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Outdoor showers encapsulate the ultimate Australian lifestyle, combining functionality with an open-air charm. Particularly in Queensland, with the appeal of rinsing off under the sun after a beach day or a dip in the pool. However, installing an outdoor shower involves more than just aesthetic consideration, it requires thoughtful planning that adheres to local regulations, especially when it comes to plumbing and drainage.

Considerations for Installing an Outdoor Shower

  • Location: Choose a spot that offers privacy and is close to water sources. Ensure it is convenient for use but does not affect the aesthetics of your garden.
  • Water Supply: We recommend using cold water only to avoid complications associated with drainage and soap use. Hot water requires additional plumbing and compliance with drainage regulations.
  • Drainage: Ensure the proper drainage is possible to prevent water pooling and property damage. It’s crucial to comply with your local plumbing and drainage regulations.
  • Installation: We recommend engaging a professional to help with installation to ensure safety, compliance with local codes, and optimal functionality.

Understanding Local Regulations

Drainage Compliance

Regulations in Queensland require that all greywater, including water from outdoor showers, is disposed of properly. This often means directing water to a designated garden area or an approved drainage system. Using cold water only simplifies compliance, as it avoids the need for extensive drainage solutions required for soapy water.

What is greywater?

It is the wastewater from baths, sinks and washing machines etc. It does not include sewage or blackwater, which comes from toilets. Greywater can be reused for irrigation and other non-potable uses, making it an eco-friendly option for water conservation. 

Water Supply

Queensland laws mandate that any outdoor plumbing work must be performed by a licensed plumber. This ensures that the water supply is safely and correctly installed.

Privacy Considerations

Local regulations might also include guidelines on privacy, ensuring that your outdoor shower does not infringe on the privacy of your neighbours.

Environmental Impact

Consider the environmental impact of your outdoor shower. Queensland regulations may include measures to minimise water waste and protect the local ecosystem.

Consulting a Professional

It’s always a good idea to consult with a professional local plumber such as DCM plumbing, who is familiar with local regulations to ensure your outdoor shower installation is compliant. This will save you potential fines and ensure your setup is safe and functional. For more details on specific regulations, visit your local council’s website or contact a licensed plumber for advice.

Design Considerations

  • Materials: Use durable, weather-resistant materials like stainless steel, brass, or treated wood to withstand the elements. 
  • Flooring: Opt for non-slip materials for the shower floor to prevent accidents. Stone, concrete, or wooden slats are popular choices. Ensure the flooring allows for adequate drainage.
  • Enclosure: Depending on your privacy needs, you may want to include an enclosure. Options range from simple screens to structures using wood, bamboo, or metal.
  • Storage: Incorporate storage solutions like shelves or hooks for towels, soaps, and other essentials. 
  • Lighting: If you plan to use the shower in the evening, consider adding outdoor lighting.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the shower design is accessible for all users. Consider installing a handrail or a bench for added safety and comfort.

Basic Outdoor Shower Installation Guide

  1. Water Supply
    • Cold Water Only: For simplicity and cost-effectiveness, connect your outdoor shower to a cold water line. This avoids complications with hot water systems and the associated drainage requirements.
    • Water Line Installation: If you don’t have an existing water line near your chosen location, you’ll need to run a new line from your home’s main supply. It’s best to hire a professional plumber to ensure proper installation.
  2. Drainage
    • Proper Drainage System: Install a drainage system to handle wastewater. In Queensland, you must comply with local council regulations. Greywater should be directed to a suitable drainage area or connected to an existing waste system.
    • Tip: For a simpler setup, ensure the shower drains onto a gravel bed or a garden area where the water can percolate into the ground, provided no soap or chemicals are used.
  3. Surface Preparation
    • Foundation: Prepare a solid, level foundation for your shower. Ensuring the area around the shower is waterproof to prevent water damage to your home or garden structures.
  4. Plumbing Fixtures
    • Choosing Fixtures: Select outdoor-rated plumbing fixtures resistant to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel and brass are excellent choices for durability.
    • Installation: Mount the fixtures securely, ensuring they are at a comfortable height for users. Professional installation is recommended to ensure all connections are watertight.
  5. Testing
    • Leak & Drainage Checks: Once installed, test the shower for leaks by running the water and checking all connections. Ensure the drainage system works efficiently by observing how quickly and effectively water is removed from the shower area.

Plumbing and Drainage Considerations

Opting for a cold water outdoor shower simplifies the installation process significantly. Without the need for hot water, you avoid the complexities and regulatory hurdles associated with soap and greywater management. This means no need for extensive plumbing work or compliance with strict drainage regulations.

Proper drainage is essential to prevent soil erosion and water contamination. Ensure your outdoor shower has an efficient drainage system that channels water away from your home and garden. This helps avoid water pooling and potential damage to your property. Consulting a professional plumber like DCM Plumbing can ensure your setup meets all local requirements and functions smoothly.

Maintenance and Upkeep

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean the shower head, fixtures, and surfaces regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, algae, and mildew.
  • Check for Leaks: Periodically inspect the plumbing for any leaks or signs of wear. 
  • Protective Covers: If your outdoor shower has fixtures that are susceptible to weather damage, consider using protective covers when the shower is not in use.
  • Winter Care: In colder months, especially if temperatures drop significantly, it’s crucial to winterise your outdoor shower. This includes draining the pipes and turning off the water supply to prevent freezing and bursting.
  • Material Maintenance: Depending on the materials used, you may need to apply sealants or protective coatings.
  • Debris Removal: Keep the area around the shower free of leaves, dirt, and other debris that could clog the drainage system or cause water to pool.

Maintaining a clean shower head not only ensures a strong, steady water flow but safeguards your health. Over time, shower heads can accumulate mineral deposits, limescale, and even bacteria, which can significantly affect their functionality and potentially harm your well-being. Regular cleaning enhances the performance of your shower head and extends its lifespan.

Recognising Signs of a Clogged Shower Head

Reduced Water Pressure

If you notice that the water stream is weaker than usual, it could be due to mineral deposits narrowing the passages inside the shower head.

Uneven Spraying

Water should flow evenly from all nozzles. If some areas spray water erratically or not at all, it’s likely they are blocked.

Water Spraying in Odd Directions

When nozzles are clogged, water may be forced out in directions it’s not meant to go.

Visible Mineral Deposits

Look for white, green, or brown buildup around the nozzles. This is a clear sign of mineral deposits from hard water.

At Home Shower Head Cleaning Solutions

Supplies

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda (optional for tougher grime)
  • A plastic bag large enough to cover the shower head (with no holes!)
  • A rubber band or a twist tie
  • An old toothbrush or a small brush
  • A soft cloth

Prep

  1. Run hot water through the shower head for a minute to flush out any loose sediment.
  2. Ensure the shower is off. It’s advisable to also turn off the water supply if you plan to remove the shower head for a deep clean.
  3. If accessible, unscrew the shower head from the hose or pipe. This step is optional but recommended for a more comprehensive clean.
  4. Check the shower head for any signs of wear or damage. 

Vinegar Soak Method 

  1. Remove the Shower Head (optional):
    • If possible, remove the shower head by unscrewing it from the hose or fixture. This step is optional but can make for a more thorough cleaning process.
  2. Vinegar Soak
    • Fill the plastic bag with white vinegar.
    • Submerge the shower head in the vinegar-filled bag. If you’ve removed the shower head, you can directly place it in a bowl filled with vinegar.
    • Secure the bag around the fixture with a rubber band or twist tie.
    • Let it soak for at least 30 minutes. For heavy build-up, a few hours or overnight might be necessary.
  3. Scrub the Nozzles
    • After soaking, remove the shower head from the vinegar.
    • Gently scrub the nozzles with a soft brush or toothbrush to dislodge any remaining deposits.
  4. Rinse and Reattach
    • Rinse the shower head thoroughly under warm water.
    • If you removed the shower head, reattach it to the hose or fixture.
    • Run hot water through the shower head for a few minutes to flush out any loosened deposits.
  5. Dry and Polish
    • Use a soft cloth to dry and polish the shower head, restoring its shine and helping prevent water spots.

Baking Soda Method (for more Stubborn Deposits)

  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution:
    • Combine equal parts of baking soda and white vinegar to form a paste. The mixture will fizz initially, which is normal and part of the chemical reaction that helps lift stubborn deposits.
  2. Apply the Paste:
    • Use a sponge or an old toothbrush to apply the paste directly onto the areas of the shower head with noticeable buildup. Make sure the nozzles are well coated to address any clogs inside them.
  3. Let It Sit:
    • Allow the paste to sit on the shower head for about 10 to 15 minutes. This duration lets the baking soda and vinegar work together to break down the mineral deposits.
  4. Scrub:
    • After the paste has set, scrub the shower head with a brush. Focus on areas with significant buildup and gently work the bristles into the nozzles to ensure they are clear.
  5. Rinse Thoroughly:
    • Remove all residue by rinsing the shower head under warm, running water. Ensure that all traces of baking soda and vinegar are washed away.
  6. Reattach and Test:
    • If you removed the shower head, screw it back onto the hose or fixture.
    • Run the shower for a few minutes to ensure that the water flow is even and the nozzles are clear.

Advanced Tips for Tough Buildups

CLR Cleaner

CLR (Calcium, Lime, and Rust remover) is more potent than vinegar and can dissolve heavy buildups effectively. Apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, taking care not to damage your shower head’s finish.

Dental Picks

These tools are excellent for scraping off mineral deposits from tiny nozzles. They allow precision without scratching the surface.

Soak Longer

If deposits are thick, consider extending the vinegar or CLR soaking time. Overnight soaks can significantly enhance cleaning results.

Increase Water Pressure

Sometimes running water at the highest pressure for a few minutes can dislodge lingering debris post-cleaning.

Professional Cleaning Solutions

For extremely resistant buildup, commercial-grade cleaners designed for plumbing fixtures can offer a solution. Ensure they are safe for use on your specific shower head material to avoid damage.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Future Buildup

  • Regular Cleaning: Implement a monthly cleaning routine with vinegar to prevent mineral deposits from hardening.
  • Install a Water Softener: If you live in a hard water area, consider installing a water softener to reduce limescale buildup in your plumbing fixtures.
  • Wipe Down After Use: After each shower, take a moment to wipe down the shower head with a dry towel. This simple step can help prevent mineral deposits from forming.
  • Use Filtered Water: Consider installing a filter on your shower system to reduce the minerals and impurities that cause buildup.

Plumbing Solutions with DCM

If you’re encountering stubborn build ups or need professional help with your plumbing, DCM Plumbing is here to assist. Our experienced team can help with all your plumbing needs on the Gold Coast, ensuring your showers are always in top condition. Don’t let a clogged shower head dampen your day—contact DCM Plumbing for expert assistance.

Traditionally, a plumber’s snake, also known as a drain auger, has been the go-to tool for tackling stubborn blockages. This flexible, coiled tool is designed to manoeuvre through complex piping to dislodge debris and restore flow. 

However, while it’s been a staple in plumbing toolkits for decades, newer technologies offer more effective solutions. We take a look at how to use a plumber’s snake, understand its limitations, and discuss why high-pressure water jetting has become the preferred method for modern plumbers.

What is a Plumber's Snake?

A plumber’s snake is a tool used primarily to clear blockages deep within your plumbing system. Unlike a standard plunger that works on superficial clogs, a plumber’s snake reaches far down into the drain. 

This tool consists of a long, flexible metal cable with a coiled spiral or blade at one end and a handle on the other. The handle helps you feed the cable into the pipe and rotate it, allowing the coil to hook onto debris or cut through the clog.

Plumber’s snakes come in various sizes, from handheld models suitable for minor kitchen or bathroom sink clogs to larger, motorised versions used for main sewer lines. Despite their utility, the mechanical nature of these tools means they can be somewhat harsh on pipes and often require significant physical effort to operate effectively.

How to Use a Plumber’s Snake

Step 1. Clear out under the sink or the surrounding area to give yourself ample room to work. It’s a good idea to have a bucket or rags handy to catch any spillage.

Step 2. Begin by feeding the coiled end of the snake into the drain. Keep feeding the cable until you feel resistance, this indicates you’ve reached the clog.

Step 3. Once the coil is engaged with the clog, slowly turn the handle. This rotation helps the coil to either grab the debris or break it apart. Continue to push and rotate the snake deeper into the clog as needed.

Step 4. Once you feel the blockage clear, slowly pull the snake out of the drain. Be prepared for debris or water that may follow.

Step 5. Remove any debris caught on the snake and clean the tool thoroughly. Flush the drain with hot water to clear any remaining residue.
For a deeper understanding of what might be clogging your pipes, check out our blog on the main causes of blocked drains.

Risks Associated with Using a Plumber's Snake

While a plumber’s snake can be an effective DIY method for minor clogs, its use is not without risks, especially for those unfamiliar with plumbing tools. 

Pipe Damage: Improper use of a snake can lead to scratches, cracks, or even breaks in the pipes, particularly if they are older or made from less durable materials.

Complex Blockages: A snake might clear part of a blockage but push the rest further into the plumbing, complicating the problem. It might also compact the blockage, making it harder to remove later.

Ineffectiveness on Tough Clogs: For dense blockages caused by roots or hardened debris, a plumber’s snake might not be strong enough to clear the pipe effectively.

Safety Concerns: Using a mechanical snake involves physical effort and handling, which can lead to injuries if not done correctly. This is especially true for motorised snakes, which can twist or jerk unexpectedly.

The Shift to High-Pressure Water Jetters

The plumbing industry has seen significant advancements, with high-pressure water jetters becoming the preferred method for clearing tough clogs and maintaining pipes. 

Efficiency: Water jets can clear a variety of obstructions quickly, from mineral buildup to tree roots, without damaging the pipes.

Precision: Unlike mechanical snakes, water jets can reach deep into the plumbing system with precision, ensuring that the entire blockage is eradicated.

Safety: Water jetters pose fewer risks to the pipes and the user. There’s no physical tooling that might break or cause injury.

Long-term Solution: Regular use of water jetting as part of maintenance can prevent the accumulation of blockages, reducing emergency calls and prolonging the life of the plumbing system.

High-pressure water jetting is a testament to modern plumbing solutions that not only solve immediate problems but also contribute to the longevity and efficiency of plumbing infrastructures. At DCM Plumbing, embracing these technologies ensures that our clients receive the most effective and safe plumbing solutions available.

Why Professional Help Is Recommended

While plumber’s snakes can sometimes offer a quick fix, their effectiveness and safety are not always guaranteed. If you’re facing stubborn clogs or recurrent drainage issues, it’s important to consider professional help.

  • High-pressure water jetters are significantly more effective at clearing out all types of blockages and cleaning the entire pipe rather than just punching a hole through the blockage as a snake might.
  • Unlike manual snaking, which often provides a temporary fix, jetting can remove the buildup that causes frequent clogs, reducing the likelihood of future problems.
  • Regularly scheduled jetting can help prevent blockages before they start, keeping your plumbing in optimal condition without the emergency situations that necessitate urgent fixes.

For those on the Gold Coast, choosing DCM Plumbing means opting for a solution that not only clears blockages but also preserves the integrity and longevity of your plumbing systems. Trust the experts to handle your plumbing needs with the most effective tools and techniques available today.

Ready to get your drains cleared without the hassle? Contact us at DCM Plumbing today for expert assistance and see why we are the trusted choice for plumbing solutions on the Gold Coast.

Water damage resulting from plumbing issues can wreak havoc on Australian homes. Burst pipes, leaky appliances, and blocked drains pose risks. Homeowners often left wondering if insurance policies protect against such incidents. We explore common plumbing problems and clarify what home insurance typically covers. 

Understanding Home Insurance Coverage for Plumbing

Home insurance typically provides coverage for sudden and accidental damage. This means that if a pipe bursts unexpectedly and floods your kitchen, your policy is likely to cover repairs and associated damages. However, it’s crucial to always read the fine print. Most insurers distinguish between sudden accidents and gradual damage.

Gradual damages, such as slow leaks or corrosion that have developed over time, are often excluded from standard policies. This distinction is based on the expectation that homeowners will maintain their plumbing systems regularly. Insurers consider gradual damage preventable with proper care and routine inspections. 

Types of Plumbing Problems Covered

While coverage details vary between policies, many Australian home insurance providers offer protection against certain plumbing issues:

Burst Pipes

If a pipe suddenly ruptures or bursts due to age, freezing, or other unexpected causes, any resulting water damage is usually covered. This includes pipes within walls, floors, or underground lines.

Appliance Leaks

Water damage from leaks originating from household appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators etc. is commonly included in policies. Proper maintenance records may be required.

Roof Leaks

Most insurers cover interior water damage if roof leaks occur after storms, high winds, hail or other accidental events. Gradual leaks from old/worn roofing are typically excluded.

Blocked Drains/Sewage Backups

Several providers offer optional sewage backup coverage to protect against water damage from overflowing drains or sewage lines. Check if this is included in your plan.

Plumbing Problems Not Covered by Home Insurance

While home insurance can provide coverage for many plumbing issues, certain types of damage are generally excluded from standard policies:

Gradual Leaks and Water Damage

Insurers do not cover damage resulting from gradual leaks, seepage or water intrusion over an extended period. 

This includes:

  • Slow leaks from pipes, fixtures or appliances over time
  • Water damage from unaddressed leaks or lack of maintenance
  • Deterioration or rot caused by neglected moisture problems

Policies view these as preventable issues that homeowners should address through regular maintenance and timely repairs.

Wear and Tear

Any plumbing problems arising from normal wear and tear, such as corroded or rusted pipes, are typically excluded. Insurers expect homeowners to replace ageing plumbing components as needed.

Sewer Backups/Drain Clogs

Standard home insurance usually does not cover sewer backups, drain blockages or resulting water damage unless optional sewer backup coverage is purchased separately.

Frozen Pipes in Unheated Areas

If pipes freeze and burst in uninsulated or unheated areas like attics or crawl spaces, the resulting damage may be denied coverage.

Plumbing System Replacements

While repairs to specific plumbing failures are often covered, full replacements of entire plumbing systems due to age or deterioration are often excluded.

Filing a Successful Claim

While the claims process can seem complicated, following the right steps is important in achieving a successful claim. Contact your insurer immediately to understand their specific requirements like claim forms, deadlines, and documentation needed.

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to make a successful water leak insurance claim in Australia for step-by-step instructions.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Insurance Claims Altogether

In order to prevent the unexpected issues, costly repairs and time spent on insurance claims you need to be proactive. Regular plumbing maintenance not only extends the life of your plumbing but also helps catch potential problems before they escalate. 

Routine Plumbing Maintenance: Regular checks can identify minor issues before they become major problems. This includes inspecting pipes and flexi hoses for signs of wear, checking for leaks, and ensuring that all fittings are tight and secure.

Address Small Issues Promptly: Don’t ignore minor drips, running toilets or other small plumbing problems. Getting them fixed quickly by professionals prevents them from worsening into larger, costlier repairs.

Early Detection Tools: Installing water sensors can provide an early warning of leaks. These devices detect water presence where it shouldn’t be, alerting you to take immediate action.

Professional Inspections: Having a professional plumber inspect your plumbing system, especially in high-risk areas like under sinks and around water heaters, is crucial. They can assess the health of your system and perform any necessary repairs or replacements.

Insulate Exposed Pipes: In colder months, properly insulating pipes in unheated areas like attics, crawlspaces and exterior walls prevents freezing and potential bursts.

DCM Plumbing’s Maintenance Solutions

At DCM Plumbing, we understand the importance of a reliable plumbing system. If you’re unsure about the state of your plumbing or need professional guidance on home insurance coverage for plumbing issues, we’re here to help. 

Our expert team is equipped to provide thorough inspections and maintenance, ensuring your plumbing is in peak condition. Don’t wait for a disaster; protect your home today. Contact us today for a comprehensive plumbing health check and experience the peace of mind that comes with expert care.

Toilet bowl stains, an unfortunate but common household issue. 

Despite regular cleaning, do you find your stubborn marks won’t budge? Then it might be time to level up your approach and test out these expert methods for toilet bowl stains. 

This guide offers practical solutions for tackling stubborn stains, whether you’re dealing with hard water residue or mysterious marks, follow these tips for a sparkling clean toilet.

What Causes Toilet Bowl Stains?

Unsightly toilet bowl stains are more than just an eyesore; they can offer insights into the water quality and hygiene practices in your home. 

Hard Water Deposits

Areas with hard water suffer from a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. These minerals form chalky deposits that not only discolour the toilet bowl but can also affect its flushing efficiency over time. The white or grey buildup is not just a cleaning challenge but a sign that your water might be too mineral-rich.

Mineral Deposits

Iron and manganese are minerals that, while naturally occurring, can cause significant staining in your toilet bowl when present in your water supply. Iron deposits typically leave behind reddish or brown streaks that are notably tough to remove. Manganese, though less common, creates black or purple marks, giving the appearance of a toilet bowl in neglect.

Bacterial Blooms

One of the most common bacterias, Serratia marcescens, is notorious for its pink or red biofilm, often mistaken for a mineral stain. However, it’s actually a living organism, thriving on moist surfaces and feeding on fatty substances like soap residue. Other bacteria can produce stains ranging from orange to yellow, highlighting the need for regular cleaning and disinfection.

Rust

Old pipes or the internal mechanisms of the toilet tank can succumb to rust over time, especially if they’re made of metal. This rust, when mixed with water, can seep into the toilet bowl during each flush, depositing reddish-brown stains. These stains can also indicate potential plumbing maintenance issues that might require attention beyond just cleaning.

How to Remove Stubborn Stains from Toilet Bowl

For those persistent stains that refuse to budge with regular cleaning, here are some at home remedies for tackling stubborn toilet stains:

Vinegar and Baking Soda

  1. Pour one cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl, making sure to coat the stained areas thoroughly.
  2. Allow it to sit for a minute, then add a cup of baking soda followed by another two cups of vinegar.
  3. Witness a fizzing reaction which helps loosen the stains.
  4. Leave the mixture to work its magic for about ten minutes.
  5. Scrub the bowl with a toilet brush, focusing on stained areas. The abrasive action of baking soda combined with vinegar’s cleaning properties will help lift stubborn marks.
  6. Flush the toilet to rinse away the residue.

Borax and Vinegar

For even tougher stains:

  1. Sprinkle a generous amount of borax over stains.
  2. Pour a cup of vinegar over the borax and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. The longer duration allows the solution to penetrate and break down the stains.
  3. Scrub vigorously with a toilet brush, ensuring you cover all stained spots.
  4. Flush the toilet to wash away the cleaning mixture and dislodged stains.

For best results, repeat these steps if necessary, or consider leaving the mixture to sit overnight for deep-set stains.

Coke/Cola

As unsettling as it may be, surprisingly, coke can double as an effective cleaning agent for removing stubborn stains from your toilet bowl. The acidic nature aids in breaking down stains, especially those caused by hard water and mineral deposits. 

  1. Empty a can or bottle of Coke into the bowl, aiming to cover the stained areas thoroughly.
  2. Allow the Coke to sit for at least an hour, but for tougher stains, leaving it overnight increases its effectiveness. 
  3. After letting it sit, use a toilet brush to scrub the stains. The combination of Coke’s acid and the physical action of scrubbing should loosen and lift most stains.
  4. Finally, flush the toilet to rinse away the residue. If any stains remain, repeat the process or consider using a stronger cleaning agent for particularly stubborn areas.

Preventing Toilet Bowl Stains

Regular Cleaning: Incorporate toilet cleaning into your regular housekeeping routine. Using mild cleaners for weekly maintenance can prevent stain-causing minerals and bacteria from settling.

Water Softeners: For households with hard water, installing a water softener can significantly reduce mineral buildup in your plumbing and toilet, keeping those chalky deposits away.

Use Automatic Bowl Cleaners: Drop-in tank tablets can continuously clean your toilet with every flush, keeping stains and bacteria growth in check. Choose a cleaner compatible with your toilet components to avoid any potential damage.

Address Plumbing Issues: Rust stains often indicate corroding pipes or fixtures. Inspect your plumbing for any signs of rust and replace parts as necessary. This not only prevents stains but also protects your home’s plumbing integrity.

Flush Regularly: Even unused toilets should be flushed regularly to prevent stagnant water from staining. This is particularly important for guest bathrooms or any toilet that doesn’t see daily use.

Vinegar Flushes: Occasionally flushing your toilet with vinegar can help neutralise pH levels and dissolve beginning mineral deposits before they become visible stains.

DCM Plumbing: Your Ultimate Plumbing Solution

If you’ve tried every method and still find yourself battling persistent toilet bowl stains, it might be time to call in the experts. DCM Plumbing specialises in comprehensive toilet plumbing solutions, including toilet maintenance and repairs.

DCM Plumbing and Drainage are members of the Master Plumbers Association of Queensland and fully licensed with QBCC (Queensland Building and Construction Commission) to carry out all repairs and replacements for toilets.

For complete peace of mind and fast, courteous service, call DCM Plumbing and Drainage on (07) 5576 5305.

Installing a toilet suite might seem like a job that requires professional help, but with the right tools and guidance, you can actually DIY it. Whether you’re in Australia or elsewhere, this guide breaks down the process of installing a toilet.

Identifying if Your Toilet Needs Replacement

When contemplating whether your toilet needs a replacement, there are several telltale signs to look for. 

  1. Persistent clogs that resist plunger and auger interventions, hint at deeper issues possibly related to the toilet’s design or an obstructed trapway. 
  2. Cracks in the porcelain, whether visible in the bowl or the cistern, can lead to leaks and structural failure over time. Moreover, if you notice water pooling around the base or leaks that persist after replacing the wax ring, it might be time for a new toilet. 
  3. Additionally, older toilets use significantly more water per flush compared to modern, water-efficient models. Upgrading to a newer toilet not only conserves water but can also lead to noticeable savings on your water bill. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it might be time to consider replacing your toilet.

Tools and Materials Needed

Once you’ve determined that your toilet needs replacing or you’re just ready for an upgrade, here are the necessary tools and materials you will need before you begin the installation:

  • Shifter spanner (adjustable wrench)
  • Putty knife 
  • Sponge and bucket
  • New wax ring 
  • Toilet bolts
  • Spirit or digital level 
  • Silicone caulk 
  • Screwdriver
  • Cloth or towel
  • Flush Pipe
  • A new toilet suite (and its components)

Step-by-step guide on installing a toilet

Before you start 

Before purchasing a new toilet, you need to make sure you buy one that fits in the place of your old one. To do this, measure the rough-in size before installing your toilet. This is the distance from the wall to the centre of the floor drain (in the direction your toilet faces). It can be hard to tell the exact distance, but the drainpipe should be located in the centre of the floor bolts of the toilet. Standard rough-in size in Australia is 140mm, but they can go up to 165mm or even 180mm. If your measurement doesn’t equal 140mm, check again to make sure you got it right, and make sure to choose a new toilet that fits! 

Another thing that needs to be checked before getting started is that if you are replacing only the cistern or only the pan, that your new component is compatible with the old. The design of both components should match to ensure efficient flushing and water conservation. If the cistern and pan are sold separately, check the manufacturer’s specifications to confirm they’re intended to work together.

Part one: removing the old toilet

  1. Locate the shutoff valve near the base of the existing toilet and turn it clockwise to shut off the water. Flush the toilet to drain the water from the cistern and bowl. If there is any excess water left, get rid of it with a mop or sponge. 
  2. Unscrew the water supply line from the cistern. Have a bucket handy to catch any water.
  3. Remove the caps covering the bolts at the base of the toilet, then unscrew the nuts. If the bolts are rusted, you may need a hacksaw to cut them off.
  4. Rock the toilet gently to break the seal with the floor and lift it away. It’s a good idea to have someone help you with this step as toilets can be heavy. Place the old toilet on a trash bag or old towel to avoid mess.

Part two: preparing the area for the new toilet

  1. Remove any remnants of the wax ring from the floor flange (the fixture attaching your toilet to the drain pipe) and around the drain hole. Check the flange for damage; it should be securely attached to the floor. If the flange is damaged or worn, a replacement may be necessary.
  2. Use your level to ensure the flange is even with the floor. An uneven flange can lead to a poor seal and potential leaks (which we obviously don’t want)!

Part three: installing the new toilet

  1. Position a new wax ring on the flange. Some prefer a wax-free silicone ring for a mess-free installation and a good seal.
  2. Carefully align the toilet over the flange, using the bolts as a guide. Press down firmly to set the wax ring.
  3. Place the washers and nuts on the bolts and tighten them gradually, alternating sides to apply even pressure. Be careful not to over-tighten, as this can crack the porcelain.
  4. Install the cistern, placing the cistern atop the pan, making sure it sits evenly and securely. 
  5. Connect the flush pipe from the pan to the cistern. Ensure the flush pipe’s seals are intact and correctly positioned before connecting. This step might require some adjustment to achieve a snug fit and maintain the integrity of the water flow from the cistern to the bowl.
  6. Reattach the water supply line to the toilet cistern. Turn on the water supply and allow the cistern to fill.

Part four: final steps

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to attach the toilet seat.
  2. Once the cistern is full, flush the toilet several times to ensure everything is working correctly. Check for leaks around the base and where the water supply line connects to the cistern.
  3. Applying caulk around the base of the toilet is optional but recommended for a neat finish and to prevent water from getting under the toilet.

FAQs About Toilet Installation

While basic hand tools can accomplish most of the installation, having a wrench set, a level, and a hacksaw can be particularly useful. A wax ring, toilet bolts, and possibly a new supply line might be needed as well.

Measure the “rough-in” distance, which is the space between the wall behind the toilet and the centre of the drainpipe or bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. Most toilets are designed for a 140mm rough-in.

Yes, but ensure the new toilet’s dimensions fit your space and the rough-in distance matches. Also, consider the toilet’s design for compatibility with your bathroom’s style and plumbing.

A wobbling toilet often means the floor isn’t level or the bolts aren’t tight enough. Use or wedge shims to stabilise the toilet and ensure the bolts are snug, but don’t over-tighten them as this can crack the porcelain.

Ensure the wax ring is properly seated and creates a watertight seal between the toilet base and the drain flange. If leaks persist, the wax ring may need to be replaced or repositioned.

No, any leaks indicate a problem, such as a faulty seal or loose connections. Check the installation points carefully and address any issues immediately to prevent water damage.

Additional Tips

When considering installing a toilet in Australia, remember to be mindful of your local plumbing codes and water efficiency standards. Should you encounter any challenges along the way, or prefer the assurance of professional installation, DCM Plumbing is here to help. Our experienced team ensures your toilet installation meets the highest standards, offering you peace of mind and reliability. Ready to upgrade your bathroom? Contact us today for expert plumbing services.

A clogged bathroom sink is a common yet annoying problem in many households. It’s often caused by a buildup of hair, soap scum, and other debris, and figuring out how to unclog a bathroom sink can be difficult. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help! Unclogging a bathroom sink is usually a simple task that doesn’t require professional help or expensive cleaning products.

How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink with Standing Water

For sinks with standing water, it indicates a complete blockage where the water cannot pass through at all, often requiring mechanical removal or dissolution of the blockage. If the sink drains slowly, the clog might be partial, providing more flexibility in the choice of unclogging methods, ranging from natural solutions to manual extraction.

  1. Begin by removing as much standing water as possible from the sink. You can use a cup or a small container to scoop the water out and then wipe the remaining moisture with a sponge or cloth.
  2. A plunger can be effective even for a sink. Cover the overflow hole with a wet cloth to ensure a vacuum, place the plunger over the drain, and pump it several times. This action can dislodge the blockage, allowing water to drain.
  3. Checking the P-Trap. The P-trap is the curved section of the pipe under the sink. Place a bucket underneath to catch any spillage, then unscrew the P-trap. Check it for obstructions and clean it out if necessary.
  4. If the clog isn’t in the P-trap, it might be further down. A plumber’s snake can help reach deeper clogs. Insert it into the drain and turn it to catch and pull out the obstruction.
  5. After clearing the blockage, flush the drain with hot water to wash away any remaining debris.

This method can effectively remove the clog, allowing water to flow freely again. Remember, if these steps do not resolve the issue, it might be time to call a professional plumber to avoid further damage to your plumbing system.

Unclogging Hair from your Bathroom Sink

Step 1. Manual Removal

Often, hair clogs are located near the drain surface. Wearing gloves, remove the stopper and use a wire hanger or a specialised drain cleaning tool to fish out the hair. These tools are designed to snag hair, making it easier to pull out of the drain.

Step 2. Baking Soda and Vinegar

If the hair is further down the drain, a natural cleaning solution can help. The fizzing action can help break down the hair clog. Let it sit for an hour, then flush with hot water.

Step 3. Plunger

After attempting to manually remove hair and using a natural cleaner, try using a plunger to dislodge the remaining clog. Cover the overflow hole and create a seal around the drain with the plunger for effective suction.

Step 4. Plumber’s Snake

For persistent clogs, a plumber’s snake is more effective. Carefully feed the snake into the drain until you feel resistance, then rotate it to catch the clog. Pull it out slowly to remove the hair.

Top 4 Natural Remedies for Unclogging a Bathroom Sink

Baking Soda and Vinegar

As mentioned earlier, baking soda and vinegar is a great go-to method.

  1. Begin by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain. 
  2. Follow it with a cup of baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Then, add a mixture of one cup vinegar and one cup hot water on top of the baking soda. 
  4. Cover the drain with a plug or a rag to keep the reaction below the surface, enhancing its effectiveness in breaking down the clog.
  5. After 5-10 minutes, flush the drain with another pot of boiling water.

Salt, Baking Soda, and Vinegar

For tougher clogs, add half a cup of table salt to the baking soda before pouring it down the drain. Then follow the steps mentioned above.

The abrasive nature of salt helps in breaking down the clog. 

Dish Soap and Hot Water

  1. Dish soap can help lubricate the clogged pipe, making it easier for the obstruction to slide out.
  2. Pour a generous amount of liquid dish soap down the drain, followed by a pot of boiling water. 
  3. The soap acts as a lubricant, helping to break down any greasy residue that’s part of the clog.

Wire Hanger

Sometimes, the clog needs a little agitation to break apart. 

  1. Straighten a wire hanger, leaving a small hook on one end. 
  2. Insert it into the drain to fish out or break apart the clog. 
  3. Be careful not to push the clog further down.

Preventative Tips for a Clog-Free Bathroom Sink

Adopting a proactive stance can save you time, money, and the hassle of dealing with recurring blockages. Here are some easy-to-follow preventative measures:

Regular Cleaning

Make it a habit to clean your sink weekly. Use a mixture of hot water and mild detergent to wash away potential clog-causing grime. For a more thorough clean, consider a bi-monthly regimen with baking soda and vinegar to keep the drain clear and odour-free.

Sink Strainers

A simple yet effective tool, sink strainers catch hair, soap bits, and other debris, preventing them from going down the drain. Ensure the strainer fits well and clean it out regularly.

Mindful Disposal

Be conscious of what goes down your sink. Avoid disposing of oily substances, coffee grounds, and bulky materials that can solidify or accumulate in your pipes, leading to clogs.

Regular Maintenance

Incorporate a routine check and maintenance of your plumbing system. This could mean using enzymatic drain cleaners that break down potential clog materials without damaging your pipes.

Call DCM Plumbing for Any Stubborn Blocked Bathroom Sinks

If none of the methods above help with your blocked sink, it’s time to call in the experts at DCM Plumbing. Our skilled team is equipped to handle even the most stubborn blockages, ensuring your drains are cleared efficiently and effectively. We use professional tools and techniques to diagnose and resolve the issue, preventing future problems.

Don’t let a blocked sink disrupt your daily routine – contact DCM Plumbing for prompt and reliable service.

Want to learn how to change a shower head? We’re here to help! 

Changing a shower head doesn’t require extensive tools or expertise, and it’s an easy bit of DIY you can do to save water by purchasing a more effective shower head, or to just upgrade to a shower head more in line with your preferences. Whether it’s your first time replacing a shower head or you’re simply seeking a quick refresher, our instructions are there to assist you every step of the way.

DCM Plumbing is a leading plumber on the Gold Coast and blocked drains expert. If you need plumbing services of any kind such as leak detection, burst pipe repairs, or renovations contact us today.

Different Types of Shower Heads

When changing your shower head, you first need to figure out what type of shower head you have. Here are some common types to help you along:

1

1. Fixed shower heads are common and provide a stable overhead water flow.

2

2. Handheld or mixed shower heads offer flexibility, allowing you to direct the water flow where needed, ideal for families with varying height requirements. Just be aware that these types can be more prone to leaks due to the flexi hose and connection.

3

3. Rain shower heads are designed for a luxury showering experience, mimicking the gentle fall of rain for a soothing effect.

4

4. High-efficiency shower heads are engineered to reduce water usage without compromising on pressure, catering to eco-conscious consumers.

Tools and Materials You Will Need When Changing a Shower Head

Before you get started, ensure you have the following items:

  • Adjustable wrench (shifter spanner)
  • Teflon tape (AKA Plumber’s Tape)
  • Stool or Ladder
  • New Shower Head
  • Cloth or Rag
  • Bucket and Towels

Step-by-Step Instructions: Replacing Your Shower Head

Removing the Old Shower Head

  1. Turn off the taps. Ensure your shower taps are turned off completely to prevent any unwanted accidents!
  2. Protect the finish. Wrap a cloth around the base of the old shower head. This will protect its finish as you unscrew it.
  3. Loosen and remove. Using the shifter spanner, gently loosen the old shower head by turning it anticlockwise. Once loose, finish unscrewing by hand and remove it.

Preparing the Shower Arm

  1. Clean the threads. Remove any old Teflon tape or debris from the threads of the shower arm to ensure a clean surface for the new shower head.
  2. Apply Teflon tape. Wrap new Teflon tape clockwise around the threads of the shower arm. This helps prevent leaks by ensuring a tight seal.

Installing the New Shower Head

  1. Hand tighten. Position your new shower head onto the shower arm and screw it in by hand, turning clockwise. Ensure it’s straight and securely attached.
  2. Final tightening. Using your wrench with a cloth to protect the finish, gently tighten the shower head to ensure it’s snug. Avoid over-tightening to prevent damage.

Testing for Leaks

  1. Turn on the water. Once the new shower head is securely in place, turn the water supply back on.
  2. Check for leaks. With the water running, inspect the connection between the shower head and the arm for any signs of leaking. If you notice any drips, turn off the water and slightly tighten the connection until the leak stops.

Congratulations, you did it! Your new shower head is ready to enjoy. 

Should you ever feel uncertain or face challenges at any point along the way, give our expert team a call and we can put your mind at ease, by ensuring the installation is completed safely and accurately.

Ready for a Plumbing Upgrade?

If you’re feeling inspired after installing your new shower head and are considering further bathroom renovations, DCM Plumbing is here to help. From minor fixes to major overhauls, our expert team is ready to provide you with the best plumbing services on the Gold Coast.

Disclaimer:

While we provide experienced advice on how to replace a shower head, it’s important to remember that these instructions are intended to serve as a general guide. Shower heads can vary significantly in design, functionality, and installation requirements. Therefore, it’s important to check the instructions provided with your new shower head that are tailored to your particular model.

Dealing with a water leak can be stressful, so let us help to try and take the stress out of the insurance claims that follow a water leak incident.

In this blog we guide you through the process of filing a water leak insurance claim in Australia.

We’ll cover everything from understanding the specifics of your coverage to providing practical tips on submitting your claim and preventative measures to help avoid the whole thing. Whether it’s a leaking roof or a broken water line, knowing how to effectively manage your insurance claim can make all the difference in securing the support you need for repairs and recovery.

Is There a Difference Between a Water Leak and Water Damage?

Water leak refers to the escape of water from plumbing systems or structures due to faults or failures, such as a cracked pipe or a loose connection. Water damage, on the other hand, results from water intruding where it can lead to destructive processes like rotting of wood, mould growth, rusting of steel, delamination of materials, and others. Essentially, a water leak is the cause, and water damage is the consequence.

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

To effectively submit a water leak insurance claim in Australia, you need to have a thorough understanding of your insurance policy, in particular your product disclosure statement. This means looking into the specifics of what is covered, especially regarding water leaks and related damages. Policies differ, and it’s key to find out whether incidents like “roof leaks” or “water line breaks” are covered. 

In general, most insurance companies will not cover gradual water damage. A gradual water damage example could involve a slow leak from a pipe within a wall. Over time, this unnoticed leak can lead to significant structural damage, mould growth, and deterioration of wall materials. 

However most policies do include sudden and accidental damage, an example of this could be a washing machine hose bursting while in use, causing an immediate flood in your laundry room. This type of event is typically covered by homeowners’ insurance because it is unexpected and not due to lack of maintenance or negligence.

When dealing with specific scenarios like roof leaks or burst water lines, it’s also important to know how your insurance policy responds. For roof leaks, check if your policy includes storm or accidental damage coverage. For water line breaks, determine if the policy covers repairs and water damage cleanup. Each scenario requires different documentation and proof of damage, so understanding your policy’s specifics helps navigate these situations effectively. 

Familiarising yourself with these details helps you to advocate for your rights more effectively during the claim process, ensuring you’re prepared to present your case comprehensively. Always consult your insurance provider for the most accurate and detailed information regarding your coverage.

Making a successful Water Leak Insurance Claim

Now that we have clarified those points, let’s get into the details of making a successful water leak insurance claim. There are many insurance companies in Australia that work in their own ways but as a general guide this is what you need to know: 

1. Immediately Document the Damage 

As soon as you notice any water damage, it’s critical to start documenting everything. Take clear photos or videos from multiple angles, highlighting where the damage has occurred and its extent. If possible, include timestamps. This initial evidence can significantly strengthen your claim by providing your insurer with a clear understanding of the damage’s initial state. For instance, if a pipe bursts in your kitchen, capture the source of the leak, any standing water, damaged flooring, and affected appliances. This visual record will be important during the claims process.

2. Review Your Insurance Policy

As mentioned earlier, examining your insurance policy is essential to fully grasp your coverage related to water leaks. Look beyond general statements to find detailed explanations of what types of water damage are covered, such as damage from sudden leaks compared to ongoing neglect. Check the specifics of coverage limits, which dictate the maximum amount the insurer will pay for a claim, and note any excess you’ll need to pay. 

3. Mitigate Further Damage

It’s important to act swiftly to minimise further damage once a water leak is discovered. Shutting off the water supply can prevent additional flooding, and covering leaks with temporary patches can reduce water spill. If you undertake emergency repairs, such as using a plumber to stop a leak or hiring professionals to dry out flooded areas, ensure you keep all receipts and records of the work done. These documents are required for your insurance claim, as they prove you’ve taken responsible steps to protect your property from further damage.

4. Contact Your Insurance Provider

When contacting your insurance provider, do so promptly. This initial contact is important as your insurer will outline the specific steps for filing your claim, including the necessary documentation and deadlines. They may require photos of the damage, repair estimates, and a detailed account of the incident. Following their guidance ensures your claim matches policy requirements, facilitating a smoother process. Keep a record of all communications with your insurer for reference throughout the claim process.

5. Fill Out Claim Forms Promptly

Filling out claim forms promptly and accurately is a must. Ensure you provide all required information, such as the extent of the water damage and any emergency repairs undertaken, backed by supporting documentation like photos, repair quotes, and receipts. This detailed submission helps the insurance adjuster understand the claim’s validity and urgency, potentially speeding up the approval process. Attention to detail and thoroughness in this step can significantly influence the outcome of your claim.

6. Assessment by an Adjuster

If/when an insurance adjuster visits to assess water damage, ensure you’re ready to clearly demonstrate the damage’s scope. Prepare to walk them through the affected areas, highlighting the damage’s impact and discussing necessary repairs. This is an opportunity to present your case effectively, ensuring the adjuster fully understands the extent of the damage and the justification for your claim. Being organised and forthcoming with information can facilitate a more accurate assessment and smoother claim process.

7. Keep Records

Keep a clear record of every interaction with your insurance company. This includes saving emails, writing down what was discussed in phone calls, and noting any decisions about your claim. Keeping everything organised in one place can help if you need to look something up or if there are any questions later on. This careful tracking can help make sure your claim goes smoothly.

Tips for Water Leak Prevention

Who wants to spend their valuable time doing all of that? Not us and probably not you. 

If you are a homeowner it pays to be proactive. Preventing water leaks (such as from burst flexi hoses) involves regular maintenance and inspections. By taking a little bit of time doing the steps below it can end up saving you a whole lot of time and money in the long run. 

  1. Ensure plumbing systems, including pipes and appliances, are in good condition. 
  2. Installing water detection devices can alert you to leaks early. 
  3. Keep gutters and downpipes clear to prevent water buildup. 
  4. Insulate pipes to prevent freezing and bursting in cold weather. 
  5. Being proactive and addressing small issues promptly can significantly reduce the risk of major water leaks and the subsequent damage they can cause.

Leak Detection Services

At DCM Plumbing, we understand the stress and damage a water leak can cause, which is why we offer specialised leak detection services on the Gold Coast. Our experienced team uses the latest technology to swiftly identify and repair leaks, preventing further damage and aiding in the process of making successful water leak insurance claims. Our goal is to minimise disruption and costs for our customers, ensuring peace of mind and security in their homes. For more about our leak detection services and how we can help protect your property, visit our leak detection page or burst pipe page.

Who invented the toilet? Thomas Crapper, right?

Not exactly.

Although Crapper’s contribution to the modern day toilet is significant, the origins of the toilet are rooted deep in ancient history, predating him by thousands of years. And so it turns out, the title of “he who invented the toilet” cannot be appointed to one single person, since the toilet as we know it today has evolved over thousands of years! 

So, Who is the Inventor of the Toilet?

The invention of the toilet is a subject of historical debate. John Harrington is credited with inventing the first flush toilet in 1596, known as the ‘Ajax’. However, it was Alexander Cumming who refined the design in 1775, receiving a patent for a toilet featuring an S-trap that retained water to seal out sewer gases. Cumming’s improvement is considered a crucial development in the evolution of the modern toilet. 

So now that we have our frontrunners, let’s take a step back… is a flush really what makes a toilet?

History Of Plumbing
Daniel Bordeleau, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Earliest Toilets

Let’s take a look at a brief timeline of the advent of the toilet. 

Ancient Mesopotamia and Scotland

The dawn of toilet history takes us back an astonishing 5000 to 6000 years, to the cradle of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia, present-day Iraq. Here, the earliest found forms of toilets were simple yet functional, consisting mainly of pits – a far cry from what we know today as the toilet. These rudimentary toilets offered the basic advantage of separating people from their waste, a step in the right direction in terms of public health.

On the other side of the planet, In the far reaches of Northern Scotland, the prehistoric settlement of Skara Brae was on the island of Mainland. Dated to around the same era as the Mesopotamian toilets, there’s a cluster of ten houses that is remarkable for its early plumbing innovation. Each house was equipped with a modest drainage system, connecting to a larger communal conduit that led to the ocean. Here residents practised the earliest form of flushing by pouring water into the drains.

Ancient Greek & Romans Society

Ostia Toilets
Fubar Obfusco, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Approximately 2,500 years ago, the era of Classical Greece marked a significant milestone in the history of sanitation with the introduction of public latrines. These communal facilities, more sophisticated than their predecessors, featured large rooms fitted with bench seats strategically positioned above flowing water channels, serving as the early prototypes of public sewer systems. This period also saw the rise of private toilets in the homes of the wealthy, symbolising their status in Greek society.

The latrine development takes an intriguing turn with the Ancient Romans. By the first century BC, over 2,000 years ago, the Romans had embraced and refined the concept of public latrines, drawing inspiration from Greek designs. These Roman versions were more sophisticated, often constructed with stone or wood, featuring benches with strategically placed openings, all perched above efficiently designed sewer systems carrying running water.

Interestingly, some historical accounts suggest the existence of early types of toilet brushes, offering a glimpse into the Roman approach to cleanliness. However, the luxury of running water remained a public affair, as private toilets in Roman homes were typically just pits used for waste disposal, including food scraps. Once filled, these pits were either emptied into the public sewer or discarded in outlying fields, a practice far from the comfort and convenience of modern toilet plumbing.

The Chamber Pot: A Regression in Toilet Sanitation

History Of Toilets
Raakvlak, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After the developments of ancient civilizations, the advancement of plumbing and toilet facilities stalled and even regressed. During the mediaeval period, roughly spanning from 1066 to 1485, the majority of the world population experienced a stark decline in access to the advanced plumbing systems once prevalent in Roman and Greek societies.

This era witnessed a return to more basic methods of waste disposal. The most common practice was the use of chamber pots, which were unceremoniously emptied out of windows, often without regard for passersby below. This unsanitary practice was widespread despite laws attempting to regulate it. Many preferred this method over the physical task of carrying waste to the nearest river, which presented its own set of sanitary challenges.

Contrasting sharply with the commoners of the era, however, the upper class of mediaeval society had the luxury of using ‘garderobes’. 

Garderobes

In the mediaeval era, ‘garderobes’ emerged as a unique solution to sanitary needs, particularly among the elite. 

The term ‘garderobe’ derives from the French words ‘garder’ (to keep) and ‘robe’ (clothes). These toilets also served as storage spaces for clothing. The potent odour from human waste and the ammonia in urine were believed to deter fleas, making garderobes an interestingly dual-purpose space.

Garderobes had various names, such as privy, draught, and gong. The maintenance and cleaning of these toilets fell to individuals known as gong farmers. This role, while not highly sought-after, was surprisingly well-paid due to the nature of the work.

In castle design, garderobes were strategically positioned as far from living areas as possible, often equipped with double doors to reduce the spread of any unpleasant smells. They typically featured chutes leading directly to the castle moat, where waste accumulated until removed by the gong farmers. 

The Flush Heard Around the World: John Harrington and the Invention of the Flush Toilet

John Snow Cholera London
Attributed to Hieronimo Custodis, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now, we get back to where we started. In 1592, Harrington – notably the godson of Queen Elizabeth I – engineered a system that was sealed with wax and resin, featuring an upstairs cistern to store water. This early flush toilet released a deluge of 28 litres of water – in contrast, modern flush systems only use 6-9 litres!

Queen Elizabeth I herself showed great enthusiasm for Harrington’s invention, a testament to its novelty and potential. However, this groundbreaking innovation didn’t immediately catch on. It wasn’t until two centuries later in 1775 when Alexander Cumming made crucial improvements to Harrington’s design that the flush toilet became more popular.

The Father of Modern Toilet Plumbing: Alexander Cumming

Alexander Cumming Clockmaker
[1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The transition to modern toilets truly began with Alexander Cumming’s innovative S-pipe invention and his patenting of the flush toilet. This design tackled the issue of sewer gas leakage in toilets, which had been a source of unpleasant odours and significant health hazards. The genius of the S-pipe, (or S-trap) lay in its ability to create a water seal within the toilet bowl, blocking sewer gases from entering living spaces. 

Cumming’s S-pipe became a catalyst for further innovations in toilet technology. It inspired a wave of inventors to conceive new and improved toilet designs, contributing to the evolution of the toilet as we know it today. Among these inventors was Thomas Crapper, a name often mistakenly credited with the invention of the toilet. Although he did not invent the toilet, Crapper played a big role in popularising it.

Thomas Crapper: Inventor of the Toilet?

Who Invented The Toilet
Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Crapper, born in Yorkshire, England in 1836, carved a niche for himself in plumbing history, not as the inventor of the toilet, but as a significant innovator and marketer in the field. Starting as an apprentice, he rose to become a notable sanitary engineer, eventually establishing the renowned Thomas Crapper & Co. in London, a bathroom product company that is still in operation today. 

The Ballcock

Crapper’s most notable invention is the ballcock. This mechanism controlled the water flow into the toilet tank, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of flushing systems. This advancement played a key role in making toilets a standard feature in both public and private spaces.

Crapper was a masterful marketer and promoter. His skillful use of catchy slogans and innovative advertisements greatly popularised indoor plumbing and the use of flush toilets. He was also a pioneer in creating public showrooms for toilets and plumbing fixtures, effectively bringing these topics into the mainstream.

The Future of Toilets

Now that we’ve looked at the past, what of the future? The evolution of toilets is steering towards a future where technology meets sustainability. Visionaries like Bill Gates are working towards high-efficiency, low-cost toilets, particularly aimed at enhancing sanitation in underprivileged areas. 

There has been groundbreaking development in toilet technology with the incorporation of health monitoring features. Emerging smart toilets are being equipped with discrete sensors and artificial intelligence capable of analysing waste. This feature promises to offer insights into the user’s health, potentially detecting early signs of illness or assisting in the management of chronic conditions. 

Another exciting future for the toilet is the ‘Autarky Toilet‘, developed by researchers at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. This project aims to create a self-sufficient toilet, independent of water and sewer networks. The Autarky Toilet is designed to treat waste on-site, converting it into valuable resources like nutrients for fertiliser.

Your toilet today

Whether it’s installing the latest in toilet technology or providing exceptional plumbing solutions for traditional setups, our team is equipped to handle all your bathroom needs. Embracing both the rich history and the promising future of plumbing, we’re here to ensure that your home’s sanitation systems are not only functional but also contribute to your overall wellbeing and comfort.

Are you on the Gold Coast and ready to upgrade your bathroom with the latest innovations or need expert advice on maintaining your current setup? Reach out to us at DCM Plumbing. Let’s bring the future of toilets and efficient plumbing to your home today!

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