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.

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.

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.

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