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.
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.
City of Gold Coast plumbing boss didn’t know he needed a plumbing contractors licence
“Council plumbing boss in hot water” and fined for illegal contracting is a headline that was hardly surprising for many Gold Coast plumbers who have had to deal with Keith Farrelly and were aware of the nepotism that has gone unchecked for over 20 years.
For years now if you had dealings with the City of Gold Coast’s council plumbing and drainage department, you would become aware of what has been common knowledge within the plumbing industry.
That is that the City of Gold Coast’s, Plumbing & Drainage department and in particular the plumbing inspectors are a deeply troubled organisation. Bullying, abuse of power, nepotism, cronyism and double standards are a daily occurrence.
On 13 April 2012 the Gold Coast Bulletin published the following story on page 5 as reprinted below:
Plumbing Boss in Hot Water
“The man in charge of the Gold Coast City Council’s plumbing department has been fined $2000 for carrying out unlawful building work. Keith Farrelly, the plumbing and drainage coordinator, was caught installing a hot-water system without a contractor licence.
While the department can be responsible for issuing infringement notices, Mr Farrelly claims he did not know he needed a licence to do the work.
A council spokesman said it would not take action against him because it did not relate to his role with the organisation. Mr Farrelly is appealing the fine.
Building Services Authority general manager Ian Jennings confirmed Mr Farrelly had installed a solar hot water system without holding the appropriate class contractor licence.
The council spokesman said Mr Farrelly was doing the work free for his nephew. “(He was) unaware he needed a contractors’ licence to do this work which, under the Plumbing and Drainage Act, is regarded as minor work,” he said.
The spokesman said Mr Farrelly’s role involved dealing with requirements under the Plumbing and Drainage Act, not the Queensland building services contractors’ requirements.”
For struggling Gold Coast building and plumbing companies to discover that Keith Farrelly, the coordinator of Council’s Plumbing Department was fined $2000 by the Building Services Authority, (BSA) but now renamed the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, (QBCC) for carrying out unlicensed plumbing work is bad enough. To then find out he is still working for the city is an absolute disgrace.
An implausible excuse is acceptable at City of Gold Coast
Farrelly’s implausible excuse? He was helping out a relative at no charge. City of Gold Coast’s Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit along Senior bureaucrats have obviously found this implausible excuse acceptable. Farrelly is a senior council officer with more than 20 years of employment at the City of Gold Coast council. Farrelly hands out fines for breaches of the plumbing regulations and building codes daily yet we are expected to accept that he did not know his legal obligation under that same code.
Again, those senior bureaucrats and the Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit knew of this and chose to take no action. This raises the question of how much more remains hidden as their duty is clear. Many within the council are asking why the apparent protection of an officer who should have been immediately dismissed or at least suspended to enable an independent investigation to occur.
There are many plumbers and former council inspectors on the Gold Coast who will happily give the Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit plenty of evidence.
The City of Gold Coast needs to get to the bottom of this and investigate if this apparent protectionist attitude is endemic throughout the council and what else they are hiding. There should be no tolerance for this kind of cronyism in the council, and those responsible should be right now entertaining the prospect of joining the unemployment line which they have had a large part in creating on the Gold Coast.