Urinal Odours

Urinal Odours

Urinal odours are not acceptable

Urinal odours are too often just accepted by commercial building managers. The reality is urinal odours should not be accepted as they are usually easy to rectify.

Solving urinal odours can be time-consuming if you don’t employ an experienced plumbing company to investigate the cause of the odours. Seldom are the odours a urinal issue.

The first steps in solving that infamous male public bathroom are to pinpoint the source of the odour.

Once the source is located, then the best method for eliminating the source of the odour can be undertaken,

Your male bathroom facility should be odour free

Male public bathrooms that have the distinctive urine odour generally only have that “lovely” odour for four main reasons:

  • substandard air extraction and ventilation

  • substandard cleaning procedures

  • floor waste traps that are poorly maintained

  • urinals that are not regularly serviced and maintained

Substandard air extraction and ventilation

It is common practice for a public bathroom to have mechanical ventilation. Poorly performing ventilation systems that remove little air create hot and humid bathrooms.

A simple trick to check the extraction fans are working is to place a piece of toilet paper over the grate. If the paper is not sucked up into the grate and falls to the floor, you have a problem.

If you believe you have poor air ventilation, you need to have it checked over by your air conditioning service company.

Substandard cleaning procedures

Short cut cleaning procedures are the most common cause of urinal odours.

Frequently this is a result of poor cleaning and using cheap chemical cleaning products such as bleach.

Poor cleaning procedures are easy to detect with brown stains in and around the urinal. Usually, there will be urine stains on the floor as well because many males are bad shots.

Ensuring your cleaners receive training on cleaning urinals correctly will solve multiple odours and presentation issues in a public bathroom. Trained cleaner combined with using good quality urinal cleaning products such as Aquatemp Spray & Go Urinal Cleaner & Deodoriser will make a monumental change in eliminating urinal odours.

Odours emitting from the floors around urinals is common, especially with water flushing urinals. This is created by water mist combining with urine to settle on the floor in the tile grout. If the floors are not cleaned correctly, this bacteria will multiply continuously and rapidly. Cleaning the floors with specialist bathroom cleaning products such as Aquatemp No-Rinse Floor Cleaner, Sanitiser & Disinfectant will eliminate urinal odours in the floor tiles.

Floor waste traps that are poorly maintained

Floor wastes in a male public bathroom should only be connected to the basins. Disappointingly this is not always the case, especially in older buildings.

One of the first things to check when locating the source of urinal odours is to check that the urinals are not connected to a floor waste. If the urinals are connected to a floor waste, then you need to install a one-way valve into the floor waste to stop odour emissions.

Another common odour issue with floor waste drains is that the grates and pipe are never cleaned which allows bacteria buildup. Frequently this will be accompanied by poor ventilation which allows the odour causing bacteria to multiply and thrive.

Once again, this links back to correct cleaning procedures when cleaning the floors. That is why we recommend cleaning the floors with Aquatemp No-Rinse Floor Cleaner, Sanitiser & Disinfectant which will eliminate urinal odours in the floor tiles and floor waste grates.

Urinals that are not regularly serviced & maintained

Far too many building managers either fail to maintain their urinals or outsource their urinal servicing to cleaning and hygiene companies to reduce costs.

Not maintaining urinals only ensures you will create bigger problems at a later date.

Outsourcing urinal servicing to cleaning and hygiene companies is illegal as they cannot undertake any servicing work on urinals apart from cleaning them.

All urinals are required to be serviced and maintained correctly and legally compliantly as per the WaterMark certification for the urinals in accordance with the manufactures instructions.

Only plumbers are licensed to undertake urinal servicing by the Queensland Government plumbing regulator, the QBCC. The QBCC are legally required to protect public health and safety under Queensland’s plumbing and drainage licensing system.

Once again far too many building managers will outsource urinal servicing to companies such as Desert Eco Solutions. Desert use cheap, inferior substitute parts which guarantee you will experience urinal odours.

Under Queensland law and the WaterMark approval system on all urinals, it is illegal to use substitute parts. These means any parts that are not the genuine WaterMark tested and approved components for each urinal model under their WaterMark approval.

How to prevent urinal odours

At Whywait Plumbing, we are specialists in ensuring your bathroom facilities and urinals are a healthy environment.

Our product range and specialised services ensure your urinals are compliantly maintained, hygienic, and an odour free experience for your employees and clients alike.

We guarantee that urinal odours can be eliminated by following simple cleaning and maintenance procedures.

Specialist urinal cleaning products

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.

Tree Roots in Sewer Drains

Tree Roots in Sewer Drains

Tree roots in sewer drains have legal rights

Tree roots in sewer drains are an issue we are confronted with on a weekly basis. They can be confronting for plumbers as we are frequently faced with situations where clients want us to give quasi-legal rulings on issues of non-compliance of tree roots in sewer drains where there is, in reality, no black or white answer. The reality is there are multiple opinions in multiple shades of grey.

perennial issue for all plumbers as long as I can remember is the issues created by trees and tree roots. Trees can do considerable damage to plumbing infrastructure especially to underground water pipes and drains. Often the damage has been slowly occurring over many years before you are affected.

A common issue we are confronted with, numerous times every month, is tree roots in sewer drains and stormwater drains.

A fact that some people fail to grasp is that tree roots don’t respect or understand property boundaries. Trees they just grow and their tree roots search for water and nutrients from the soil. Regrettably, your sewer drains are a great source of both water and nutrients for tree roots.

The photo on the left is a perfect example of how far tree roots will infiltrate a drain.

These tree roots we removed from a stormwater drain had infiltrated 12 meters down the drain and were causing flooding to the property every time there was a rainfall event.

These tree roots came from multiple trees situated in multiple surrounding properties. The roots infiltrated the drain in three different locations where the pipe was cracked and broken. Broken pipes are how tree roots infiltrate a drain. Tree roots by themselves cannot break a pipe open.

Large trees are a source of neighbourhood disputes

The Gold Coast has in recent times allowed urban blocks to become smaller and smaller.  Over the years as the trees in landscaped urban blocks mature, problems begin to occur. Any large tree can become a real source of angst and stress. This results in trees becoming a source of disagreements between otherwise friendly neighbours with the most common disputes being:

  • Branches overhanging the boundary fence and pushing over dividing fences
  • Branches, fruit and leaf litter dropping into the neighbouring property
  • Roots causing damage to underground drains, water mains, electrical conduits and telecommunications conduits
  • Roots damaging fences, house foundations and concrete paths and driveways
  • Branches blocking sunlight for solar PV panels, solar hot water panels, windows, Foxtel microwave dishes and TV aerials

Issues with branches are clearly visible to everyone so they are generally much easier to resolve. In most instants, an amicable discussion with your neighbour can resolve most branch issues as there is a common interest.

Roots in sewer drains or stormwater drains are vastly different. These underground root infiltrations are neither visible nor easily traceable to their source. 

Tree roots in sewer drains & stormwater drains

When we find your drain blocked with tree roots there are often multiple types of roots inside the drain causing the blockage. Without an extensive horticultural investigation to determine the type of tree that the roots are from no one can ascertain which tree’s roots have infiltrated your drain and where the tree roots originate from.

As you can see in the photo above where we have undertaken vacuum excavation of a drain the roots are everywhere around the sewer pipe. It is clearly visible there are multiple roots of varying sizes and tree types.

Contrary to multiple urban myths tree roots do not break drains whether the drain is installed in PVC pipe or earthenware pipe.

Yes, in old earthenware drains tree roots over time will infiltrate the drain around the rubber ring joints, but that is because of movement in the ground that enable the roots to very slowly infiltrate over a number of years.

With PVC drains it is impossible for tree roots to break open pipe or fittings. In every instant, I have ever seen the drain was broken usually on a bend or junction that allowed the roots to infiltrate the drain. In just about every instant we come across of broken PVC drains it is our opinion the drain was damaged during the initial installation of the drain at the time of construction.

It is almost impossible to prevent tree roots from entering a broken drain without repairing the drain. This is where we commonly see the problems originating with neighbour disputes. It is not unusual to have clients misinterpret what we inform them and attempt to put words in our mouth as to whom is responsible for firstly clearing the blocked drain and secondly repairing the damaged drain.

The law concerning tree roots in sewer drains

If you have no trees on your property and your neighbour has a fully landscaped garden full of trees, then yes it’s likely the neighbour is responsible.

Having been drawn into these arguments between neighbours on a number of occasions over the years I highly recommend that you to try to resolve the issue tactfully with your neighbour before things get out of hand. I can assure you this is always quicker, cheaper and a lot less stressful than taking legal action which will ultimately end up in mediation after spending a small fortune with a solicitor.

From the legal perspective, the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 is the legislation relating to trees. The legislation requires that you determine who has the responsibility for the tree. However, if the tree is on the boundary, then both parties will have responsibility equivalent to the amount of tree on each property.

Trees have legal rights

At all times you must be aware that you cannot take the law into your own hands where trees are concerned. You cannot remove a tree outside your property that you believe is damaging your property. Legally all you can do is remove overhanging branches up to the boundary.

If you back onto a City of Gold Coast public park or reserve then you must contact the council about the problems as many trees in public parks are protected.

Prior to planting any large trees in your property, you should consider the height they will grow to when they are mature and where their roots can possibly spread. Similarly assessing neighbouring trees with your neighbour now may prevent property damage and large bills in the future.

Ultimately your house is your major asset and it is in your interests to protect your asset but remember trees have rights to, and just cannot be chopped down for no reason if they are not on your property.

Google Plumbing like Dr Google is Unreliable

Google Plumbing like Dr Google is Unreliable

Google Plumbing & Dr Google are both like your drunk friend – dramatic & unreliable.

Google Plumbing has no Queensland plumbing licence issued by the QBCC. Likewise, Dr Google has no registration as a medical practitioner issued by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to ensure the delivery of safe and competent health services.

As good as Google can be for searching everything and anything I guarantee no-one at Google ever completed a plumbing apprenticeship or a medical degree or an electrical apprenticeship.

I was chatting with my GP recently, and she voiced her frustrations with patients that Google their symptoms and then make an appointment to see her. Almost invariably, Dr Google is wrong. Usually, the patient has typed in symptoms that frequently give an utterly incorrect diagnosis of multiple possible ailments. She said even more frustrating is that she then spends most of the appointment convincing them Dr Google was wrong.

She was so happy when I told her as plumbers we go through exactly the same issues daily. Everyone I know that is in a service industry that has a consumer focus has the same problems and frustrations of being an instant expert thanks to Dr Google or Google Plumbing or Google Electrical.

Google plumbing advice is almost always wrong as Google cannot replace Whywait Plumbing ServicesWe all agree Google is excellent, especially for product searches. But when you are in business, it can also be incredibly frustrating when clients tell you they have Googled the problem and you are wrong. Ultimately for doctors or plumbers or electricians, all we can do is diagnose the issues based on the information presented and go through a process of elimination of possible causes.

The headline above comparing Dr Google to a drunk friend I just had to adapt and use after I saw it in a column by Tony Shepherd of The Adelaide Advertiser just after discussing Dr Google with my GP. I must admit it amused me as the description is perfect – dramatic and unreliable. You can read the full column by clicking here as it is a great read. The first lines are “Cyberchondriacs, step away from the search engine. Online symptom checkers are almost always wrong and should never replace a real medical professional, writes Tory Shepherd.”

This advice equally applies to plumbing because it can be difficult enough to diagnose plumbing problems when on site let alone on a computer or over the phone. As I continually reiterate no professional plumber can diagnose issues over the phone or give you an accurate price. There is only one way to diagnose plumbing problems, and that’s by having a real plumber on-site to investigate. Even then, complex issues become a process of elimination.

From the plumbing and ultimately health perspective, the most frightening issue we’ve seen with COVID-19 is all of the online suggestions on DIY installations of bidet seats and douche sprays. Google searches during the “toilet paper crisis” increased tenfold for bidet seats due to multiple social media posts and newspaper articles on so-called alternate toileting devices. Google will only ever give you generalised answers that are tailored to you as Google tracks you online with artificial intelligence.

Dr Google & Google Plumbing will never have the experience to solve plumbing problems that Whywait Plumbing hasTony Shepherd correctly points out – “Maybe it’s best to think of Google not as a medical professional but as Librarian Google, who holds plenty of information and might be able to help you find it, but might also be miffed at the amount of noise you make so just points you in the general direction of some stuff.”

My favourite lines after that are – “Or Friend Google who, after three champagnes, will tell you everything’s going to be great, but at 2 am starts crying into their whisky about how you’re going to die.”

Those lines above sum up precisely the daily frustrations that so many consumer-focused service businesses experience. The old saying about computers of rubbish in, rubbish out is correct. The flawed Google searches of an inexperience person create multiple issues as nonsense input into a Google search will guarantee nonsense results.

Ultimately Google is a tool or research assistant that can help you put things together in a logical manner or can throw a real spanner in the works. A Google search cannot replace a doctor or an electrician or a plumber, no matter how good Google artificial intelligence is.

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