovation, within reason. Once you have planned your bathroom commit to it because it will cost you a fortune if you change your mind once work begins. Changing your mind on the size of a bath or shower can cost a small fortune in moving walls and pipes.
It’s not that hard to turn your bathroom into an oasis of peace and tranquillity without breaking the bank as long as you plan and are organised. Just remember your bathroom renovation is not a television programme.
Whywait Plumbing have prepared a few tips and some advice to help you keep costs down and maximise your budget when renovating your bathroom. Increasingly the plumbers at Whywait Plumbing are observing there is no disguising a bathroom in need of renovation that have some or many of the following awfully dated features:
- peach or pea green tiles,
- failing grouting in floors and walls,
- mould damage to the ceiling,
- bathroom carpet,
- gold plated taps with fake glass handles,
- poor use of space
- wallpaper that looks like it was chosen by a 70’s disco freak.
All of the above are standard fare in bathrooms that date back 10 years and often 25 years plus. For better or for worse, bathrooms are a place for people to stamp their own creative mark on a home that is often inexplicable in what they are trying to create with bizarre combinations such as black tiled walls and red painted ceilings. Bathrooms by their design and use factors are also prone to failure over time.
Generally a bathroom needs some for of renovation at around five years depending upon how it is used. But bathroom renovations do not have to be designer level expensive affairs. If you plan and know what you are doing it is not hard to keep a lid on bathroom renovation costs. Below are issues to be considered so your bathroom renovation costs do not blow out:
- Assess how much you need to change: The more you want to change, the more expensive the project will be, that is an absolute guarantee. If you are on a tight budget you can still make a surprising difference to the look of a bathroom by just by replacing tap handles, painting the walls and ceiling plus sticking up shampoo shelves, towel rails or a nice new mirror all of which you could probably manage yourself, providing you know what you are doing. Re-tiling of floors and walls will cost a fair bit more but there are surprisingly economical coating options that are applied directly over existing the tiles which cut costs by reducing the amount of demolition work required. Always anything involving electrical or plumbing fixtures or relocating fixtures or adding new fixtures will cost considerably more.
- Reuse or recycle fittings and fixtures: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it rules applies and there is nothing wrong with the existing fittings or fixtures themselves, you can save a lot of money and unnecessary waste by resisting the overwhelming temptation to replace them. If you think about ways you can style and theme the bathroom to utilise what you already have installed and focus on what the worst aspects of your bathroom really are. Old style taps can be replaced fairly economically and easily. If your bath and vanity basin have been seriously abused over the years it is possible to have them re-coated and looking like new for less than outright replacement. Vanity unit cupboard doors and draws can be replaced for much less than outright replacement.
- Do not move plumbing fixtures: Relocating or adding new plumbing fixtures can be really expensive. As much as possible focus on reusing the existing water supply and drainage connection’s for your toilet, shower, bath, vanity basin and floor waste as this will keep plumbing costs under control.
- Shop around for materials: This may sound obvious but requires discipline. If you have the time and inclination you will save a small fortune by shopping around and buying the necessary materials, fittings and fixtures yourself. If you are doing the shopping, make sure you have done your homework and you know exactly what you are looking for. For example there is a huge difference between wall and floor tiles. Buying a bath with a centre waste to replace one with a waste at one end will cost you more to install. Replacing a toilet requires that you are aware whether or not it uses an S or P trap outlet or whether the water connection is concealed or bottom linked. Any paint for bathroom walls need to be suitable for use in bathrooms so that your walls are resistant to moisture. If you are buying things make sure everything is ready and available when renovation starts to prevent any delays which frequently will translate into increased costs.
- Get your hands dirty: If you are willing and able you can save a lot on labour costs by doing some of the work yourself and project managing the renovation. It is likely that you will still need to hire licensed contractor’s such as plumbers, electricians, waterproofers, tilers for the renovation project, but volunteering yourself to do some of the manual work such as demolition will translate into lower labour costs. Without exception any discussion about what you can do yourself has to include a big, flashing neon warning, there are some things you just cannot cut corners on and do it yourself. Waterproofing, plumbing and electrical work MUST be done by licensed professional contractors. Doing it any other way is guaranteed to be illegal, substandard, dangerous, non-insurable and without the protections of a warranty. It is also extremely important that you are certain before you start working that there is not any asbestos in your bathroom. Asbestos sheeting was very commonly used in bathrooms up until the late 1970’s and exposure to it can lead to cancer so you will need to have asbestos removed by a specialist contractor using the correct safety gear who will dispose of it legally.
- Plan very carefully and avoid variations: Careful planning and having an exact idea of what you are wanting to achieve, what you are getting and how everything will be done before you sign any contract with a contractor will ensure you’re not stung with hefty fees for necessary changes. If you use a builder to manage your bathroom renovation it is guaranteed he will charge over the odds for variations to a contract if you have made a selection mistake or want to change your layout or add additional fixtures. Many builders will come in with a low quote with the aim to prey on clients who are not clear on their plans and have not prepared properly. Regardless of how well you perceive you get along with the builder or any of the other contractors make sure that the fittings and fixtures are exactly what you are after, and will fit exactly where they are supposed to go, the colours and tiles are exactly right, the costs are itemised on the contract, and you are certain that all labour, material and administrative costs are included. Make sure any variations are fully costed and you approve in writing before they commence.
- Things to be careful of: Make sure you have more than enough tiles because if they break in future or if break some during your renovations you want to have some spares on hand that are from the exact same batch so that they are a perfect match. Beware of non-certified plumbing fittings and fixtures which are non insurable and can make any future insurance claim null and void. Ensure all plumbing products have the WaterMark certification and comply with Australian Standards. Avoid ordering online or from overseas any plumbing or electrical fixtures as almost always they will be shoddy or inferior fittings and fixtures and will come back to haunt you. Ordering online plumbing or electrical fixtures online invariably are not worth the savings they appear to offer. Consider where you’re going to shower as your bathroom’s going to be out of action for a week or two at least and always double any timeframe you have given by any contractor. It is very common to discover rotten timber under baths or behind shower walls which will require extra work with any other savings you make being eaten up quickly if you are unprepared for that.
Ultimately your bathroom renovation is all about careful planning and managing of expectations from the beginning.
Waterless urinals increase water sustainability
Falcon waterless urinals at The Oasis Shopping Centre installed by Whywait Plumbing in 1998
In 1998 Whywait Plumbing installed the first waterless urinals on the Gold Coast at The Oasis Shopping Centre. At that time the owners of The Oasis Shopping Centre, Thakral Holdings had as Engineering Director, Tony Harvey. Tony Harvey was ahead of his time focusing on setting sustainability targets for all Thakral properties in both electricity and water.
These first waterless urinals were fibreglass Falcon urinals with disposable cartridges. To say they were not successful was an understatement. We were continually servicing the Falcon urinals as they suffered from frequent blockages due to their cartridge design. The cost to replace cartridges constantly far outweighed the water-saving benefits at that time.
Servicing these Falcon waterless urinals became a detested task by Whywait’s plumbing technicians as invariably removing the cartridge resulted in getting covered in urine that was in the cartridge. To all of our plumber’s relief we ripped them out and replaced them with ZeroFlush waterless urinals in 2004.
Water flushing urinals stink
Traditional water flushing urinals are a significant waster of potable water in most commercial buildings. Most men are aware of that distinctive odour of male public toilets. Contrary to popular believe that odour is not usually from the urinals. It is, in fact, an odour created by the mixing of water vapour and urine creating bacteria that thrive in the wet environment of the grout in the tiled floors and walls.
In fact the installation of Australian WaterMark approved waterless urinals such as ZeroFlush creates a dry environment that does not allow bacteria to grow in the tile grout and create that distinctive odour. A properly maintained and serviced waterless urinal will give trouble free service, eliminate expensive and ever increasing water costs plus reduce carbon emissions.
Do waterless urinals stink?
Whywait Plumbing technicians have investigated numerous instances of waterless urinals being blamed for blocked drains or odours. In reality this is consistently not the case as investigation always reveals the real causes such as dry floor wastes, incorrect installation or incorrect servicing.
The most common cause is inappropriate or non-existant servicing procedures. Far too many plumbers fail to upskill themselves with current sustainability skills, methods or requirements. Often these same plumbers fail to read simple instructions on servicing methods and requirements and instead advocate the removal of the waterless urinals. It is normally simple to identify the poor servicing as the plumbers maintaining the urinals fail to purchase servicing materials and then blame the waterless urinals for poor performance.
Whywait Plumbing is aware of buildings where government subsidies have been paid to the owners to install waterless urinals and ignorant building managers have allowed plumbing companies to remove the urinals and replace them with expensive water guzzling urinals. The plumbers who undertake these activities are in our opinion conducting a fraud and their motives are transparent.
This approach is to the detriment of their clients and the community as a whole whom have embraced sustainability to make efficient use of expensive water and protect our environment.
If you want assistance with your urinals contact Whywait Plumbing on (07) 5580 4311 to organise a site audit.