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.

Urinal Odours

Urinal Odours

Urinal odours are not acceptable

Urinal odours are too often just accepted by commercial building managers. The reality is urinal odours should not be accepted as they are usually easy to rectify.

Solving urinal odours can be time-consuming if you don’t employ an experienced plumbing company to investigate the cause of the odours. Seldom are the odours a urinal issue.

The first steps in solving that infamous male public bathroom are to pinpoint the source of the odour.

Once the source is located, then the best method for eliminating the source of the odour can be undertaken,

Your male bathroom facility should be odour free

Male public bathrooms that have the distinctive urine odour generally only have that “lovely” odour for four main reasons:

  • substandard air extraction and ventilation

  • substandard cleaning procedures

  • floor waste traps that are poorly maintained

  • urinals that are not regularly serviced and maintained

Substandard air extraction and ventilation

It is common practice for a public bathroom to have mechanical ventilation. Poorly performing ventilation systems that remove little air create hot and humid bathrooms.

A simple trick to check the extraction fans are working is to place a piece of toilet paper over the grate. If the paper is not sucked up into the grate and falls to the floor, you have a problem.

If you believe you have poor air ventilation, you need to have it checked over by your air conditioning service company.

Substandard cleaning procedures

Short cut cleaning procedures are the most common cause of urinal odours.

Frequently this is a result of poor cleaning and using cheap chemical cleaning products such as bleach.

Poor cleaning procedures are easy to detect with brown stains in and around the urinal. Usually, there will be urine stains on the floor as well because many males are bad shots.

Ensuring your cleaners receive training on cleaning urinals correctly will solve multiple odours and presentation issues in a public bathroom. Trained cleaner combined with using good quality urinal cleaning products such as Aquatemp Spray & Go Urinal Cleaner & Deodoriser will make a monumental change in eliminating urinal odours.

Odours emitting from the floors around urinals is common, especially with water flushing urinals. This is created by water mist combining with urine to settle on the floor in the tile grout. If the floors are not cleaned correctly, this bacteria will multiply continuously and rapidly. Cleaning the floors with specialist bathroom cleaning products such as Aquatemp No-Rinse Floor Cleaner, Sanitiser & Disinfectant will eliminate urinal odours in the floor tiles.

Floor waste traps that are poorly maintained

Floor wastes in a male public bathroom should only be connected to the basins. Disappointingly this is not always the case, especially in older buildings.

One of the first things to check when locating the source of urinal odours is to check that the urinals are not connected to a floor waste. If the urinals are connected to a floor waste, then you need to install a one-way valve into the floor waste to stop odour emissions.

Another common odour issue with floor waste drains is that the grates and pipe are never cleaned which allows bacteria buildup. Frequently this will be accompanied by poor ventilation which allows the odour causing bacteria to multiply and thrive.

Once again, this links back to correct cleaning procedures when cleaning the floors. That is why we recommend cleaning the floors with Aquatemp No-Rinse Floor Cleaner, Sanitiser & Disinfectant which will eliminate urinal odours in the floor tiles and floor waste grates.

Urinals that are not regularly serviced & maintained

Far too many building managers either fail to maintain their urinals or outsource their urinal servicing to cleaning and hygiene companies to reduce costs.

Not maintaining urinals only ensures you will create bigger problems at a later date.

Outsourcing urinal servicing to cleaning and hygiene companies is illegal as they cannot undertake any servicing work on urinals apart from cleaning them.

All urinals are required to be serviced and maintained correctly and legally compliantly as per the WaterMark certification for the urinals in accordance with the manufactures instructions.

Only plumbers are licensed to undertake urinal servicing by the Queensland Government plumbing regulator, the QBCC. The QBCC are legally required to protect public health and safety under Queensland’s plumbing and drainage licensing system.

Once again far too many building managers will outsource urinal servicing to companies such as Desert Eco Solutions. Desert use cheap, inferior substitute parts which guarantee you will experience urinal odours.

Under Queensland law and the WaterMark approval system on all urinals, it is illegal to use substitute parts. These means any parts that are not the genuine WaterMark tested and approved components for each urinal model under their WaterMark approval.

How to prevent urinal odours

At Whywait Plumbing, we are specialists in ensuring your bathroom facilities and urinals are a healthy environment.

Our product range and specialised services ensure your urinals are compliantly maintained, hygienic, and an odour free experience for your employees and clients alike.

We guarantee that urinal odours can be eliminated by following simple cleaning and maintenance procedures.

Specialist urinal cleaning products

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.

WaterMark Certification Guaranteeing Community Health and Safety

WaterMark Certification Guaranteeing Community Health and Safety

The WaterMark Certification Scheme Is Ultimately About Your Health

The WaterMark Certification Scheme is not voluntary. It is a mandatory and legally enforcible certification scheme covering Australia for all plumbing and drainage products. Ultimately it is about guaranteeing community health and safety.  

Bear in mind the water you drink, cook with and wash in can conceivably transmit waterborne diseases if the water becomes contaminated. This is a major reason why all products such as taps you drink from must be WaterMark approved.

Every product that is intended for use in all plumbing and drainage installations must undergo a risk assessment to identify any potential risk of manufacturing faults and installation failures.

Looking for the WaterMark 

When purchasing any new plumbing products for your home such as taps or toilets you must check that the products you are buying or installing are certified for use in Australia?

Certified products are easy to identify by the WaterMark certification trademark logo, as illustrated below. The WaterMark logo must appear on a product or its packaging, in addition to its WaterMark licence number and the applicable product specification.

Regrettably, many people go online to buy “cheap” plumbing products especially taps. Few of these taps have WaterMark Certification and potentially can be manufactured with large amounts of lead in the metal.

Deplorably there are many companies in Australia who think they can ignore their responsibilities to obey the law where WaterMark Certification is required in the pursuit of profits. Online sales of what are technically illegal plumbing products are rampant. There are advertisements all over social media promoting the purchase and DIY installations of non WaterMark approved products such as My Bidet Australia.

WaterMark Awareness

The WaterMark Certification Scheme is administered by the Australian Building Codes Board or ABCB as part of the Plumbing Code of Australia or PCA.

With all of the issues surrounding COVID-19 earlier this year, the ABCB along with the QBCC and Queensland Health became very concerned about online purchasing of bidet seats, tap, shower, toilet and urinal products on eBay and other online stores.

This resulted in the ABCB rolling out the LOOK for the WaterMark campaign. The campaign aims to improve compliance with the PCA, by promoting the WaterMark Certification Scheme to increase the understanding of why products must have WaterMark.

The LOOK for the WaterMark campaign will be implemented as a succession of WaterMark promotions with three key messages:

  • WaterMark certified products are all marked with the WaterMark trademark logo, WaterMark licence number and applicable specification.
  • Plumbing work must be undertaken by licensed plumbers who are legally required to install only WaterMark certified products.
  • How to search the WaterMark product database to locate and verify all WaterMark certified products.

What is WaterMark?

The video below explains exactly what the WaterMark Certification Scheme is and why we have it to protect your health.

What Plumbing Products Require WaterMark?

The video below explains exactly which plumbing products are required to have WaterMark Certification and how you will know if the product has been certified.

How to Use The WaterMark Product Database

The video below explains how to search for plumbing products WaterMark Certification on the WaterMark Product Database so that you can verify if the product has been certified.

Responsibility for Supply & Installation of WaterMark Approved Products

Enforcement of most laws concerning plumbing and plumbing products lays with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission or QBCC.

As Licensed Plumbers, it has always been illegal for us here at Whywait Plumbing to install non WaterMark approved products and non-conforming plumbing products. Since 2017 it has been illegal for anyone to supply a non-conforming plumbing product.

At Whywait Plumbing we have always complied with the laws that pertain to plumbing products. We will notify the QBCC immediately whenever we discover non-conforming, non-compliant illegal plumbing products installed anywhere.

Ultimately all of these laws are for your protection, safety and the security of community health.

Don’t Fall For The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off

Don’t Fall For The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off

The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off 

The great sacrificial anode replacement rip-off resurfaces every few years.

The routine invariably starts in the middle of the day with a knock on the door by a friendly “salesman”. After warm greetings, they state they are in your neighbourhood doing some work and that a neighbour had suggested they do the same “free check” on your hot water service.

This unsolicited pitch or a variation of it is the signature pitch of conmen who prey on unsuspecting homeowners, especially the elderly creating fear about their hot water tank. Commonly they display a great deal of empathy and concern and are only doing the “free check” of your hot water service as one of your neighbours had already had theirs repaired and were concerned for you.

The “free check” invariably concludes with you urgently needing a sacrificial anode replacement. If you have water stains on your hot water tank similar to the photo below then you have a leak in the tank.

What Is A Leaking Sacrificial Anode

As you can see below this tank needed replacement as it was leaking around the sacrificial anode. Installing a new sacrificial anode will achieve nothing.

A leaking hot water tank cannot be repaired.

Even if your hot water tank is not leaking the friendly salesman will assure you it is about to start leaking if you don’t replace the sacrificial anode now.

To back it up he will have information from the manufacturers about replacing the sacrificial anode backed up by horror photos.

Does A Sacrificial Anode Need Replacing?

Yes, your sacrificial anode on your hot water service should be checked at least every 5 years.

But if it has never been checked or replaced and your hot water service is over 10 years old you are wasting your time replacing it as the damage has already been done to your steel storage tank.

The photo above illustrates perfectly a brand new sacrificial anode at the top of the photo. The sacrificial anode in the bottom of the photo was removed after nine years inside a hot water tank.

 Basically your hot water tank is prevented from rusting away by the sacrificial anode. The anode corrodes instead of the steel tank which is the cathode. This principle of electrolytic corrosion control is described as cathodic protection. Hence the term sacrificial anode. As a cathodic surface cannot rust, the steel hot water tank is protected as long as the anode is whole and working.

These days the majority of hot water tanks last around 12 to 15 years. The sacrificial anode prolongs the life of your hot water tank. But once the anode becomes ineffective the steel tank is no longer a cathode and begins to rust from the inside. Once the rusting process begins, it takes about 3 to 5 years for it to eat away through the steel tank wall. 

Who Can Replace A Sacrificial Anode?

As with any plumbing fixture, only a licenced plumber working for a QBCC licensed plumbing contractor can replace a sacrificial anode.

Take it from me knocking on your door and cold-calling is not a professional or viable way to market or operate a plumbing business.

In all likelihood, the person knocking on your door is not a licensed plumber or a licensed plumbing contractor. Simply ask them to produce their licenses. In our experience, they are not a plumber but ordinary old con artists who have no experience or knowledge in servicing a hot water service.

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