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Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

Planning now ensures you don’t blow your budget

When it comes to bathroom renovations, one of the biggest concerns for homeowners is cost. It’s no secret that these projects can quickly add up, leaving you with a hefty bill and a less-than-ideal outcome. But at Whywait Plumbing, we’re here to tell you that bathroom renovation costs don’t need to blow out of proportion.

First and foremost, you must clearly know what you want before you begin the renovation process. This means deciding on a specific design, layout, and materials. A clear plan will help you stay within budget and avoid costly changes or additions.

Another tip for keeping costs down is to focus on the essentials. While you may be tempted to splurge on fancy features, the basics often make the most significant impact. For example, you can create a beautiful, functional bathroom without breaking the bank by prioritising functional elements such as a new toilet, sink, and shower.

There is no disguising a bathroom in need of renovation

We have prepared a few tips and advice to help you keep costs down and maximise your budget when renovating your bathroom. Increasingly we are observing the simple fact that there is no disguising a bathroom needing renovation. These bathrooms have some or many of the following abominably dated features:

  • peach or pea green tiles,
  • failing grouting in floors and walls,
  • mould damage to the ceiling,
  • bathroom carpet,
  • gold plated taps with fake glass handles,
  • poor use of space,
  • wallpaper that looks like a ’70s disco freak chose it.

All of the above were standard design traits in bathrooms dating back over 10 years and often 25 years.

 For better or worse, bathrooms are a place for people to stamp their creative mark on a home.

 Often it was inexplicable to what they were trying to create with bizarre combinations such as black tiled walls and red-painted ceilings.

Bathrooms by their design and use factors are prone to failure over time

Generally, a bathroom needs some form of renovation after around five years, depending on how frequently it is used.

 But bathroom renovations do not have to be designer-level expensive affairs.

If you plan and know what you are doing, keeping a lid on bathroom renovation costs is not hard.

 Below are listed seven issues to be seriously considered so your bathroom renovation costs do not blow out:

1: Assess how much you need to change

The more you want to change, the more expensive the project will be. That is a guarantee.

If you are on a tight budget, you can still make a surprising difference to the look of a bathroom by just replacing tap handles, painting the walls and ceiling, plus sticking up shampoo shelves, towel rails or a lovely new mirror. All of which you could probably manage, provided you know what you are doing.

Re-tiling of floors and walls will cost a fair bit more. Still, surprisingly economical coating options are applied directly over existing tiles, reducing costs by reducing the amount of demolition work required.

Always be aware that anything involving electrical or plumbing fixtures, relocating fixtures, or adding new ones will cost considerably more.

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

2: Reuse or recycle fittings and fixtures

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it rule applies. If there is nothing wrong with the existing fittings or fixtures, you can save a lot of money and unnecessary waste by resisting the overwhelming temptation to replace them.

 If you think about ways you can style and theme the bathroom to utilise what you already have installed and focus on the worst aspects of your bathroom.

 Old-style taps can be replaced relatively economically and efficiently.

 If your bath and vanity basin have been seriously abused over the years, it is possible to have them re-coated and to look like new for less than outright replacement.

 Vanity unit cupboard doors and draws can be replaced for much less than the outright replacement of the entire vanity.

3: Do not move plumbing fixtures

Relocating or adding new plumbing fixtures can be expensive.

Most homes are built on a concrete slab which makes relocating or adding extra plumbing fixtures much more expensive.

As much as possible, focus on reusing the existing water supply and drainage connection for your toilet, shower, bath, vanity basin and floor waste, as this will keep plumbing costs under control.

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out call Whywait Plumbing

4: Shop around for materials

This may sound obvious, but it requires discipline.

If you have the time and inclination, you will save a small fortune by shopping around and buying the necessary materials, fittings and fixtures.

If you are shopping, make sure you have done your homework and know exactly what you are looking for. For example, there is a considerable difference between wall and floor tiles.

Buying a bath with a centre waste to replace one with a waste at one end will cost you more to install.

Replacing a toilet requires that you know whether it uses an S or P trap outlet or whether the water connection is concealed or bottom linked.

Any paint for bathroom walls needs to be suitable for use in bathrooms so that your walls are resistant to moisture.

If you are supplying the fixtures and fittings, ensure everything is ready and available when renovation starts to prevent delays. Delays in fixtures being available will translate into increased costs.

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out get advice from Whywait Plumbing

5: Get your hands dirty

If you are willing and able, you can save a lot on labour costs by doing some of the work yourself and project managing the renovation.

Likely, you will still need to hire licensed contractors such as plumbers, electricians, waterproofers, and tilers for the renovation project. Still, volunteering to do manual work, such as demolition, will translate into lower labour costs.

Without exception, any discussion about what you can do yourself has to include a big, flashing neon warning. You cannot cut corners on some things and do it yourself. Licensed professional contractors MUST do waterproofing, plumbing and electrical work.

Doing it any other way is guaranteed to be illegal, substandard, dangerous, non-insurable and without the protections of a warranty.

Never believe handymen who tell you they can do everything.

It is also essential that you are confident before you start working that there is not any asbestos in your bathroom. Asbestos sheeting was very commonly used in bathrooms up until the late 1970s, and exposure to it can lead to cancer, so you will need to have asbestos removed by a specialist contractor using the correct safety gear who will dispose of it legally.

6: Plan very carefully and avoid variations

Careful planning and having an exact idea of what you want to achieve, what you are getting and how everything will be done before you sign any contract with a contractor will ensure you’re not stung with hefty fees for necessary changes.

Suppose you use a builder to manage your bathroom renovation. In that case, it is guaranteed he will charge over the odds for variations to a contract if you have made a selection mistake or want to change your layout or add additional fixtures.

Many builders will come in with a low quote to prey on clients who are not clear on their plans and have not prepared properly.

Regardless of how well you perceive you get along with the builder or other contractors, ensure that the fittings and fixtures are precisely what you are after and will fit exactly where they are supposed to go. The colours and tiles are strictly correct, the costs are itemised on the contract, and you are confident that all labour, material and administrative expenses are included.

Please ensure any variations are fully costed, and you approve in writing before they commence.

 

7: Things to be careful of

Make sure you have more than enough tiles because if they break in future or if they break some during your renovations, you want to have some spares on hand that are from the same batch so that they are a perfect match.

Beware of non-certified plumbing fittings and fixtures which are non-insurable and can make any future insurance claim null and void. Ensure all plumbing products have the WaterMark certification and comply with Australian Standards.

Avoid ordering plumbing or electrical fixtures online or overseas, as they will almost always be shoddy or inferior fittings and fixtures and will come back to haunt you.

Ordering online plumbing or electrical fixtures online invariably is not worth the savings they appear to offer.

Consider where you’re going to shower as your bathroom’s going to be out of action for a week or two at least, and always double any timeframe you have given by any contractor.

It is widespread to discover rotten timber under baths or behind shower walls which will require extra work, with any other savings you make being eaten up quickly if you are unprepared for that.

 

Plan a bathroom renovation from beginning to end

Ultimately your bathroom renovation is all about careful planning and managing expectations.

 Careful planning will assist you in ensuring your bathroom renovation costs don’t blow up in your face.

Finally, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals. Compare prices and materials from different suppliers, and consider hiring a trusted, experienced contractor who can help you get the most bang for your buck.

At Whywait Plumbing, we understand that budget is a significant concern regarding bathroom renovations. But by following these tips, you can create a beautiful, functional bathroom without blowing your budget. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create the bathroom of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

Bathroom Renovation Costs Don’t Need to Blow Out

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.

The Myth Of The “Going Rate or Recommended Rate” For Plumbing Services

The Myth Of The “Going Rate or Recommended Rate” For Plumbing Services

Is there a going rate for plumbers to charge?

Unfortunately, the myth that there is a going rate for plumbers or recommended rate for plumbing services is one of those lovely urban myths that will never go away. Some consumers promote it to avoid paying for plumbing services after completing the work.

Even more disturbing is the fact that it is also promoted by some plumbing contractors who are:

  • lacking in necessary business skills and cannot do basic accounting equations to work out the cost of running their business and provide quality service at a fair profit
  • engaged in payback against other plumbing contractors to undermine their competitors by claiming they are overcharging

Every plumbing company has different costs

Every plumbing business is not the same. Every plumbing business has different cost structures, overhead, and productivity levels required to set a selling price or a break-even price.

It is illegal under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for businesses to collude in setting prices or for any set or recommended rates by master plumbers associations.

When many one-person plumbing businesses start, it is far too complicated to put a budget together and calculate the cost of doing business. However, they need to do it to ensure they charge a rate for their services that covers the business’s cost. Unfortunately, most of the time, these one-person plumbing businesses decide to set the going rate for plumbers and be done with it.

So how do these one-person businesses determine the going rate for plumbers?

Very simply, they ring around all their competitors, pretending to be a prospective customer and find out what they are charging for their services. As no professional plumber can give a price over the phone, they tend to only get prices from like-minded one-person businesses promoting a whole undercutting philosophy based on some mythical hourly rate which then becomes the fictitious going rate.

The myth of a going rate is self-perpetuating by plumbers

To see how this whole myth of the going rate for plumbers becomes self-perpetuating, consider the following scenario, which is exactly what happens all the time.

Consider the scenario where  Trevor bought a van, got a new mobile phone, used the tools supplied by his former employer, and opened up “Trevors Plumbing Service.” Trevor knew his old employer, “Gold Coast Plumbing”, was charging $130 per hour, but he knew that his former boss had lots of equipment and paid his employees above the award wages, so he decided to charge only $80 an hour.

A couple of weeks later, Jason, who does not like Trevor, hears that Trevor has opened up his plumbing business. He figures he’s much more intelligent than Trevor, plus he’s sure he’s faster and quicker at plumbing work than Trevor, so he decides to buy a ute, too and open up “Speedy Plumbing.” Jason gets his girlfriend to phone Trevor pretending to be a customer, to find out his charges. Again, Jason does not like Trevor, so he figured he could knock him out of business by charging $20 less and getting all his business. So “Speedy Plumbing” is now in business charging $60 per hour.

Plumbers start undercutting based on the mythical going rate 

Meanwhile, Stephen had opened up “Super Coastwide Plumbing” a year earlier and had just had a builder who supplied him with 90% of his work tell him that he would be using another plumber to do his work in the future. This is despite Stephen providing excellent service but at $100 per hour was way above the going rate for plumbers. Stephen panicked on hearing this and decided to call around his competitors to see the going rate for plumbers. Stephen discovered that it ranged from $40 to $160 per hour.  Stephen decided that to keep his business going, he needed to match the going rate for plumbers and, based on where most of his competitors were, opted to drop his rate to $65 per hour to be under the rate charged by “Trevors Plumbing Service” who appeared to pick up lots of work.

Meanwhile, over at “Gold Coast Plumbing”, the owners are having a meeting. “We aren’t making enough money to cover our costs!” They say. “Well, we can’t increase our rates because we’re already one of the highest in town — $70 higher than some after ringing around to find out the going rate for plumbers is.” The owners are frustrated because they’re gradually watching their business go down, a company that’s been in their family for three generations.

The going rate for plumbers myth destroys businesses and families

What happens next is textbook accurate and repeatedly occurs in the plumbing industry causing unemployment, financial hardship and family breakups.

“Gold Coast Plumbing” started cutting corners by using cheaper materials, cancelling insurance cover, not replacing old equipment, not replacing old utes and vans, charging clients for hours that were not worked, and using labourers and apprentices instead of qualified plumbers. As a result, their plumbers become disillusioned and start looking for jobs elsewhere. This forces “Gold Coast Plumbing” to use more labourers and apprentices to undertake the work that requires licensed and experienced plumbers.

Over at “Speedy Plumbing”, Jason is struggling to cope with all the work but cannot hire any licensed plumbers because he’s discovered he can’t afford to pay them plus buy more utes and equipment because his rates are too cheap and don’t cover the costs of running the business.

Trevor over at “Trevors Plumbing Service” is still working by himself, so he does not need a lot of work to keep him busy plus, the customers that hired him because he was the lowest price have left him and gone to “Speedy Plumbing”. Trevor is not concerned as he’s making more money than he did when he was an employee at ‘Gold Coast Plumbing” plus, he’s his own boss and doesn’t have to answer to anybody. However, Trevor has discovered that he’s got to cut corners to make sure he can pay the bills. He does not renew his QBCC licenses or take out public liability insurance. Trevor adopts a policy of never returning calls to customers who complain and starts using inferior quality materials.

Meanwhile, Stephen at “Super Coastwide Plumbing” struggled to pay bills since dropping his prices to the going rate for plumbers, with the losers being his family. Stephen’s wife is forced to return to her old job, supporting “the business” until it gets back on its feet. Even worse, cutting corners meant customers were not getting compliant plumbing work undertaken, with failures being the norm. Finally, employees started getting reduced or no training, with wages failing to be paid on time as there was never enough money.

No one ever wins in setting up a business based on the going rate for plumbers

Every successful plumbing business knows the starting point always is learning what it costs to run their business and setting charge-out rates that ensure they can make a profit for the long term, which is specific to their circumstances and business model. 

No one ever wins in setting up a business based on the going rate for plumbers or recommended rate because they are a myth. The only guarantee is that the company will close, leaving employees, suppliers and customers all out of pocket and worse off for the experience in myriad ways. 

Sadly, I repeatedly witness these “fictitious” scenarios on the Gold Coast amongst plumbing companies. There are no winners when you don’t operate a business to make a profit after covering every single one of your costs.

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.

How much does a burst pipe add to your Gold Coast water bill?

How much does a burst pipe add to your Gold Coast water bill?

Your Gold Coast water bill issued by the City of Gold Coast as a Water and Sewerage Rate Notice arrives every three months. Currently, every water meter is manually read every three months, with your Gold Coast water bill coming soon after. The cost of Gold Coast water is set every year as part of the budget process with the detailed current water pricing for 2021-22 available from Gold Coast Water.

What are the costs of your Gold Coast water bill?

For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly Gold Coast water bill are their sewerage and water access service charges. If you look closely at your water bill, you can see that you have the following access charges:

Residential Charges Cost
Sewerage access charge per quarter

$181.03

Water access charge per quarter

$53.02

Total Access Charges per Quarter

$234.05

The usage charges per kilolitre as measured by your water meter are made up of council charges and Queensland Government charges as below:

Residential Charges Cost

City of Gold Coast water per kilolitre

$1.117

Queensland Government water per kilolitre

$3.231

Total Cost of Water per Kilolitre

$4.348

In reality, even if you did not use one drop of water, you would still pay for water and sewerage access service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.

Our experience is that the average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property shown on Gold Coast water bills is not an accurate guide to your water use.

Most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. However, remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly, as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption and alert you to a potential water leak.

The actual cost of water dripping from a tap

What will cause your water usage charges to blow out is having leaking water that you are unaware of. Leaking taps and toilets are frequently overlooked and put off to another day. A dripping tap that drips one drop every second will use 40 litres of water a day. The reality is that it becomes 280 litres a week and then 1214 litres a month, and then 14560 litres a year. This is all water charged for on your Gold Coast water bill that you never utilised for any practical purpose.

If we translate the litres wasted to the cost of water, then the numbers become real very quickly.

Cost of a Dripping Tap at 1 drip per second Residential Cost at $4.348 per kL or 1000 litres Business Cost at $8.909 per kL or 1000 litres

1.66 litres per hour

$0.007

$0.015

40 litres per day

$0.174

$0.356

280 litres per week

$1.217

$2.495

1214 litres per month

$5.278

$10.816

14560 litres per year

$63.307

$129.715

The actual cost of a leaking underground water main

You can visually see a dripping tap or running toilet, but the real killer to your Gold Coast water bill is your underground water main pipe leaking. For residential users, these are usually leaking polypipe water mains that were never installed correctly when the house was built. Only occasionally is a water leak apparent and bubbling to the ground. Most of the time, they are a silent Gold Coast water bill killer leaking 24/7 undetected.

There is no accurate average for any leaking water main supply pipe because it depends on the type of break in the pipe, what the pipe size is and what the incoming water pressure is.

Recently we had a client with a small leak where we have 24/7 electronic water monitoring installed that is leaking on average of 45 litres per hour, so we use that as a basis for what leaking water main will cost on a Gold Coast water bill.

Cost of a leaking underground water main at 45 litres per hour Residential Cost at $4.348 per kL or 1000 litres Business Cost at $8.909 per kL or 1000 litres
45 litres per hour

$0.196

$0.401

1080 litres per day

$4.696

$9.622

7560 litres per week

$32.87

$67.352

33480 litres per month

$145.57

$298.731

401760 litres per year

$1746.85

$3579.280

A water leak at 45 litres per minute is only a relatively small leak in larger pipes. It is unlikely to show up as bubbling at the ground unless it is directly under the grass in a shallow trench. Even looking at your water meter, it will not be evident unless you are testing your water use at the meter by checking for a water leak.

How much does a leak cost per litre?

We have always recommended that you test your water usage through your water meter every month. By having comparable figures, you will soon ascertain whether you have a leaking pipe.

We have always recommended that you install an AquaTrip water leak detection system after your water meter. An AquaTrip Water Leak detection system with an integrated automatic shutoff valve supplied and installed by Whywait Plumbing is a permanently installed leak detection protection system that quietly protects against leaks 24/7. It is a one time only insurance payment.

With our modern leak detection methods, it’s an easier task to locate a leak. However, unless you have an AquaTrip installed or use our 24/7 water monitoring service, you will still pay for a large amount of lost water before you become aware of the water leak.

If you think you have a water leak contact us because every litre that you lose is costing you $0.004348 for residential properties or $0.008909 for businesses on your Gold Coast water bill. If you naively feel that is inconsequential, we have just rectified a leak for a commercial business client in a 50mm underground polypipe water main that was leaking 106 kL every day, which is 106000 litres every 24 hours. This leak cost $944.354 every day.

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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