How Does a Toilet Block?

How Does a Toilet Block?

Toilet blockages are more than an inconvenience!

How does a toilet block is a frequently asked question of our plumbers? Your toilet is after the kitchen sink the most commonly used plumbing fixture in your home. It goes without saying a blocked toilet is more than an inconvenience. For most people, a blocked toilet is an unpleasant experience that they don’t have the stomach to deal with and calling a plumber is their preferred option. So how does a toilet block seemingly without reason and ruin your day?

How does a toilet block with foreign objects?

how does a toilet block with foreign objects so Whywait Plumbing need to clearAdhering to the three P’s rule of pee, poo and paper for your toilet ensure never having to ask how does a toilet block from foreign objects.

Foreign objects are anything that is not toilet paper, urine or faeces. Toilet pans are not waste disposal units and are designed with one function, and that is to dispose of your bodily waste hygienically.

Toilet paper, despite some popular urban myths, does not block a toilet. Toilet paper is manufactured to dissolve in water and rapidly breaks down when you flush the toilet cistern.

In our experience, the biggest culprit and an absolute foreign object in a toilet pan are flushable wipes. Flushable wipes are anything but flushable and cause toilets and sewers to block up and create horrendous plumbing repair bills.

Other foreign objects we frequently see in a blocked toilet are 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.

Tampons are frequently blamed for blocking a toilet or drain and yes they are a foreign object. The reality is that a tampon is too small and flexible to cause a toilet to block. We frequently see real estate leasing managers trying to blame a blocked toilet on tampons, but they are a visible symptom of the blockage, not a cause.

The best method of eliminating your toilet from becoming a rubbish bin is to keep a bathroom waste bin in the toilet or bathroom. It is also a good idea to train your children from an early age on what is safe to flush down a toilet bowl.

How does a toilet block in a toilet pan trap?

how does a toilet block with toilet paper from Whywait PlumbingThe reason there is water in your toilet is that the curved bottom part of the toilet is a trap. The toilet bowl trap is literally what it says a trap. The trap retains water in it every time you flush the toilet. The purpose of the trap is to prevent foul sewer odours escaping from the drains and entering your home.

Foreign objects are the primary cause of a blockage in the trap, especially if they are rigid and lodge in the trap outlet. In many circumstances, they can be dislodged and the blockage cleared by using a plunger. If you are attempting to clear it yourself with a plunger, let the water drain down before trying to plunge your toilet into preventing sewage water splashing onto your floor.

Toilet paper is frequently blamed for creating a blockage in the trap. In most circumstances, there is a foreign object lodged in the trap outlet that prevents the toilet paper from flushing away.

If you are experiencing frequent blockages to your toilet, then you have one of the following:

  • a toilet pan that was manufactured in the 1990s that was not compatible with the water flow from the cistern
  • poor quality toilet paper that is not breaking up in the water as required
  • an offset pan collar under the toilet that is restricting flow into the sewer drain

If you are experiencing this scenario, it is a process of elimination. The first thing to do is to try a different brand of toilet paper or even try limiting the amount of toilet paper being used. If that does not solve the blockages, then you need to have your toilet suite and drain connection checked out and possibly have it upgraded.

How does a toilet block from a blocked sewer drain?

a blocked sewer drain explains how does a toilet block cleared by Whywait Plumbing

Overflowing sewerage from a blocked main house sewer drain

Commonly the majority of blocked toilets are a symptom of a blocked main sewer drain. The toilet becoming completely blocked or slow to drain is because the sewer drains are full and there is nowhere for the water in the toilet to go.

If you have a blocked sewer drain, then all of your plumbing fixtures will cease draining. In this situation, plunging the toilet will achieve absolutely nothing. Worst of all, you will likely end up with sewerage all over your floor.

You were likely receiving warning signals from your sewer drain with gurgling sounds from the toilet, and it was slow to drain when flushed.

Gurgling sounds from any plumbing fixture should never be ignored as they seldom go away and should be investigated immediately if it continues to occur.

If you are experiencing regular blockages in your toilet or hearing gurgling sounds, then you need to call us on (07) 5580 4311 before you experience a complete shut down of your main sewer house drain system.

 

How long does a bathroom renovation take?

How long does a bathroom renovation take?

Television renovation shows are not reality when it comes to a bathroom renovation. Sadly that’s the benchmark too many people use when they call us to discuss a bathroom renovation. We always know when a client phones and asks “how long does a bathroom renovation take” that they will have unreal expectations.bathroom renovation by Whywait Plumbing

The reality is that a well-planned bathroom renovation will take at least 4-6 weeks. A poorly planned bathroom renovation takes forever and is the most frustrating experience for everyone.

Your bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms to renovate and will need to last you at least ten years. What is hugely fashionable today will not be in two years.

A bathroom renovation is never straightforward and is all about planning, planning and more planning.

Get A Professional Design

There is a multitude of online tools that make designing a bathroom look easy. The reality is that doing your own design can be a false economy.

Getting the floor plan design right from the beginning is your number one priority. I guarantee it will save you money in the long term. A professional bathroom designer will ensure you get what you want. Everyone else involved with the bathroom renovation will be able to give you precise costings based on the design plans.

Remember it’s your bathroom so don’t be intimidated by a bathroom designer. Work with their suggestions and opinions to get the bathroom you want.

Relocating Plumbing is Expensive

bathroom renovation relocation of plumbing by Whywait Plumbing

relocation of plumbing starts with exploration to discover where the drains are hidden in walls

If you have a concrete slab, then relocating water pipes and drains is expensive. If you have a wooden floor and can get under the house, the relocation of your plumbing is much simpler.

In our experience, the unnecessary relocation of drains frequently causes budget blowouts. Utilising your existing plumbing layout will significantly reduce the cost of your bathroom renovation.

Even marginal changes can cause a budget blowout because the plumbing located in the concrete slab can be vastly different once we start exposing it.

As I said, a wooden floor where there is access to the plumbing underneath is a vastly different proposition because all of the plumbing is visible. This gives you much more scope in your bathroom renovation to rearrange the layout of your fixtures.

Draw Up a Specification

a bathroom renovation involves demolishing the existing bathroom by Whywait Plumbing

demolishing your existing bathroom creates a mess very fast

A precise specification of what you want in your bathroom renovation will save everyone a lot of heartache and frustration once work begins.

Project managing your bathroom renovation is not hard providing you have clear floor design plans and precise, unambiguous specifications.

Checklists are a must for your budget peace of mind for the tiler, electrician, plumber, plasterer and painter. This ensures everyone knows what their tasks are and where they stand from the beginning.

If it’s not written down, then you can guarantee you will get a continuous flow of variations that will blow your budget to pieces.

Avoid Reusing Parts of Your Existing Bathroom

The best way to renovate a bathroom is to strip everything back to the bare floor and framework. Keeping parts of your existing bathroom defeats the purpose of having a brand new bathroom.

We frequently see clients keeping the existing ceiling, but it saves very little and is frustrating working around it to install new lighting and extraction fans.

Reusing bathroom fixtures such as the mixer taps or toilet suite or bath save little as it means we have to remove them, clean them up and reinstall them carefully. All you are saving on is the cost of the fixture, which these days is often marginal.

Use Quality Fixtures and Fittings

luxury bathroom renovation by Whywait Plumbing

Opting for cheap no brand plumbing fixtures will lead to future maintenance problems. Frequently if there is no manufacturers brand name visible, then the plumbing fixtures are a poor quality that will not last past a couple of years.

There are plenty of quality taps and toilets that will not squeeze your budget. Avoid fashionable colours in taps as in my opinion chrome never goes out of fashion and always cleans up well.

Investing in good quality custom built vanity cabinets will give you much more value and aid the functionality of the bathroom. Investing in a quality frameless shower screen will again support the functionality of the bathroom.

Planning is the Answer

As I said, previously, the key to a bathroom renovation is about the preparation. A well-planned bathroom renovation with precise specifications ensures that the work requirements are clear and everyone will happily fulfil their obligations.

What is a Plumbing Emergency?

What is a Plumbing Emergency?

It is my experience that many clients mistakenly believe their job is a plumbing emergency.  The reality is that most are not and just require routine maintenance unless they are:

  • putting your or your family’s life at risk
  • flooding your house

Life-Threatening Plumbing Emergency

Gas Leaks

lraking gas is a plumbing emergency at Whywait PlumbingLeaking gas, whether it’s natural gas or LPG, is dangerous. There are no DIY gas repairs; you must always use a licensed gas fitter.

LPG is highly flammable and being a dense gas; it will sink to your floor and build in intensity. Natural gas is not as combustible as LPG but still dangerous, especially in confined spaces in your home.

If you suspect you can smell gas, then you likely have a gas leak. You need to immediately isolate the gas supply to your home at either the gas meter or at the gas bottles. Once isolated, call us immediately to organise a service call.

While you are waiting for us to arrive at your home ventilate your house by opening doors and windows. Ensure you turn off all your gas appliances and as a precaution your electrical appliances as well. Above all, do not use any naked flames.

Sewage Overflow

overflowing sewage is a plumbing emergency so call Whywait Plumbing nowOverflowing sewage from toilets or floor wastes needs to be taken seriously. Raw sewage flowing into your house or outside is hazardous, and the risk of contamination is real.

Drains overflowing inside or outside your home require urgent attention, which is why we have a 1-hour emergency plumbing response for overflowing blocked drains. Blocked drains are a potential health hazard and need to be solved by trained plumbers with the correct equipment.

Don’t be fooled that overflowing sewage is only from your sewer drains. Sewage overflow can originate from outside your property very quickly, primarily if your home is located below other properties or if you live in a highrise apartment.

Don’t try to solve raw sewage lying around your home yourself as mopping it up solves nothing. Raw sewage contains parasites, fungi and bacteria that will soak into your floors and walls.

The photo on the right is where we had raw sewage flowing through a three-story terrace house and had to remove all the carpet and throw it away as can be seen on the lawn. The sewage had penetrated floors and walls which all required which required a combination of structural drying restoration and replacement of gyprock plaster wall linings.

Burst Pipe

a burst flexi hose is a plumbing emergency so call Whywait PlumbingA burst water pipe or flexi hose is now an everyday occurrence for plumbers. This is due to the amount of plastic piping now installed in homes instead of copper pipe.

A burst flexi hose is unfortunately all too common. An average house now has multiple flexi hoses installed under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom vanity basins, under the toilet cistern and the laundry tub. The reality is that every flexi hose connected is potentially a ticking time bomb.

Burst or ruptured plastic hot and cold water reticulation pipes occur for multiple reasons such as age, high pressure, poor installation, accidentally drilling into them, poor quality pipe fittings or faulty workmanship.

A burst pipe can cause damage fast to your furniture, floor coverings, kitchen cabinets, vanity cabinets, walls and floors. You need to turn your water off quickly when you experience a burst with the best place at the isolating valve at your water meter. Once isolated, call us immediately as this is a plumbing emergency.

A burst pipe or flexi hose is not a DIY repair and needs to be done compliantly by a licensed plumber who will ensure that the pipe is repaired with approved WaterMark products in accordance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.

Its 99.9% certain that Plumbers don’t have Supermans X-ray Vision

Its 99.9% certain that Plumbers don’t have Supermans X-ray Vision

X-ray Vision Would Be a Plumbers Dream Come True

Anyone who knows me is aware I frequently state that when we get a plumbers licence, we didn’t also get given a pair of Superman’s glasses with X-ray vision.
Plumbing infrastructure is 90% concealed in walls, floors and underground. The ability for a plumber to transform into Superman and see-through physical objects would be an obvious solution when you have problems.

As Plumbers and Electricians are only too aware many people think we possess X-ray vision when it comes to solving their concealed infrastructure issues. There is always a sense of irony in the fact that people will make multiple visits to a doctor to get a diagnosis of a health problem. But believe we only need one visit to diagnose a complex issue in their plumbing, gas or electrical infrastructure.

Looking after your plumbing infrastructure can be challenging when most of the infrastructure is concealed. Most people are vaguely aware there are water pipes and drainage pipes somewhere that connects to their bathrooms, kitchen and laundry.
The vague awareness only transforms into reality when the infrastructure stops working. A leaking water pipe or a blocked toilet suddenly create a perception that something is wrong somewhere.

That’s when you call a plumber to investigate. Often this is where the “fun” starts as we arrive at your home to see exactly what you can see. This means we have to start investigating. Depending on the problem investigating is a process of elimination.

This is why I say Superman’s X-ray vision would solve so many problems for us. Ultimately all we can call upon as Plumbers is our knowledge and experience to eliminate possibilities. Yes, there is the technology we can use. The limitations of the technology are endless with equipment such as a CCTV drain camera being useless to use on a blocked drain as ultimately all we can see is dirty water.

This is why I say Superman’s X-ray vision would solve so many problems for us. Ultimately all we can call upon as Plumbers is our knowledge and experience to eliminate possibilities. Yes, there is the technology we can use. The limitations of the technology are endless with equipment such as a CCTV drain camera being useless to use on a blocked drain as ultimately all we can see is dirty water.

Here at Whywait, I believe we have invested wisely over the years in technology and continue to do so. Equipment such as CCTV drain cameras, sonar locators, pipe tracers, gas detectors, leak detection equipment and much more. Much of the investigative technology we utilise derives from medical technology, so it is continuously evolving.

I’m looking forward to the day when we can access portable X-ray or sonar equipment that will allow us to see clearly the location of infrastructure in your walls, floors and underground.

Ultimately I still believe its the experience and patience of our Plumbers to investigate your problems and eliminate the possibilities before we jackhammer up your floor or smash open your walls.

Here at Whywait, I believe we have invested wisely over the years in technology and continue to do so. Equipment such as CCTV drain cameras, sonar locators, pipe tracers, gas detectors, leak detection equipment and much more. Much of the investigative technology we utilise derives from medical technology, so it is continuously evolving.

I’m looking forward to the day when we can access portable X-ray or sonar equipment that will allow us to see clearly the location of infrastructure in your walls, floors and underground. Ultimately I still believe its the experience and patience of our Plumbers to investigate your problems and eliminate the possibilities before we jackhammer up your floor or smash open your walls.

Gary Mays is a Master Plumber and the owner of Whywait Plumbing Services. Since 1976 Gary has grown Whywait Plumbing into one of Queensland’s most respected, professional and innovative plumbing companies. Gary is a member of Gold Coast North Chamber of Commerce and is trusted by media to speak on matters of local infrastructure and development.

Unlicensed DIY Plumbing

Unlicensed DIY Plumbing

using Whywait Plumbing ensures you don't have unlicensed DIY plumbingUnlicensed DIY plumbing work has never been legal in Queensland. Unfortunately, too many people think because they can buy plumbing products at Bunnings, then they can carry out the installation or repairs as well. In reality, the ability to undertake unlicensed plumbing work is extremely restricted in Queensland.

Technically DIY plumbing is classified as “Unregulated work” in Schedule 3  of the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 which was called into law on 1 July 2019.

So the “Unregulated work” that an unlicensed person can undertake in respect to plumbing work is not a great deal and for a good reason, as outlined below. Specifically, in Schedule 3, Unregulated work generally is defined as the following work for premises necessary for the following:

  • replacing a shower head  or 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 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

And those seven tasks listed above are the only legal DIY plumbing jobs that you may undertake without a plumbing licence. The only other exception to this is what is referred to as incidental unskilled tasks such as excavating or backfilling a trench

In Queensland, all plumbing work is legally required to be carried out under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019, Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003 and Queensland Plumbing and Waste Water Code 2019. These acts and regulations are comprehensive in their requirements and outcomes concerning individual plumbing licences and training.

In addition, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 calls into law The Plumbing Code of Australia. This is defined as the document in force from time to time called “National Construction Code volume 3 – Plumbing Code of Australia published by the Australian Building Codes Board. The Plumbing Code of Australia covers every aspect of plumbing and drainage setting out the minimum requirements for the construction, installation, replacement, repair and maintenance of all plumbing systems, specifically:

  • Water services
  • Sanitary plumbing and drainage systems
  • Excessive noise
  • Facilities

To be a plumbing contractor in Queensland, a company or individual must also hold appropriate contractors licences by the QBCC under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991.

This is in addition to a plumbers occupational licence that allows us at Whywait Plumbing to lawfully carry out particular plumbing or drainage work. This licence ensures that all plumbing contractors have the correct technical qualifications and occupational license. No one other than a licensed plumbing contractor can undertake plumbing work no matter what the value of the work is. The threshold amount of $3000 does not apply to plumbing, drainage or gasfitting that applies to several other trades with QBCC licenses.

It is not worth the risk to undertake unlicensed DIY plumbing. It is illegal, plus it potentially voids your insurance coverage.

Plumbing laws nationwide safeguard the health of the nation. Plumbing is public health, now, and in the future.

Does Your Insurance Cover All Water Leaks?

Does Your Insurance Cover All Water Leaks?

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.

does insurance cover water leaks in walls 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

does insurance cover water leaks caused by stormsWater 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.