ZeroFlush waterless urinals are an increasingly widespread investment being made by architects, hydraulic engineers, facilities managers and building owners throughout Australia because they help conserve water.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, we concur that there are conflicting arguments about the amount of money they save. ZeroFlush waterless urinals do operate without flushing any water, so they will always save water first and foremost. But when making a case for their installation and the investment in maintaining and operating them the best evidence is they are environmentally and sustainably superior to every water flushing urinal.
Installation of ZeroFlush waterless urinals as a corporate responsibility effort should always be a consideration, but here at Whywait Plumbing our experience with ZeroFlush enables us to give you a performance guarantee.
On current Gold Coast Water charges we can guarantee installation of ZeroFlush waterless urinals will reduce your water and sewer discharge costs.
Contact us at Whywait Plumbing now to discuss how you can benefit by installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals as we can guarantee the following:
- the reduced capital cost to install as no expensive electronic water flushing systems are required
- reduced maintenance costs with no water reticulation valves to maintain
- simple and easy cleaning procedures with our natural enzyme cleaning products
- reduction in blocked drains and drainage traps
- all products used in the manufacture and maintenance of ZeroFlush waterless urinals are environmentally sustainable
Determining exactly how much water a ZeroFlush waterless urinal keeps from the Gold Coast Water sewer system is somewhat complicated. The number depends on a variety of arguable variables, such as the amount of water that a water flushing urinal would use, the number of people using the urinal and how often those people will use it.
A single water flushing urinal can use anywhere from 50,000 litres to 180,000 litres of water every year. Once again this is based on multiple variables such as the size of the building, the number of male employees and how many times they use the urinal each day. A building such as a factory with one bathroom facility, three ZeroFlush waterless urinals and 120 male employees, would save approximately 900,000 litres of water each year.
Calculating the payback period for installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals can be a complicated process. Using the average of $9 per 1,000 litres of water from Gold Coast Water and the example of an office with four men working in it, we can come up with some estimates.
Let’s say each man flushes a urinal 2,000 times per year or about 5.5 times per day, meaning that the four men flush the toilet 4,000 times a year in the office. With an older, water flushing urinal using 15 litres per flush will use 60.000 litres, costing about $540 every year just for water.
Ultimately, ZeroFlush waterless urinals save more water than money, but we guarantee that they are still worth the investment in sustainability.
In August 2014 after a large number of issues where every other job we attended was a leaking water main, I concluded that all of them were caused by incorrect installation. In our monthly newsletter and in a blog I highlighted that negligence causes plumbing emergencies.
Since 2014 nothing has changed with polypipe leaking water main repairs being a constant source of work. The number of defective installations in new homes reinforces that a City of Gold Coast plumbing inspection is not a guarantee.
It is positive to see that the Department of Housing and Public Works issued Building And Plumbing Newsflash 558 on 13 March highlighting issues on the correct selection and installation of polyethylene (PE) pipe which is commonly called polypipe or blue line poly, used as a material for water supply installations. The QBBC also raised the matter in a blog Health and safety concerns relating to PE pipes, or ‘blue line poly’.
The issues we see every day on almost every leaking water main has been highlighted in the Newsflash with the Department stating “…..has become aware of issues associated with PE pipe including pipe leakage resulting from material splitting and holes developing in the material. Although the direct cause of these failings has not been determined, it is timely that the department issue advice on the correct selection and installation of the product.”
When installing a polypipe water main a licenced plumber must ensure that it is done so in accordance with the Plumbing Code of Australia and the referenced standard which is AS/NZS 3500.1-2015. These are not options but are law as per the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
The following clauses in AS/NZS 3500.1-2015 must be complied with in regard to installing any underground water main:
- Clause 2.3 Selection and Use of Materials and Products – this clause states that materials and products used in a water service shall be selected to ensure fitness for their intended purpose and goes on to list all those factors so that there is no doubt.
- Clause 5.2 Proximity to Other Services – this clause is very specific on hoe water service pipes are to be separated from any other underground services including gas or electrical and drainage pipes. The separation distances range between 100mm and 600mm depending on the size of the water service and the type of the neighbouring service. The specific requirements are laid out in clauses 5.2.1 through to 5.2.10.
- Clause 5.9 Depth of Cover – this clause once again is very specific in stating the depth at which underground pipes shall be with table 5.9 giving specific loading conditions and the minimum cover or depth which ensure the pipe is protected. In most cases the minimum depth is 300mm unless there are vehicle loading factors which then can require the pipe to be at 750mm depending on what the ground surface is.
- Clause 5.10 Bedding and Backfill – this clause is the one we see most commonly ignored on the Gold Coast and is what causes the entire leaking water main to require replacing. The clause is very specific in stating that the pipe must be surrounded entirely with a minimum of 75mm of compacted sand or fine grain soil with no hard edged object in contact with the pipe. Again very specifically it states the final backfill shall be free from rock, hard matter, organic matter and be broken up to ensure that there are no soil lumps larger than 75mm.
- Clause 5.11 Installation in Contaminated Areas – this clause states exactly what is a contaminated area and that a pipe laid in a contaminated area shall be installed in a water tight, corrosion resistant conduit.
The clauses above are quite specific on how your water main should be installed. They are specific requirements under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002. They are not options the plumber can choose to opt in and out of.
If you suffer a leaking water main and it is not installed as per the above clauses the licensed plumber installing it has done so knowing it is non-compliant and that it is reasonably foreseeable that failure and damage will occur over time. Very simply this is negligence.
World Plumbing Day is on 11 March every year and in 2018 that is this Sunday. Established by the World Plumbing Council, (WPC) in 2010 it is now celebrated around the world to promote the critical links between proper plumbing sanitation and human and environmental health.
As the World Health Organisation continually promote ‘Plumbing is Public Health’. This is further reinforced through a survey of 11000 doctors by the prestigious British Medical Journal in 2007 that voted overwhelmingly that the world’s most significant medical milestone since 1840 was sanitation. This was despite all the incredible medical breakthroughs in that time. Doctors recognised that the installation of a reliable sewage disposal system and a reliably clean water supply was judged the most significant medical advance in modern times.
Plumbing is Vital to Your Health
We take a toilet for granted that we even work while using it
Sadly in Australia and many other developed countries, we take our plumbing and sanitary drainage systems for granted.
We think its normal to turn on a tap and get a constant supply of clean drinking water. We think nothing of going to the toilet and flushing the cistern when finished. We believe having a long hot shower is normal for everyone.
In many countries, a plumbing infrastructure that we have here in Australia is only a dream. In too many countries right now plumbing at best is very basic and at worst downright non-existent. In these countries the consequences of poor plumbing infrastructure cause millions of people to die.
The statistics are scary and should make us reflect in Australia on our appreciation of our plumbing and sanitary drainage infrastructure. According to the World Health Organisation:
every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease
patients suffering from water-related diseases occupy half of the worlds hospital beds at any given time
3,100,000 children die every year from water-related diseases
1,100,000,000 people do not have access to a safe, reliable water supply
2,600,000,000 people do not have access to a sanitary toilet system
Plumbing Infrastructure Would Improve Every One of These Statistics
In Australia, few people pay any attention to the skills and expertise from plumbers to ensure that a buildings plumbing infrastructure is engineered to function with little fuss. It is even sadder that few people appreciate the ramifications of poorly installed plumbing infrastructure.
Plumbing infrastructure in Australia has always been at the leading edge of the technology as it continues to develop. Fortunately, all plumbers in Australia have to be licensed which ensures plumbers are legally responsible for complying with the Plumbing Code of Australia and relevant state legislation. This is not the case in many other countries with unskilled people installing poor quality infrastructure.
Plumbing is vital to everyone’s health and deserves to be respected for its essential role in promoting the link between proper quality plumbing, health, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.
Without plumbing, none of us could live in a healthy environment in our large urbanised, densely populated cities. If you don’t believe me see how long you could survive in a house without working plumbing.
Respect For Plumbers and Their Skills
I continually hear many plumbers complaining that clients don’t treat them with respect and value their skills or the work they perform. But the reality is far too many licensed plumbers don’t respect themselves, their skills or their licences and are in a race to the bottom undervaluing and underselling the services they provide.
Plumbers who act as professionals and treat their clients with respect and above all respect their licences will always be treated with respect in return.
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.
Yet again we have come across the installation of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge illegally installed in ZeroFlush waterless urinals.
We immediately informed the client that these products known as Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were a non-conforming product in a ZeroFlush waterless urinal. We then informed the client of our responsibilities with respect to reporting non-conforming products to the QBCC. This is due to recent amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Act 1991, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, and the Building Act 1975 in relation to non-conforming building products. These amendments came into effect on 1 November 2017. These amendments were effected through the passage and proclamation of the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.
The client immediately requested that we remove all of the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges and replace them with the compliant ZeroFlush EnviroSeal operating system.
Before removing the Desert Eco Adapt cartridges we undertook a thorough inspection of the ZeroFlush urinals. This confirmed what had been reported that all were emitting sewer odours as they were a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim. The cartridges literally slipped up and out as we removed them as they were not sealing to the stainless steel rim on the housing.
As can be seen in the photo on the left despite being relatively new, there are urine stains on the Desert Eco Adapt cartridge as the rubber seal is not designed to fit ZeroFlush urinals and was not only allowing sewer odours to be emitted but urine was leaking down the side of the cartridge rather than going through the waste outlet drain.
These issues can be further seen by the stains on stainless steel rim in the photo to the right. These stainless steel rims were all spotlessly clean when the urinals were serviced by us in December.
All of the non-conforming Desert Eco Adapt cartridges were removed, and the EnviroSeal operating systems were reinstalled along with new BioPur Wonder Wizard Tab kits after cleaning and flushing of the drains.
To the left is a photo of the five ZeroFlush ZF201 urinals after scheduled servicing and with the EnviroSeal operating systems reinstalled.
The EnviroSeal operating systems are a WaterMark approved system for ZeroFlush waterless urinals only. They were tested extensively by IAPMO R&T laboratory at 5001 East Philadelphia Street, Ontario, California 91761-2816 USA from 24/03/14 – 04/04/14. The EnviroSeal operating systems was then given WaterMark certification in Australia on 17/06/14, and it was renewed for a further three years on 07/08/15.
We were informed by the client that the Desert EcoAdapt cartridge was installed as a trial as they are significantly cheaper than the genuine ZeroFlush parts.
It was concerning that we were also informed that the Desert cartridges had been installed by a licensed plumber as it is an offence under the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003, Part 4 Product Certification for a licensed plumber to install non-certified and non WaterMarked products as per the clauses on the right.
Despite claims made by the Desert Eco Systems Company at http://www.desert.com.au/products/eco-adapt-advanced/ the facts are that their cartridges have no WaterMark certification for any urinal in Australia other than their own Desert No-Flush Urinal.
All plumbing products installed in buildings in Queensland have been required to have WaterMark certification since 2003 under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 and the Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003.
The Watermark Certification scheme is administered at a national level by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). The requirements for WaterMark certification is specified in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
Under the primary duty of care of the new laws being the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017, it is an offence under the Act to supply plumbing products in Queensland that don’t have WaterMark certification as these products do not meet the relevant regulatory provisions.
This change is designed to reduce the likelihood of non-conforming plumbing products being installed in buildings in Queensland.
More information on the Watermark certification system, including a list of certified products and information on the certification process, can be obtained from the ABCB website here: http://abcb.gov.au/ProductCertification/WaterMark-Certification-Scheme
Despite being a non-conforming product and illegal to install it is our opinion that the Desert EcoAdapt system is an inferior product compared to the EnviroSeal system that has been designed, tested and certified only to be used on ZeroFlush waterless urinals.
The Desert cartridge was a sloppy fit into the ZeroFlush stainless steel rim that created sewer odour emissions that could have repercussions with members of the public that have respiratory conditions. This potentially exposes building owners and their employees to legal liabilities for having installed a non-conforming substitute product.
The Desert Eco Systems Company has a long history of substituting products and making claims that their products are a conforming product when they are not and never have been. Product substitution where the product has not been tested, and WaterMark certified for the product it is substituting is an offence under the Building and Construction legislation (Non-conforming Building Products – Chain of Responsibility and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017.
Everyone in chain of responsibility needs to be aware that they are breaking the law if they authorise, instruct or install Desert Eco Adapt cartridges in any urinal that it has no WaterMark for. Under Australian consumer laws if you have installed a Desert Eco Adapt cartridge in any waterless urinal other than the Desert No Flush urinal, based on the dubious claims made to you by representatives of Desert Eco System Company then you are not only entitled to a refund of all your money but also compensation to pay for your waterless urinals being returned to a legally compliant status as per your waterless urinals WaterMark certification.
Sadly employing an apprentice plumber has become an expensive luxury for many small plumbing companies throughout Australia. This is due to the complexities of the Fair Work Act, to their high wages and the length of time away from work on holidays and at TAFE training.
This has been further exasperated by the explosion in sub-contracting with 65% of all plumbing businesses being a one-man operation who employ no staff at all.
As an industry, if we don’t train for the future then we have no future. This is why we at Whywait Plumbing have always made it a policy to employ and train at least three apprentices at any given time. Even throughout the GFC in 2008-10, we maintained employment and training for four apprentices.
If you go to university you don’t get paid and incur a hex debt that you eventually pay back for your study. However, if you become an apprentice plumber your employer pays you for the entire 4 years of your training, every week, with annual increases.
Currently, the archaic document that purports to be a ‘Modern Award’, the Plumbers and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 requires a first-year apprentice plumber who has completed year 12 to be paid $13.18 per hour. If the apprentice plumber is aged over 20 he starts on $19.07 an hour. Compare this with how much you will get paid to attend university in the first and subsequent years.
Apprenticeship numbers have been declining for the last 20 years. Much of the reason for this is due to decisions 20 years ago to focus everyone at high school on obtaining a university education. This has lead to many young people graduating with degrees and then being unable to gain employment in their chosen field of study.
The importance of well-trained plumbers to society as a whole cannot be underestimated. Plumbing as a trade will continue to exist and ensures young people taking up apprenticeships will always have a good job and a good future.
Interestingly apprenticeship completions at 64% is almost on par with university graduations of 67%. In plumbing 80% of those who never finish their apprenticeship drop out in the first 2 years.
This decline in numbers of plumbers as a whole available to be employed has been brought home to us in recent months. We have been advertising for two licensed plumbers in that time and these are fulltime jobs, not casual or sub-contract. it’s been alarming at how few plumbers applied for the job. Interviewing potential employees has been an intriguing and challenging exercise.
Dillon Lowes installing new sewer pipes at Niecon Plaza
We have employed two new employees in the last month as an apprentice plumber and welcome to Whywait Plumbing, Scott Moir and Dillon Lowes.
Unlike many of our competitors, we don’t employ sub-contractors so everyone who works at Whywait Plumbing is a full-time employee. That means everyone working here is paid for 6 weeks of annual and personal leave plus 2 weeks of statutory holidays. Sub-contractors don’t receive those benefits plus they have to pay their own superannuation and work cover.
The combination of a reduction in plumbing businesses employing an apprentice plumber and the numbers of plumbers retiring means there is a shortfall of 13% between the number of plumbers available and the demand for plumbers.
All of these issues are increasing the cost of employing plumbers. This, in turn, increases the cost for plumbing businesses to undertake work across the board in both construction and maintenance. Ultimately it’s always a balancing act between supply and demand.