Water hammer or banging pipes aren’t just annoying they’re a warning of bigger problems

Water hammer or banging pipes aren’t just annoying they’re a warning of bigger problems

What is water hammer?

Water hammer or banging pipes are differing faults with your water reticulation system.

In theory, you should never hear the sound of water moving through your hot or cold water pipes. All you should ever hear is the water flow from the tap or fixture in the room it’s installed in.

Essentially water hammer is a shock wave created inside your piping.

What causes water hammer?

Plumbing is essentially the movement of water through pipes. It, therefore, has the potential to be noise creating and create what is referred to as water hammer. 

Water hammer that is noticeable occurs with copper water pipes. But plastic water pipes also suffer from water hammer, and it’s just harder to hear it.

Water hammer audible noise in copper pipes is generated primarily by:

  • High water pressure

  • Quick closing mixer taps

  • Quick closing solenoid valves

  • Faulty or worn brass seats in taps

  • Broken tap washers

  • Airlocks in pipes

  • Shock waves in pipes

Common noise complaints

There are four very common noise complaints with water pipe reticulation systems being:

  • Sharp banging or hammering sounds coming from pipes

  • A series of loud bangs when the washing machine or dishwasher is in operation

  • A loud bang from a valve or tap

  • Audible ticking sounds that diminish after the tap is turned on

An intense banging or hammering is a result of faulty valves, defective mixer taps, defective solenoid valves, broken taps or broken tap washers or poor clipping of pipes.

A series of loud bangs while you are using the washing machine or dishwasher is caused by the instantaneous opening and closing of the solenoid valves in the machine as it traverses through its cycle.

Excessive water pressure can accentuate all of these causes as water pressure legally cannot exceed 500kPa inside the building.

The ticking sound can build up then diminish and are in fact the sounds generated by pipe expansion. This is caused by the pipe heating up when the hot tap is turned on as the hot water replaces the cold water and then cools down.

Water hammer is a shock wave

Water hammer will occur much more if your pressure is excessive. The common causes of water hammer are quick closing mixer taps or solenoid valves on washing machines and dishwashers.

In the picture above the shock wave is generated at the face of a quick closing mixer tap because the flow of water moving under pressure is stopped suddenly by the instant turning off of the mixer tap. The shock wave then ricochets back from the face of the mixer tap cartridge, through the stationary water in the pipe.  The shock-wave creates enormous pressure moving at 1280 meters per second through the pipe.

This same effect is replicated more intensely by the solenoid valves in your washing machine and dishwasher as unlike mixer taps they instantly open and shut as you machine moves through cycles.

Water hammer is an early warning alert

All of the sounds or the audible noise commonly referred to as water hammer tend to be highlighted in copper water pipes. Water hammer still exists in plastic piping systems, but it is diminished significantly as the plastic pipe absorbs the sounds.

Your plumbing reticulation pipes, taps, valves and appliances are all susceptible to damage caused by the impact of shock waves even if you hear no noise.

The noise is essentially an early warning system telling you to rectify the problem before damage occurs.

Water hammer is avoidable

Water hammer is avoidable and can be rectified regardless of whether you have copper or plastic water reticulation piping.

Banging or noisy pipes usually occur when the water reticulation pipes have not been clipped correctly as per AS/NZS 3500.1 : 2018 when the house was originally constructed. This can be much more challenging to rectify compared to water hammer.

To prevent damage to plumbing pipes, taps, fixtures, hot water valves and appliances both the noise element and shock wave element of water hammer need to be eliminated.

The noise element is auditory. The loud bang of water hammer when you turn off a tap or your washing machine is running alerts you to water hammer problems. Without the noise, there will be no indication of a problem until the damage is caused or your home is flooded by a burst flexihose or appliance hose.

The elimination of the water hammer eliminates the shock waves which impose undesirable stresses on reticulation pipes, flexihoses and appliances.

Are these tiny flies coming out of my bathroom drains drain flies?

Are these tiny flies coming out of my bathroom drains drain flies?

Yes the tiny flies in your bathroom are drain flies

Last week Lynette, who is one of our Service Partner clients, sent me a photo of her bathroom floor enquiring whether I knew if these tiny flies seemingly coming out of her bathroom drains were drain flies. My simple reply was yes as they are more prolific in spring and summer when temperatures exceed 20°C.

The photo above is dramatically magnified to illustrate the number of drain flies in a small area.

Lynette was concerned that no matter how many times she sprayed the flies to kill them, there was always more flies the next day. In fact, what disturbed Lynette the most was that they just appeared to multiply and accumulate on the walls and floor but only in the one bathroom. The flies were nowhere else in her home or in the other bathrooms.

Cleaning your bathroom won’t eliminate drain flies

Lynette was exasperated and frustrated that no matter how often she cleaned her bathroom, the drain flies just kept returning and multiplying.

She repeated to me what I’ve heard multiple times over the years, that she would clean the bathroom with a powerful supermarket bleach cleaner and by the next day the drain flies would have returned.

A friend had told her to buy a 2.5-litre container of bleach and pour it into all her drains in the bathroom which would kill the flies within 24 hours. After using all 2.5 litres of bleach the drain flies were still there.

What are drain flies?

Drain flies are more annoying than anything else as the sheer numbers in your bathroom are unsightly creating, an illusion that the bathroom is not clean.

They do not bite nor do they transmit any diseases of any sort. Nor do they damage clothes, towels or linen. 

Drain flies are prolific breeders which is why people like Lynette get frustrated as the more she appeared to kill, the more prolific they became.

The flies themselves are only around 3-4mm in length being dark grey in colour with hairy moth-like wings which as you can see in the photo below dominate their body size.

Why do drain flies only appear in bathrooms?

If you don’t live on an acreage block with a septic tank or sewer treatment plant, then the only place you will probably experience drain flies is in a bathroom. In septic tanks of sewer treatment plants drain flies breed prolifically but don’t stray far from the tanks which are their food source.

In bathrooms, the flies during the day appear to do nothing other than just sit on walls or under the vanity basin or on the ceiling. This is because they are more active at night, which is why you will seldom see them flying or actually emerging from you floor waste drain.

Even though they are poor fliers the flies are frequently transported by the wind away from septic tanks or sewer treatment plants for distances of 3-5km. This can allow them to enter your home through your insect screens as they are small enough to get through the holes in the mesh. Ultimately they will search for your bathroom floor waste drains because this is where they can feed and breed.

Where do drain flies live and breed?

Since drain flies are such poor fliers, they will always be found within a few meters of the bathroom floor waste drain. This is why you only ever appear to see them in a bathroom.

Infestations occur once temperatures exceed 20°C in spring. The rationale that they keep multiplying is not misplaced as their life cycle is 1-3 weeks from eggs hatching to becoming adult flies. They are prolific breeders with eggs hatching within 48 hours to become larvae. The larvae then mature within 12 days feeding on the decaying organic matter in the bathroom floor waste drain. The adult flies emerge from the drain at night that you then see on your bathroom walls and ceilings will live no longer than 2 weeks.

How you can eliminate a drain fly infestation in your bathroom?

Controlling and eliminating adult drain flies and larvae is by eliminating breeding sites in your bathroom drains. The pouring of bleach into the floor waste trap will typically work if you have a minor infestation.

A major infestation will not be solved by bleach as you need to thoroughly clean the and seal the floor waste trap to eliminate their food source and breeding ground.

From experience, we have found cleaning the whole area around the floor waste and inside the drain with Aquatemp Surface Sanitiser & Disinfectant will clean and disinfect the drain flies breeding ground and food source. 

If you are experiencing the annoyance of drain flies that will not go away give us a call at Whywait Plumbing on (07) 5580 4311 to book a service call so we can eliminate them once and for all.

Aquatemp Surface Sanitiser & Disinfectant 1 Litre Spray Bottle $36.92

Aquatemp Surface Sanitiser & Disinfectant comes in a ready to use spray bottle that eliminates the drain flies food source and breeding ground effectively plus sanitises, disinfects and protects for up to 24 hours.

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.

InSinkErator Safety

InSinkErator Safety

InSinkErator Questions

In November it will be 48 years since I finished high school and began my plumbing apprenticeship. Over the years, I have either asked myself every dumb question or have been asked some interesting questions by other people concerning plumbing.

But last week I got asked a question by Steve, a long-standing client that I cannot recollect ever being asked before. The question being, “What happens if I stick my hand into the kitchen sink InSinkErator waste disposal unit when it’s going?

My first response was to wonder why you would contemplate even doing such a thing. That was until Steve explained it was a question posed by his 5-year-old grandson.

Steve was genuinely worried it was something his grandson may try to attempt. Now the question did not seem so dumb at all. Steve was correct to be worried that his grandson would try to see what would happen if he put his hand down the InSinkErator unit when it was turned on because as we all know a 5-year old has little fear.

Steve was seriously contemplating getting us to remove the food waste disposal unit out of the sink permanently. This was despite him being concerned about the loss of conveniently and hygienically disposing of food scraps which could also increase the risk of a blocked sink.

An InSinkErator Has NO BLADES

Like most people, Steve was convinced that an InSinkErator waste disposal unit is a mass of sharp blades spinning around chopping and shredding everything that enters its chamber. Contrary to popular believe an InSinkErator sink waste disposal unit is not like a kitchen blender and it has NO BLADES at all.

Steve was much happier once I explained how an InSinkErator unit works. If his grandson put his hand into the unit when it was turned on then he would at the worse end up with a bruised and maybe cut hand. Although in all likelihood he would pull his hand out as soon as it came into contact with the spinning plate and or its impellers which have absolutely no cutting function.

Very simply instead of spinning blades chopping, cutting and breaking down the food scraps InSinkErator waste disposal works by:

  • Instead of blades, impellers (or lugs) mounted on a spinning plate use centrifugal force to continuously force food waste particles against a stationary grind ring
  • The grind ring breaks down the food scraps into very fine particles – virtually liquefying them
  • After they are ground, the running water flushes the particles through the grind ring and out of the disposer and into your waste-water pipe and into the sewer house drains

How Does An InSinkErator Work? 

If you want to see exactly how an InSinkErator waste disposal unit works have a look at this 90-second video below which gives you a graphic inside view of how a unit works.
After watching the above video Steve was happy to keep using his InSinkErator waste disposal unit because like most people who have an InSinkErator he knew it was the most convenient, environmentally friendly and hygienic method to dispose of food waste and scraps. Generally, waste disposal units create a safer and cleaner kitchen using minimal water and electricity.

Tips on Using An InSinkErator

If you already have an InSinkErator sink waste disposal unit installed here are a few tips to using it which assist in prolonging its working life:

  • InSinkErator waste disposal units can become stuck or seized, and this can be caused by non-food items such as spoons being placed or falling into the unit
  • overfilling the InSinkErator can cause the unit to jam
  • grease or fatty liquids should not be poured into the InSinkErator
  • InSinkErator units should never be run dry, always use with the cold water running whilst the unit is spinning plus always turn the cold water off after turning off the unit
  • cleaning your InSinkErator waste disposal unit once every week by inserting and grinding a handful of ice in your unit. This will remove any buildup that may have been left when grinding food materials, and often gets rid of any smell coming from your kitchen sink drain. If an odour persists after carrying out this cleaning try cutting up and grinding a lemon or grapefruit will give a fresh citrus smell
  • the InSinkErator unit should be equipped with a reset button either at the side of the unit (older models) or underneath the unit.  If your unit fails to start after pressing the reset, then it is probably more than just jammed disposal, and you should call Whywait Plumbing and have one of our plumbers solve the problem.
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