Your plumbing hates you because you show no respect for your plumbing systems. You routinely do hideously disgusting things to it, with it and into it.
You routinely ignore the needs of your plumbing systems to be given some tender loving care. You just assume your plumbing will always work for you as you desire.
Your plumbing literally sees you at your worst. As a consequence, it’s always plotting revenge on you. Those gurgling sounds you sometimes hear when you flush the toilet is your plumbing waiting for the right moment to strike back in revenge.
The favourite time for your plumbing to strike back with a lethal attack is at Christmas or Easter when plumbers are scarce and have to charge expensive call-out rates.
That gurgling sound you hear when you flush the toilet is liquid evil
The most mistreated plumbing fixtures in any home are the toilet and kitchen sink. The toilet is the most abused plumbing fixture as it’s considered a receptacle to dispose of anything and everything.
Describing gurgling sounds as liquid evil is a perfect description. The photo below illustrates perfectly why paper towels should not be thrown into the toilet.
Paper towels as you can see are not designed to be flushed down a toilet. Paper towels are not designed to enter your sewer drains. If you choose to flush paper towels into your toilet the photo below perfectly illustrates why your plumbing hates you.
As you can see the plumbing systems had the ultimate revenge for the lack of respect. In this instant, the paper towels work their way through to the manhole and blocked the entire sewer drainage system.
The paper towels will frequently block your toilet pan but they can flush through into the sewer drain where they will slowly go down the drain until they jam against a junction or a point where flow is restricted such as in a manhole.
From there on the whole plumbing system will grind to a halt as the water from every drainage point in your house fills up the sewer drains.
Foreign objects that cause a blocked toilet are flushable wipes, paper towels, facial tissues, cotton tips, Q-tips, cotton buds, ear cleaners, hair removal wax strips, cotton balls, pantie liners, sanitary napkins and our old favourite of children’s toys.
Gurgling drains don’t clear themselves ever!
If your main sewer drains block, it doesn’t take long for your homes toilets and internal drains to begin to back up.
Hopefully, your overflow relief gully works correctly, and the sewage overflows into your garden rather than inside your house. Either way, it’s messy and yucky having to clean up sewage that has overflowed.
Blocked drains, whether backed up or overflowing, are not only inconvenient but can also pose a risk to your health.
Gurgling drains, smelly drains or slow draining sinks are all signs that your blocked drains need urgent attention.
Plumbing problems are confronting
Solving plumbing problems can be a challenge for us as plumbers and you as a client. The reality is solving plumbing problems takes time, patience and, above all, experience.
Google searches do not make you into an instant plumber. In our experience, a Google diagnosis is generally wrong.
Regretfully many people associate plumbers with unpleasant events that they have experienced with their plumbing, such as a burst pipe or overflowing sewage that flooded their house.
Due to the emergency type situations that most people call a plumber out for, there are numerous misconceptions about what a plumber can do and cannot do quickly. In too many circumstances, this is aligned to the cost rather than the outcome which seldom solves the problem.
Your plumbing hates you since you have a lot of plumbing infrastructure
Bear in mind you have considerable plumbing infrastructure that is out of sight and consequently out of mind. That is until it stops functioning.
The reality is 90% of your plumbing infrastructure is concealed in walls, under your floor, in your roof space or underground outside.
Below the photo of sewer drains, we installed at Southport Sharks illustrates what we face as plumbers when diagnosing your plumbing problems.
The sewer drains inside your house under the floor once installed are inaccessible as they are covered by concrete. To repair the drains is a significant cost in just accessing them coupled with rectification and then replacing the concrete.
Maintaining your plumbing infrastructure is an investment. In our experience, most unforeseen problems with your plumbing originate from when your home was originally constructed. As I’ve said many times these days, in reality, all buildings are constructed to a cost, not to the legal, regulatory standards of the National Construction Code (NCC) administered by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB).
The photo below illustrates how much work we have undertaken to repair broken sewer drains under your concrete floor. In this instance the work required was:
locate by CCTV drain camera the exact location of the broken pipes
cut the concrete slab with a quick-cut demolition saw
remove the slabs of concrete and dispose of off-site
excavate by hand to expose the sewer drain pipes
cut and remove the broken and crushed sections of the PVC sewer drain
install new PVC pipes with flexible joints
test the drain to ensure there were no leaks and it was fully functional
backfill and compact the excavation
drill into the concrete slab to install reinforcing steel to tie the replacement concrete to the existing slab
install a replacement concrete slab
Concealed plumbing infrastructure will always be expensive to repair
We understand how you can feel that your plumbing hates you when we have to undertake major work to repair plumbing infrastructure that is concealed in walls or under your concrete floor.
From our perspective, we know we are delivering bad news that you don’t want to hear. The frustrating thing is that you frequently don’t see all the work that goes into repairing a broken sewer drain as by the time we are finished there is literally nothing to see. The video below illustrates perfectly the repairs we undertook on a drain under a 50 year old stone wall and when completed you would never have known we had been there.
Proactive prevention is preferable to a reactive emergency
There will always be unplanned plumbing emergencies that you can never foresee. That is a simple fact of life.
But proactive preventative maintenance can eliminate the majority of potential plumbing emergencies.
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.
With all the uncertainly during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is critical Gold Coast homeowners and businesses don’t fall into the trap of using so-called handymen or unlicensed plumbers. In reality, there is no such occupation categorised as unlicensed plumbers. Every person classified as a plumber is licensed by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission or QBCC.
All individuals and companies must hold a QBCC licence for any building works that involve any work that is:
Your plumbing is not a simplistic plaything and worldwide is classified as critical public health infrastructure. All work undertaken on any aspect of your plumbing, drainage or gas infrastructure is legally required to be undertaken by appropriately licensed individuals and companies.
All plumbers frequently experience fixing up after a handyman who makes out that unlicensed plumbers exist and convinces homeowners he can undertake plumbing works as long as it’s under $3300 of value. This is a complete lie by opportunistic unlicensed scammers who put your families health at risk. The benchmark value for undertaking plumbing, drainage or gas work is $0 and always has been.
Any plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work is essential to ensuring the health and safety of the entire community. This is critically important with the COVIC-19 health pandemic we are currently facing.
Every aspect of the plumbing, drainage and gas trades are administered by a strict licensing and legislative regime. This ensures every person in these trades holds the relative QBCC licences that are legally required. This, in turn, ensures the safety and protection of the entire community through the provision of clean, safe drinking water, sanitary drains and sewers to dispose of wastewater, and gas pipes and appliances that are fit for purpose.
We all agree that using a licensed plumber or gas fitter can appear expensive, but it is an investment that protects your families health. Using an unlicensed plumber can null and void your insurance coverage plus leave you with possible legal and financial implications.
Especially now demand to sight the QBCC licences visually. A QBCC occupational licence enables the person to carry out the work physically. A QBCC contractor licence allows the person to engage in contracting for the work.
Can plumbing work be undertaken by unlicensed plumbers or handymen?
Repairing or replacing a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber in a toilet cistern
Replacing caps or covers to ground-level inspection openings on a sanitary drain
Cleaning or maintaining a ground-level grate for a trap on a sanitary drain
Installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from a tap, isolating valve or backflow prevention device on the supply pipe for the watering system
Repairing or maintaining an irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from a greywater use facility or on-site sewage facility
Fire protection work for testing plumbing carried out by a holder of a fire protection occupational licence or another QBCC licence
Incidental unskilled tasks such as excavating or backfilling a trench
Many of these tasks are much more complicated than they appear. Mixer taps, for example, can be extremely complicated just to dismantle and technically they have no washer so must always be worked on by a licensed plumber.
Despite social media saying yes you can we can guarantee it is entirely illegal for anyone other than a licensed plumber to install a bidet seat or a douche spray to a toilet.
Checking a plumbers licence
Prior to letting anyone commence work on your plumbing, drainage or gas ask them for their plumbers’ licence as they are legally obliged to produce it for you if requested.
I recently had a client comment that Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes far more than doctors bury their mistakes. It is a comment I cannot disagree with in any way. Increasingly we see underground plumbing work that is so non-compliant it’s confirming Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes, knowingly and deliberately.
Calling them mistakes is not being truthful because we all know it’s a deliberate act to cut costs. We all understand those plumbing companies that choose to undertake construction work are under enormous competitive pressure to reduce construction costs continually.
However, because of these plumbing companies buckling to pressure from project managers, builders and developers, they are in an ever downward spiral of negligently breaking the law. The reality is all of the parties involved in the lawbreaking know the chances of them getting caught are slim as the inspections by City of Gold Coast’s plumbing, and drainage inspectors are cursory at best.
Underground water pipes, house sewer drains and house stormwater drains are all buried underground. Unfortunately for property owners, it can take years before the problems become apparent and they investigate the issue. By this time the original construction job is out of warranty, and the QBCC will show little interest in any investigation of negligence.
Investigation and rectification of non-compliant installation of underground plumbing infrastructure fall onto the hapless property owner. Rectification bills can be enormous, and the likelihood is there is no insurance coverage or any desire by the council or state regulatory authorities to investigate.
I believe we have the best plumbing regulations and standards in the world. We used to have the best enforcement in the world to ensure our buildings met the high standards required. The enforcement of the Plumbing and Drainage Act of 2018 and the preceding laws have become so lax that most buildings constructed in the last twenty years have multiple underground plumbing defects. Disastrously for property owners, the majority of these defects are waiting to break down and cause havoc finally.
When these buried mistakes are covered by insurance and break down, causing water damage, every one of us bears a cost via ever-increasing property insurance premiums on all buildings. If enforcement had occurred at the construction stage, then this water damage would have never happened.
It is our experience as maintenance plumbers that builders and developers perceive they can reduce costs and increase profits by not complying with the Plumbing and Drainage act of 2018.
The legal obligations of complying with the Plumbing Code of Australia, which is Volume 3 of the National Construction Code, is not even a consideration.
I accept this lack of compliance has come about due to multiple factors and pressures. Nevertheless, this short-sighted attitude and systematic non-compliance with what is the law affects property owners with prodigious rectification costs. I believe that the project managers, builders, developers and plumbers involved in this ongoing fraud of property owners and insurance companies are well aware of what they are doing but blame it on:
Competitive pressures in the construction industry where the lowest price wins mentality rewards plumbers who take non-compliant short cuts to reduce costs to win jobs
All builders actively forcing cost-cutting on sub-contractors and suppliers
Time constraints on plumbers to complete the job and be paid
The reluctance of builders to inform clients that unforeseen issues have arisen which will increase the cost of construction
The failure of building certifiers and plumbing inspectors to defect non-compliant work and the turning of a blind eye to incorrectly graded trenches, lack of compaction and inappropriate backfilling of trenches
Continual lack of enforcement by the Queensland Government regulators
Every one of the above has in their view a justifiable excuse for what is occurring but all that is required is for the law to be obeyed. The Plumbing and Drainage Act of 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 merely need to be enforced to stop Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes attitude continuing.
By enforcing the law, everyone is a winner and will return us to the standards that previously existed where non-compliant work was defected without a second thought. Every plumber I discuss this with would be more than happy with this to occur as it would create a level playing field for the plumbing industry where efficiency was rewarded rather than non-compliant short cuts. It further protects property owners and the entire construction industry that is already under a cloud due to the cladding non-compliance in buildings throughout Australia.
As licensed plumbers, we are mindful that non-compliant plumbing is a public health risk. I reiterate most of the non-compliant work is knowingly and deliberate which is ultimately negligent behaviour. Sooner or later insurance companies and no-win no-pay lawyers will awaken to the fact that this non-compliance is negligence resulting in the plumbing industry as a whole is portrayed as cowboys with no integrity ripping off poor property owners.
This is a scenario where no one wins except the lawyers. As a critical industry plumbers cannot allow a perception that plumbers as a whole are unable to undertake legally compliant work. We certainly need no more regulation we just need the existing laws and regulations enforced to protect the community’s health as a whole.
Plumbing quotes over the phone are meaningless without any validation as they are based on perception rather than experienced observation and onsite investigation. Every day we receive phone calls asking us to diagnose a plumbing, drainage or gas problem over the phone. We can only talk in generalities based on the vague information we are given.
Generally, after receiving this general broad sweeping advice, we are then asked how much we would charge to undertake the repair. We then have to explain it’s impossible to give any accurate pricing over the phone without an onsite investigation to diagnose the actual problem.
“When we are asked to diagnose and quote a plumbing problem over the phone, we put on our genie costume and look into our crystal ball.”
The reality is every plumbing problem is unique in its own way. Despite what you think, plumbing installations can be complicated.
Regrettably, 90% of the plumbing infrastructure in any building is concealed.
So what you are observing and attempting to describe to us over the phone is regularly wholly the reverse of what is transpiring under your floor or in the wall.
Sending us photos or videos can be of assistance. Even so, they still only show the extent of the problem, not the actual cause. But the reality is we always cannot give you plumbing quotes over the phone as photos and videos never tell the complete story.
No Professional Plumber Will Give Plumbing Quotes Over The Phone
No professional plumber, no matter how experienced they are can ever give legitimate plumbing quotes over the phone. There is only one way to diagnose a plumbing problem, and that is by an onsite investigation. No matter what you think, you can visually observe, you only see part of the potential problem at best. No two plumbing installations are ever wholly the same no matter how alike they may appear.
Unfortunately, there are too many plumbers who will give quotes over the phone. This is entirely unprofessional and no more than a marketing ploy to entice you to engage them to come to solve your problem. Think about it would you expect a doctor to diagnose a medical condition over the phone. In reality, it’s actually easier to diagnose a medical problem over the phone than it is a plumbing problem, but no doctor will do so without first examining you.
I guarantee that 99% of the time that the plumbing quotes over the phone increase within ten minutes of the plumber’s arrival. This will always be explained away by a myriad of excuses that your description of the problem was not accurately disclosed. It will always be your fault.
The reason the quote they provided to you over the phone increases is simple. Once onsite, the plumber can have a better understanding of all the variables. Even then, once they start on the repairs, there are frequently multiple changes to the cost as more faults appear that were not detected in the initial visual inspections.
Google Searches Do Not Make You a Plumber
It’s continuously amusing talking to someone who has done a Google search to locate what the remedy to their plumbing problem is. Usually, they have already decided what rectification work is required and are ringing getting multiple plumbing quotes over the phone.
It is my experience that 90% of the time the diagnosis is wrong, which in turn ensures the remedy they have decided upon on Google is wrong.
After their Google search, they further confuse themselves by talking to multiple plumbers which just creates further confusion. Ultimately every decision then only becomes about price so they choose a plumber who will come to site for free who advertises “No Call Out Fee”.
Once again, this is a fallacy because no legitimate plumbing business can come to your house for free. Sending a fully equipped truck with a licensed plumber costs at least $150 so I guarantee you will pay all of the costs in one way or another.
Plumbing Problems Are A Challenge For Both Plumber and Client
The reality is solving plumbing problems takes time and patience. We accept that finding a reputable plumbing company can be daunting as often you need to act quickly when a plumbing emergency occurs.
Solving a plumbing problem that is not completely obvious such as water leaking out of a wall can be frustrating. Here at Whywait Plumbing, we are specialist maintenance plumbers so we know that a leak can be occurring in a multitude of locations and running internally until it finds a route to flow freely. That is why we don’t smash open walls or floors to look for the problem but instead use our leak detection equipment to pinpoint the location of the leak.
For a client, this can create a perception we are procrastinating, but the reality is we are using our experience to solve the problem. When it comes to maintenance plumbing, hiring an experienced specialist who is older and wiser will always remove the misconceptions.
Regrettably, plumbers are only remembered for the terrible events that occur, such as a burst pipe or overflowing sewage. Due to the emergency type situations that most people call a plumber, there are numerous misconceptions about what a plumber can do and cannot do quickly. In too many circumstances, this is aligned to the cost rather than the outcome.
Do yourself a favour always and engage a plumber that is clearly experienced and been around a while. Above all else, avoid the temptation to get plumbing quotes over the phone. You need to ensure that your plumber comes to the site and undertakes a thorough site inspection before any work is undertaken.
If you need assistance on any plumbing, drainage or gas problem, call us 24/7 on (07) 55804311 as we have 43 years of experience in solving dilemmas that others cannot.