Zeroflush waterless urinals installed at Brisbane International Airport
ZeroFlush Waterless urinals supplied and installed by Whywait Plumbing are precisely what they sound like. Instead of using water to flush away the urine, like traditional urinals which waste anywhere up to 25 litres of water every time they flush. ZeroFlush waterless urinals utilise gravity, putting urine through an odour barrier or one-way valve system which eliminates 100% of the water from a conventional flushing process.
Replacing a water flushing urinal with a ZeroFlush waterless model can save an average of 152000 litres annually per urinal. There’s one urinal for every three toilets in non-residential properties, which together account for more than a quarter of Australia’s water consumption.
The supply of water to commercial office buildings, shopping centres, educational facilities and hotels utilises a substantial amount of energy. The simple act of installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals and the disconnection of urinals from a buildings water reticulation system can reduce by 50% a building’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Throughout Australia, water charges continue to increase annually. The advent of sewerage discharge factor charges based on the amount of water consumed is increasing in popularity. These charges alone require reductions in water consumption to avoid substantial annual increases. For commercial property managers, this means they must budget for paying for water coming into the building and also going out via the sewage system. This means the installation of ZeroFlush urinals will not only aid with sustainability but reduce water and energy costs.
The urban myth that waterless urinals are unhygienic and stink is a myth perpetuated by opponents of waterless urinals that has no foundation in fact. A recent study by th
e Shanghai Environment Project Design Institute once again proved that waterless urinals contain five times fewer bacteria than water flushing urinals. Bacteria and germs from water flushing urinals are created by airborne fecal matter that is reproduced when the urinal flushes water. The combination of water moisture with the fecal matter creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and flourish. As waterless urinals don’t flush water every time they have been used the opportunity for bacterial and germ contamination becomes very remote.
The real reason most male bathroom facilities have putrid odours is triggered by the bacteria created from airborne fecal matter and water moisture. Urine by itself has a very soft odour but combined with the water flushing urinals spraying of water particles it can quickly create odours over the entire bathroom facility.
ZeroFlush waterless urinals are a guaranteed path to reducing water and energy consumption plus greenhouse gas emissions in any non-residential commercial building. Installing them will always help water and energy sustainability.
Sadly employing an apprentice plumber has become an expensive luxury for many small plumbing companies throughout Australia. This is due to the complexities of the Fair Work Act, to their high wages and the length of time away from work on holidays and at TAFE training.
This has been further exasperated by the explosion in sub-contracting with 65% of all plumbing businesses being a one-person operation who employ no staff at all.
As an industry, if we don’t train for the future, then we have no future. This is why we at Whywait Plumbing have always made it a policy to employ and train at least three apprentices at any given time. Even throughout the GFC in 2008-10, we maintained employment and training for four apprentices.
If you go to university, you don’t get paid and incur a hex debt that you eventually payback for your study. However, if you become an apprentice plumber, your employer pays you for the entire four years of your training, every week, with annual increases.
Currently, the archaic document that purports to be a ‘Modern Award’, the Plumbers and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 requires a first-year apprentice plumber who has completed year 12 to be paid $13.18 per hour. If the apprentice plumber is aged over 20, he starts on $19.07 an hour. Compare this with how much you will get paid to attend university in the first and subsequent years.
Apprenticeship numbers have been declining for the last 20 years. Much of the reason for this is due to decisions 20 years ago to focus everyone at high school on obtaining a university education. This has lead to many young people graduating with degrees and then being unable to gain employment in their chosen field of study.
The importance of well-trained plumbers to society as a whole cannot be underestimated. Plumbing as a trade will continue to exist and ensures young people taking up apprenticeships will always have a good job and a good future.
Interestingly apprenticeship completions at 64% is almost on par with university graduations of 67%. In plumbing, 80% of those who never finish their apprenticeship drop out in the first two years.
This decline in numbers of plumbers as a whole available to be employed has been brought home to us in recent months. We have been advertising for two licensed plumbers at that time, and these are fulltime jobs, not casual or sub-contract. It’s been alarming at how few plumbers applied for the job. Interviewing potential employees has been an intriguing and challenging exercise.
Dillon Lowes installing new sewer pipes at Niecon Plaza
We have employed two new employees in the last month as an apprentice plumber and welcome to Whywait Plumbing, Scott Moir and Dillon Lowes.
Unlike many of our competitors, we don’t employ sub-contractors, so everyone who works at Whywait Plumbing is a full-time employee. That means everyone working here is paid for six weeks of annual and personal leave plus two weeks of statutory holidays. Sub-contractors don’t receive those benefits plus they have to pay their own superannuation and work cover.
The combination of a reduction in plumbing businesses employing an apprentice plumber and the numbers of plumbers retiring means there is a shortfall of 13% between the number of plumbers available and the demand for plumbers.
All of these issues are increasing the cost of employing plumbers. This, in turn, increases the cost for plumbing businesses to undertake work across the board in both construction and maintenance. Ultimately it’s always a balancing act between supply and demand.
Whywait Plumbing has, since 2004, been the service agent for ZeroFlush waterless urinals throughout Australia. Before that, we had, and continue to have extensive experience with installing and maintaining both the Falcon waterless urinal and the Uridan waterless urinal. As a consequence of our long and extensive experience, Whywait Plumbing is acknowledged as an expert on the installation, servicing, and maintenance of waterless urinals.
In 2006, as water shortages and drought gripped many Australian cities, so-called water sustainability companies sprung up everywhere. As always, this was to take advantage of government subsidies and offer simplistic answers to what were in reality, complex problems with water requiring expert plumbing knowledge.
One of these companies was Desert Eco who claimed they could give you a pill called the Desert urinal cube to throw into your water flushing urinal, turn off the water supply and turn it into a waterless urinal.
This, of course, was illegal then and remains unlawful now. In fact, in 2010 amendments to AS/NZS 3500.2-2003 had to be introduced to combat the damage that was occurring in urinals everywhere. These amendments clarified the requirements for the use of waterless urinals and effectively banned the practice of converting water flushing urinals to waterless urinals.
In recent years Desert Eco have renamed themselves as Desert, but they are still the same company. They continue making extravagant claims that the Desert urinal cube with a small amount of water dispersed over it every day will activate the cube releasing slowly dissolving beneficial microbes over several weeks that will break down organic matter in the drain and remove unpleasant odours. The worrying thing about this claim is that there is no organic matter in a urinal drain as urine is composed of water and salts.
Whywait Plumbing continues to see the damage that Desert Eco create with their outright lies that they have reduced high maintenance costs with their new EcoAdapt Advanced package and it can be applied to any existing or new waterless urinal. They even illegally claim that their unique Desert EcoAdapt urinal cartridge is reusable and fits nearly all waterless urinal brands.
The installation of the Desert EcoAdapt urinal cartridge in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal has once again caused problems with foul odours being emitted from the urinal and the urinal being slow to drain.
Using the Desert EcoAdapt urinal cartridge for waterless urinal servicing is entirely illegal and non-compliant on every waterless urinal and water flushing urinal in Australia.
The only urinal in Australia that can legally use the Desert EcoAdapt urinal cartridge is their own waterless Desert No Flush urinal which does have a compliant WaterMark certificate to ATS 5200.459:2004 Technical Specification for plumbing and drainage products Part 459: Waterless urinals—Wall-hung.
The use of the Desert EcoAdapt urinal cartridge in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal is illegal and non-compliant as it is in all waterless urinals. Using the Desert EcoAdapt Advanced package will leave you open to possible legal action from plumbing authorities, manufacturers and most of all from the general public for a breach of workplace, health and safety regulations.
Tree roots in a stormwater drain causing localised flooding is an issue confronted by many homeowners, particularly during our summer storms.
So imagine the issues faced when the tallest commercial office building on the Gold Coast at 118m tall and with 27 floors above ground and 5 levels of basement parking gets roots in their drains.
Well, this scenario is exactly what has occurred at the Gold Coast’s premier office building, GDI Property Group’s “50 Cavill Avenue” in the heart of Surfers Paradise on the corner of Cavill Avenue and Beach Road.
As you can see in the photo on the right, 50 Cavill Avenue is indeed a prestigious office building with a great street appearance. Part of that appearance is a magnificent fig tree in a grassed area on the very corner of the property at the Beach Road entrance. The tree can be seen on the bottom right of the photo.
Unfortunately, over the years since being transplanted onto the site, the tree roots of this beautiful tree had slowly but surely gained access to 50 Cavill Avenues main stormwater drainage system.
Stormwater drains are a critical part of any building and are designed to comply with AS 3500.3:2015 to ensure that the materials used, the design, installation and testing of roof drainage systems, surface drainage systems and subsoil drainage systems will always work.
Unfortunately, as we frequently witness the stormwater drains are installed not in accordance with the designs causing flooding.
This is in the main due to the fact that stormwater drains are inspected and certified by private building certifiers, rather than council plumbing inspectors which in our experience frequently means they are never inspected to ensure they are compliant.
Every summer after our storms and heavy rainfall events we see the consequences of poorly designed, poorly installed and poorly maintained stormwater drains.
As you can see from the photos above and below on the left the tree roots infiltration at 50 Cavill Avenue is extensive inside these 100mm stormwater drains. The tree roots in these photos are more than 30m away from the fig tree and are perfectly formed plus being incredibly strong requiring power saws to cut through them.
The process to rectify these drains at 50 Cavill Avenue is extremely complex as we have had to hydro excavate extensive areas of grass and soil to locate where the tree roots are entering the stormwater drainage system.
The photo on the right shows a 6m length of tree roots lying on the concrete floor that we removed that were completely encompassing the entire interior of a 100mm pipe.
We are all aware we have had plenty of rain this summer and that stormwater drains have been tested to the limit.
But you should never be complacent where your stormwater drains are concerned if you have trees on your property. Infiltration by tree roots similar to what has happened at 50 Cavill Avenue will slowly sneak up on you.
Overflowing, slow draining or gurgling drains are your warning signs. They should never ever be ignored as they seldom go away and should be investigated immediately.
A combination of disposable wipes, paper towels and toilet paper blocking a drain because they were unable to break down in water.
Plumbing urban myths abound these days with social media and media sensationalism.
For the plumbing technicians at Whywait it’s frequently hard to get clients to understand factual information because they have Googled their problem and found what is, in reality, a plumbing urban myth that seems to fit.
Unfortunately, plumbing urban myths abound and below are a few popular myths and the real facts:
- Myth – disposable baby, kitchen or bathroom wipes and paper towels can be flushed down a toilet. Fact – The photo above is a pipe full of disposable wipes, paper towels and toilet paper that shows they don’t break down and degrade like toilet paper but pile up inside the drain and block your entire sewer drainage system.
- Myth – loud banging noises in a hot water service are a warning sign that it is about to burst and leak. Fact – unfortunately, there are no real warning signs that a hot water service is about to start leaking. If you do hear banging or rumbling noises coming from the actual storage tank it indicates that the loose minerals in the sediment in the bottom of the tank are causing air bubbles during the heating cycle and that in reality, your hot water service needs a 5 yearly service that includes flushing the tank of sediment.
- Myth – Thomas Crapper invented the toilet. Fact – No he did not invent it but made it work better with the flushing mechanism.
- Myth – Water flushes in a toilet clockwise in Australia in the southern hemisphere but anti-clockwise in Germany in the northern hemisphere. Fact – No the actual design of the toilet bowl dictates which direction water flushes as such a small amount of water is not affected by the Coriolis Effect.
Myths are often fun but the reality is plumbing urban myths can be dangerous if taken as factual which is why plumbing problems should always be diagnosed and repaired by a licensed plumbing contractor.
Gurgling drains should never be ignored as they are your early warning that you are potentially about to experience blocked sewer drains.
Generally the sounds of gurgling drains will be coming from your toilet or from the bathroom floor waste drainage trap when you are using other plumbing fixtures. Very simply gurgling drains are similar to you experiencing an asthma attack because the drain is struggling to breath.
What has occurred in your underground sewer drains is that the drains are full of waste water that are blocking or partially blocking the drains vent pipe that connects from your drain and extends up above your roof.
Therefore when you use any of your plumbing because the vent is not letting the drain breath the drain creates a vacuum through a toilet pan or floor waste trap or occasionally a laundry tub in an attempt to get air. Normally only part of the water in the fixture trap is sucked out leaving the remainder of the water in the trap and it this water movement that causes the gurgling drains as air is sucked into the drain.
The interconnecting plumbing and sewer drainage system in your home is a very simple system but it must be able to breath and get air into the system through your vent pipes. Many people believe that the vent pipe is a stink pipe to remove smelly sewer odours from the sewer drain. This is partially correct but the vent pipes other job is to equalise air pressures within your sewer drains and give you a balanced system that allows waste water to flow.
Very simply whenever you flush the toilet or have a shower or turn your washing machine on the waste water immediately runs into your sewer drains. Instantly in the drain you get water and air displacement with a vacuum being created behind the flowing water that sucks air into the drain to equalise the pressure in your drain and allows the water to flow.
Gurgling drains should never ever be ignored as they seldom go away and should be investigated immediately.
By Gary Mays