Wondering why your water bill is so high?
With the Gold Coast City Council recently posting out the quarterly Water and Sewerage Rate Notices we have noticed a spike in the number of calls for leaking water pipes.
A common theme is that the owners have been completely unaware that they have had a hidden water leak and only discovered the problem when they opened their bill, which unfortunately for some, contained a nasty shock.
Pipes Can Leak Without Any Outward Signs
The pure nature of plumbing, with pipes hidden underground or in walls, it often means that pipes can leak with no outward signs, especially in areas with sandy soil. Couple this with the fact that the bills issued in early July are for water consumed between January and April, it is easy to see how charges can accumulate as a pipe could potentially leak undetected for a period of three months between billing cycles.
A pipe could potentially leak undetected for 3 months or more, between water rate billing cycles
How Well Was Your House Constructed
Unfortunately, as a home owner, there is little you can do to prevent leaks from the water meter to the house. Basically it gets down to how well it was installed when the house was built.
In our forty plus years of experience we have found that if a pipe is well protected in a bed of sand there are few problems. However if there are items such as pieces of tiles, small rocks or other building debris then the chances are you will have problems over time and in some instances repeated leaks.
An interesting fact is the incidents of water leaks increase when we have cycles of rain followed by dry spells and is likely caused by ground movement allowing any sharp or rough objects adjacent to the pipes to rub against its side with the potential to create a split or hole in the pipe.
Monitor Your Water Usage
As a home owner the most effective way of detecting a concealed leak is to monitor your water usage, this is especially important if you have experienced a previous leak.
Your bill will have a daily average usage calculated for you so by reading the meter you should be able to pick up any increase.
At Whywait Plumbing we recommend reading your water meter monthly.
Set a reminder for the first of each month, however if you have had previous leaks you may wish to do this more frequently.
If you suspect you may have a leak then doing an overnight meter check is a good way to confirm, however it is best to turn the water off to the cisterns in case someone gets up during the night and flushes the toilet and remember not to turn the dishwasher on before going to bed. Not sure how to read your water meter? We tell you exactly what to do! Click here for instructions.
Consider A Leak Detection System
If you would prefer not to have the hassle of monitoring your households water usage then it is worth considering purchasing one of the Leak Detection Systems available on the market. We recommend Aquatrip a programmable Leak Detection System with an automatic shutoff valve.
Aquatrip is easily fitted on your main incoming water pipe, and acts as a Water Safety Trip Switch. It is designed to detect the difference between your normal water use and a leak and will shut off the water if a leak is detected or a tap, hose or appliance is left running.
If you suspect you have a leak or to find out more about the Aquatrip give our office a call to speak with one of our friendly staff.
Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.
The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.
The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.
Tugun Desalination Plant
However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.
Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.
Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.
These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.
For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:
- Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
- City of Gold Coast distribution $1.09 per k/L
- Total water consumption charge $4.00 per k/L
The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:
- water access charge of $212.08 per year
- sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.
Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.
Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.
The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”
As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.
Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.
A combination of disposable wipes, paper towels and toilet paper blocking a drain because they were unable to break down in water.
Plumbing urban myths abound these days with social media and media sensationalism.
For the plumbing technicians at Whywait it’s frequently hard to get clients to understand factual information because they have Googled their problem and found what is, in reality, a plumbing urban myth that seems to fit.
Unfortunately, plumbing urban myths abound and below are a few popular myths and the real facts:
- Myth – disposable baby, kitchen or bathroom wipes and paper towels can be flushed down a toilet. Fact – The photo above is a pipe full of disposable wipes, paper towels and toilet paper that shows they don’t break down and degrade like toilet paper but pile up inside the drain and block your entire sewer drainage system.
- Myth – loud banging noises in a hot water service are a warning sign that it is about to burst and leak. Fact – unfortunately, there are no real warning signs that a hot water service is about to start leaking. If you do hear banging or rumbling noises coming from the actual storage tank it indicates that the loose minerals in the sediment in the bottom of the tank are causing air bubbles during the heating cycle and that in reality, your hot water service needs a 5 yearly service that includes flushing the tank of sediment.
- Myth – Thomas Crapper invented the toilet. Fact – No he did not invent it but made it work better with the flushing mechanism.
- Myth – Water flushes in a toilet clockwise in Australia in the southern hemisphere but anti-clockwise in Germany in the northern hemisphere. Fact – No the actual design of the toilet bowl dictates which direction water flushes as such a small amount of water is not affected by the Coriolis Effect.
Myths are often fun but the reality is plumbing urban myths can be dangerous if taken as factual which is why plumbing problems should always be diagnosed and repaired by a licensed plumbing contractor.
Plumbing guarantees are a source of constant confusion. A guarantee of the fixtures and fittings installed is always carried by the manufacturer not the plumber who installed them. Ultimately all a plumber can guarantee is his workmanship and service levels.
When you use Whywait Plumbing we guarantee you many things and we stand behind all those guarantees because we want you to have a positive experience. At Whywait Plumbers Gold Coast, we enjoy a 95% customer satisfaction rating and this is why:
- We show up on time.
- We send only licensed and trained plumbers to your home, each one a full-time Whywait employee.
- Training and development are ongoing events for every member of our staff.
- You receive a guaranteed up-front price before we start any work.
- Our equipment and tools are the latest and best in the business which helps us do our job better and with a better end result.
- We keep our trucks well-stocked enabling us to complete most repairs with just one visit to your home.
We’re ensure you and our team members are protected by:
- Maintaining public liability insurance coverage for $20,000,000 that protects your property should a part fail in your home or business.
- Maintaining WorkCover insurance cover should one of our employees have an accident.
- Providing warranty protection on the jobs we undertake for you.
- Ensuring we are fully licensed as plumbing contractors in Queensland and New South Wales.
- Investing in state of the art communications systems to answer your calls and dispatch our plumbers to your home or business.
- Investing in modern vehicles that are correctly maintained.
- Complying with the Fair Work Act.
- Responding promptly on a 24 hour, 7 day basis to customers who call us in a crisis because they have a water leak, a blocked drain or have no hot water.
I urge you to ask questions about how you will be charged for plumbing services, insurance coverage and licensing before deciding which plumbing company to hire. Because the more you ask, the more you’ll see that our family-owned and operated company stands head and shoulders above the rest in true value offered.
By Gary Mays
Negligence causes plumbing emergencies as a fact I am becoming acutely aware of with over half of the plumbing emergencies we attend having been caused due to a plumbers negligence in the initial installation.
A large part of this negligence is driven by plumbing work being undertaken to a cost and not to the legislative requirements or standards that plumbers are legally obliged to comply with.
As I constantly have to remind clients who are victims of this negligence in near new or recently renovated buildings – everyone who worked on your home did so because they were the cheapest not because they were the best qualified and skilled to undertake the work. Sadly that is the reality in the construction industry.
The most common plumbing emergencies we see that are in most cases attributable to deliberate negligence by the plumber who did the initial work are:
- leaking water-mains laid in rock and backfilled with rock with no compliant bedding or backfill material
- broken house sewer drains once again laid in rock and backfilled with rock
- mixer taps installed without isolation valves
Negligence by a plumber in installing the examples above are just the tip of the iceberg that we see daily but all cause a great deal of damage and are frequently expensive to repair.
The pressure by builders on plumbers to reduce prices and take “shortcuts” increases daily but is not an excuse to ignore undertaking the work in as set out in AS3500 and called into law through the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
Under common law, the term “negligence” generally describes damage causing conduct that arises because of the defendant’s carelessness or failure to take reasonable care.
As an example, a plumber who installs a plastic polypipe water main straight onto the rocky ground and then backfills it with the same spoil he dug out has breached his duty of care. As a professional licensed plumber, he is fully aware that the job is not in accordance with clause 5.12 of AS3500 Part 1 for Water Services which states:
The water services shall be surrounded with not less than 75mm of compacted sand, or fine-grained soil, with no hard edged object permitted to come into contact with or resting against any pipe or fitting.
Material used for final backfill shall be free from rock, hard matter or organic material and be broken up to contain no soil larger than 75mm.
As you can see the wording and diagram in Australian Standards are quite specific on how your water main should be installed. They are specific requirements under law not options the plumber can choose to obey.
Very simply if your water main is not installed as above the licensed plumber installing it has done so knowing it is noncompliant and that it is reasonably foreseeable that failure and damage will occur.
In conclusion, I reiterate that most plumbing emergencies are caused by negligence and we are prepared to assist you if you have the willpower to legally seek compensation. It’s your choice but the industry will only be cleaned up when plumbers who continually break the law are hit in their hip pocket.
The average Gold Coast water bill continues to increase. Did you know another water bill will arrive soon, in October despite the fact you have not yet received your 6 monthly water account for the first half of 2014.
Due to legislative changes as from 1 July 2014, your water account will be issued quarterly, usually in July, October, January and April of each year.
Tugun Desalination Plant that was constructed entirely from borrowed money that we repay for now in our water bills even though it only operates in “hot standby” mode when there is a critical supply emergency.
The rationale behind this law change is that quarterly bills will assist in monitoring your water usage plus the bills will not be as large as they have been previously when bills only came out every 6 months.
For most clients of Whywait Plumbing that means you will be getting another bill from Gold Coast Water or Logan Water in October, albeit only about half of the one you will receive for the first 6 months of 2014.
Many of us remember when water was essentially free and the only time you got charged for it was if you used excess water over and above the very generous allowance that was paid for as part of your council rates.
However, cheap water is the past thanks to poorly costed projects such as the construction of the water grid and the Tugun desalination plant.
The reality of today is that water is expensive. The only guarantee anyone can give you on the cost of water is that it will continually increase every year.
For Gold Coast and Logan residential property owners who use the average water consumption of 250k/L annually your yearly bill on the Gold Coast will be $1887.20 compared to Logan of $1939.60 which is a slight difference of $52.40.
Ultimately we all have to be vigilant in ensuring that the integrity of our household water reticulation pipes is maintained at all times because a small water leak left to flow can add up to thousands of dollars in a very short time. This is why Whywait recommend every home should have water leak monitoring installed.
By Gary Mays