In November it will be 48 years since I finished high school and began my plumbing apprenticeship. Over the years, I have either asked myself every dumb question or have been asked some interesting questions by other people concerning plumbing.
But last week I got asked a question by Steve, a long-standing client that I cannot recollect ever being asked before. The question being, “What happens if I stick my hand into the kitchen sink InSinkErator waste disposal unit when it’s going?
My first response was to wonder why you would contemplate even doing such a thing. That was until Steve explained it was a question posed by his 5-year-old grandson.
Steve was genuinely worried it was something his grandson may try to attempt. Now the question did not seem so dumb at all. Steve was correct to be worried that his grandson would try to see what would happen if he put his hand down the InSinkErator unit when it was turned on because as we all know a 5-year old has little fear.
Steve was seriously contemplating getting us to remove the food waste disposal unit out of the sink permanently. This was despite him being concerned about the loss of conveniently and hygienically disposing of food scraps which could also increase the risk of a blocked sink.
An InSinkErator Has NO BLADES
Like most people, Steve was convinced that an InSinkErator waste disposal unit is a mass of sharp blades spinning around chopping and shredding everything that enters its chamber. Contrary to popular believe an InSinkErator sink waste disposal unit is not like a kitchen blender and it has NO BLADES at all.
Steve was much happier once I explained how an InSinkErator unit works. If his grandson put his hand into the unit when it was turned on then he would at the worse end up with a bruised and maybe cut hand. Although in all likelihood he would pull his hand out as soon as it came into contact with the spinning plate and or its impellers which have absolutely no cutting function.
Very simply instead of spinning blades chopping, cutting and breaking down the food scraps InSinkErator waste disposal works by:
Instead of blades, impellers (or lugs) mounted on a spinning plate use centrifugal force to continuously force food waste particles against a stationary grind ring
The grind ring breaks down the food scraps into very fine particles – virtually liquefying them
After they are ground, the running water flushes the particles through the grind ring and out of the disposer and into your waste-water pipe and into the sewer house drains
How Does An InSinkErator Work?
If you want to see exactly how an InSinkErator waste disposal unit works have a look at this 90-second video below which gives you a graphic inside view of how a unit works.
After watching the above video Steve was happy to keep using his InSinkErator waste disposal unit because like most people who have an InSinkErator he knew it was the most convenient, environmentally friendly and hygienic method to dispose of food waste and scraps. Generally, waste disposal units create a safer and cleaner kitchen using minimal water and electricity.
Tips on Using An InSinkErator
If you already have an InSinkErator sink waste disposal unit installed here are a few tips to using it which assist in prolonging its working life:
InSinkErator waste disposal units can become stuck or seized, and this can be caused by non-food items such as spoons being placed or falling into the unit
overfilling the InSinkErator can cause the unit to jam
grease or fatty liquids should not be poured into the InSinkErator
InSinkErator units should never be run dry, always use with the cold water running whilst the unit is spinning plus always turn the cold water off after turning off the unit
cleaning your InSinkErator waste disposal unit once every week by inserting and grinding a handful of ice in your unit. This will remove any buildup that may have been left when grinding food materials, and often gets rid of any smell coming from your kitchen sink drain. If an odour persists after carrying out this cleaning try cutting up and grinding a lemon or grapefruit will give a fresh citrus smell
the InSinkErator unit should be equipped with a reset button either at the side of the unit (older models) or underneath the unit. If your unit fails to start after pressing the reset, then it is probably more than just jammed disposal, and you should call Whywait Plumbing and have one of our plumbers solve the problem.
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.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, we frequently get a phone call asking does insurance cover water leaks? Every week we are called upon to deal with insurance companies or assessors on behalf of clients when they have sustained water damage to their home.
With water leaks just like everything else to do with insurance, there seem to be multiple grey areas with numerous interpretations. It is our experience we find every time we deal with an insurance company where the circumstances of the water leak are similar to previous we meet with a different response.
The product disclosure statement issued with your policy is where we find all the confusion starts. This is where the insurance company hopefully discloses what is covered by your policy. If you find the product disclosure statement confusing then call the insurance company to clarify what the coverage is that you are paying for. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question. Also, remember insurance companies record all calls, so keep diary notes of when you called and who you spoke to. Better still send them an email confirming your phone call and what your understanding was of the answers you received. This creates an electronic paper trail that can be utilised at a later date.
Important Definitions & Clauses
There are three important definitions and clauses which appear to apply to the question does insurance cover water leaks:
the “Water Damage Clauses” in the actual policy
the definition of what is water damage
the definition of what is gradual water damage
The Water Damage Clauses
The water damage clauses you should always read carefully and ensure you understand. Generally, it will have a section with several clauses and subclauses in the policy which will cover water damage and what you can claim for if you make a water damage claim on your home.
As a rule, it will state precisely what water damage your insurance policy covers and what is excluded. The exclusions are what you need to be aware of as often they will include an all-encompassing negligence clause coupled with a failure to maintain your home in good repair. If you have these general all-encompassing clauses, ask your insurance company what they precisely mean as we’ve seen these clauses used to deny coverage where it was in a very grey area and open to interpretation in their favour.
The Definition of Water Damage
Water damage can occur in so many ways that it’s generally not well defined in your insurance policy. In our experience, insurance companies specify water damage in two ways:
accidental or sudden water damage
gradual water damage
We’ve found that instances such as burst pipes, burst taps, burst valves, overflowing sewerage, overflowing stormwater and storm damage are covered by most insurance policies. This is because it was a sudden event that you could not have prevented.
In contrast, the damage caused by slow plumbing leaks in pipes, showers, toilets, gutters and roofs not damaged by a storm is not covered as they are classified as gradual water damage.
The Definition of Gradual Water Damage
Essentially gradual water damage is the insurance policy get out of jail free card. It is water damage they assess has occurred gradually over time. Frequently the water damage was visible to the trained eye but invisible to you as it covers the rotting of timber under the paint or mould in the walls, floor or ceiling. Essentially the insurance company will conclude you were negligent in not maintaining your home.
Examples of gradual water damage we frequently see are:
seepage from leaking taps into cupboards
leaking shower trays
leaking shower taps
leaking toilet cisterns
leaking drain pipes
rusted-out sections in gutters and roof
The water damage from many of these occurrences is often not covered by your insurance policy as it will be concluded you failed to keep your home in good repair through regular and reasonable maintenance.
Water Leak Prevention
The best way to avoid an unsuccessful water leak claim is regular maintenance by Whywait Plumbing. Now this will not prevent every possible water leak scenario happening, but it will demonstrate to the insurance company that you have been undertaking regular maintenance.
At Whywait Plumbing, we see instances every day of water damage that has occurred through the failure to maintain your home regularly. That is why we recommend all our clients to become a Service Partner and enjoy the VIP benefits of having a Service Partner Plan to maintain your most valuable asset, your home, proactively.
Most property owners on the Gold Coast have just received their City of Gold Coast Water and Sewerage Rate Notice for January. Under Queensland law, you must receive a quarterly water bill. The City of Gold Coast issues their water bills in January, April, July and October.
Whenever water bills arrive, we get clients asking us why their Gold Coast water bill is always out of date. From experience, we can guarantee the average Gold Coast Water bill is still out of date. For example, most water bills issued in January were for water that was used between July and October. This is due to the contractors who read each water meter having set routes and timelines to read your meter so yes your usage charges are always at least two months out of date. This is why we suggest you monitor your water meter weekly and read how to do it on our page “How To Read Your Water Meter”.
For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly water bill are their sewerage and water services charges. If you look closely at your water bill you can see that you have the following charges:
Sewerage service charges – sewerage access $181.03 per quarter
Water service charges – water access $53.02 per quarter
Gold Coast Water – water usage per kilolitre $1.09
Queensland Government – water usage per kilolitre $2.91
In reality, even if you used no water, you would still pay for service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.
Average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property is not an accurate guide to your water use. In our experience, most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. Remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption but will also alert you to a potential water leak.
A burst flexi hose is a job we attend to almost every day. In all likelihood, you will have multiple flexi hoses in your home. They will exist commonly in both residential and commercial buildings under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom vanity basins, under the toilet cistern and under the laundry tub. Invariably when we attend to a burst flexi hose it has been damaged during installation causing kinking and has further experienced corrosion. Almost always the burst flexi hose was a time bomb waiting to happen. The braided stainless steel “simple to install” flexi hose has over the last 10 years replaced copper pipe connections to taps and toilet cisterns. Unfortunately, the braided stainless steel flexi hose has not lived up to expectations and delivered on the rust protection anticipated. In our experience, a burst flexi hose is caused by:
incorrect installation with multiple kinks in the braided stainless steel
stretching of the flexi hose to make the connection fit
chemical attack from household cleaners
All of the above can create the perfect storm scenario in causing the braided stainless steel to corrode and rust. It then is just a matter of time until the stainless steel braiding fails which allows for the inner liner to burst. Here at Whywait Plumbing, we are now installing a polyamide hi class water hooker from Abey Australia which is the most technologically advanced flexi hose we have seen come onto the market. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker cannot rust or corrode as it uses polyamide braiding that is similar to the Kevlar used in bulletproof vests. The connectors are manufactured from brass alloy so the entire flexihose will never rust even if its continually in contact with chemicals such as chlorine.
We are confident you will never experience a burst flexi hose once we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker as they literally cannot rust and cannot kink but best of all they come with a 15-year rust resistant warranty. Kinking is often the cause of a burst flexi hose but cannot occur with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker. Kinking is simply poor installation as a result of over tightening the connector which twists the stainless steel braided hose. This over tightening creates pressure and tension in the braiding which frequently results in the inner liner bursting through the braiding and rupturing. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker has a simple design to ensure that it is anti-kink. When we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we are able to use two spanners to counteract any twisting that results in kinking.
Most of the flexi hoses currently used have an inner lining manufactured from EPDM which has the potential to absorb and release harmful chemicals such as chlorine into your drinking water. This ability to absorb chemicals also results in a potential burst flexi hose. With the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker the inner lining is manufactured from Softpex Core. The Softpex Core inner liner gives a superior mechanical performance to EPDM guaranteeing a longer life due to its higher tensile strength, higher abrasion resistance, higher working water pressure and non-corrosiveness. The extensive age/stress testing undertaken resulted in an amazing 0% failure rate.
We strongly recommend that you get us to check your flexi hoses every year for rust and/or corrosion and that they are replaced every five years. This will give you the peace of mind in knowing that the flexi hose in your home or business is not rusting and about to explode releasing water at 25 litres every minute that it flows. Rust is the #1 enemy of a braided stainless flexi hose.
When we replace your existing stainless steel flexi hoses with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we guarantee you will get:
superior strength and corrosion resistance
tested and WaterMark approved for use in Australia
superior tensile strength
superior working water pressure
a superior mechanical performance with the Softpex core inner liner
a 15-year rust resistant warranty from the manufacturer
As always we must caution you that installing or replacing a flexi hose is not a legally compliant DIY installation and under Queensland law must be done by a licensed plumber. You need to be aware that undertaking a DIY installation has the likelihood of making your insurance coverage null and void and the manufacturer’s warranty null and void if the flexi hose bursts and causes damage. Don’t wait for the ticking time bomb of your existing stainless steel braided flexi hoses to strike! Call us now to get us to upgrade you to the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker.