Should I be worried about hearing a gurgling sound in my wall?

Should I be worried about hearing a gurgling sound in my wall?

Noise from your bathroom pipes is not unusual

Squealing, shrieking, trickling, gurgling, splashing and banging noises are all sounds you’re most likely to hear every day. Unless you go to exotic, interesting parties, these are sounds you hear in your bathroom every day. 

Considering 90% of your plumbing infrastructure is concealed in your walls or floors or ceilings or underground, it is frequently a struggle to pinpoint where the sounds originate.

In older homes and buildings, there is no sound insulation on pipes. The older the home, the greater the likelihood to hear all sorts of sounds emitted from your wall or ceiling. 

Splashing is the easy one to solve as that usually is the sound of children in a bath, making a mess of water all over the floor and walls. But that’s easy to clean up and unless you slip it’s not dangerous.

Below we will explore what phenomenon is occurring when those weird and bizarre noises occur when you’re not in the bathroom?

Gurgling Sound

1 : Problem :

A gurgling sound is usually an intermittent sound originating from your drains.

A while ago a client told me that their gurgling toilet was laughing at her in a mocking manner when she called me. This is a perfect description of a gurgling sound from sewer drains.

It is common for most gurgling sounds to originate from the toilet pan or the bathroom floor waste overflow. Less common is your overflow relief gully outside.

2 : Risk of damage :

If you continually hear a gurgling sound, then the risk of damage is high.

If your toilet is slow to drain as in the photo below, followed by a series of gurgling sounds, then your risk level increases.

A slow draining gurgling toilet is either a partially blocked toilet or a blocked sewer drain.

If you continually hear a gurgling sound after the toilet is flushed or after a shower or when using your washing machine, the likelihood of having an overflow of sewerage outside in much greater. Even worse is the possibility of a sewerage overflow inside your house, usually out of the bathroom floor waste overflow.

3 : Diagnosing a gurgling sound :

A gurgling sound is basically your sewer drains having an asthma attack as they are blocked and struggling to breathe.

The gurgling is a cry for help. If you hear it once or twice then it goes away then you probably have little risk.

But if you hear a continual gurgling sound I recommend you call us before you have a disaster. Blocked sewer drains do make a mess and are not for the faint-hearted.

4 : Gurgling sound solutions :

Overflowing sewerage on your property or in your home or business is no joking matter that can be put off until tomorrow.

I categorically guarantee that Googling DIY remedies to unblock a drain only delays the inevitable as they rarely solve anything.

Blocked drains will never go away. To solve any blocked drain problem, you’ll need our services to ensure the blockage is taken care of, both quickly and effectively.

Overflowing sewerage is both a health and a safety hazard to your family, employees, work colleagues and neighbours.

Squealing Noises

1 : Problem :

As a rule, high pitched squeals or shrieks originate from your taps but they can also be transmitted through your pipes from valves at your hot water services.

They almost always occur when you are using a tap or the toilet cistern is refilling after having been flushed.

Squealing noises always sound much worse at night and frequently occur when a family member flush a toilet.

2 : Risk of damage :

 Most of the time there is minimal risk of damage.

For the most part, the squeals and shrieks are an irritant. As with most plumbing issues, they will not go away.

Reality is that they will increase in intensity the longer the problem remains unresolved.

3 : Diagnosing squealing sounds :

Squealing taps usually require tap maintenance as it will be worn washers or O rings plus lack of lubricant in the spindle.

If you have mixer taps then there is likely a problem with the mixing cartridge.

If it originates from your toilet cistern the problem will be either the cistern tap or water inlet valve.

Transmitted noise from hot water valves can be the most frustrating to locate and repair as you will have at least five valves that can be squealing. 

4 : Squealing sound solutions :

 If you taps are the source then you can try replacing the tap washer yourself. If that doesn’t solve the problem then call us in to investigate the origins of the sounds as the tap will require comprehensive tap maintenance.

Stripping and replacing mixer cartridges is not for beginners and is not a recommended DIY task.

If you have squealing hot water valves then definitely call us because I guarantee the problem will only get worse and potentially damage other valves. 

Banging Noises

1 : Problem :

Annoying is the best description of banging pipes or what we refer to technically as water hammer.

Unfortunately moving water in copper pipes always has the potential to create sound.

The most common loud bang will come from a tap being turned on or off although they can diminish after the tap is turned off. If you hear sharp banging or hammering then in all likelihood that is your copper water reticulation pipes.

2 : Risk of damage :

 Ignoring banging sounds is definitely a risk.

Water hammer has the potential to flood your home as it can potentially break pipes or damage flexihoses, fitting, taps and appliances.

3 : Diagnosing banging sounds :

Sharp banging or hammering is normally a result of faulty taps or broken tap washers or poor clipping of pipes.

All of these causes can be accentuated by excessive water pressure.

If you hear a ticking sound that increases in intensity, then diminishes that is the sounds generated by pipe thermal expansion and is often heard throughout the house.

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 tends to be highlighted in copper water pipes but still exists in plastic piping systems, but frequently it is diminished greatly as the plastic pipe absorbs the sounds.

4 : Banging sound solutions :

The banging from water hammer creates a shock-wave which creates enormous pressure moving at 1280 meters per second inside your pipes.

Your plumbing reticulation pipes, taps, valves and appliances are all susceptible to damage created 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 and can be rectified regardless of whether you have copper or plastic water reticulation piping. It is worth scheduling a call by us and getting your system checked to prevent damage occurring.

Overview of sounds from your pipes

The above descriptions is only an overview of sounds you will hear from your plumbing infrastructure.

In reality, there are also plenty of symptoms of plumbing issues that don’t require funny or strange noises to originate from your bathroom but are quite obviously a problem.

Look for leakages and drips from taps and pipes.

Take note if the water isn’t draining properly down the sink, the bath, the shower and especially down the toilet.

Look and listen always and if in doubt call us.

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.

Trouble shooting why do I not have hot water

Trouble shooting why do I not have hot water

Why do I not have hot water?

May, June and July are the coldest months on the Gold Coast, and no-one wants to start the day with a cold shower in winter. Unluckily for some clients of Whywait Plumbing who are not Service Partners it is in these months they go to the shower and question why do I not have hot water?

Unfortunately, hot water systems are a case of out of sight out of mind. Continually where hot water systems are concerned, there were warning signs that there was a problem. Over the summer months, hot water problems are overlooked as the demand for higher temperature; hot water is not a critical consideration.

Several warning bulletins in Queensland have been issued by the QBCC and Queensland Health advising homeowners that their hot water systems need to be maintained and serviced frequently.

AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Heated Water Services

The Australian standard that all hot water installation is based around is AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Heated water services that are an integral part of the National Construction Code of Australia issued by the Australian Building Codes Board and it is all legal requirements in Queensland.

In AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 there is Appendix M which provides guidelines for the operation and maintenance of your hot water system which is below:

M1 SCOPE
This Appendix provides guidelines for the operation and maintenance of a heated water system.
M2 GENERAL
In order to ensure maximum performance and length of operation, water heaters should be inspected periodically.
M3 MAINTENANCE OF HEATED WATER SERVICES
Heated water services should be maintained in accordance with the following:
(a) Water treatment units: Where installed, water treatment units should be inspected periodically to ensure proper operation.
(b) Water vessels and tanks: All vessels and tanks should be inspected and cleaned periodically, and in accordance with any requirements of the regulatory authority.
NOTE: The frequency of periodic cleaning depends upon the quality of the supply water, design, materials of construction and the pipe system. Combinations of materials giving rise to corrosion should be avoided.
(c) Valves: The following valves should be inspected periodically to ensure proper operation:
(i) Temperature/pressure-relief valves.
(ii) Expansion control valves.
(iii) Thermostatic mixing valves.
(iv) Tempering valves.
(v) Other associated valves/devices.
(d) The requirements of AS/NZS 3666.2, where applicable.

Common reasons for why do I not have hot water

why do I have no hot water so call Whywait PlumbingBelow are listed the most common reasons we attend to clients jobs who call up to as why do I not have hot water? Listed are elementary troubleshooting ideas that you can undertake yourself to resolve or understand why your hot water is cold:
  • blown fuse or circuit breaker – replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker and if it blows again it’s probable there is a fault with your element or thermostat, and you need to call Whywait out to repair
  • Energex relay switch failure – this is not the easiest to detect but if you are on off-peak rates and there are no obvious electrical faults or water leaks then its worth a phone call to your energy supplier to check whether the relay switch has failed to activate in your area
  • defective relief valve – most relief valves on the side of the HWS only have a life span of around 3-5 years. Still, they can jam open so first check if you see water running from it by pulling the lever up and then easing back down again. If water continues to run then you need to call Whywait out to service the unit
  • no water at all – this is when you wake up turn the tap on and cold water flows, but there is no flow from the hot water. Frequently this a failure of the non-return or isolating valve and a quick way to check is to turn the handle on the valve all the way off and then all the way back on. In many cases, the hot water will simply begin to flow again. However, if there is still no flow you need to call Whywait out for repairs
  • water fluctuation from hot to cold – there are several reasons for this occurring, but the most common is a faulty tempering valve. There is nothing you can do to solve fluctuation other than call Whywait and read our information on tempering valves
  • water leaking from hot water tank – there is only a maximum of 7 possible points on an HWS tank where there are joints that can possibly leak. Only 2 of those are concealed in the housing so if the water is leaking from the tank and its not from the visible water connections you need to call Whywait for service to check the HWS. In all likelihood, if the hot water tank is more than ten years old then its a 50/50 chance you need a new one installed

DIY warning

The above reasons are the most common problems you will experience with why do I not have hot water. As you can see above, there are only a few simple DIY solutions when you have no hot water.

A word of warning though. Please never open up the housing near the bottom of the tank where the electrical connections are as they are all live wires inside there and therefore very, very dangerous.

Whether you have a solar, heat pump, gas or electric hot water system they do need periodic maintenance so for all hot water problems call Whywait Plumbing now on (07) 5580 4311 as we guarantee a same-day rapid response for hot water problems.

Plumbing is Critical Public Health so Avoid Scams by Unlicensed Plumbers Due to COVID-19

Plumbing is Critical Public Health so Avoid Scams by Unlicensed Plumbers Due to COVID-19

Who can work on your plumbing?

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.

QBCC licensed plumber Whywait Plumbing Services does not employ unlicensed plumbers
  • All individuals and companies must hold a QBCC licence for any building works that involve any work that is:
  • Plumbing
  • Drainage
  • Gas Fitting

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?

Daniel Mays checking for unlicensed plumbers at Whywait PlumbingListed below is unregulated plumbing work that can be performed by an unlicensed plumber in accordance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019. An appropriately licensed plumber must do all other plumbing and drainage work:

  • Replacing a showerhead or shower rose
  • Replacing a domestic water filter cartridge
  • Replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap
  • 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.

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.

Just remember there is no such occupational listing called unlicensed plumbers in Australia in any state or territory.

Why Do I Need A TMV or Tempering Valve?

Why Do I Need A TMV or Tempering Valve?

Every week we have clients asking why we are required to install a TMV or tempering valve to their hot water system. The short, simple answer is because it’s the law.

The longer answer is because it’s about safety. A TMV or tempering valve reduces the risk of scalding. This is because storage type gas, electric, solar and heat pump systems are storing hot water at between 60° C and 75° C. You need to be aware a severe hot water burn can occur in one second when the water is delivered at 60° C or higher. Hot water burns like fire because:

  • At 60°C, a severe burn can happen in 1 second
  • At 55°C, a severe burn would take 10 seconds
  • At 50°C, a severe burn would happen after 5 minutes

What is a TMV?

TMV or thermostatic mixing valve installed by Whywait Plumbing Services Gold Coast

TMV or thermostatic mixing valve installed by Whywait Plumbing

A TMV is a thermostatic mixing valve but is commonly referred to as a TMV. The role of a TMV is to mix hot and cold water together to provide you with hot water delivery at your tap that is at a consistent temperature.

When we install your TMV, we set the temperature to deliver the hot water in all bathrooms at 45°C in aged care or childcare facilities or 50°C in all other bathrooms.

A TMV is compulsory for use when used in common areas for aged care or childcare. A TMV is very accurate and very responsive to fluctuations in incoming water temperatures keeping the temperature to within 1° C of the temperature that it has been set at when we install it.

Accuracy of temperature in the TMV is delivered by a thermally sensitive element which expands and contracts in response to the temperature fluctuations of the incoming cold and hot water. This expansion and contraction regulate the temperature by controlling how much cold water mixes with the hot water. An added safety feature of a TMV is that if cold water flows become too low, they shut down to prevent 60°C plus water being delivered.

What is a Tempering Valve?

illegal tempering valve installation replaced by Whywait Plumbing

Non-compliant tempering valve installation connected with flexihoses replaced by Whywait Plumbing

A tempering valve’s role is also to mix hot and cold water together to provide you with hot water delivery at your tap that is at a consistent temperature.

The tempering valve is a simple three-way valve that is temperature actuated to mix the hot and cold water. These days most come preset at 50°C and when we install them, we test them by measuring the temperature of the water from your hot taps in the bathroom.

A tempering valve is commonly used in residential homes as a one-off valve at the hot water service. A tempering valve is slower to respond to temperature fluctuations compared to a TMV plus it will deliver water to within 3°C of the temperature that it has been set at when we install it.

Which Valve do you Require?

The Plumbing Code of Australia in AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 is very specific about water temperature is section 1.11, which states:

  • To avoid the likelihood of legionella bacteria growth, an installation shall store water at a temperature of not less than 60°C
  • All new heated water installations shall deliver heated water not exceeding 45°C for the aged, the sick, children or people with disabilities in healthcare, aged care, early childhood, schools and nursing homes. For all other situations, heated water shall be delivered not exceeding 50°C.

Ultimately when we are installing a temperature control device, we are legally obliged to comply with the requirements above and much more as they are prescribed in AS/NZS 3500.4:2018.

Overall a TMV is more expensive to install initially compared to a tempering valve. However, a TMV has a much longer working life span compared to a tempering valve as they are more accessible to service and replace the working parts. A tempering valve, by comparison, is usually just replaced when it stops working as they are not easy to service or replace parts in.

In Queensland, all work undertaken on a TMV or tempering valve is reportable to the QBCC and must have a compliant Form 4 submitted. For your protection always demand a copy of your Form 4.

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