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.

Why Do I Need A TMV or Tempering Valve?

Why Do I Need A TMV or Tempering Valve?

Every week we have clients asking why we are required to install a TMV or tempering valve to their hot water system. The short, simple answer is because it’s the law.

The longer answer is because it’s about safety. A TMV or tempering valve reduces the risk of scalding. This is because storage type gas, electric, solar and heat pump systems are storing hot water at between 60° C and 75° C. You need to be aware a severe hot water burn can occur in one second when the water is delivered at 60° C or higher. Hot water burns like fire because:

  • At 60°C, a severe burn can happen in 1 second
  • At 55°C, a severe burn would take 10 seconds
  • At 50°C, a severe burn would happen after 5 minutes

What is a TMV?

TMV or thermostatic mixing valve installed by Whywait Plumbing Services Gold Coast

TMV or thermostatic mixing valve installed by Whywait Plumbing

A TMV is a thermostatic mixing valve but is commonly referred to as a TMV. The role of a TMV is to mix hot and cold water together to provide you with hot water delivery at your tap that is at a consistent temperature.

When we install your TMV, we set the temperature to deliver the hot water in all bathrooms at 45°C in aged care or childcare facilities or 50°C in all other bathrooms.

A TMV is compulsory for use when used in common areas for aged care or childcare. A TMV is very accurate and very responsive to fluctuations in incoming water temperatures keeping the temperature to within 1° C of the temperature that it has been set at when we install it.

Accuracy of temperature in the TMV is delivered by a thermally sensitive element which expands and contracts in response to the temperature fluctuations of the incoming cold and hot water. This expansion and contraction regulate the temperature by controlling how much cold water mixes with the hot water. An added safety feature of a TMV is that if cold water flows become too low, they shut down to prevent 60°C plus water being delivered.

What is a Tempering Valve?

illegal tempering valve installation replaced by Whywait Plumbing

Non-compliant tempering valve installation connected with flexihoses replaced by Whywait Plumbing

A tempering valve’s role is also to mix hot and cold water together to provide you with hot water delivery at your tap that is at a consistent temperature.

The tempering valve is a simple three-way valve that is temperature actuated to mix the hot and cold water. These days most come preset at 50°C and when we install them, we test them by measuring the temperature of the water from your hot taps in the bathroom.

A tempering valve is commonly used in residential homes as a one-off valve at the hot water service. A tempering valve is slower to respond to temperature fluctuations compared to a TMV plus it will deliver water to within 3°C of the temperature that it has been set at when we install it.

Which Valve do you Require?

The Plumbing Code of Australia in AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 is very specific about water temperature is section 1.11, which states:

  • To avoid the likelihood of legionella bacteria growth, an installation shall store water at a temperature of not less than 60°C
  • All new heated water installations shall deliver heated water not exceeding 45°C for the aged, the sick, children or people with disabilities in healthcare, aged care, early childhood, schools and nursing homes. For all other situations, heated water shall be delivered not exceeding 50°C.

Ultimately when we are installing a temperature control device, we are legally obliged to comply with the requirements above and much more as they are prescribed in AS/NZS 3500.4:2018.

Overall a TMV is more expensive to install initially compared to a tempering valve. However, a TMV has a much longer working life span compared to a tempering valve as they are more accessible to service and replace the working parts. A tempering valve, by comparison, is usually just replaced when it stops working as they are not easy to service or replace parts in.

In Queensland, all work undertaken on a TMV or tempering valve is reportable to the QBCC and must have a compliant Form 4 submitted. For your protection always demand a copy of your Form 4.

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.

The Perils of DIY Plumbing

The Perils of DIY Plumbing

Household plumbing is one of those tasks that homeowners always debate over. Should you attempt to complete the work yourself to save a bit of money or hire a plumber and absorb the added cost? Many everyday plumbing tasks seem simple at first glance, so, understandably, you might want to try the DIY route. However, several pitfalls can trap you if you don’t fully understand what you are doing.

Regulatory Issues

Drain inspection point under timber deck located by Whywait PlumbingRecently, we were called out to a Coombabah home to address a blocked sewer drain. However, the homeowner had unknowingly built a deck over the inspection access point. Because of this, we were unable to fix their blocked drain until we had received detailed drain plans from the local council to enable us to find another access point.

While this was not specifically a DIY plumbing issue, the homeowner had likely built the deck themselves. An experienced contractor would have known that it is against the law to build over an inspection opening to the surface (IOS) for sewer pipes. You expose yourself to similar risks when attempting to do your plumbing, as you may be violating regulations and laws of which you are not even aware.

Safety Concerns

Flexihoses used on electric hot water tankOn another recent job, we discovered that a homeowner had connected both the hot and cold water pipes with flexihoses. While this is fine for cold water, hot water must be connected with copper pipe for the first metre from the water heater. This is a requirement of the Plumbing & Drainage Act, so failing to comply with the regulations could result in fines or other punishment.
In addition to the possible legal ramifications, the safety risks are of even more significant concern. Because flexihoses are not designed for use with hot water, they can burst or rupture without warning when exposed to excessive heat, allowing water upwards of 75 degrees to spray everywhere. Had someone been nearby when the hose ruptured, they would likely have been severely scalded.

Financial Risks

In many cases, we get called out to homes to fix plumbing problems that were the result of the homeowner’s attempts to fix their own plumbing. Often, their efforts have complicated matters, resulting in more costly repairs. When you attempt to do your own plumbing, you run the risk of making mistakes that could lead to even more damage to your plumbing system.
An experienced plumber will know exactly how to fix your plumbing problem quickly and accurately. Although hiring a plumber will cost you a bit more than doing the work yourself, you’ll save time and gain peace of mind that the job has been done right. The added cost of hiring a plumber is a small price to pay for the safety of your home.

Your Expert Plumbers on the Gold Coast

When you require a plumber in the Gold Coast region, Whywait Plumbing Services is here to help. We have helped countless homeowners in the area with a variety of common plumbing problems, including blocked drains, cracked or broken pipes, leaks, water damage, hot water system installation and maintenance, and gas fitting, to name a few.

Our friendly associates will be happy to assist you with whatever you need, so don’t be shy about getting in touch. We are available 24 hours a day to serve you because you never know when a plumbing issue might arise. When it happens to you, don’t expose your home to unnecessary risk by attempting DIY plumbing. Call the experts at Whywait Plumbing Services right away!