Can I install a bidet seat or douche hand spray to my toilet?

Can I install a bidet seat or douche hand spray to my toilet?

Since Covid and the infamous toilet paper shortages, we are getting asked about the installation of bidet seats and douche hand sprayers. Many of these enquiries eventuate from sponsored posts on Facebook promoting the DIY installation of bidet seats. The photo above perfectly illustrates a DIY bidet seat installation we recently came across in a client’s home.

We commonly come across these DIY bidet installations in clients’ homes. We are then placed in the invidious position of informing them that this is an illegal installation that requires disconnecting as it has no WaterMark approval and is not a compliant installation, as required by the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018. Unfortunately, we are only the messenger, but immediately, too many people believe we are wrong. This occurs as the online company they purchased the bidet seat from told them they could install it themselves.

Imagine how we feel when we have to explain to a now disgruntled client that their DIY bidet installation is not legally compliant. Then explain that if it fails and floods their home causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage, their insurance company will null and void insurance protection.

Despite what Facebook posts say, very few legal DIY plumbing installations exist. Your insurance policy requires a licenced plumber to undertake all plumbing work with all plumbing fixtures installed with the necessary WaterMark approval.

Bidets, bidet seats and douche hand spray bidets are popular with the elderly and people with disabilities. Correctly installed, they afford their users self-care toileting which aids their independence, plus they are much more hygienic than toilet paper.

If you are looking into bidet seats or a douche hand spray, only purchase them from reputable Australian suppliers. Avoid online retailers with no prominent Australian location and not displaying a WaterMark approval.

No matter what, you must use a licensed plumber to install the bidet seat or douche hand spray to ensure there is no risk of backflow. A backflow situation can risk your family and neighbours consuming sewerage-contaminated drinking water. A legally compliant installation by a licensed plumber required lodgement of Form 9 with the local council and lodgement and payment of fees for a Form 4 with the Queensland Government QBCC. You should always get a copy of both forms to prove to your insurer that it is a compliant installation.

Remember, if you install a bidet seat or a douche hand spray, you need to do the following:

  • Purchase a WaterMark-approved product
  • Only use a licensed plumber to install your bidet products
  • All installations require high hazard backflow prevention

A bidet seat should not be confused with a bidet. A proper bidet must go through an entire approval process by council plumbing inspectors.

Like everything in life, you only get what you pay for, so we recommend you stay away from online retailers, especially on Facebook. The adage applies when finding cheap DIY bidet seats or douche hand spray hoses. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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.

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.

Non-Conforming Plumbing Products

Non-Conforming Plumbing Products

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.

non-conforming plumbing products have never been installed by Whywait PlumbingIt 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.

non-conforming plumbing products have no WaterMark logoYou 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.

Responsibility

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.

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