Plumbing innovations have always been the norm in the plumbing industry. Innovation is change and is always about better ways of doing the same thing.
When I started my apprenticeship the clearing of a blocked drain started using a plunger and was at least a two-man job using 1m long drainage rods. The rods were screwed together and manually pushed slowly down the drain until we hit the blockage. Clearing drains this way frequently took 3-4 hours.
Plumbing innovations mean that we now clear a blocked drain with state of the art high-pressure jetrodding technology that was unknown 20 years ago.
Innovation is always about change, but at Whywait Plumbing we have always been at the forefront of plumbing innovations. We have always lead change as Gold Coast plumbers from the purchase of our first high-pressure water jetting unit in 1992 or installing vehicle tracking systems or introducing guaranteed upfront pricing in 1999.
What we always considered was developing and improving our way of solving your plumbing problems is now referred to as disruptive innovation. I agree disruptive innovation is the new term in business in the 21st century. But it’s not new it’s just a new way of talking about improving our methods and practices using the latest technology.
Change is the norm, but it just appears to be frantic to an outside observer with online banking, online shopping, online flight bookings and so the list goes on. At least with plumbing, it can’t be done online except for those DIY enthusiasts who believe Google Plumbing has all the answers.
The level of disruption through plumbing innovations has impacted all plumbing installation and maintenance has been significant starting with:
- Increasing use of prefabrication of bathroom and kitchen modules off-site where the plumbing is all undertaken in a factory, transported to the site and connected up to a water and drainage connection.
- Continual advances in sustainability with the advent of low flow toilets, low flow taps, waterless urinals and recirculated hot water.
- Advances in energy efficient products with heat pump hot water units, solar hot water, instant hot water and underfloor heating.
- All of the different materials we now use in the pipework, relining of existing pipework, CCTV cameras to inspect pipes and pipe jointing methods where welding is now obsolete.
- Excavation methods with advanced technologies in hydro excavation and tracking and locating of underground services.
The ongoing changes in technology in the plumbing industry are disruptive if not embraced. I agree that plumbing innovations cause a significant difference in how we undertake to solve plumbing problems and how the plumbers at Whywait work now.
Ultimately plumbing continues to be about protecting the health and safety of the community for now and the future to ensure we have good quality water and sewer systems in our buildings.
If Replacing Your Hot Water Service – How Will You Know What’s Right For You?
When replacing your hot water service the most common question asked is what will it cost? In fact, online the most searched phrase is hot water system prices. Whilst price is always an important consideration we at Whywait Plumbing believe that there are other equally important factors that should be considered.
Besides renovating your home replacing your hot water service is likely to be one of the major household costs.
Besides renovating your home replacing your hot water service is likely to be one of the major costs any household will face and is most often a situation that occurs with little warning. Unfortunately, unless you like cold showers, this gives you little time to carefully review the available options.
With the cost of heating hot water ranking second in dollar spend to air conditioning for household electricity costs it is imperative that you are well informed before making any decisions. Hot water systems are not all created equal and the choice you make today will be one that lasts for the next ten to fifteen years. With ever increasing energy costs impacting household budgets having an efficient, well maintained hot water service has never been more important.
With modern technological advances and the push for energy efficient sustainable solutions it’s no longer a matter of just replacing like for like.
Hot water services are available in electric, gas, solar and heat pump models in a range of sizes and a plethora of brands so making the right choice for your situation is not easy.
With a little help from Whywait’s Hot Water Specialists you will be able to select the system that best suits your situation. Before making any decisions you will need to think about:
- What size is your current hot water service and have you ever run out of hot water with your current hot water system?
- Does your current hot water service operate on an off-peak electricity tariff?
- Is your hot water needs likely to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next five years?
- Do you intend to remain in your current property for at least the next five years?
- What is more important to you the initial up-front installation cost or the ongoing running costs?
- Is quality of the product and length of warranty a consideration when comparing hot water services?
Once you have answered the above points it will be time to consider the available options and here’s where we can help.
Speak with a Whywait Hot Water Specialist and Get the Right Advice
Call Whywait Plumbing today to find out about the next generation of highly efficient water heater now available, with the added benefit of saving on your energy costs.
Perception is reality and nowhere is this truer for us at Whywait Plumbing than when dealing with the issue of hot water temperature and the possibility of a serious hot water burn.
Everyone has a different perception of how hot they want their hot water whether it is for cleaning or sanitation or personal hygiene use.
Recent research in the United States from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, confirms hot water heater temperatures are too high.
In Australia, most manufacturers preset the thermostats for hot water heater temperature at 60-65 degrees. This is dangerously high for a significant proportion of homes, presenting a scald hazard particularly for young children and the elderly. This is because literally hot water burns like fire because:
At 60°C, a serious burn can happen in 1 second
At 55°C, a serious burn would take 10 seconds
At 50°C, a serious burn would happen after 5 minutes
It is estimated a serious hot water burn causes an estimated 1,200 hospital admissions and 50 deaths per year. Young children and elderly adults have thinner skin which burns more quickly putting them at increased risk.
In Queensland, it is the law that hot water delivered to bathrooms used primarily for personal hygiene purposes be regulated by use of a tempering valve or a thermostatic mixing valve that does not exceed 50°C. This is due to the fact that in 1995 the laws were changed requiring tempering valves to be installed on:
all new homes having a hot water system installed
replacement or upgrading of an existing hot water system
or when moving an existing hot water system to a new location on the property
However, homes built before 1995 will frequently still have hot water being delivered at 70°C. It is estimated that 37% of homes still have older electric or gas heaters delivering hot water that presents a scald hazard that will cause a serious hot water burn in one second.
Frequently these homes are rental properties. Many landlords and real estate property managers are unaware that recent litigation has placed a ‘deed of care’ onus on them to ensure the safe delivery of hot water in domestic bathrooms used primarily for personal hygiene purpose.
The installation of a tempering valve is an acceptable solution to hot water scald prevention. Delivering hot water at a consistent temperature is difficult without a tempering valve. This is due to the fact that as a hot water tank is depleted through use then replenished and reheated, the water temperature will not be constant throughout the tank.
Despite a perception by many people, a hot water service thermostat is not designed to provide precise estimates of water temperature. Its purpose is to begin heating when the temperature drops below a set level and turn off when it reaches a set level. Without a tempering valve installed it is almost impossible to assess the exact temperature of hot water delivered from a tap.
The advantage of a tempering valve is that guesswork is eliminated as tempering valves are designed to blend hot and cold water to deliver mixed water at a constant temperature and thus reduce the risk of a serious hot water burn.
Unfortunately for plumbers, property managers, homeowners and property investors hot water has increasingly become a legal minefield with the duty of care provisions.
It is for this reason Whywait Plumbing recommend that you install a tempering valve and maintain it compliantly with annual testing.
During much of the year on the Gold Coast we frequently hear clients ask why do I need to maintain my hot water system there is nothing wrong with it and I’m still getting plenty of hot water. In summer it is easy to forget just how much we depend on our hot water systems for showering, bathing, cooking, washing dishes and washing laundry.
But by April many people suddenly appreciate just how important their hot water system is when it fails to deliver enough or frequently no hot water. Frequently the signs that there is a problem with the hot water system have been there for months and often would have been diagnosed and rectified as part of an annual service. Because hot water systems appear to be complicated many people adopt a head in the sand approach but in reality like most working fixtures in your home they will always benefit immensely from a bit of routine maintenance
In over 37 years of experience we at Whywait Plumbing are well aware that Murphy’s Law applies usually in a spectacular fashion to the failure of a hot water system with most of them failing and leaking late at night usually when it is very cold. In all honesty basic maintenance of your hot water system is fairly simple but vitally it can double the effective lifespan of your hot water system.
To maintain your hot water system the main things you need to allow for are:
- replacing the sacrificial anode every 5 – 7 years
- flushing out all of the minerals and sediment that over time are deposited in the bottom of the storage tank every 3 – 5 years
- have the tempering valve maintained, tested and certified every year
- flush the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) every 3 – 6 months
- replace the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) every 3 – 4 years
- replace the expansion control valve (ECV valve) every 3 – 5 years
Apart from flushing the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) all the other work is legally required to be undertaken by a licensed plumber.
Most concerning from our perspective is the failure to replace the sacrificial anode which is the biggest single cause of premature hot water service failure. Regularly replacing your sacrificial anode will extend the life of your hot water service by ten years or even more. Whywait strongly recommend that you call us to service your hot water system and replace the sacrificial anode every 5 years as the cost of the service is minor compared to the thousands of dollars replacement costs not mentioning the inconvenience.
The one task we recommend you personally undertake is to activate and flush the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve. TPR valves continuously work automatically discharging hot water if the temperature or pressure of the water in the storage tank gets too high. Many people fail to understand if your TPR valve is not functioning properly it can potentially cause the tank to explode.
Flushing a TPR valve is relatively easy and straightforward, plus is something you can do yourself, but if the valve is already continually dripping water in all likelihood it needs replacing. To trigger the relief valve and flush it out all you need to do is lift the lever on the front of the valve all the way open and let water discharge from the drain pipe for 5 – 10 seconds then slowly put back the lever in place.
Very simply maintaining your hot water system is an investment not a cost.
By Gary Mays
The Easter long weekend is only surpassed by the Christmas and new year period as a time when families travel to be together. It is also the start of the hot water season when clients are reminded of the ever-increasing hot water electricity cost.
For the plumbers at Whywait Plumbing, Easter is a busy period with blocked drains being the most common problem followed by hot water problems.
Unlike Christmas, there is always a spike over Easter in emergency callouts for faulty hot water units. That is because Easter is generally much cooler than Christmas. Around April, we all suddenly realise that cold weather is on the way. Every year we notice the signs with an increase in emergency service callouts with the problem being no hot water. Even in the relatively mild climate of South-East Queensland no-one willingly wants to have a cold shower.
Frequently we cannot help but shake our head’s at all the stress, the waste of time and money these emergency service calls represent to many homeowners. Sadly many of us do not pay too much attention to the myriad of household and mechanical systems that provide so much comfort and convenience in our modern lives. We take for granted our water heaters, toilets, mixer taps, and air conditioners that is until they stop working. Then come the panicked call and a repair job that always ends up costing more than we expect.
Showers are the activity where we use the most hot water. Generally, 40% of the water consumed in the shower is hot water. This is why there is a strong correlation between the length of a shower and the hot water electricity cost.
If your home is like many in South East Queensland you are producing hot water from an electric hot water service connected to tariff 11 with a shower rose you love because you get a deluge of water from it at 23 litres per minute. If your shower is being utilised four times a day for an average of 5 minutes per shower, then those showers are costing you $1125 a year in electricity costs and $107 in water usage costs.
Essentially 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity is used to produce 15 litres of hot water using an electric element hot water service. With electricity prices expected to increase 21% on 1 July and a further 40% over the next three years, there is considerable scope for reducing your hot water electricity cost.
One option is to change your electricity and water guzzling shower rose to a water efficient shower rose using only 9 litres per minute. Based on the standard example above this would immediately reduce your electricity costs to $440 and water cost to $42. If you are able to change your hot water service from tariff 11 to tariff 33, then you will save an additional 40% on electricity costs.
The best option and the one we recommend is the long-term sustainable option utilising heat pump technology. Heat pump technology involves replacing your old fashioned energy-hungry electric hot water service to the highly efficient Sanden “Eco®” Plus Heat Pump hot water system.
Electricity costs have become a political hot potato, with state and federal governments playing the blame game in blaming each other for the doubling of electricity prices in recent years.
Hot water electricity cost is one area you can reduce your electricity costs substantially by being smart about how you heat your hot water and use it. Hot water generated by electric elements is something we always took for granted. That is until surging electricity price increases made us all take another look at our increasingly energy-intensive lifestyles.
Increasingly Gold Coast home owners are being subjected to allegedly “free compliance audits” by plumbing inspectors from Gold Coast City Council. To justify their jobs in a depressed market with almost nil construction activity Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors are acting like desperate door to door salesmen knocking on the doors of home owners who have had hot water systems upgraded. There is no legislative requirement for these audits to occur and there is no requirement by the home owner to allow them to enter their home.
To fill in time and justify their jobs Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors are undertaking “audits” that are not requested and are unannounced. The plumbing inspectors are knocking on the door and stating they are there to inspect the hot water service. Legally they are able to assess the work if invited to do so by you. No Gold Coast plumber is asking them to assess the work as none of us see any value in doing so. Neither Gold Coast City Council or its plumbing inspectors take any risk or responsibility, so their inspection is of no real value except to justify their own jobs.
If a Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspector arrives unannounced at your door then he has no right of entry. He may request entry by your invitation to inspect work that pertains to the form 4 plumbing contractors are legally obliged to lodge, but that is the absolute limit. If you refuse him entry then he must immediately depart. Unfortunately the plumbing inspectors are loose with the truth and make out that they are legally obligated to undertake this audit and do not inform home owners that it is optional and not a legislative requirement.
The individual plumbing inspectors are not to blame for these events but are forced to do so as they work in an appalling atmosphere at Gold Coast City Council. It has been common knowledge within the plumbing industry for many years that the Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors are a deeply troubled organisation with bullying, abuse of power, nepotism, cronyism and double standards a daily occurrence.
A number of clients of Whywait Plumbing that have received these unexpected visits have been shocked when we have phoned to say their hot water service we installed 6 months ago has had a defect notice issued. In every instant as long as Whywait Plumbing receive the defect notice we undertake the “repairs” which invariably are that the tempering valve that is legally required to deliver hot water at 50 degrees is over temperature. To date every home we have returned to is between 1-3 degrees over temperature. To see more information on the requirements of tempering valves click here.
Many of our clients have told us that they do not want the plumbing inspectors returning to their homes to re-audit. This we have conveyed via email to Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors on behalf of our clients. As a result we had a phone call from the Gold Coast City Council plumbing & drainage supervisor, Brian Till recently who informed us we should be encouraging our clients to have the re-audit undertaken otherwise we will remain responsible for the defects despite our notifying Gold Coast City Council that rectification work has been undertaken. Furthermore Brian Till advised that the property will have registered against the title that there are outstanding plumbing defects which can have severe financial repercussions if you wish to sell your home.
Our recommendation if you get an unexpected knock on the door from a Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspector is that you decline to allow them entry to the your home. Declining entry has no repercussions for you as they walk away and the file is closed.
However if you have had a defect notice issued then we recommend that you allow a re-audit at a time that is suitable for you to ensure no defects are registered against your property. If you desire we will attend at no cost, to give you reassurance and to ensure that due process is complied with.