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It’s almost here, the day that brings families together to enjoy good company, food and fun. Christmas is a time of joy and good spirits, but it’s also a time for lots of entertaining in one home which can often lead to strain on drains resulting in blocked drains and toilets. Ensure your Christmas runs smoothly by incorporating these handy plumbing tips.

1. PUT LEFTOVERS IN THE BIN

Generally, this is the time of year we have friends and family over for multiple visits and not just entertaining on Christmas Day. The festive season in Australia pretty much starts at the beginning of the school summer holidays and doesn’t finish till after Australia Day. Households have a lot more traffic coming through and a lot more kitchen and entertaining action than any other time of the year. With cooking, comes washing up and unfortunately, leftovers and food scraps tend to go down the drain rather than the bin. One of the simplest and easiest ways to prevent accidental food scrapes from going down the drain is buying an inexpensive sink strainer. Alternatively you could …

2. INSTALL A WASTE DISPOSAL UNIT

A typical Australian home will contribute to over 1000 kg of food waste to landfill every year. Food scraps also contribute to 30-40 percent of all waste generated in an average-sized home.

Unless you’re using your organic food scraps for a compost bin or fertilising your garden, rotting food scraps can cause a huge environmental problem. We often think because it’s food it will be broken down, but a more serious issue is that it creates more production of harmful greenhouse gases such as methane in landfill. Food waste deposited in landfill also potentially increases the risk of groundwater contamination and hygiene issues attracting insects and vermin. A plumber can install a new waste disposal unit in time for Christmas to help combat the excess food waste over the busy Christmas period.

3. STAGGER TIMES BETWEEN SHOWERS

If you’re hosting guests over the holiday period, showers can run more than usual. The last thing you want for your guests is to run out of hot water. Spacing out the time between people and allowing 15 minutes in between showers will allow the hot water to replenish and gives the drains time to clear. Excess hair and soap scum can quickly build up and block drains.

4. TOILETS ARE FOR WASTE ONLY

You’d think these days people would know not to flush anything down the toilet except for waste and toilet paper. Plumbers have seen it all, and if you’re entertaining over the summer holidays, your toilets are going to be working extra hard. As a reminder to guests, it can be a good idea to put up a simple sign in your toilet to remind people not to flush bathroom items that block toilets.

These are:

  • Flushable wipes – because they really aren’t and don’t break down as toilet paper will
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Facial pads
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Paper towels
  • Cigarette butts

5. DISPOSE OF GREASE AND OIL PROPERLY

Grease and fat are some of the biggest threats to your drain. Most people don’t realise that even scraping small amounts of oil and grease from plates and fry pans over time will build up and harden in the pipes. When fat and oil is hot, it can appear like any other liquid, and you might assume it will wash away easily with water, but once it cools, it will thicken and harden. Instead of pouring down the drain, pour the excess fat and oil from cooking into a can, or plastic container that can be put in the bin.

6. TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN

This expression describes the situation whereby – if too many people help to complete a task, it may not go very well. Too many people in the “kitchen” – or too many people trying to do the same task – can turn the situation into a hot mess. While it’s true for cooking in the kitchen, it can be equally true with cleaning up. With too many people all trying to help, food scraps can be dumped down the drain by accident, and other accidents and breakages can happen. It’s best to ask your guests to help clear tables but keep the washing up to one or two people. The last thing you want on Christmas day is an overflowing sink that won’t drain.

7. SCHEDULE MAINTENANCE

Now is the time to have a maintenance check done by a plumber to ensure your kitchen and bathroom are going to be in good order. Schedule a routine check for blocks before the silly season comes around to give you peace of mind so you can concentrate on being festive and merry with family and friends.

Contact us today to book in a maintenance check of your drains.

*At the time of publishing Covid-19 restrictions allow up to 20 visitors who may visit a household for Christmas gatherings. The total number of visitors includes adults and children. Follow the rules around gatherings, and stay safe whether you are working, visiting family and friends, or going out. For more information and updates follow the public health order.

Summer is almost here and in Australia in terms of weather, this either means lots of dry heat or lots of rain. While last year we had high levels of hot temperatures and a devastating bushfire season, this year meteorologists are predicting a much more wet season. According to The Bureau of Meteorology, we are officially entering a La Niña season, forecasting we could be in for a wet spring and summer and possible flooding and cyclones.

According to an article in the ABC, BOM senior climatologist Greg Browning said the weather this year is going to be a significant change from last year.

“Certainly, the concern for this season is for rainfall leading to potentially widespread and prolonged flooding.”

The risk of flooding was reported particularly for the eastern two-thirds of the country, and Browning added the findings are suggesting a 66 percent chance of more cyclones than average for the Australian region this season — and they are expected to form earlier than usual.

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WHAT IS LA NIÑA?

El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. Many climate drivers influence Australia’s climate, but the El Niño and La Niña phases have the most substantial influence on year-to-year climate variability for most of the country. BOM is predicting a summer season of extreme wet conditions which could result in increased rainfall across much of Australia this year.

Typical weather patterns of a La Niña season often result in:

  • Increased rainfall across much of Australia
  • Cooler daytime temperatures
  • Warmer overnight temperatures in the northern parts of Australia
  • Shifts in temperature extremes
  • Greater risk of tropical cyclone numbers
  • Earlier monsoon onset

HOW TO PREPARE FOR CYCLONES AND FLOODING

Now is the perfect time to start preparing your home for the onset of the wet season. Here are some ways to get ready:

Clear your gutters – After a long hot year, there is a risk of many dead and dry leaves around your property which often get trapped in your gutters. When your gutters are blocked, you face the risk of them overflowing, which can lead to major water damage in your home. Not only can water damage lead to damage to the ceiling and walls and roof, but it can also cause electrical lines to spark and cause potential fires.

Inspect the downpipes – Inspecting your downpipes is important to make sure they are also in good working order and not clogged with debris or rusted.

Blocked drains – If you’ve suspected slow drainage or nasty smells coming from your pipes and you’ve been putting off getting it fixed or hoping the problem will go away on its own, it’s time to get it fixed. Blocked drains are only going to get worse once heavy rain starts, so it’s important to have clear drains in the wet season.

Clean up the garden – Whether you’ve got hedge trimmings or piles of leaves or overhanging branches in your backyard, now is the time for a good clean up. Heavy wind and rain will quickly put debris in your drains and pipes which can lead to flooding and blockages rapidly.

Tree roots – While it’s not possible to see roots entering your drainage system underground, it is the most common cause for blocked drains on the Gold Coast. If your drains run slowly or are completely blocked, have them CCTV drain camera inspected for roots before storm season begins.

Secure loose items – Secure any loose outdoor items like outdoor furniture and pot plants or pieces of metal or wood that are lying around your home.

Check your home and contents insurance – It’s a good time of year to check that you’re covered for adequate home and contents insurance and that it’s not going to lapse over the summer months ahead.

WHAT TO DO DURING A STORM?

If you’ve been prepared with the items above, secured your property well and are up to date with your home plumbing maintenance, the next steps are to make sure you have a plan when a storm does hit.

Here are a couple of things to take note of:

  • Create a safe place for your pets out of the storm
  • Disconnect all electrical items during a storm
  • Check that you have a stocked first aid kit and survival kit of extra water, canned foods, flashlights, matches, candles, etc.

For a full list of what to include in a survival emergency kit, there is information at GCCC – Be Prepared.

Whether you require downpipe and drainage maintenance work, or a simple pre-storm season inspection DCM plumbing are here to help. In the event of a plumbing emergency, we are here 24/7 to help you with any of your emergency plumbing needs.

Water a resource we often take for granted, and it’s a household expense that we have to pay every quarter. Costs only ever seem to go up which may cause you to wonder what the average water bill is in your area. Looking at the average water bill can also help to decipher if what you are paying is close to the average and how you can improve on it.

If you look at your residential water bill you can see that you have the following charges:

  • Water access charge – This is a fixed amount, payable for your property having access to the City’s water distribution system. The cost of $212.08 per year which is charged at a daily rate over the billing period. Quarterly this works out to $53.02.
  • Sewerage access charges – sewerage access $181.03 per quarter. This is a fixed amount, payable for your property having access to the City’s sewerage distribution system.
  • Water usage charge – This is a variable amount depending on how much water you use. This includes the cost of water used and the cost to deliver the water. Water usage per kilolitre is divided between: City of Gold Coast charge at $1.09 per kilolitre, State Government bulk water charge at $3.12 which is a total water usage charge at $4.212 per kilolitre.

Ultimately even if you used no water, you would still pay for service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.

SO WHAT IS THE AVERAGE WATER BILL?

If you look closely at your water bill you can see that you have the following charges: water access charge, sewerage access charge and water usage charge. Across the Gold Coast, we found the average quarterly water bill to be $300.

According to Canstar, the average water bill across Queensland is $300 which is higher than NSW, VIC & WA. Which also means that QLD has the third highest average water bill in Australia. Further to that Numbeo found that the average cost of living per month on the Gold Coast is $193 for all basic utilities including water, heating, cooling, garbage etc.

Your water bill will provide an overview of the City’s daily average residential water usage.

AVERAGE WATER BILL BY HOUSEHOLD SIZE

The table below displays average water bills in Australia per quarter by household size.

Household Size
Average Quarterly Water Bill
1$221
2$268
3$312
4$323
5 or more$372

Source: Canstar Blue research, May 2020.

AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD ANNUAL WATER CONSUMPTION

Table Of Average Household Consumption

Source: RACQ.

AVERAGE WATER BILL BY STATE IN AUSTRALIA

The below table represents the average quarterly water bills across Australia across all household sizes across the country.

State
Average Quarterly Water Bill
Western Australia$221
New South Wales$268
Victoria$312
Queensland$323
South Australia$372
Tasmania$365

Source: Canstar Blue research, May 2020.

WHAT IS THE AVERAGE WATER BILL IN BRISBANE?

The average water bill in Brisbane, is $300 per quarter. This means that the average resident in Brisbane has an average water bill when compared to other areas.

HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY WATER BILL?

  • Using recycled water for your garden
  • Using more efficient appliances. How many appliances do you use? What is their water efficiency rating?
  • Investigate leaks. Do you have water leaks? A leaky pipe or toilet can cause a rise in your water bill. If you are noticing an unusual water bill, you may want tp call a plumber that is experienced in leak detection.
  • Take shorter showers
  • Don’t hand wash your dishes
  • Let the lawn grow
  • Make sure the dishwasher is completely full before running
  • Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth
  • Check out further water saving tips.

WHO PAYS THE WATER BILL – LANDLORD OR TENANT?

Landlords are able to pass on the full water consumption charges to tenants if they meet the following criteria:

  • the rental premises are individually metered (or water is delivered by vehicle), and
  • the rental premises are water efficient, and
  • the tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption.

RESOURCES: HOW TO READ YOUR WATER BILL

We have put together a list of further resources to help you better understand your water bill.

If you’ve never fixed a leaking tap, don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s much easier than you might first think. A leaking tap can cause a lot of problems if not fixed quickly, including potentially damaging your home, wasting water and causing your water bill to skyrocket. The good news is that learning how to change a tap washer is all that is required in most cases to stop a tap from leaking.

If you’re unsure what a tap washer is, it’s the small disc that sits inside the tap that creates a seal to stop the water leaking. They can break down and wear out over time, but they are straightforward to replace. All you need to do once you have the old washer is go for a quick trip to the hardware store and show someone who will replace it with a new one of the correct size. But before you do this, here are a few steps on how to get to that stage first!

STEP 1: TURN OFF THE WATER AT THE MAIN

Locate where your main water meter is and switch it off. Most houses have it out the front of the house where the water meter is. You don’t want to mess with pipes and still have your water on.

STEP 2: HAVE YOUR TOOL KIT READY

If you don’t have a basic toolkit, it’s time to get one. For this job, you’ll need a few of the basics like spanners, pliers, screwdrivers, and a rag. If your tap is outside you can let it run to the ground but if it’s inside, grab a bucket or some old towels to mop up the excess water.

STEP 3: TURN ON THE TAP TO DRAIN THE PIPES

Once the main water is turned off, you’ll still have quite a bit of water in the pipes, and you’ll want to drain this out completely. If you tap is outside, let it drain onto the ground or catch it in a bucket to reuse on plants. If you’re inside let it flow through the sink till there are no drips left. The water should stop pretty quickly if your main has been turned off successfully.

STEP 4: LOOSEN THE TAP HEAD

Different taps will have different heads. If it’s a traditional outside tap, you’ll need to remove the spindle from the tap. This will require a spanner in most cases. If it’s wedged on hard, try using a spanner on the spindle head and one on the base to stop it moving. And loosen the spindle enough to take the head of the tap off. If it’s an inside tap, the tap might have a button that says ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ which will pop off with a screwdriver.

If you’ve got more modern-style tap, it may not even have washers inside as these are washerless, but it’s rare these will leak like older taps. These may have ball valves or ceramic discs. These usually have pivoting handles that control the water and will have an ‘O-ring’ that needs replacing rather than a washer.

STEP 5: TAKE OFF THE TAP HEAD AND HANDLE

Now you can take off the tap handle and head of the tap so you can have a good look inside the body of the tap. There will be a plastic of brass jumper value inside and inside this will be the washer. The washer may put straight out, or you might need tweezers to remove it.

STEP 6: BUY A NEW WASHER

Now you have the old washer; it’s time to take it to your hardware store and match a new one that is the correct size for your tap. If your jumper valve is undamaged, you’ll get away with just buying a new washer. Make sure you take the parts to the hardware store so they can help you buy the right parts if you’re not quite sure what to replace with.

STEP 7: REPLACE THE WASHER

Once back home, replace the new washer and put the jumper value back in place. Screw the tap bonnet or spindle back on and tighten it with a spanner.

STEP 8: TEST THE WATER FLOW

Once you’ve tightened the tap completely make sure the tap is turned to the off position. Then turn the water back on at the main source. Once the main is back on, test the tap when it’s turned on and off a few times. There shouldn’t now be any leaks or drips.

STEP 9: CONGRATULATE YOURSELF

If there are now no drips in the tap, you’ve done a great job, and you’ve successfully changed your tap washer.

However, if you’ve still got a leak or some drips, don’t despair! Give our friendly team at DCM plumbing a call straight away, and we will have one of our expert plumbers to your home to complete your job.

When you have a problem with a leaking or overflowing toilet, your first instinct may be just to call a plumber to your Gold Coast home and wait until the DCM Plumbing and Drainage team arrive.

However, before you run off to call the plumber, we recommend that you take the time to do one thing that will save you time and money: turn off the water supply to your toilet.

The shut off valve

Most water sources can only be turned off at the main water valve, but the majority of Australian toilets have a shut off valve with them which will prevent water from flowing through pipes towards the toilet. This is there to allow you to isolate the toilet when you want to carry out general repairs, or in case of emergency.

Finding the valve

DCM Plumbing and Drainage plumbers have found some homeowners don’t know about this valve, or where it is located. In order to find it, you will need to locate the water pipe feeding into your cistern. This pipe can be traced back towards the wall next to the toilet usually. Although sometimes you will need to lift the lid off your toilet cistern to find it inside the cistern.

Turning off the valve

These small valves usually look like a small tap or lever, and in order to close them, you need to rotate the lever or handle clockwise. A quarter turn is often enough to stop the flow of water for a lever, but a handle may require completely closing. You may find this handle or lever very stiff, because it is rarely used, and some WD40 and a pair of pliers might be needed to help get things moving.

Can’t close the valve

If you are unable to locate the valve, or it is too stiff to move without expert equipment, you can still shut off the toilet by closing the main water shutoff valve for your propert. In units this is usually located next to a toilet or under the kitchen or laundry sink. In stand alone homes the shutoff valve is generally located at the water meter which can usually be found at the front of the property a few meters in from the kerb.

Call in the experts

If you have not managed to shut off the water supply to your toilet, then you can call a plumber in the Gold Coast area to help you. DCM Plumbing and Drainage have the necessary experience to stop the leak and fix problems with your toilet, so contact us today, using our form to send your details or calling us today on 07-5576-5305 now.

For more information on plumbing tips, read our previous blocked drains here!

High water pressure (over 600KPA) and what it does to your plumbing infrastructure and fittings

Water which is being forced through the pipes at high pressure can cause the pipes it travels through to experience more wear and tear which leads to more frequent burst pipes, increased water hammer, premature wear on tap and toilet parts and water using electrical appliances such as icemaker fridges, dishwashers, washing machines and hot water units. It can also increase water usage if restricted outlets have not been fitted in the property.

What will a pressure reducing valve do?

Water which is being forced through the pipes at high pressure before the
valve will be slowed down after the valve. This can help to ensure that the
pipes which the water travels through experience less wear and tear, and also that any fittings or joints are not over-pressured, which can lead them to leak or come loose.

Why is my water pressure so high & shouldn’t my local Council fix it & not me?

Water distribution systems in most Councils’ are spread out over great
distances and over various elevations, which force the water supplier to ensure they provide enough pressure to adequately serve all its consumers, but this means that some will likely be connected to a supply that is above optimal operating pressure. Typically people are comfortable with water pressures in the 300 to 600KPA range; hence, most areas have incorporated into their local plumbing code a provision requiring a pressure reducing valve to limit the supply pressure to 500KPA. In Gold Coast City Councils case all new homes must have a 500KPA pressure reducing valve installed at their water meter as part of the local plumbing code.

Unfortunately Council only take responsibility for issues with your water supply before your water meter and not after. The Council only have to supply a minimum water pressure to your property and there is no maximum pressure restriction on their supply and therefore protecting your property is your responsibility.

Need our help?
Get in touch today!

We would love to hear from you and be able to fix your plumbing and drainage problems. Please fill out the form and we will get back to you shortly to book an appointment!

One of our friendly staff will be in touch as soon as possible.

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