4 Summer Plumbing Emergencies To Avoid

4 Summer Plumbing Emergencies To Avoid

After all those rainy days and chilly nights, just about every Australian looks forward to our awesome summer. Currently in the midst of spring, we’re already getting a delicious taste of some warmer weather – and it’s the perfect time to start planning for some lazy summer weekends at the beach or around the BBQ. But according to many plumbers, it’s also a peak time for plumbing emergencies.

Why’s that? While all the cold winter weather has put a strain on your hot water system, summer place’s different pressures on your plumbing infrastructure – and with a particularly hot summer ahead, higher temperatures and increased household use can cause serious plumbing problems.

Let’s dive into some summer plumbing tips to avoid those emergencies common in warmer weather!

1. Get the washing machine ready

With all those sweaty t-shirts and beach towels on the way, your washer will get a heck of a workout this summer. So spare it a thought and see if it needs a little summer loving.

Those hoses actually only last a few years, so check them for signs of wear. Are the clothes still wet after a spin? It’s a sure sign that your washing machine motor is on the way out. Is it leaking or the water not draining well? Is it noisy or knocking? Are clothes coming out looking like new, or are stains now troublesome to shift?

An honest answer to many of these questions could indicate it’s time to splash out or do some maintenance before you’re stuck with a major washing crisis in the middle of summer.

2. Give your drains a break

A great thing about summer is those get-togethers with family and friends. But summer parties are hectic, plenty of people are coming and going and lots of food and rubbish is being consumed and discarded. Often, the innocent victim is your drain.

The most serious Gold Coast blocked drains in summer are actually more related to your garden. Soaking up the suns rays large trees send out roots in search of water. The best place for them to find water in summer is your plumbing, which can quickly become completely locked by tree roots. Avoid planting large trees and shrubs near pipes, and remove any before they cause problems.

Any time of year you should be careful what you try to flush down it. Fats, oils, food scraps and even dairy and sauces do not belong down there, because over time it can build up and block the pipe. Unbelievably, our plumbers also find that egg shells, food packaging and paper towels are extremely common culprits discovered when unblocking Gold Coast drains, so follow this rule: if in doubt, don’t shove it down the drain!

3. Make some toilet rules

Summer means school is out! That’s great for the kiddies, but your toilet may not be prepared for the extra workload – and you’re almost certainly not prepared for those floods and smells! Aussie plumbers report that summer is high season for toilet-related callouts – not just because more people are using the small room, but often because kids in particular are misusing it.

Often, the problem is as simple as kids using too much paper per use and then not flushing it away – causing a clog later down the line. But plumbers also find toy cars and barbie dolls down there, so let the little ones know that the only solids they should wave goodbye to are ‘Number Twos’, before you discover your toilet won’t flush!

4. Organise an annual check

Finally, Spring is simply the perfect season to get a professional to make sure your plumbing maintenance throughout the year has been spot on. That’s because plumbing problems can not only be a nuisance, they can cost you thousands in damage and even pose a safety risk to you and your family.

Many families go away for summer holidays, and Murphy’s Law dictates that if a pipe is going to go bang in the most devastating way, it will be when no one is around to turn off the mains! So do yourself a favour and, once a year, organise a home plumbing inspection to check those pipes, taps, toilets and hot water systems to make sure they’re in tip-top shape for all that summer fun.

Had a summer plumbing nightmare? Got any other bright ideas that could prevent an awesome summer party being ruined by an emergency plumber call-out? We’d love to hear from you!

6 Things To Try If Your Toilet Won’t Flush

6 Things To Try If Your Toilet Won’t Flush

We’ve all been there before, so we all know that sinking feeling very well. You stand up, press the button and … oh dear. Toilet won’t flush. It never happens at a convenient moment, and it never seems to be an easy fix.

But although your face is red and your pants are around your ankles, just because the toilet won’t flush doesn’t mean the world is ending. In fact, it’s probably not a big deal at all.

It’s certainly not a big deal for our emergency plumbers – whether your toilet won’t flush at all or it’s just slow to empty or fill.

Want to have a go at fixing that unflushable toilet yourself? Go for it! Just make sure you have the Gold Coast Plumbing Company’s number close by if you need help from repairs to toilet cistern replacement!

1. The button

It could be that the toilet won’t flush because there’s something wrong with the flushing button itself. Your toilet flushes when you push a button, turn a lever or pull a chain – so does that mechanism feel normal? Is it all limp or stuck? Do you press it and there’s utter silence? It could be that the linkage mechanism is disconnected or broken.

2. The insides

If there’s something wrong with the actual toilet, and it’s not the button, then you’ll have to dig a little deeper. Most toilet insides can be easily accessed by taking off the cistern lid, revealing the simple mechanisms that handle the flushing process within. Is there something obviously damaged, worn or broken?

Replace Inlet Valve to Cistern (Before)

3. Is there water?

As well as those simple parts, what you should find inside that cistern is water – the water that should be getting delivered to your toilet bowl in the form of a flush. If there’s no water, your toilet won’t flush – which could indicate that the problem is with your water supply rather than your throne (check other taps), or the cistern inlet valve is blocked.

4. Don’t keep flushing

But what if the toilet IS flushing, but just not flushing properly? Perhaps you flush and the bowl fills up with water but doesn’t drain – the rule here is to stop flushing! The only thing worse than a toilet that won’t flush is an unflushed toilet that overflows all over the floor!

5. Clear a clog

If that’s what is happening, the problem is not that the toilet won’t flush, but that the toilet is clogged. Even so, it might not be a big deal. Hopefully, you’ve got some rubber gloves handy – so put them on and prepare to do some digging. It could be that you have a simple (ahem) ‘obstruction’ within wrist-reach. So don’t be shy and give it a go – you might even find that mobile phone that went missing last Tuesday!

6. Take the plunge

If it’s not an obvious obstruction that is causing the problem, it’s time to grab that plunger. The plunging method is pretty simple – make sure the business end is submerged and start vigorously pushing and pulling on that tight seal. If you’re lucky, the clog will unclog and the water will drain. With a little more luck, once you press that flusher button, the problem will be solved.

Toilet won’t flush? – just don’t panic!

If you’ve got to this point and your toilet still won’t flush, it’s still not time to panic. You could:

* Try a special toilet or drain cleaning enzyme or chemical product
* Cook up your own mix of baking soda and vinegar
* Buy or borrow a special plumbing ‘snake’ to get deeper into that drain
* Try a wet vacuum
* Give our article about unblocking a drain a quick read.

Still having no luck because that toilet won’t flush? It’s time to call in the cavalry. The guys at the Gold Coast Plumbing Company are seasoned experts when it comes to fixing that ‘toilet won’t flush’ emergency. No drain can’t be unblocked, no leak or drip can’t be stopped, and no toilet can’t be either fixed or replaced. Reach out to the Gold Coast Plumbing Company today.

 

Preventing Blocked Drains & Sewers, A Plumbers Opinion

Preventing Blocked Drains & Sewers, A Plumbers Opinion

As long as drains have existed, preventing blocked drains has frustrated those who maintain them.

Modern drains have come a long way, quite literally from their inception around 2800 years ago by the Roman empire. Designed to prevent the spread of disease by keeping waste water separate from fresh drinking water the Romans were the first to utilise a system of drainage to protect the health of it’s citizens.

Here on Australia’s Gold Coast, there are 3329 kilometres of sewer drains running under our feet worth an estimated $1.3 Billion and close to 250,000 sewer connections.

A large Australian home could have up-to half of a kilometre of waste pipes connecting fixtures like toilets, showers and sinks with various connections, junctions and bends in the system connecting your property to to the main council sewer drain.

It’s an interesting fact that every year 7 million mobile phones are dropped down the toilet and Americans use 433 million miles of toilet paper each year. We will in our lives spend an average of 3 years on the dunny and use of mobile phones has now overtaken reading as the most common activity while on the toilet.

When you consider the complexity of the waste pipe network in our homes it’s small wonder that there are little problems that need the attention of a plumber from time to time.

From this plumbers perspective, preventing blocked drains and sewer blockages occurring is as easy as following the 3 “P” rule.

I told you not to flush that!

Only flush…Pee – Poo – Paper.

Give Goldie the gold fish the burial he deserves, keep the lid down and door shut so that the kids can’t see how well Spiderman can swim.

Next time the constabulary pays an unexpected visit throw your stash over the neighbours fence so they can enjoy it instead of flushing it away.

Dispose of cooking oils in the garbage, do not flush sanitary products , false teeth, hand grenades, puppies, jaw bones, Rolex watches or gold.

These all fair dinkum objects that have been removed from sewers. The puppy was accidentally flushed by an overly exuberant boy while bathing and thankfully was retrieved without harm, pardon the pun.

The problems caused by flushing items like the previously mentioned objects pale in comparison to the cost and resources required to address the number 1 cause of preventable blockages in pipes. The dreaded “Flushable” wipes.

120 tonnes of wipes are pulled from South Queensland sewer drains each year. Laid out they would stretch from Australia to New Zealand.

The wipes bond together with the grease and fat of the sewer system to create enormous “Fat Bergs”.

A fatberg as heavy as 11 double decker buses was discovered in a London sewer, that’s 130 tonnes!

The problem is not just in the council sewer system but in our Australian homes as well. The wipes get stuck on imperfections inside the pipes, tree roots or in dips and bends where grease and fat have accumulated. They then bond to more wipes as they are flushed and pretty soon the pipes becomes completely blocked.

So the solution to preventing blocked drains in the first place is simple if you stick to the 3 “P” rule and don’t flush “Flushable” wipes. If you do find problems with your drains, we have some DIY tips for unblocking drains or get in touch and we’ll take care of Gold Coast blocked drains for you!

3 Types Of Hot Water Systems Explained

3 Types Of Hot Water Systems Explained

Hot water systems are the unappreciated and often unnoticed hero of our homes. We rely on them daily and rarely give thought to how wonderful life is with them, and how much of an inconvenience it can be when they are not working correctly.

If it’s time for a hot water system replacement, choosing a new one can be a little confusing. To help with your decision we explain the three types of hot water systems available today.

But first, let’s take a look at the interesting history of the humble hot water system.

Hot Water System History

The first type of hot water system was invented by a Painter named Ben Maughan in London back in 1868. It was a pretty crude contraption that was named a “Geyser.”
It used a gas burner to heat a cold water pipe and the heated water ran into a sink or tub. The main draw back was that the gas burner was not vented to outside and quite a few people died from exposure to Carbon Monoxide by using them in the cold London winters.

Around twenty years later a Norwegian Engineer living in Pennsylvania US named Edwin Rudd developed the first automatic gas storage tank hot water system that is still used in our homes today.
Edwin must have been a brilliant engineer as the gas storage hot water system he invented is used in billions of homes worldwide and the Rudd Manufacturing Company has continued to manufacture hot water systems for 120 years.

Types of Hot Water Systems

Storage Hot Water Systems

The method of heating water for a storage hot water system is the same for both gas and electric. Like the electric kettle in your kitchen, energy is converted to heat and by an element and the water is heated. Convection movement of the heated water inside the tank moves or stirs the water. Then when the water has been heated and reaches a preset temperature the element switches off.

Keeping the temperature of the hot water within a preset range is controlled by a thermostat. The thermostat is like an automatic switch. When the water inside the tank cools to a set temperature the thermostat switches on and allows the element be energized and heat the water.

Gas storage hot water systems work in exactly the same manner with the only difference being the energy supply. Instead of an element like a kettle, there is a burner like a cook top burner under the tank cylinder which heats the water. Gas systems also use a thermostat which is also called a Unitrol.

Some types of hot waters systems are specially are designed to be installed indoors. Indoor gas storage hot water systems are designed to be flued or vented to outdoors to prevent the problems that Ben Maughan’s invention caused. Electric storage hot water systems are safe to install indoors and it is only the space available that is the limiting factor when selecting a system.

On Demand Hot Water Systems

On-demand, instantaneous or tankless heaters are another popular type of hot water system. These units heat water only when supply is required and can be incorporated into a hot water systems that use storage tank and solar heating.

The majority of instantaneous heaters work by a flow sensor activating a gas burner which heats a heat exchanger. The water supply pipes are wrapped around the heat exchanger and the water is heated by heat transfer from the heat exchanger.

Small indoor electric instantaneous hot water systems are also available. These systems are perfect for small kitchenettes, smoko rooms and bathrooms. These units can be installed inside of a kitchen cupboard and do not need additional power supply. They operate by heating water on demand.

Many people purchase an instantaneous water heater after being seduced by promises of lower energy bills and in some situations there is an overall saving. The ongoing costs of maintaining an instantaneous system and the initial cost of supplying and installing the system may not actually make it any better an investment than a standard gas storage or electric storage hot water system.

The most efficient use of instantaneous water heaters are by installing the unit as close to the point where the hot water will be used. This keeps the loss of heat through the pipe work and fittings to a minimum.

Solar Hot Water Systems

Solar systems are great, they are the most cost efficient heating energy source available.

There are two types of solar hot water systems available. Active systems utilise a pump to circulate water through the storage tank and through the solar collectors. Passive systems require draw off of hot water to allow cold water feed into the solar collectors and then into the storage tank on the roof.

Both active and passive systems require a secondary heating source which is normally electric and is in some homes manually operated via a boost button.
Instantaneous systems can also be utilized as a secondary heating method for solar systems.

Solar systems are a significant investment in your home and careful sizing of solar collector area is required for big families or large properties.
Water quality is an important consideration when thinking of installing a solar system as hard or highly mineralized waters can cause problems for solar collector efficiency and lifespan.

In Summary

Hot water systems are an integral part of our homes and with a little tender loving care can perform perfectly for years. There are a few simple hot water system maintenance hacks that you can do yourself to prepare your hot water system for winter.

If you do need to replace or install a hot water system. then call our friendly team at Gold Coast Plumbing Company. We’ll help you choose the best type of hot water system for your home.

5 Ways To Make A Small Bathroom Seem Bigger

5 Ways To Make A Small Bathroom Seem Bigger

A small bathroom renovation is, without doubt, one of the most important things you will ever do in your home or apartment – even if we don’t always know it. The lounge seems like the vibrant conversation hub, the kitchen is the living and breathing heart, and the bedrooms are where the real relaxing and unwinding take place. And the bathroom? “Oh, it’s over there.”

Unfortunately, the bathroom-as-an-afterthought phenomenon can be doubly true if the room is limited. But make no mistake: big or small, the bathroom is an incredibly important room. It’s where your day starts and finishes, it’s where that refreshing and relaxing bath or shower takes place, and it’s often the very best place for a few justified minutes locked away from the pesky kids!

All of those benefits are easy to take advantage of if you have plenty of space – but what if you don’t? What if your bathroom is tiny? Don’t fret – we know plenty of little tricks to make even the smallest of small bathrooms work a treat.

small bathroom ideas

1. Ditch the bath

Ok – so a hot bath in the dead of winter can be breathtakingly great. But if space really is limited, you’ll be amazed how useful and liberating that bath space can really be for a small bathroom renovation project. Keep in mind if you plan to sell the home and want to market it as truly family-friendly, bear in mind that people with kids tend to really want a bath.

2. Clean lines

So if you really do need or want to keep the bath, there are other ways to create the illusion of more space. A well-established design principle along these lines is keeping it simple. Simple, clean lines remove the perception of a closed-in, cluttered space, and coupled with lots of white, natural light, large tiles, doorless shower screens and big mirrors, it really can all come together to make a small bathroom seem much bigger.

small bathroom shower ideas

3. Divert attention

On the other hand, another great little small bathroom trick is to distract attention away from the fact that space is cramped. We’re talking about things like bold pops of colour, unusual or ultra-contemporary or conspicuous fixtures and design elements, or eye-catching focal points – like an awesome full mirror wall.

4. Small things!

After choosing white or neutral colours, favouring natural light and maybe ditching the bath, the next thing you can do is downsize those fixtures and accessories. In the era of apartment living, there are plenty of high quality, beautiful fixtures and accessories including toilets, sinks and vanities that are just a little or a lot smaller. Also, you can opt for other space-saving things like wall-mounted taps and vanities and built-in toilet tanks – ask the guys at Gold Coast Plumbing Company what else can be done to open up that cramped bathroom space.

5. Creative storage

Every bathroom needs storage, but how it is incorporated in a smaller bathroom is particularly important. Plenty of modern vanities have great built-in options, but you can also opt for recessed storage areas near the bath or in the shower, put shelves higher up on the walls for example for storing towels, or get creative and store items in other ways, such as in baskets or pots.

As you can see, when you’re considering a bathroom renovation with the help of the Gold Coast Plumbing Company, there are plenty of ways to make a small bathroom appear and function much more like a bigger space. Need more ideas or are you ready to get started? Get in touch with our friendly team today.

Hot Water System Maintenance: Preparing For Winter

Hot Water System Maintenance: Preparing For Winter

As we approach the cooler months of the year it is worth considering some preventative hot water system maintenance to avoid costly repairs.
There are some simple things that every homeowner can do to potentially avoid a failure of your hot water system and minimise the likelihood of waking up to no hot water on a chilly morning.

  • Winter in Australia is traditionally the most common time of year for electric hot water systems to fail.
  • We use more hot water during winter as we tend to spend longer in the shower warming up in the morning.
  • The cold water supplying the hot water system is colder which causes the hot water system to work harder and heat longer.
  • The general temperature overnight is colder, the hot water system, its associated valves and pipes are cooler and this contributes to more work that the hot water system has to do to provide us with reliable hot water each morning.

Why Do Hot Water Systems Fail?

The most common hot water system repairs are due to the heating element and thermostat failure.

A heating element and thermostat in a hot water system is very similar to the working of an electric kettle. Depending on use, the heating element in a hot water system will cycles over 15,000 times in a decade. This is a repair that requires a licensed tradesperson undertake due to the requirement to disconnect electricity during the repair process.

The second most common repair of a hot water system is due to the failure of the tank itself. When water is heated inside of a hot water system it expands. The cooler the water prior to heating the greater the expansion. Over time the tank weakens by oxidising or rusting and expansion causes a weld or the cylinder within the tank to fail.

It is not widely known that inside of electric hot water cylinders there is a sacrificial anode. A sacrificial works by oxidising or rusting as the weaker metal rather than the steel tank. Sacrificial anodes are commonly found where mechanical components are in contact with water. Sacrificial anodes dissolve due to an electrochemical reaction inside the hot water cylinder and after 5 years they become spent and require replacement. This again is a task best left to a licensed tradesperson due to the different range of anodes and potential for incorrect fitting to damage the hot water service.

Another method to combat the failure of tank cylinders is with the fitting of Cold Water Expansion valves. Nowadays we are required by law to install Cold Water Expansion valves on any new hot water system installations. Cold Water Expansion valves are set to a lower release pressure than a Pressure and Temperature Relief valve. This allows the discharge of the expanded water from the cold supply pipes instead of hot water from the Temperature Pressure Relief valve. This is a saves wasting hot water which you have already paid to heat and discharges cold water instead.

Every homeowner can prevent the failure of their hot water system by regular operation of the Pressure and Temperature Relief valve. (Us older plumbers know them as TPR’s)

Pressure and Temperature Relief valves are essential to prevent devastating consequences such as the rupture or explosion of a hot water system if the thermostat fails and the hot water system continuously heats. PTR’s should be operated each 6 months to check their operation and to keep them in working order.

Most hot water cylinders have a warning from the manufacturer to replace the PTR valve at 5 year intervals. This is to ensure the reliable operation of the valve if it is required. If your PTR has begun to discharge water or leak, it is a sign that there is a problem and should inspected by a licensed tradesperson. There are other valves on the hot water system which fail and require replacement.

Put simply, preventative maintenance can avoid more serious hot water problems from occurring.

Hot Water System Maintenance Schedule

Hot Water System Maintenance (Every 6 months):

  • operate the Pressure and Temperature Relief valve
  • Operate the Cold Water Expansion valve (if fitted)
  • Check the operation of the Isolator valve (which is also a non return valve)

Hot Water System Maintenance (Every 5 years):

  • Replace Pressure and Temperature Relief valve
  • Renew the Sacrificial anode
  • Check Isolator valve
  • Check Tempering valve
  • Check Element and Thermostat for correct operation

I hope this hot water system maintenance advice helps you keep those hot showers running through the cooler months! If you already have hot water problems checkout our hot water system troubleshooting guide or get in touch!