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.

Here’s why you should always close the toilet seat lid before you flush

Here’s why you should always close the toilet seat lid before you flush

Why is the operative word in toilet seat arguments

As we’ve all become aware in the last year hygiene is the foundation of health.

Toilet hygiene has become a focus in the home and at work. The simple toilet seat has been focused on as never before.

Arguments over the toilet seat revolve around:

  • why can’t I leave the toilet seat up
  • why should I put the toilet seat down
  • why do I need to close the toilet seat
  • why do toilet seats have a lid

The answer to all these “whys” is because of basic personal hygiene and overall community hygiene.

Harpic photos reveal the danger of not closing the toilet seat lid before flushing

Over the years, I’ve been asked countless times why do toilet seats have lids. Generally, my answers have centred around because it’s called into law in the Plumbing and Drainage Act, which satisfied most people.

However, now I can finally answer all the questions about toilet lids.

I can better answer that perennial question of why you should always close the toilet seat lid before flushing.

The answer is simple. The lid is there for good hygiene to protect your health and community health.

I can answer these questions thanks to Harpic the #1 selling toilet cleaner in Australia and forty other countries worldwide.

Harpic commissioned a study to illustrate the dangers we all face by not closing the toilet seat when we flush. Harpic used sophisticated high-speed specialist camera technology to capture a fireworks display of thousands of tiny aerosol droplets being catapulted into the bathroom, contaminating all surfaces up to two meters away. Not only did the droplets spread over a wide area of the bathroom, but they also stayed airborne for up to a minute as they are tiny.

The photos above and below illustrate these fireworks displays graphically illustrating how far into the air a flushing toilet catapults these aerosol droplets.

Flushed toilet water aerosol droplets can contain bacteria & viruses

These photos are of a single toilet flush. Imagine what your towels, facecloths, laundry, makeup and toothbrush look like after multiple toilet flushes with the seat up.

Water in a toilet bowl that has been exposed to harmful pathogens will remain contaminated despite clean water being flushed into the toilet pan multiple times. The contaminated aerosol droplets and particles are very fine and are more than capable of reaching your lower respiratory tract. This potentially can create infections.

If you touch any surface in your bathroom contaminated by the toilet bowl flushing of aerosol droplets you can risk infections if you have cuts or touch your mouth or nose.

 

Would you clean your teeth with a toothbrush sprayed with flushed toilet water?

Let’s face it. None of us would knowingly clean our teeth with a toothbrush that has been sprayed with contaminated toilet water. But the reality is over 50% of the population never close the toilet lid before flushing. 

Unhygienic bathrooms really are dangerous

As a spokesman for Harpic stated after their research was made public, “There has never been a more important time to take extra care around our homes. Although the risks associated with germ spread in unhygienic bathrooms are high, the solution to keeping them clean is simple. We hope our new #CloseTheLid campaign helps inspire people to make simple changes to their cleaning routine that can have long-lasting benefits to the health of the nation.”

The Harpic survey of 2000 respondents was undertaken in the UK, but I guarantee the results would apply equally to Australia.

When asked why they did not close the toilet seat lid when flushing the toilet were:

  • 47% said they were unaware of the danger in not closing the lid
  • 24% said they were afraid to touch the toilet seat lid
  • 15% said they forgot to close the toilet seat lid

Three simple solutions to bathroom hygiene

COVID-19 has been a huge motivation to increase bathroom hygiene with Harpic, suggesting the three steps below are a simple common sense approach for a more hygienic bathroom.

  • Always close the toilet seat lid when flushing the toilet to prevent germs that potentially contain bacteria and viruses spreading over your bathroom.
  • Ensure you clean your toilet bowl, toilet seat and cistern with a toilet cleaner that removes limescale, providing a home to germs and disinfecting the toilet to guarantee ultimate hygiene.
  • Always wear gloves when cleaning the toilet and wash your hands afterwards.

It’s simple just close the toilet seat lid every time you flush

Closing the toilet seat lid is simple hygiene that helps eliminate the potential spread of COVID-19, which we know is found in human waste.

Just remember when you flush with the toilet seat lid up the contaminated aerosol droplets spread up to two meters in all directions spraying you with the droplets as you redress for up to 35 seconds.

Teach your children always to shut the toilet seat for their health: your health and the health of the entire community.

Are these tiny flies coming out of my bathroom drains drain flies?

Are these tiny flies coming out of my bathroom drains drain flies?

Yes the tiny flies in your bathroom are drain flies

Last week Lynette, who is one of our Service Partner clients, sent me a photo of her bathroom floor enquiring whether I knew if these tiny flies seemingly coming out of her bathroom drains were drain flies. My simple reply was yes as they are more prolific in spring and summer when temperatures exceed 20°C.

The photo above is dramatically magnified to illustrate the number of drain flies in a small area.

Lynette was concerned that no matter how many times she sprayed the flies to kill them, there was always more flies the next day. In fact, what disturbed Lynette the most was that they just appeared to multiply and accumulate on the walls and floor but only in the one bathroom. The flies were nowhere else in her home or in the other bathrooms.

Cleaning your bathroom won’t eliminate drain flies

Lynette was exasperated and frustrated that no matter how often she cleaned her bathroom, the drain flies just kept returning and multiplying.

She repeated to me what I’ve heard multiple times over the years, that she would clean the bathroom with a powerful supermarket bleach cleaner and by the next day the drain flies would have returned.

A friend had told her to buy a 2.5-litre container of bleach and pour it into all her drains in the bathroom which would kill the flies within 24 hours. After using all 2.5 litres of bleach the drain flies were still there.

What are drain flies?

Drain flies are more annoying than anything else as the sheer numbers in your bathroom are unsightly creating, an illusion that the bathroom is not clean.

They do not bite nor do they transmit any diseases of any sort. Nor do they damage clothes, towels or linen. 

Drain flies are prolific breeders which is why people like Lynette get frustrated as the more she appeared to kill, the more prolific they became.

The flies themselves are only around 3-4mm in length being dark grey in colour with hairy moth-like wings which as you can see in the photo below dominate their body size.

Why do drain flies only appear in bathrooms?

If you don’t live on an acreage block with a septic tank or sewer treatment plant, then the only place you will probably experience drain flies is in a bathroom. In septic tanks of sewer treatment plants drain flies breed prolifically but don’t stray far from the tanks which are their food source.

In bathrooms, the flies during the day appear to do nothing other than just sit on walls or under the vanity basin or on the ceiling. This is because they are more active at night, which is why you will seldom see them flying or actually emerging from you floor waste drain.

Even though they are poor fliers the flies are frequently transported by the wind away from septic tanks or sewer treatment plants for distances of 3-5km. This can allow them to enter your home through your insect screens as they are small enough to get through the holes in the mesh. Ultimately they will search for your bathroom floor waste drains because this is where they can feed and breed.

Where do drain flies live and breed?

Since drain flies are such poor fliers, they will always be found within a few meters of the bathroom floor waste drain. This is why you only ever appear to see them in a bathroom.

Infestations occur once temperatures exceed 20°C in spring. The rationale that they keep multiplying is not misplaced as their life cycle is 1-3 weeks from eggs hatching to becoming adult flies. They are prolific breeders with eggs hatching within 48 hours to become larvae. The larvae then mature within 12 days feeding on the decaying organic matter in the bathroom floor waste drain. The adult flies emerge from the drain at night that you then see on your bathroom walls and ceilings will live no longer than 2 weeks.

How you can eliminate a drain fly infestation in your bathroom?

Controlling and eliminating adult drain flies and larvae is by eliminating breeding sites in your bathroom drains. The pouring of bleach into the floor waste trap will typically work if you have a minor infestation.

A major infestation will not be solved by bleach as you need to thoroughly clean the and seal the floor waste trap to eliminate their food source and breeding ground.

From experience, we have found cleaning the whole area around the floor waste and inside the drain with Aquatemp Surface Sanitiser & Disinfectant will clean and disinfect the drain flies breeding ground and food source. 

If you are experiencing the annoyance of drain flies that will not go away give us a call at Whywait Plumbing on (07) 5580 4311 to book a service call so we can eliminate them once and for all.

Aquatemp Surface Sanitiser & Disinfectant 1 Litre Spray Bottle $36.92

Aquatemp Surface Sanitiser & Disinfectant comes in a ready to use spray bottle that eliminates the drain flies food source and breeding ground effectively plus sanitises, disinfects and protects for up to 24 hours.

What is a Form 4

What is a Form 4

We are frequently asked by clients why we are charging them for a Form 4. The simple answer is because it’s the law.

The reality is the Form 4 system for plumbing and drainage work has existed for over 20 years.

Originally licenced plumbers were required to submit a Form 4 to the local authority plumbing inspectors. On the Gold Coast that meant we submitted them to City of Gold Coast’s Plumbing and Drainage section when undertaking replacement of part of the sewer house drain or water main or replacing a hot water service.

In 2012 legislative changes required that we lodge them with the Department of Housing and Public Works through the Plumbing Industry Council, (PIC) and for the first time we had to pay a fee for lodging a Form 4 of $25.90. In 2014 the QBCC took over the Form 4 process as part of their assuming responsibility for plumbing occupational licensing.

Once a Form 4 is lodged, then it is subject to a random compliance auditing process to ensure the work is compliant with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019. This is undertaken to ensure the work is being conducted to the highest standards to protect everyone’s wellbeing, health and safety.

Whywait Plumbing has always supported the Form 4 process as it ensures that all work on your property is compliant and is registered with both QBCC and City of Gold Coast. If you have a significant insurance claim involving a plumbing failure, an accessor can quickly backtrack to ensure that the work was undertaken legally and compliantly.

Ultimately a Form 4 is there for the homeowner’s protection.

What is plumbing & drainage work notifiable work?

The definitions of notifiable work changed on 1 July 2019. These changes were to ensure clarity and usability, coupled with cost-effective plumbing laws and regulations for plumbers and property owners.

There are essentially twelve categories of notifiable plumbing and drainage work that require a Form 4 which are:

  1. Extending water supply pipes – this is any work on water reticulation pipes other than a fire service on an existing building
  2. Extending or removing a fire service – this applies to any class 2-9 building with a development approval as per schedule 2 of the Building Act 1975
  3. Existing sanitary plumbing – this any work on an existing building where sanitary plumbing is removed, replaced, altered or extended
  4. Existing sanitary drainage – this any work on an existing class 1 to class 10 building involving extending, replacing, altering or removing any part of the sanitary drain system apart from a combined sanitary drain plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  5. Temperature control devices – this is any work with a TMV or tempering valves in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a valve plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  6. Water heaters – this is any work undertaken in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a hot water heater plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  7. Backflow prevention devices – this is any work with a testable backflow device or dual check valve in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a valve plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  8. Greywater treatment plants – this any work involving the installation of a greywater use system that includes a greywater treatment plant installed in a sewered area where the plant generates less than 3kL of greywater daily or for replacing a greywater plant
  9. Fixtures in class 1 or class 10 building – this is any work required for installing a new fixture or relocating an existing fixture in an existing class 1 or class 10 building plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  10. Fixtures for class 2 to 9 buildings of 1 or 2 storeys – this is for all work other than sanitary drainage required for installing or relocating a fixture provided the work is for an existing class 2 to 9 building up to two storeys above ground
  11. Sanitary drains – this is any work undertaken to seal a sanitary drain after the connection point to the council sewer or a treatment plant
  12. Sealing supply pipes – this is any work undertaken to seal a water supply pipe after the council water meter provided the work is for an existing class 2 to class 9 building

The QBCC publish simple guides to what is notifiable work and the definitions of building classes as defined in the Building Code of Australia which you can download below:

Form 4 notifiable work compliance

Every reputable professional plumber, I know 100% supports the notifiable work system. It ensures for homeowners and property owners that all work undertaken on their property is performed to the standards required.

If you have had plumbing or drainage work undertaken that you have not been supplied with a Form 4 as per the form shown above and is covered in the categories listed then, you need to report it to the QBCC now or call them on 139333. Ultimately high-quality plumbing and drainage protects your health.

If you are uncertain or need assistance contact us on (07) 5580 4311 and we will give you our considered opinion. Ultimately all plumbing work is not about guesswork; it is about compliance with the law, and the law is the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.

Emergency Plumber Mermaid Beach

Emergency Plumber Mermaid Beach

Repeat clients account for over 70% of the jobs Whywait Plumbing undertake.

Last weekend being the Queens Birthday long weekend coupled with the NRL Grand Final meant one of our loyal clients Kristian was looking forward to a great weekend. The last thing Kristian was anticipating was needing an emergency plumber Mermaid Beach as he drove home from work. Kristian arrived home on Saturday night to gurgling sounds coming from his bathroom. Upon investigation, he found the only toilet in his unit was blocked.

whywait Plumbing is your Emergency Plumber Mermaid Beach

Nathan Parrish of Whywait Plumbing

Even though it was 7.45 pm on a Saturday night, Kristian immediately contacted Whywait Plumbing Gold Coast as he knew the phones would be answered. Kristian was concerned his unit had blocked drains. Kristian confirmed all the details with Whywait Plumbing’s Operations Manager, who was answering the phones.

The Plumbing Technician on call was Nathan, with him being dispatched immediately as Whywait Plumbing offer a 1-hour emergency response.

Arriving at 8.45 pm, Nathan again found the toilet blocked and a high water level in the shower floor waste. As Kristian’s unit has no accessible inspection openings into the sewer drains, it was a possibility that the toilet pan would need removing. Nathan set about testing all the drains in the unit to ascertain the extent of the blockage. Kristian’s home is a small unit in what was once a motel that has been converted into individual home units.

Although the bathroom fixtures had been upgraded, the underlying drainage was the original sewer drainage system. To Kristian’s relief, Nathan found that the blockage was confined to the toilet as the rest of the fixtures were draining correctly.

Using his Rothenberg toilet auger, Nathan was able to guide the auger through the toilet pan without removing it. After patiently operating the auger, Nathan was able to clear the blockage. Flushing the toilet several times to test it indicated that the blockage was cleared.

Nathan cleaned up the bathroom and departed at 9.20 pm leaving behind a relieved Kristian.

Sadly Kristian’s problems were not over. On Sunday night Kristian gathered with a few of his mates at home to watch the NRL Grand Final between the Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders. At 5.30 pm Kristian heard the dreaded gurgling sound originating from his bathroom again. Immediately he was on the phone to Whywait Plumbing, and for the second night in a row, Nathan was dispatched to deal with a blocked drain.

Nathan Parrish of Whywait Plumbing the emergency plumber Mermaid Beach

Nathan Parrish inspecting the blocked toilet for Kristian

Arriving at 6.05 pm, Nathan again found the toilet again blocked and a high water level in the shower floor waste. As Kristian’s unit has no accessible inspection openings into the sewer drains, it was a possibility that the toilet pan would need removing this time.

Using an extended auger unit, Nathan set about patiently negotiating it through the toilet pan S bend and down the sewer drain. Kristian watched while Nathan set about dispatching the auger down the drain without damaging the toilet pan. Finally, after 15 minutes of slow progress, Nathan hit the blockage and managed to clear it.

Nathan cleaned up the bathroom again and departed at 6.55 pm leaving behind a relieved Kristian and his mates as they were now able to watch the NRL Grand Final and know they had working drains and best of all a flushing toilet.

Kristian was so impressed with the service from Whywait Plumbing that he gave us a 5-star review on Google and contacted Gary Mays the owner of Whywait Plumbing to commend Nathan’s skills and recommend he be given a pay rise.

If you too are experiencing blocked drains like Kristian and need an emergency plumber Mermaid Beach to attend promptly don’t hesitate to pick up your phone and give us a call on (07) 5580 4311.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Will Not Clear Your Blocked Drain

Baking Soda and Vinegar Will Not Clear Your Blocked Drain

Sorry to disappoint you but I guarantee that mixing baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain. What I can guarantee is that you will create a lovely fizzy, bubbling concoction that will fascinate your kids and nothing else.

When you mix vinegar into baking soda, you create a bubbling chemical reaction that produces:

  • a small amount of sodium acetate which is a salt and also known as hot ice
  • ordinary H2O or water

What is not created is a magical chemical that will clear any form of blockage in your drains. I realise this is contrary to the popular urban myths spun by well-intentioned DIY gurus.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Will Not Break Down Buildups of Grease, Fats Oils & Hair

Baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain because it will not break down the buildups of grease, fats, oils or hair. To break them down so that they run away in water, you require a combination of heat and a surfactant.

In reality, if you have a slow draining shower, basin or sink drain, then don’t waste money on chemical solutions, use salt and hot water. All you need to do is pour half a cup of salt into the drain followed up by slowly pouring a couple of litres of water heated to just before boiling.

You may need to repeat this a few times, but it works by melting some of the grease and fat buildups. This is aided by the natural abrasiveness of the salt which acts as a scouring agent to force more of the grease and fat to flow with the water.

We use an enzyme product when we are clearing trade waste drains and grease traps. We can provide you with it also to ensure your internal waste pipes on the shower, basin or sink don’t clog up with grease, fats, soap or hair. Enzyme solutions need to be used regularly generally overnight, but they do work to keep your drains free from organic buildups. Best of all, by breaking down organic matter, they eliminate odour issues.

Simply baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain no matter how much you pour it down the drain. You will waste money on buying the baking soda and vinegar to create a lovely effervescence with lots of bubbles and fizzing.

You will waste money on buying the baking soda and vinegar to create a lovely effervescence with lots of bubbles and fizzing.

It is my experience that no chemical drain cleaner really clears drains in the long term. You may fluke a short term solution, but the only way to clear a drain properly is by mechanical means. I realise this means calling us on (07) 5580 4311 and spending money, but it works. The reality is we provide a permanent long term solution using our high-pressure jet rodding equipment that blasts away built-up grease, oil and fats.

Using DIY solutions only delays the inevitable, so why waste money on them and risk damaging your drains or having sewage overflow into your home.

Call Now ButtonCALL NOW