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
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?
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 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
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.
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.
Recently, 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.
On 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.
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!
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.