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Blocked Drain Solutions: Evolving CCTV Drain Camera Technology

Blocked Drain Solutions: Evolving CCTV Drain Camera Technology

Pioneering Advanced CCTV Drain Camera Inspections on the Gold Coast

At Whywait Plumbing, we embraced the revolutionary technology of CCTV drain camera pipe inspections in 1994, transforming how we addressed plumbing and drainage challenges.

Gone are the days of guesswork and disruptive procedures. Today, our skilled team uses state-of-the-art CCTV technology to deliver crystal-clear insights into the intricate world of pipes and drainage systems beneath your feet.

Whywait Plumbing has been a leader in introducing advanced technologies in the plumbing industry since 1994, becoming the first Gold Coast company to own and operate CCTV pipe inspection cameras. This pioneering step marked a new era in plumbing diagnostics and set a precedent for ongoing innovation and excellence.

The Evolution of Plumbing Diagnostics

Our early adoption of CCTV technology revolutionised our plumbing diagnostics for blocked drains. Our first black and white CCTV drain camera in 1994 provided our technicians unprecedented insight into pipes and drainage systems through what were then state-of-the-art cameras and software.

Introduction to CCTV Drain Camera Pipe Inspections

CCTV pipe inspections represent a significant technological advancement in plumbing, offering a non-destructive, efficient way to diagnose and address issues within drainage systems. This method employs specialised cameras, providing a clear, real-time view of the inner workings of pipes and drainage systems, thus revolutionising the maintenance and troubleshooting of drains and plumbing systems​​​​.

The Technology Behind CCTV Inspections

Utilising advanced camera technology, software, and location trackers, CCTV inspections provide detailed, data-rich visuals and videos of the interior of pipes. This equipment is connected to a computer, feeding real-time data and images to the operator. The technology varies in capabilities, with some cameras offering 360° 3D views or laser profiling, making it suitable for a range of inspection environments.

The Tech Edge: Advanced CCTV Inspections

Today Whywait Plumbing’s advanced CCTV pipe inspections use cutting-edge camera technology to offer detailed, data-rich visuals, ensuring comprehensive and targeted solutions for various drainage and plumbing systems. Long gone are the grainy black and white cameras.

Versatile Solutions for Every Plumbing Challenge

CCTV drain camera inspections are versatile and applicable to various plumbing systems, including bathroom showers, floor waste, toilets, sewer and stormwater pipes. They can navigate through small pipes 20mm in diameter in confined spaces and provide insights into larger drainage systems up to 300mm, ensuring a comprehensive solution for blockages and other issues.

We’ve invested in the most advanced camera technology, software, and tracking locators to ensure our CCTV drain camera inspections are second to none. These sophisticated tools allow our technicians to perform comprehensive inspections across various plumbing situations, from residential bathroom sinks to complex sewer systems.

We pride ourselves on precision and efficiency, hallmarks of Whywait Plumbing’s service ethos.

Precision Diagnostics for Accurate Solutions

One of the most significant advantages of CCTV inspections is their precision. The drain cameras now accurately display the distance they have travelled down the drain and the location sondes built into the camera enables us to accurately locate their position at all times.

They provide high-quality visuals, allowing technicians to diagnose a range of issues like blockages, cracks, leaks, and structural damage. This reduces the need for trial-and-error methods, streamlining the diagnostic process and formulating effective solutions​.

Addressing Stormwater Drain Challenges

Stormwater drains often face blockages due to debris and sediment accumulation, particularly after heavy rains and floods.

Whywait Plumbing’s CCTV drain camera inspections are crucial in maintaining these drains, providing clear interior views for timely cleaning and preventive measures, and ensuring they remain free-flowing and functional.

Spotting the Blockage: The Advantages

CCTV inspections offer real-time visuals, making them a game-changer in detecting and understanding blockages. This comprehensive exploration covers everything from small pipes to larger stormwater drains, ensuring precision in identification and facilitating efficient solutions.

Benefits of Annual Drain Checks

Regular CCTV drain checks play a vital role in proactive plumbing maintenance. By annually inspecting plumbing systems, we can ensure smoother day-to-day functioning and extend their lifespan, saving homeowners and businesses from costly replacements and unexpected plumbing emergencies.

Proactive Maintenance: A Step Ahead with Whywait

Proactivity is at the heart of our philosophy at Whywait Plumbing.

Our CCTV inspections are not just about fixing current problems; they’re about foreseeing future ones. We identify early signs of potential issues, allowing us to take measures to prevent costly repairs later.

This approach ensures the longevity and sustainability of your drainage and plumbing systems.

Economic and Environmental Advantages

Our use of non-invasive CCTV drain camera inspections offers notable economic benefits.

They eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming excavation, reducing labour costs and expediting inspection turnaround times. Swiftly pinpointing issues enables efficient and cost-effective solutions, saving property owners and businesses money.

CCTV pipe inspections are environmentally friendly. Traditional methods, like excavation, can be disruptive and harmful to the surrounding area. CCTV inspections, being non-invasive, minimise environmental impact and maintain the integrity of the plumbing system.

Proactive Maintenance and Long-Term Sustainability

Our advanced CCTV technology helps identify potential issues early, contributing to the long-term sustainability of plumbing systems and preventing unexpected repairs.

These inspections are crucial in proactive maintenance, identifying potential problems like corrosion, pipe deterioration, or root ingress. This approach contributes to the long-term sustainability of the drainage infrastructure, preventing unexpected and costly repairs.

Documentation for Informed Decision Making

CCTV inspections provide valuable documentation of the drainage system’s condition over time. The recorded images and videos are a historical record, aiding plumbing professionals, property owners, and managers in making informed decisions about maintenance schedules and potential upgrades​​.

Whywait Plumbing – A Legacy of Innovation and Customer Satisfaction

Whywait Plumbing’s introduction of CCTV pipe inspection technology in 1994 has established us as pioneers in the field, reinforcing our commitment to advanced, efficient, and customer-focused plumbing solutions.

Our legacy of innovation continues to guide our efforts in offering the best services to our clients, ensuring peace of mind and satisfaction with every job.

In summary, CCTV drain camera pipe inspections offer a myriad of benefits in the plumbing industry.

From providing a clear view of pipe conditions to enabling targeted repairs and proactive maintenance, these inspections represent a significant leap forward in plumbing technology.

They offer a cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly solution, ensuring the long-term health and efficiency of plumbing and drainage systems. By reducing uncertainty and costs, this technology not only addresses present concerns but also secures the future of plumbing infrastructure, offering peace of mind to homeowners and businesses alike​​.

CCTV drain camera
The Future of Flushable Products: A Comprehensive New Standard AS/NZS 5328:2022 Flushable Products

The Future of Flushable Products: A Comprehensive New Standard AS/NZS 5328:2022 Flushable Products

New Flushable Products Standard: A Win for Whywait Plumbing and Our Customers Introduction

Here at Whywait Plumbing, we have long advocated for clear guidelines around using and labelling flushable products. But unfortunately, we’ve seen far too many instances of blockages, overflowing drains, and the ensuing damage to properties and infrastructure due to the misuse of such products.

So from our perspective, sharing the recent news about releasing the new Flushable Products Standard is positive. After all, We’ve done media interviews on this, plus written countless blogs and newsletter articles:

The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has released the new Flushable Products Standard (PAS 2845.1:2022), which provides manufacturers and consumers with clear guidance on the proper use and disposal of flushable products. In this blog post, we’ll explore the critical aspects of this new Standard and discuss how it aligns with Whywait Plumbing’s long-held beliefs on the issue.

The Importance of the Flushable Products Standard

Addressing the Drain Blockage Problem

Whywait Plumbing has been advocating for these changes mainly because of the immense problem of drain blockages caused by flushing inappropriate items down the toilet. According to the WSAA, approximately 75% of sewer blockages are caused by flushing non-flushable items, costing millions of dollars annually to rectify.

This has led to environmental issues and costly repairs for homeowners and local water authorities. The new Flushable Products Standard aims to reduce the incidence of blockages and save money for everyone involved, making it a welcome development for plumbers and homeowners alike.

Clear Guidelines for Manufacturers

One of the critical aspects of the new Standard is the provision of clear guidelines for manufacturers of flushable products. This includes stringent testing requirements to ensure that only genuinely flushable products can be marketed as such. The Standard also mandates clear labelling, helping consumers make informed choices about what they flush down their toilets.

This means that manufacturers will now have to adhere to these guidelines, ensuring that their products meet the criteria to be deemed flushable. This will help reduce the number of inappropriate items being flushed, leading to fewer blockages and plumbing problems.

How Will The Symbol Be Displayed

The symbols for packaging indicating that a product has passed the criteria in the Standard and is safe for flushing can vary. However, they are typically simple, easily recognisable icons that convey the message. For example, for products that are safe to flush, the symbol might consist of a toilet with a checkmark, signifying that the item can be flushed without causing harm to the plumbing system or the environment.

Conversely, if a product is unsuitable for flushing, the symbol might depict a toilet with a crossed-out circle, indicating that the item should not be flushed. This “do not flush” symbol is crucial for products with a high potential to be flushed, as it helps inform customers about the appropriate disposal method.

In both cases, the symbol should be prominently visible on the on-shelf package, unobscured by packaging seals or folds, ensuring that consumers can quickly identify whether the product is flushable. Again, the goal is to provide consumers with clear, easily understood information, helping them make responsible choices for their plumbing systems and the environment.

flushable products standard

How Does A Product Qualify to Be Flushable?

To qualify for the new Flushable Products Standard and display the flushable logo, products must undergo a series of tests and meet specific criteria outlined in the Standard. These tests ensure the product is safe for flushing and will not harm the plumbing system or the environment. Here are the seven steps a product must pass to qualify:

  1. Clears the toilet and household drain line: The product must pass through the toilet and the household drain line without causing blockages or damage to the plumbing system.
  2. Doesn’t foul household sewage pumps: The product must not clog or interfere with the proper functioning of household sewage pumps.
  3. Disintegrates quickly to prevent sewer blockages: The product must break down rapidly once it enters the sewer system to ensure that it does not cause blockages or damage to the sewer infrastructure.
  4. Doesn’t foul council sewer water utility pumps: The product must not cause any problems or blockages in municipal water utility pumps, ensuring that the more extensive sewage treatment system remains functional.
  5. Settles out in a sewage plant: The product must settle out in a sewage treatment plant, allowing it to be correctly processed and treated without causing issues in the sewage plant.
  6. Biodegrades: The product must be able to biodegrade naturally, ensuring that it does not contribute to environmental pollution or harm aquatic life.
  7. Doesn’t contain plastics (via an attestation): Manufacturers must attest that their product does not contain any plastics, helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering our waterways and sewer systems.

By meeting these requirements, a product can qualify for the Flushable Products Standard and display the flushable logo on its packaging. This provides consumers with clear information about the product’s suitability for flushing, helping them make responsible choices for their plumbing systems and the environment.

flushable products standard testing requirements

How the Flushable Products Standard Aligns with Whywait Plumbing’s Beliefs

Prioritising the Health of Our Waterways and Infrastructure

At Whywait Plumbing, we have always believed in maintaining the health of our waterways and infrastructure. The new Flushable Products Standard is a significant step in this direction. It will help prevent the clogging of our sewer systems and the pollution of our waterways with non-flushable waste.

By ensuring that only genuinely flushable products can be marketed as such, we can collectively reduce the strain on our water infrastructure and preserve the environment for future generations.

Empowering Consumers with Accurate Information

Another critical aspect of the Flushable Products Standard that aligns with our beliefs is the focus on providing consumers with accurate information about the products they use. With precise labelling requirements, consumers will be better informed about which items are safe to flush and which should be disposed of in other ways.

This empowers individuals to make better choices for their homes and the environment, helping to reduce the number of blockages and plumbing issues caused by flushing inappropriate items.

A Positive Step for the Plumbing Industry and the Environment

The release of the Flushable Products Standard (PAS 2845.1:2022) is a significant milestone in the fight against drain blockages and the associated environmental and financial costs. By providing clear guidelines for manufacturers and empowering consumers with accurate information, this Standard will help to reduce the number of blockages caused by non-flushable items.

As a long-time advocate for these changes, Whywait Plumbing is delighted to see this progress. It remains committed to promoting responsible flushing practices and educating our customers about the importance of these new guidelines. We believe this Standard will positively impact the plumbing industry, the environment, and the overall health of our water infrastructure.

Our Commitment to Client Education

At Whywait Plumbing, we understand that many of our customers may not be aware of the new Flushable Products Standard and the implications it has for their daily lives. As a result, we are dedicated to educating our customers about the importance of following these guidelines and how they can help prevent blockages and protect the environment.

We will update our website, social media channels, and other educational materials to reflect the latest information on flushable products and the new Standard. Additionally, our team of skilled plumbers will be available to advise and answer any questions our customers may have regarding the proper use and disposal of flushable products.

Future Developments and Ongoing Advocacy

While releasing the Flushable Products Standard is a significant achievement, we at Whywait Plumbing believe there is always room for improvement and further progress. Therefore, we will continue to advocate for stricter guidelines, increased public awareness, and ongoing research into developing truly flushable products that do not harm our waterways and infrastructure.

We will also remain vigilant in monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the new Standard, ensuring that manufacturers comply with the guidelines and that consumers have access to accurate and up-to-date information. We aim to be crucial in driving positive change within the plumbing industry and beyond by staying active in this space.

Tips for Preventing Drain Blockages

While the Flushable Products Standard is a significant step in the right direction, everyone needs to play their part in preventing drain blockages. Here are some practical tips for ensuring your plumbing system stays in top shape:

Only flush the “Three P’s”: Always remember that the only items that should be flushed down the toilet are pee, poo, and toilet paper. Everything else, including wet wipes, facial tissues, and sanitary products, should be disposed of in the trash.

Dispose of fats, oils, and grease (FOG) responsibly: FOG can solidify in your pipes and cause blockages. Instead of pouring them down the sink, collect them in a container and dispose of them in the trash once cooled.

Install drain screens: Placing a drain screen over your sink, shower, and bathtub drains can help catch hair, soap scum, and other debris, preventing them from entering your pipes and causing blockages.

Schedule regular plumbing maintenance: Having a professional plumber inspect and clean your plumbing system regularly can help identify and address potential issues before they become significant problems.

Whywait Plumbing: Your Partner in Responsible Plumbing Practices

As a company that has long advocated for responsible plumbing practices and the proper use of flushable products, Whywait Plumbing is proud to support the implementation of the new Flushable Products Standard. We believe this Standard will decrease drain blockages, benefiting homeowners and the environment.

If you have any questions about the new Standard or need assistance with your plumbing system, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Whywait Plumbing. Our experienced professionals are always here to help you with your plumbing needs, ensuring your home’s plumbing system remains in top condition.

Commendation of Exceptional Service from Whywait Plumbing

Commendation of Exceptional Service from Whywait Plumbing

Whywait Plumbing Receives High Praise for Exceptional Service

Below is an email I received from a client yesterday, which got me thinking once again about how critical we are as plumbers. Yes, electricians are sparkies. They’ve got a cute nickname. And carpenters are chippies, which is also cute. But us plumbers, we are they just called, well, plumbers? Could it be something to do with respect for plumbers stemming from our profession’s long history?

Take a look at the history books. You’ll find plumbum – that’s lead to you and me – being fashioned into pipes by the early Romans. Those pipes, courtesy of your everyday plumber, carried the lifeblood of Rome: clean water in, dirty water out. No plumber, no pipes. No pipes, no Rome. And without Rome, you and I’d be chattering in a different tongue and dancing to the beat of a different legal drum.

Our world today? Brought to you by plumbers with clean water in and dirty water out, still.

On the face of it, plumbing doesn’t look like a walk in the park, does it? Plumbers spend their days on their knees, elbow-deep in what is often a mystery. Plumbers are under sinks wrestling with rot and rats or shoulder-deep in drains tackling who knows what. And if they’re not there, they’re in your ceiling space, bent like a pretzel in the swelter, tools in hand, while the homeowners beneath send desperate prayers.

And yet, who do people dial when disaster strikes? Not the sparky. Not the chippy. It’s the plumber who’s the knight in shining fluro shirts. We’re the ones which stem the flood, who avert the ruin, the guardians of your water pipes and drains, the heroes of your home. We’re your round-the-clock rescuers, knights of the drip and Lancelots of the leak.

I’ve discovered that plumbers are more than just repairmen; you are everyday heroes…

Subject: Commendation of Exceptional Service from Whywait Plumbing

Dear Mr Mays,

I trust this message finds you well. I am writing this email to share my utmost satisfaction and appreciation for the excellent plumbing service I recently received from you and your team.

Before my interaction with you, I was, admittedly, one of those who underappreciated a skilled plumber’s invaluable role in maintaining life’s fundamental necessities. The day my home’s plumbing system suffered a significant malfunction with our sewer drain was a harsh wake-up call. This incident brought to light that the harmony of a home could be disrupted by a plumbing failure, affecting everything from morning rituals to essential domestic routines.

Then came Whywait Plumbing, embodying the knight in shining armour – armed not with a sword but an array of exciting plumbing tools, pipes, and an unparalleled understanding of the intricate plumbing networks. You arrived promptly after my distress call, ready to tackle the issues at hand, a testament to your swift response time.

Your team displayed a unique blend of skill, professionalism, and an intuitive understanding of my home’s plumbing infrastructure. The way your team identified and resolved the problem was almost poetic. It was like watching a maestro conducting a symphony, an artist creating a masterpiece, or a coder decoding complex algorithms. There was a beauty to the simplicity with which you made sense of the chaos and brought harmony back into my home.

Not only was the issue resolved efficiently, but you also took the time to explain the situation and preventative measures to avoid future issues. This commitment to customer education is something I greatly appreciate and is not something that every service provider offers. Your respect for my time, understanding of my concern, and dedication to ensuring a solution that was both quick and lasting is something worth acknowledging.

The experience made me reconsider my previous misconceptions about plumbers and their work. I’ve come to recognise your vital role in our society, upkeeping the comfort and functionality of our homes. I’ve discovered that plumbers are more than just repairmen; you are everyday heroes, quietly ensuring our lives go unhampered.

In conclusion, I want to express my deep gratitude to the entire Whywait Plumbing team. I am beyond satisfied with the service I received. The professionalism, knowledge, and human touch your team brought to the task were simply outstanding. You’ve earned a customer for life, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Whywait Plumbing to anyone needing top-tier plumbing services.

Best Regards,

Tiffany Zang

Choose Whywait and Consider It Done

Upon receiving the email, I immediately contacted Tiffany to extend my gratitude. As we conversed, she shared her previous experiences with service providers on the Gold Coast, echoing the issues I’ve observed throughout many years in the industry. However, as I explained to her, it’s not my place to comment on other businesses. Each one operates distinctively, driven by its unique blend of training, equipment, experience, ethics, and cost structures.

Humbled by her praise, I asked Tiffany’s permission to share her words publicly. She gladly consented, her gratitude palpable for everything our dedicated team at Whywait accomplished to rectify her blocked drains.

In closing, I think Tiffany’s words encapsulate our mission perfectly: “I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Whywait Plumbing to anyone needing top-tier plumbing services.” This is a testament to the dedication, expertise, and commitment to customer satisfaction that we strive to uphold in every task we undertake. As we’ve said for many years, choose Whywait and consider it done.

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.

Tree Roots in Sewer Drains

Tree Roots in Sewer Drains

Tree roots in sewer drains have legal rights

Tree roots in sewer drains are an issue we are confronted with every week. They can be confronting for plumbers as we are frequently faced with situations where clients want us to give quasi-legal rulings on non-compliance of tree roots in the sewer drains where there is, in reality, no black-or-white answer. The truth is there are multiple opinions in multiple shades of grey.

A perennial issue for all plumbers as long as I can remember is the issues created by trees and tree roots. Trees can significantly damage plumbing infrastructure, mainly underground water pipes and drains. Often the damage has been slowly occurring over many years before you are affected.

A common issue we are confronted with, numerous times every month, is tree roots in sewer drains and stormwater drains.

A fact that some people fail to grasp is that tree roots don’t respect or understand property boundaries. Trees grow, and their tree roots search for water and nutrients from the soil. Regrettably, your sewer drains are a great source of water and nutrients for tree roots. So your broken drains are the ultimate party time for trees.

tree roots in sewer drains

The photo above perfectly shows how far tree roots will infiltrate a drain. These tree roots we removed from a stormwater drain had infiltrated 42 meters down the drain and were causing flooding to the property every time there was a rainfall event.

These tree roots came from multiple trees situated in multiple surrounding properties. The roots infiltrated the drain in multiple locations where the pipe was cracked and broken. Broken pipes are how tree roots infiltrate a drain. Tree roots by themselves cannot break a pipe open.

Large trees are a source of neighbourhood disputes

Recently, the Gold Coast has allowed urban blocks to become smaller and smaller.  Over the years, as the trees in landscaped urban blocks mature, problems begin to occur. Any large tree can become a natural source of angst and stress. This results in trees becoming a source of disagreements between otherwise friendly neighbours, with the most common disputes being:

  • Branches overhanging the boundary fence and pushing over dividing fences
  • Branches, fruit and leaf litter dropping into the neighbouring property
  • Roots causing damage to underground drains, water mains, electrical conduits and telecommunications conduits
  • Roots damaging fences, walls, house foundations and concrete paths and driveways
  • Branches blocking sunlight for solar PV panels, solar hot water panels, windows, Foxtel microwave dishes and TV aerials

Issues with branches are visible to everyone, so they are generally much easier to resolve. In most instants, an amicable discussion with your neighbour can resolve most branch issues as there is a common interest.

Roots in sewer drains or stormwater drains are vastly different. These underground root infiltrations are neither visible nor easily traceable to their source. 

Tree roots in sewer drains & stormwater drains

When we find your drain blocked with tree roots, multiple roots are often inside the drain causing the blockage. Without an extensive horticultural investigation to determine the type of tree the roots are from, no one can ascertain which tree’s roots have infiltrated your drain and where the tree roots originate from.

As you can see in the photo above, where we have undertaken vacuum excavation of a drain, the roots are everywhere around the sewer pipe. In addition, it is visible that there are multiple roots of varying sizes and tree types.

Contrary to multiple urban myths, tree roots do not break drains whether the drain is installed in PVC pipe or earthenware pipe.

Yes, in old earthenware, tree roots will infiltrate the drain around the rubber ring joints over time, but that is because of movement in the ground that enable the roots to infiltrate slowly over a number of years.

With PVC drains, tree roots can’t break open pipes or fittings. In every instant I have seen, the drain was broken, usually on a bend or junction that allowed the roots to infiltrate the drain. In just about every instant we come across broken PVC drains, it is our opinion the drain was damaged during the initial installation of the drain at the time of construction.

It is almost impossible to prevent tree roots from entering a broken drain without repairing the drain. This is where we commonly see the problems originating with neighbour disputes. It is not unusual to have clients misinterpret what we inform them and attempt to put words in our mouths as to whom is responsible for clearing the blocked drain and repairing the damaged drain.

The law concerning tree roots in sewer drains

If you have no trees on your property and your neighbour has a fully landscaped garden full of trees, then yes, it’s likely the neighbour is responsible.

Having been drawn into these arguments between neighbours on several occasions over the years, I highly recommend that you try to resolve the issue tactfully with your neighbour before things get out of hand. I can assure you this is always quicker, cheaper and much less stressful than taking legal action, which will ultimately end up in mediation after spending a small fortune with a solicitor.

From the legal perspective, the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 is legislation relating to trees. The legislation requires that you determine who has the responsibility for the tree. However, if the tree is on the boundary, both parties will have responsibility equivalent to the number of trees on each property.

Trees have legal rights

You must know that you cannot take the law into your own hands where trees are concerned. You cannot remove a tree outside your property that you believe is damaging your property. Legally all you can do is remove overhanging branches up to the boundary.

If you back onto a City of Gold Coast public park or reserve, you must contact the council about the problems as many trees in public parks are protected.

Before planting any large trees on your property, you should consider the height they will grow to when they mature and where their roots can spread. Similarly, assessing neighbouring trees with your neighbour now may prevent property damage and large bills in the future.

Ultimately your house is your primary asset, and it is in your interests to protect your investment but remember trees have rights to, and just cannot be chopped down for no reason if they are not on your property.

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