Here at Whywait Plumbing we are often left wondering at the stupid things people do to their plumbing which ensures plumbers are never short of or will run out of work.
Essentially at Whywait Plumbing we are maintenance plumbing specialists and our primary work is to make house calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. The basic reason plumbers never run out of work is based on two truths:
1) our clients will always need plumbing—or more specifically, plumbing that works—and,
2) some of our clients will always do stupid things that stop their plumbing from working.
Keeping in mind that the maintenance side of plumbing often requires a strong stomach and the need to suppress amusement with other peoples’ self-imposed misfortune. But rest assured that the two truths mentioned above will always ensure the plumbers at Whywait Plumbing will keep your plumbing working to keep your business. Listed below are samples of stupid things that some of our clients do to their plumbing that require Whywait staff to suppress their amusement or often bemusement.
- Leaving hoses connected and turned on at the tap and then going away on holiday. This is a classic plumbing error that one must assume is caused most often by extreme laziness with the only beneficiary being Gold Coast Water with all of the extra water this client ultimately had to pay for when the hose burst.
- Using the drain vent pipe for anything other than venting because there is plenty of room inside the pipe. This client was running TV aerial cables, pay TV cables and computer cables down the drainage vent pipe that come up through the roof. For this client it was the solution for getting all of the cabling into the house through a single 50mm pipe. But as he learnt vent pipes are not just there for their bad looks. Vent pipes not only provide air to drains inside the house and to prevent a suction effect that inhibits drainage but they also get rid of sewer gases that come up from the Gold Coast Water’s sewer main. If you cut a hole in your vent inside the house to run a cable through, you’re tapping into an endless supply of your neighborhood’s sewer gases. He had a nice picture on the TV in his lounge room with full access to the Internet but made the house almost uninhabitable with the fluctuating sewer gases entering the house.
- Using too much drain cleaner. When used judiciously and as directed on the right kind of blockage, drain cleaners can be effective and relatively safe for drains. When used with abandon, they can corrode some drain pipes such as copper which this client managed to achieve while making Bunnings very happy with all of his purchases. Plus so much was poured down the pipe it made the blockage worse.
- Pouring chemicals into a septic system. If you’re used to living with a septic system, you probably know how to take care of it. But this client was renting a house on acreage and did not think twice about using chemicals like drain cleaner, chlorine bleach, paint and even anti-bacterial soaps. These chemicals killed the essential bacteria in the septic tank, and caused it to stop working but of course waited until Christmas Day to finally block when he had a house full of family visiting.
- Screwing, nailing or cutting into a wall without checking for hidden plumbing pipes. The advent of multiple types of plastic water pipes have turned this into a nightmare for plumbers as they cannot be welded up like a copper pipe plus none of the systems are compatible. Doing this with a screw and you might hear a fine spray of water hitting the back of the wall. But this client did it with a chainsaw and got the ultimate gusher hitting not only the hot and cold pipes but also the hot water storage tank.
- Pouring cooking oil and fats down the kitchen drain. If you’re in the habit of pouring cooking oil and fats down the kitchen sink drain you are guaranteeing a drain blockage sooner rather than later. Cooking oil and fat is one of the best things for blocking drains as a recent client discovered managing to block up his entire unit and that of her neighbour in a duplex block on Australia Day when the neighbour was entertaining friends for a traditional barbecue.
- Putting everything down the kitchen waste disposal unit. Unfortunately this client was one of those people who thought a waste disposal unit was the equivalent of a space-fantasy laser gun. Unfortunately she found out it was not in the middle of a dinner party for important clients of her husbands business. A waste disposal unit is essentially a motor with a spinning wheel that has two metal blades, and it does very little to stop the following from blocking your drain even if you do run copious amounts of water into the kitchen sink: bulk flour, bulk rice, flower stems, prawn shells, oyster shells, filleted fish scales and skin and a couple of spoons. The smell was not great either.
- Using the toilet as a rubbish bin. We all know it is stupid to put a lot of solids or newspaper down the toilet but many people do it anyway. This client like many others we rescue believed that if she could just get it to flush away it would be magically out of her life forever. Like many people she had the mistaken belief that at the other end of the toilet there is nothing but a black hole which is a portal to a subterranean outer space that swallows up everything she could discard and it is then whisked off into oblivion. Unfortunately, that oblivion is a 100mm pipe that leads into another 100mm pipe, which was the drainage pipe to her entire house. In other words constantly flushing incorrect items down the toilet over an extended period ultimately caused the entire house to block up and the drain had to be dug up to remove all the solidified debris that had mounted up. The bottom line is if it is not toilet paper or faeces or urine it does not belong in the toilet pan.
And those are just a few of the stupid things we have rectified this year to date at Whywait Plumbing Services.
Cheap plumbing fixtures on-line and the desire for a bargain has created an on-line love affair to compare prices of supposedly comparable products and services.
It is a guarantee no matter how much you pay for any product or service you will always find it cheaper on-line. This has given rise to an increasing belief by many consumers that they have paid over the odds and have been ripped off because they found allegedly the same product or service on-line “cheaper”.
It is worth remembering that “cheap” has two meanings. Where plumbing products and services are concerned “cheap” is responsible for some colossally expensive problems. In fact a large amount of work undertaken by Whywait Plumbing is because of consumers who took the “cheap” option. The old adage that you get what you pay for is certainly truer today than at any other time in our history.
Plumbing products that are sold in Australia are subject to stringent testing, designed to ensure that they meet Australian Standards. Once plumbing products meet the required Australian standards they are granted a WaterMark. The product whether its a tap or a toilet or a hot water service or a urinal must display the WaterMark logo as pictured to the right on the product by law.
If you are buying plumbing products on-line from overseas or if your builder or plumber is doing this to cut costs then it is a sure bet that it will end up costing you much more than the money saved in repairs and replacement.
Always make sure you understand what you are paying for and ensure that it has a compliant Australian WaterMark approval. Using a non compliant non WaterMark approved product will null and void your insurance policy if the product is defective and causes property damage.
When you are upgrading or replacing or renovating you will comes across a lot of great looking plumbing products to select from and ones that make great claims in terms of durability and long-life. Usually they are much “cheaper” and are tempting to purchase for the price being offered. Generally where mixer taps and toilet suites are concerned the cheaper the price means corners have been cut in their production. If you cannot see the WaterMark on the product then do not purchase it.
Unfortunately in Australia it is not illegal for non compliant products to be imported and sold. It is however illegal for plumbers to install them. Listening to unqualified salesman who tell you how wonderful the cheap plumbing product is have lead many people to have expensive repairs undertaken. It is always best especially if renovating to stipulate any product supplied for your job meets or exceeds the relevant Australian Standard and or WaterMark for plumbing products.
By Gary Mays
Drain odours have plagued Aidan Clarke the owner of Marine Energy Systems at Murarrie since 2006. Since opening his workshop and showroom, he had been trying to solve the problem of foul odours in their bathroom. The smell was so bad that employees had complained that it was making them nauseous.
ADCO Constructions, the builder of the complex, had organised their plumber to replace the drainage connection for the toilet suite to no avail. Odour blockers had been placed in the bathroom, but they too were of limited value and failed to address the problem with drain odours continually there.
The problem was particularly acute after weekends with the door having to be jammed open on Monday to get fresh air into the bathroom. The problem was particularly embarrassing when clients of the company viewing product in the showroom needed to use the bathroom.
In May 2011 in absolute frustration, Aidan Clarke contacted Gary Mays of Whywait Plumbing to solve the drain odours problem. After a thorough inspection of all existing drain connections to the toilet, shower and basin it was concluded that the only logical place that the drain odours could be emanating from was the floor waste trap in the middle of the floor.
As a result, Gary Mays from Whywait Plumbing Services contacted John Carroll from Eco Guardians to obtain his advice to see if a new product he had discussed with Gary Mays previously would solve the problem. A DrainGuardian™ was supplied to us to fit into the floor waste. The DrainGuardian™ was installed in less than 5 minutes, replacing the existing grate cover.
Once installed water was poured down the floor waste ensuring there was a water seal in the DrainGuardian in addition to the existing water seal in the main 100mm trap that makes up the drainage floor waste system.
DrainGuardian™ eliminating drain odours from floor wastes
The entire process of installation was completed to ensure the sceptical, long-suffering Aidan Clarke that the DrainGuardian™ would provide greater protection to any form of odour emission from the floor waste and end the problem he had been enduring.
The DrainGuardian™ works by creating two physical barriers to smells and vermin while it also kills airborne bacteria, waterborne bacteria and fungi. In the smelly bathroom at Marine Energy Systems the improvement was immediate and permanent.
The results were almost instantaneous as within one day the DrainGuardian™ had eliminated odour problems in the bathroom. The elimination of the odours in such a short time proved conclusively the problem that Marine Energy Systems had been enduring since 2006 had been the floor waste trap all along. There was nothing structurally defective with the floor waste trap that was causing odour emission’s which makes the source of the odours a common problem we find these days in that it is a venting problem in the entire sewer drain system to the property. What had been happening was a siphoning effect that caused the floor waste trap to be sucked either completely or partially dry that allowed drain odours to be emitted through the floor waste and into the bathroom.
Aidan Clarke now categorically states, “ DrainGuardian™ should be compulsory in every floor waste in every bathroom as a clean bathroom environment cannot be underestimated. I have wasted incredible amounts of money on trying to solve this problem as it was a cause of acute embarrassment to me, our staff and to clients. Our bathroom is now a pleasure to enter with there being no drain odours at all thanks to a straightforward solution in DrainGuardian.”
If you are experiencing drain odours book Whywait Plumbing to investigate today by calling us on (07) 5580 4311
Recently the highly respected magazine “The Economist” ran a cover story that asked the pertinent question if we will ever invent something as useful as the flushing toilet again. No matter which way you look at it the flushing toilet has done wonders for public health in modern society.
The humble toilet and its associated water flushing in its many variations and improvements over the years have helped to stop the spread of infectious disease. In fact a survey of 11000 doctors by the “British Medical Journal” in 2007 voted hands down that the world’s greatest medical milestone since 1840 was sanitation which of course the toilet is an integral part of. Despite all the staggering medical breakthroughs and scientific advances the seemingly mundane advance of reliable sewage and reliably clean water supply was judged the greatest medical advance.
The ancient Indus Valley Civilization were the first to use hydraulic engineering in the earliest version known of flushing water toilets. The Romans used latrines over pipes with running water that carried into the Tiber River. The Romans were the first civilised society over 2000 years ago to realise the requirements to have an integrated plumbing system to pipe in clean water and dispose of used water .
In 1596 Sir John Harrington installed a toilet for his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, who would not use it because of the noise it made. Contrary to popular opinion Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet but he did popularise the siphon system used to empty the tank or cistern.
For most of us in Australia flushing toilets and the associated plumbing is something we take for granted. Like most of the population the staff at Whywait Plumbing have never known what it is like not to have a flushing toilet inside the house or to have on demand clean running water inside our homes or a fully functional sewer system to take away the used water.
Close to 90% of us live in an urban environment and for that we can thank plumbing, that allows us to do so safely, without fear of contracting water borne diseases.
Clean potable water is the basis for life and without it the risk to public health and the population as a whole increases. The cost to the community of plumbing failures are substantial and always have been. The recognition by “The Economist” and “British Medical Journal” that the flushing toilet coupled with reliable sewage and water supply is testament to the strength of plumbing laws, standards and licensing in not only Australia but also in Europe and North America. This is because doctors recognised the best measure of medical advance is not its complexity but what it does for the average person with respect to length and quality of our lives. The average life expectancy has increased 35 years since 1840 and roughly 30 of those years are attributable to the advances in sanitation and living conditions.
Even in today’s society, not everyone has access to a flushing toilet and in Asia alone some 2 billion people, which is over 60% of the population of Asia, live without an adequate access to sanitation such as toilets. In many places open sewers are the norm. This would not be tolerated in Australia and we are protected from it thankfully by our plumbing laws.
No matter which way you look at it “The Economist” is correct we will possibly as a society never invent anything as useful again as the flushing toilet which has improved billions of people’s lives.