In November it will be 48 years since I finished high school and began my plumbing apprenticeship. Over the years, I have either asked myself every dumb question or have been asked some interesting questions by other people concerning plumbing.
But last week I got asked a question by Steve, a long-standing client that I cannot recollect ever being asked before. The question being, “What happens if I stick my hand into the kitchen sink InSinkErator waste disposal unit when it’s going?
My first response was to wonder why you would contemplate even doing such a thing. That was until Steve explained it was a question posed by his 5-year-old grandson.
Steve was genuinely worried it was something his grandson may try to attempt. Now the question did not seem so dumb at all. Steve was correct to be worried that his grandson would try to see what would happen if he put his hand down the InSinkErator unit when it was turned on because as we all know a 5-year old has little fear.
Steve was seriously contemplating getting us to remove the food waste disposal unit out of the sink permanently. This was despite him being concerned about the loss of conveniently and hygienically disposing of food scraps which could also increase the risk of a blocked sink.
An InSinkErator Has NO BLADES
Like most people, Steve was convinced that an InSinkErator waste disposal unit is a mass of sharp blades spinning around chopping and shredding everything that enters its chamber. Contrary to popular believe an InSinkErator sink waste disposal unit is not like a kitchen blender and it has NO BLADES at all.
Steve was much happier once I explained how an InSinkErator unit works. If his grandson put his hand into the unit when it was turned on then he would at the worse end up with a bruised and maybe cut hand. Although in all likelihood he would pull his hand out as soon as it came into contact with the spinning plate and or its impellers which have absolutely no cutting function.
Very simply instead of spinning blades chopping, cutting and breaking down the food scraps InSinkErator waste disposal works by:
Instead of blades, impellers (or lugs) mounted on a spinning plate use centrifugal force to continuously force food waste particles against a stationary grind ring
The grind ring breaks down the food scraps into very fine particles – virtually liquefying them
After they are ground, the running water flushes the particles through the grind ring and out of the disposer and into your waste-water pipe and into the sewer house drains
How Does An InSinkErator Work?
If you want to see exactly how an InSinkErator waste disposal unit works have a look at this 90-second video below which gives you a graphic inside view of how a unit works.
After watching the above video Steve was happy to keep using his InSinkErator waste disposal unit because like most people who have an InSinkErator he knew it was the most convenient, environmentally friendly and hygienic method to dispose of food waste and scraps. Generally, waste disposal units create a safer and cleaner kitchen using minimal water and electricity.
Tips on Using An InSinkErator
If you already have an InSinkErator sink waste disposal unit installed here are a few tips to using it which assist in prolonging its working life:
InSinkErator waste disposal units can become stuck or seized, and this can be caused by non-food items such as spoons being placed or falling into the unit
overfilling the InSinkErator can cause the unit to jam
grease or fatty liquids should not be poured into the InSinkErator
InSinkErator units should never be run dry, always use with the cold water running whilst the unit is spinning plus always turn the cold water off after turning off the unit
cleaning your InSinkErator waste disposal unit once every week by inserting and grinding a handful of ice in your unit. This will remove any buildup that may have been left when grinding food materials, and often gets rid of any smell coming from your kitchen sink drain. If an odour persists after carrying out this cleaning try cutting up and grinding a lemon or grapefruit will give a fresh citrus smell
the InSinkErator unit should be equipped with a reset button either at the side of the unit (older models) or underneath the unit. If your unit fails to start after pressing the reset, then it is probably more than just jammed disposal, and you should call Whywait Plumbing and have one of our plumbers solve the problem.
Non-Conforming & Non-Compliant Plumbing & Building Products Are Illegal To Supply, Specify & Install
Non-conforming plumbing products that have not the appropriate WaterMark certification have always been illegal for licensed plumbers to install.
The WaterMark Certification Scheme is not voluntary. It is a mandatory and legally enforcible certification scheme for plumbing and drainage products. This is to ensure they are fit for purpose plus appropriately tested and authorised for use in all plumbing and drainage installations.
It has been illegal since 2017 for anyone to supply, specify, instruct others to install or for anyone to install non-conforming plumbing and building products in Queensland. Unfortunately, many companies think they can ignore their responsibilities to obey the law. Online sales of non-conforming plumbing products are rampant. There are advertisements all over social media promoting DIY installations of non-conforming plumbing products such as My Bidet Australia.
On 30 August 2017 the Building and Construction Legislation (Non-conforming Building Products-Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017, regarding the use and sale of non-conforming building products became law.
These laws further strengthened how compliance must be achieved with amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Act 1991, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, and the Building Act 1975 concerning non-conforming building and plumbing products.
These laws create a chain of responsibility so that designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plumbing and building products have as much responsibility as licensed plumbers to ensure a product is compliant and fit for its intended purpose.
These laws give the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) new powers to investigate the manufacture, sale and use of non-conforming building products.
Building and plumbing products are regarded as illegal, non-conforming or non-compliant for an intended use if;
the product is not, or will not be, safe; or
does not, or will not, comply with the relevant regulatory provisions; or
the product does not perform or is not capable of performing, for the use of the standard it is represented to conform by such as Watermark certification.
Definitions of Non-Conforming Plumbing Products
There are 1000’s of plumbing products manufactured both in Australia and overseas. Consequently, it can be challenging to know whether or not a plumbing product is genuine and will perform as required plus will comply and conform with the WaterMark Certification Scheme.
You can check the WaterMark Product Database which lists all plumbing products that have been certified and marked in accordance with the requirements of the WaterMark Certification Scheme.
In general, everyone should be aware of the following terms regarding compliant plumbing products:
Non-compliant plumbing and building products and materials are any product used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC) which encompasses the WaterMark Certification Scheme. You must be aware any plumbing product can be both non-conforming and non-compliant.
Fraudulent documentation refers to a recorded claim that a plumbing product’s performance meets specified Australian plumbing standards when used or tested, do not meet that performance claim. This frequently will include falsified documentation, fraudulent certification or test results.
Product substitution is commonplace and can occur when a product is submitted for third-party certification testing and, after the WaterMark certification is granted, the manufacturer/supplier alters it and does not retest or recertify the product. Product substitution is also a widespread problem where a seemingly identical but non-conforming replacement plumbing product is offered to replace the WaterMark certified product.
Counterfeit plumbing products are also widespread and are an unauthorised copy of a plumbing product, created with the intention to deceive. They are illegally sold to suppliers, plumbers, building owners and consumers, as genuine.
These laws have created a legal chain of responsibility for everyone for reporting non-conforming building or plumbing products to the QBCC. This duty applies to every person in the chain of responsibility who becomes aware or reasonably suspects that the building or plumbing product installed is non-conforming and or non-compliant for the intended use.
As Licensed Plumbers, it has always been illegal for us here at Whywait Plumbing to install non-conforming plumbing products. However, it is now illegal for anyone to supply a non-conforming plumbing product.
At Whywait Plumbing we have always complied with these laws. We will notify the QBCC immediately whenever we discover non-conforming, non-compliant illegal plumbing products installed anywhere.
Ultimately these laws are for the protection, safety and security of everyone.
As good as Google can be for searching everything and anything I guarantee no-one at Google ever completed a plumbing apprenticeship or a medical degree or an electrical apprenticeship.
I was chatting with my GP recently, and she voiced her frustrations with patients that Google their symptoms and then make an appointment to see her. Almost invariably, Dr Google is wrong. Usually, the patient has typed in symptoms that frequently give an utterly incorrect diagnosis of multiple possible ailments. She said even more frustrating is that she then spends most of the appointment convincing them Dr Google was wrong.
She was so happy when I told her as plumbers we go through exactly the same issues daily. Everyone I know that is in a service industry that has a consumer focus has the same problems and frustrations of being an instant expert thanks to Dr Google or Google Plumbing or Google Electrical.
We all agree Google is excellent, especially for product searches. But when you are in business, it can also be incredibly frustrating when clients tell you they have Googled the problem and you are wrong. Ultimately for doctors or plumbers or electricians, all we can do is diagnose the issues based on the information presented and go through a process of elimination of possible causes.
The headline above comparing Dr Google to a drunk friend I just had to adapt and use after I saw it in a column by Tony Shepherd of The Adelaide Advertiser just after discussing Dr Google with my GP. I must admit it amused me as the description is perfect – dramatic and unreliable. You can read the full column by clicking here as it is a great read. The first lines are “Cyberchondriacs, step away from the search engine. Online symptom checkers are almost always wrong and should never replace a real medical professional, writes Tory Shepherd.”
This advice equally applies to plumbing because it can be difficult enough to diagnose plumbing problems when on site let alone on a computer or over the phone. As I continually reiterate no professional plumber can diagnose issues over the phone or give you an accurate price. There is only one way to diagnose plumbing problems, and that’s by having a real plumber on-site to investigate. Even then, complex issues become a process of elimination.
From the plumbing and ultimately health perspective, the most frightening issue we’ve seen with COVID-19 is all of the online suggestions on DIY installations of bidet seats and douche sprays. Google searches during the “toilet paper crisis” increased tenfold for bidet seats due to multiple social media posts and newspaper articles on so-called alternate toileting devices. Google will only ever give you generalised answers that are tailored to you as Google tracks you online with artificial intelligence.
Tony Shepherd correctly points out – “Maybe it’s best to think of Google not as a medical professional but as Librarian Google, who holds plenty of information and might be able to help you find it, but might also be miffed at the amount of noise you make so just points you in the general direction of some stuff.”
My favourite lines after that are – “Or Friend Google who, after three champagnes, will tell you everything’s going to be great, but at 2 am starts crying into their whisky about how you’re going to die.”
Those lines above sum up precisely the daily frustrations that so many consumer-focused service businesses experience. The old saying about computers of rubbish in, rubbish out is correct. The flawed Google searches of an inexperience person create multiple issues as nonsense input into a Google search will guarantee nonsense results.
Ultimately Google is a tool or research assistant that can help you put things together in a logical manner or can throw a real spanner in the works. A Google search cannot replace a doctor or an electrician or a plumber, no matter how good Google artificial intelligence is.
It is illegal to install a douche spray or bidet spray in Queensland unless it complies with AS/NZS 3500.1:2018 clause 12.2.3 below which classifies bidet toilet seats and douche sprays at toilet seat douches.
12.2.3 Toilet seat douches – Where the douche outlet, in all positions, is at least 25 mm above the overflow level of the pan, backflow prevention is not required. Where the douche outlet, in any position, is less than 25 mm above the overflow of the pan, a high-hazard backflow prevention device, conforming to AS/NZS 2845.1 or AS 2845.2, shall be installed. This device shall be either part of the douche or installed separately.
Unfortunately, there are advertisements everywhere on social media or websites promoting DIY such as My Bidet Australia. The product they advertise as an easy install toilet seat bidet is illegal. They promote on their website as – Quick and Easy Installation: Includes everything you need including tools to get your bidet up and running in minutes. Easily attaches to and detaches from any standard two-piece toilet.
The reality is the product has no WaterMark certification. As the photo illustrates clearly on their website, the dual nozzles are deep inside the toilet bowl, creating a high backflow risk. This is categorised as high risk as back-siphonage can occur through these nozzles allowing contaminated water from the toilet bowl to be sucked into the potable or drinking water supply.
The toilet seat bidet from My Bidet Australia sells online for $99, which is an indication of its quality. The price should be a warning enough as to how good this product is likely to be as good quality WaterMark approved bidet seats such as a Toto Washlet start at around $1199.00 in Australia.
The old saying you get what you pay for applies absolutely for this dangerous product. It is frightening that they state on their website – Upgrade your bathroom with beautifully designed bidet attachments, featuring water pressure control knobs. We use high-quality parts that are built to last. They are constructed with high-pressure faucet quality valves and metal/ceramic core. Common sense dictates you cannot produce high quality for $99 that complies with Australian Standards.
Unfortunately, this product is being advertised everywhere on Facebook and Google. Currently, if you do a Google search for a Toto bidet seat the first result in Google AdWords is incredibly for not Toto but My Bidet Australia. It truly is a case of buyer beware and why you need to check it is approved for use in Australia with a WaterMark certification.
What does backflow mean?
Backflow is simply the reverse flow of water. When we refer to it in plumbing terms, it is stopping contaminated water being drawn back into the water supply system that we all use for drinking. In terms of an illegally installed douche spray or bidet spray, this can occur when the water pressure drops significantly. If nozzles or sprays connected to the water supply are in contact with a contaminated water supply in a toilet, there is potential for that contaminated water to be sucked into the drinking water supply. In simple terms, it is like you sucking on a straw.
There are two ways that backflow contamination will occur because of a water pressure drop:
Back-pressure occurs if there is an increase in the downstream pressure, which creates a reversal of the normal direction of the water flow.
Back-siphonage occurs when there is a drop in the supply pressure, thereby creating a negative pressure situation in the water supply. Commonly this will happen if the water is suddenly turned off or there is a dramatic increase in demand such as water used for fire fighting.
With a bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray backflow contamination is possible and if occurring it is classified as high risk. This is why all of these products by law must be:
have a form 9 lodged with the local water authority
All of the above are requirements under the law; they are not optional extras.
What does high hazard mean?
High hazard is the highest rated hazard in the cross-connection hazard rating in AS/NZS 3500.1-2018, which is covered in Section 4 Cross-Connection Control and Backflow Prevention. As Licensed Plumbers, we know how serious this section is in ensuring that our drinking water is not contaminated and potentially life-threatening. Clause 4.3 below lists all three ratings:
4.3 CROSS-CONNECTION HAZARD RATING
Cross-connections are rated using three degrees of hazard, as follows:
(a) High hazard Any condition, device, or practise that, in connection with the water supply system, has the potential to cause death.
(b) Medium hazard Any condition, device, or practise that, in connection with the water supply system, has the potential to endanger health.
(c) Low hazardAny condition, device or practise that, in connection with the water supply system, constitutes a nuisance but does not endanger health or cause injury.
The high hazard rating is not a scare tactic when we talk about an illegal or a non-compliant bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray it is a health issue with the critical wording being potential to cause death.
Yes, any plumbing fixture installed in your home or business can null and void your home and contents insurance policies.
Any bidet seat, douche spray or bidet spray that is not installed by a Licensed Plumber or does not have WaterMark certification has the potential to flood your home. A burst flexihose on these dodgy products can flood your home very quickly.
ACCC and Government warnings
We all understand that COVID-19 has caused a great deal of uncertainty and angst, but a DIY installation of a toilet bidet seat or douche spray or bidet spray is merely breaking the law. DIY of any plumbing fixture has potentially dire consequences, and with products such as the toilet seat bidet from My Bidet Australia, you are risking severe illness or death.
The ACCC, the ABCB and every state government has become alarmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in the purchase of toilet seat bidet douches, handheld bidet sprays and trigger sprays, and other bidet type products that are connected to toilet water supply valve are being installed as a DIY project.
The critical message of every alert issued by every state government is that the installation of any bidet product connected to the drinking water supply must be undertaken by a licensed plumber and must hold WaterMark certification.
The DIY installation of a bidet seat or a douche spray is illegal. The health risk of incorrectly installed bidet seats or douche sprays can be severe not only to you but to the community as a whole. In the last month, Google searches for the term bidets have increased tenfold, which is frightening as traditionally Australians have shunned the installation of bidets. The increase in Google searches has occurred due to multiple social media posts and newspaper articles on so-called alternative toileting devices and what is appallingly lousy advice on their installation.
The multitude of bidet seats and douche sprays that can now be found for sale online has set off alarm bells at all levels of government in Australia. It is evident when checking the scant information available online that very few of these online products have been tested and approved for use in Australia.
Hardware stores and specialist plumbing suppliers that stock douche spray kits are selling them out as fast as stock arrives to DIY enthusiasts who get installation advice from shop assistants. This just increases the health risks tenfold. There have been reports of staff in plumbing supply stores being abused for refusing to advise on how to install bidet seats or douche spray kits and suggesting that a licensed plumber must install these products.
As a result, here in Queensland the QBCC has issued a public warning on the sale and installation of ‘alternative toileting devices’ which in part states:
This is a warning issued by the Commissioner of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to the public under section 20J(1)(i) of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (QBCC Act).
The QBCC warns suppliers and the public about the sale and use of potentially non-conforming building products, namely Do It Yourself (DIY) bidets, douche sprays and similar hygiene devices, collectively known as ‘alternative toileting devices’.
The QBCC has recently become aware of the sale and DIY installation of alternative toileting devices in Queensland, particularly for household use. Unless these devices are manufactured to comply with Australian Standards and also are properly installed, these can lead to a risk of contaminating the household water supply with E. coli bacteria. An E. coli infection can lead to serious health and safety issues.
In Queensland, alternative toileting devices must be installed by a licensed plumber who has the skills and qualifications to ensure that a backflow prevention device is in place.
A bidet seat or a douche spray are classified as high hazard plumbing products. This is because there is a high risk of toilet sewage water mixing with your drinking water if they are not installed as per the requirements of section 12 of AS/NZS 3500.1-2018 Water Services. They must be legally certified with an Australian WaterMark approval which is evident on the packaging plus can be searched online at the WaterMark Product Database.
Despite looking easy to install, they are not. Both a bidet seat and a douche spray require a water connection. Generally, this can be at the water connection for the toilet cistern. However, this always requires a legally compliant backflow prevention device to be installed as well. This is not an optional extra it is the law to prevent your drinking water from becoming contaminated, which pose serious risks to your families health and safety.
If you have recently undertaken a DIY installation of a bidet seat or douche spray to your toilet, then we urge you to call us on (07) 5580 4311 to get us to check it is a compliant installation. This ensures you have not created a risk to your families health and safety plus ensures you have not null and voided your homes insurance policies.
You need to be aware of so-called unlicensed plumbers or handyman who cannot legally install a bidet seat or douche spray to your toilet. Beware of the handyman who tries to convince you that he can undertake plumbing works as long as it’s under $3300 of value. This is a complete lie by opportunistic unlicensed scammers who put your families health at risk. The benchmark value for undertaking plumbing, drainage or gas work is $0 and always has been. For extra assurance go the QBCC website To find out more about a licensee you can use their online licensee search, or search their occupational licence.
If you would like to investigate the installation of a bidet seat or douche spray to your toilet, then call us on (07) 5580 4311 to book an appointment. This ensures the installation is compliant with Queensland law as all products we install have appropriate and genuine Watermark certification.
With all the uncertainly during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is critical Gold Coast homeowners and businesses don’t fall into the trap of using so-called handymen or unlicensed plumbers. In reality, there is no such occupation categorised as unlicensed plumbers. Every person classified as a plumber is licensed by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission or QBCC.
All individuals and companies must hold a QBCC licence for any building works that involve any work that is:
Your plumbing is not a simplistic plaything and worldwide is classified as critical public health infrastructure. All work undertaken on any aspect of your plumbing, drainage or gas infrastructure is legally required to be undertaken by appropriately licensed individuals and companies.
All plumbers frequently experience fixing up after a handyman who makes out that unlicensed plumbers exist and convinces homeowners he can undertake plumbing works as long as it’s under $3300 of value. This is a complete lie by opportunistic unlicensed scammers who put your families health at risk. The benchmark value for undertaking plumbing, drainage or gas work is $0 and always has been.
Any plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work is essential to ensuring the health and safety of the entire community. This is critically important with the COVIC-19 health pandemic we are currently facing.
Every aspect of the plumbing, drainage and gas trades are administered by a strict licensing and legislative regime. This ensures every person in these trades holds the relative QBCC licences that are legally required. This, in turn, ensures the safety and protection of the entire community through the provision of clean, safe drinking water, sanitary drains and sewers to dispose of wastewater, and gas pipes and appliances that are fit for purpose.
We all agree that using a licensed plumber or gas fitter can appear expensive, but it is an investment that protects your families health. Using an unlicensed plumber can null and void your insurance coverage plus leave you with possible legal and financial implications.
Especially now demand to sight the QBCC licences visually. A QBCC occupational licence enables the person to carry out the work physically. A QBCC contractor licence allows the person to engage in contracting for the work.
Can plumbing work be undertaken by unlicensed plumbers or handymen?
Repairing or replacing a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber in a toilet cistern
Replacing caps or covers to ground-level inspection openings on a sanitary drain
Cleaning or maintaining a ground-level grate for a trap on a sanitary drain
Installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from a tap, isolating valve or backflow prevention device on the supply pipe for the watering system
Repairing or maintaining an irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from a greywater use facility or on-site sewage facility
Fire protection work for testing plumbing carried out by a holder of a fire protection occupational licence or another QBCC licence
Incidental unskilled tasks such as excavating or backfilling a trench
Many of these tasks are much more complicated than they appear. Mixer taps, for example, can be extremely complicated just to dismantle and technically they have no washer so must always be worked on by a licensed plumber.
Despite social media saying yes you can we can guarantee it is entirely illegal for anyone other than a licensed plumber to install a bidet seat or a douche spray to a toilet.
Checking a plumbers licence
Prior to letting anyone commence work on your plumbing, drainage or gas ask them for their plumbers’ licence as they are legally obliged to produce it for you if requested.