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Don’t flush our drinking water?

As the summer of 2021 approaches, our water consumption is back on the menu.

Even though our borders have been closed to tourists and immigration and Australians returning home to sit out the pandemic have had their numbers slashed, our water consumption continues to rise.

During our current building boom, its not unusual for every new home to have at least two bathrooms with his and hers showers and hand basins’. And even the most modest Sydney home has at least two toilets.

Australians have been world leaders in water conservation with water saving taps and showers now the norm. If you didn’t know the dual-flush toilet cistern is an Australian invention.

Don’t be surprised but the dual flush toilet is still a big water user. Here in Sydney, with a few exceptions like urban domestic rainwater harvesting that uses rainwater to flush our household toilets and fill the washing machine, most of the water flushing our toilets is from our potable water supply. That’s our drinking water!

I grew up as one of six kids in a NSW country town of 13,000 people and our home in town had a metered water supply. But our family had a weekend shack on acres out of town where every drop of water we used was caught in rainwater tanks. The toilet was flushed with water piped from a dam over 300 metres from the house. It was a simple gravity system that piped muddy dam water across a paddock to the toilet cistern and flushing the toilet with the dam water left a brown stain on the toilet bowl.

There was a time when we didn’t go to the shack for a few weeks and what started as a simple toilet cistern leak that went unchecked, drained the farm dam down to a muddy sludge by our next visit. That weekend, as we flushed the toilet with our drinking water from the tank, I learned that our drinking water was way to precious to waste on flushing a toilet.

So, what does that mean here in Sydney?

Simply put, if you have even a slight toilet leak DO NOT IGNORE IT otherwise it will drain our dam.

How to Stop a Blocked drain in Coogee

Stop Tree Roots in Drains

Vaporooter Stops Tree roots in Drains

Hi, It’s Dave Conroy here from The Lone Drainer and Pronto.

I am in Coogee today and we are applying Vaporooter to a house in this tree- lined street. The people who own this house have had problems with their sewer.

Tree roots from this Hills weeping fig (ficus microcarpa) have been growing in their clay sewer pipes for over 10 years and we had been clearing blockages regularly.

We have been applying Vaporooter in those same pipes now for about four years and they haven’t had a blocked drain since. Those are great results!

If you live in a street similar to this, where there is a beautiful canopy above but underground, the tree roots are getting into your sewer pipes, then you should consider Vaporooter to Stop tree roots in your drains.

If you would like to find out about Vaporooter, call me on Sydney 02 9664 4990.

Don’t do this in the bathroom!

During our Coronavirus work schedule, I’ve found some fun hints and tips about plumbing and health that are worth sharing.

How germs spread:

  • on your toothbrush,
  • your toilet seat,
  • and the toilet flush button, are just a few examples.

How is water connected to my toilet cistern?

Many modern toilets have a concealed cistern. That’s the tank that holds the water that flushes the loo. Now, they do look fantastic and they do save water.

The small dual flush buttons are the access panel for the internal workings of the cistern. When they need maintenance, the only way to repair them is through that access panel.

The water tap is usually built into the wall and this one couldn’t be replaced without cutting into the wall behind.

Know your water heater #2

The hot water tempering valve
Knowledge about your water heater will save you money!

Second in the series, this 44-sec clip will show you a typical tempering valve on a gas water heater. That’s the blue valve on the side of the heater.

It should be checked by your plumber annually and replaced every five years.

The tempering valve is fitted to prevent scalding of the aged, the infirmed and young kids. It should be on every storage(and continuous) water heater like this.

If you are changing or upgrading your water heater, you should have a Tempering valve fitted.

Get into hot water this Winter!

With the winter season underway, its time to think about hot water.

Take 10 minutes to check on your water heater.
Is it gas or electric?

Check it’s location. Ensure that it’s not leaking on any of the pipes or connections.

Check the cold water control feed tap, usually on the bottom left of the heater. Make sure it turns off and back on.

If you have a storage tank, make sure you check the pressure relief valve is working correctly. And that it’s not leaking.

An efficient water heater will supply all the hot water your family will need this winter.

If you’re not sure, call me on 02 9664 4990!

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries. Madrigal Communications

The Lone Drainer Coronavirus Diaries has been a chance to check in with small businesses to find out how they have been getting on during the Coronavirus lockdown of 2020.

In this clip, I speak with Tim Entwisle from Madrigal Communications.
Tim writes up tender documents for Aussie companies that are applying for large government contracts in the construction, energy and telecom sectors.

I’ve known Tim for about eight years. He’s a Rugby fanatic, an ocean swimmer, a wordsmith. Tim loves language, and he blogs about our language. He has written several blogs about Coronavirus.

Check them out on his website. https://madrigal.com.au/word-of-the-week-blog/

Know your water heater #1

Hi, its Dave Conroy here from The Lone Drainer and Pronto.

As we approach the winter of 2020, my message for today is about hot water.

You need to know how to turn off the water supply to your water heater.
And most importantly, I want you to know what a temperature and pressure relief valve is.

This 1min 48 sec YouTube clip will show you how it’s done on a 50-litre heater. Yours may be different. If you would like to know more……Call me!

Plumbers bathroom cleaning tip #1

Some bathrooms are a little neglected; especially if there are boys in the house.

Like many among us, during Coronavirus isolation, I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on a few old recipes, a stack of books and some cleaning. And, I feel sharing the following cleaning tip would save everyone some time.

You will need:
1. A can of the cheapest shaving cream you can find in Woolies or Coles.
2. 2 Old bath towels

Spray the shaving cream on and around your toilet, including the floor.
Taking the toilet seat off would earn extra points.

Leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Then, wipe off the excess with an old bath towel and some hot water and wipe over with the other towel.

I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries D’Ettorre Real Estate #3 SME Advice

In this episode of The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries, I speak with Dom D’Ettorre, principal of D’Ettorre Real Estate in Woollahra Sydney.

Subsidies are available for commercial tenants. SME’s – Small to medium entrepreneurs. Beautician, dentists, yoga studios and gymnasiums have lost 100% of their business income.

Find out how that affects the tenants and the property owners. “It’s NOT 1 size fits all.”

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries D’Ettore Real Estate #2 Negative Gearing

In this edition of The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries, I speak with Dom D’Ettorre, principal of D’Ettorre Real Estate in Woollahra Sydney about how his negatively geared owners are being affected.

Investors have bought properties as AirBnB sites and now as travel is severely restricted the owners have to adjust quickly to manage the finance on their properties.

Some properties may be vacant for 6-12 weeks

Mum and dad investors who thought “I’m going to buy an investment property” and borrowed 90% and now lost their job… it’s going to hurt.

Listen and learn from Dom’s experience.

The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries D’Ettorre Real Estate #1 What’s going on

In this edition of The Lone Drainer And Pronto Coronavirus Diaries, I speak with Dom D’Ettorre, principal of D’Ettorre Real Estate in Woollahra Sydney.
2020 was shaping up as a landmark year for Sydney real estate, then the Coronavirus came to our shores.

Dom shares how his clients, property owners and their tenants are responding to the rapid-fire changes to the Sydney real estate world during the lockdown. He shares how vendors and prospective buyers are changing their habits, their expectations, their motivations and the pressures affecting them.

Toilet paper is no longer a hot ticket. Guess what is?

The stampede on toilet paper has slowed for now. But I overheard an 18 year old chemist assistant telling her mum about the latest hot items running out the door of her pharmacy during the lockdown over the last 4 weeks that is worth sharing.

She rattled off a list of items and her thoughts on why.

With respect to brand names…
Armaforce – General health.
Panadol – Just in case they get the virus.
Thermometers – 36.3 is normal body temperature.
Lemsip – To keep colds away.
Betadine – I don’t know why.
Voltaren – Over training by the work from home crew.
Thrush cream – They’re all wearing leggings and have thrush. Bad idea.
Pregnancy test kits – There will be a baby boom early 2021.
Nail polish – They can’t go anywhere.

Why you need a sewer diagram

One of the handiest tools for a plumbing professional is a sewer service diagram. It’s a map of where the pipes run within your home.

It’s easily obtainable, and you can get it from Sydney Water, reputable plumbing suppliers and, even your local plumber can get it for you.

It’s simply an A4 sheet that has an outline of your home, your property. It shows where all the pipes run within your home and how they connect to the sewer.

The sewer service diagram will make it easier for your plumber to get into your sewer pipes to clear your blockage. And if you are planning a preventative maintenance program, it shows points of access where we can get into your pipes with a minimum of fuss.

In the long term it will save you money.

So if you have repeat problems with your sewer pipes, get a sewer diagram and keep it handy.

Can Coronavirus be spread through wastewater pipes in a home or hospital?

Sydney April 15th 2020

“Staying connected” has become a part of our language lately.

Did you know we are all connected through the wastewater pipes in our homes?

Whether you live in a single level detached home or a multi-storey building, all our plumbing fittings drain into the same city sewer. That’s your shower, bath, basin, your WC, kitchen sink, washing machine, laundry tubs and floor drains.

A study showed the 2003 SARS virus spread through the plumbing system of a HongKong residential complex whose residents had 300 confirmed cases and 42 deaths- about 1/6th of the infections and fatalities on the entire island.

Our Australian Standards state “all plumbing fixtures must have a working trap or water seal”. That is, the S-bend at the outlet of the fixtures should have water sitting in them OR flowing through them.

Regularly we’re asked to investigate “a sewer smell” in a bathroom or laundry that is nothing more than a dry trap.
But, its allowing smells and bacteria to come from the wastewater and sewer pipes into your room.

Hypothetically, if an infected neighbour flushed their toilet and that wastewater entered a pipe you’re connected to, then bacteria could pass through a dry trap and enter your bathroom.

While person-to-person and surface-to-person is the most common means of spreading Coronavirus, I want you to be aware that any open or dry traps may allow contaminated droplets into your space.

So:
• Do not ignore unexplained foul smells in bathrooms, kitchens or washing areas.
• Ensure all your sink traps and S-bends have water in them.
• Run water into all tubs and showers for a few seconds in the morning and evening, paying particular attention to floor drains in bathrooms and laundries.
• If the wastewater pipework from a toilet, sink or other household appliance appears to be disconnected or open, seal it immediately.
• If you find any crack or leak in pipework, seal it with strong tape.
• Encourage your facilities managers to monitor the wastewater system performance of your building, looking out for things such as drainage overflows or sewer smells.

If you have any questions about this, I invite you to call me.

The Lone Drainer’s Recipe #3

The Lone Drainer’s Mushroom Sauce for Pasta

This doubles as a fabulous addition, as a sauce for steak the next night, and takes care of two of the five vegetables per day that you are meant to eat.

This recipe is an example of The Hardworking Plumber’s Secret Timesaving Tip: Cook It Once, Use It Twice, (tastes sensational both times!).

This recipe is so simple that it is hardly a recipe; but it’s impressive to eat nonetheless and made in a matter of minutes. I put this on the stove, on a low heat, go have a shower, (yeah, yeah, I know its dangerous, but The Lone Drainer and his Team are tired after a hard day on the tools and a shower while dinner cooks saves precious minutes which means we get to eat earlier).

(Ed: gotta give it to Dave Conroy, always thinking, thinking…).

And credit where credit is due, this recipe was pretty well invented by Leigh, the best gasfitter in Sydney’s east, then developed by me, whom some experts would say is the best and most modest plumber in the Eastern suburbs….

INGREDIENTS:
½ a box of already cut up mushrooms, the kind you buy at the supermarket
Left over white wine
Garlic (buy the bags of single clove garlic from Harris Farm Markets as they take less time to cut and peel- see pic)
Three tablespoons of cream
A tablespoon of parsley – if you have it
A decent glug, glug, glug of olive oil, i.e. three big tablespoons if you want to be accurate
A bag of salad mix

METHOD
Chop up the garlic any old how. Small is good.
In a largish frypan, heat the olive oil on a medium heat, add the garlic, fry until it smells good but not brown, tip in the half box of mushrooms, stir, turn heat down, add a cup of white wine, and half a cup of water or stock, (the mushrooms should be more or less covered with liquid), stir and let stew while you take a shower or set the table. Put a big pot of salted water on low heat, (again the amount of salt doesn’t really matter, but if you like precision, a tablespoon will do).

Okay, all cleaned up now, turn the heat up under the pasta water till its boiling, add the pasta.

Throw some of the salad leaves into a bowl and dress with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of vinegar. Put on the table. This is your salad to go with the pasta.

Add three tablespoons of cream to your mushrooms and stir. Turn off the heat under them but leave in pan on stove.

Once the pasta is cooked, (it should still have a bit of bite to it as it will go on cooking in the sauce) drain it, put in a largish bowl and add the mushroom sauce to it. Stir and eat. Delicious!

Here is a pic of the pasta in the bowl, ready to eat: (note the inspection outlet in the background – we plumbers are always experimenting with the latest technology)

Next week, we’ll talk about the Plumbers’ pantry cupboard and what you need to keep in it in order to be able to make a delicious dinner in ten minutes flat every night.

Until then,

Read our blog. Cook our food. Admire our plumbing.

Inventor rolls out 100 years

Milestones come and go; however, it shouldn’t pass without notice that January 23rd 2019 is the centenary of application No.9902/19 with the Commonwealth of Australia’s patent office of the “serving apparatus for toilet paper” also known as the toilet paper roll holder.

The invention dispenses a product most of us use daily.

Whether your favourite toilet roll is textured or patterned, two or four-ply, premium or pulped, waxed or lotioned, the standard sized roll or the jumbo or jumbo junior, whether you roll over or under, please take a moment to contemplate the genius of Clarence Edward Anable of Sacramento, California.

Mr Anable’s revolutionary invention has, without doubt, improved the sanitary status of the world.

How much will it cost to fix my toilet?

“Running toilet”…..Is all that was stated in an email earlier this week, along with the attached picture.

It’s hard to say from this picture, but I tried to help the writer by asking a few simple questions:

Is it a close coupled suite or are the pan and cistern separate?
Is it the inlet or outlet valve leaking?
Does the water turn off at the control valve?
Is the connection between the control valve and the cistern hard drawn tube or is it one of those flexible braided connections?

The outlet valve is redundant. It could be rewashered if that’s the problem, was part of my email response

The flushing toilet is a wonder of the modern world we can take for granted considering our previous post about 4.4 billion people not having a toilet.
But our local bathroom suppliers currently have 48 different types of toilet cisterns on display and that’s not including the antique in our picture. They all have different water connections and flushing mechanisms.

So please, help us help you by providing as much information as possible about your particular leaking toilet.

In the meantime, you can turn off the water and flush your loo with a bucket.

World Toilet Day 2018

November 19th 2018 is World Toilet Day.

With the population of the world now at approximately 7.7 billion people, many of us would be surprised to learn that over 4.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet or running water to wash their hands.

According to a UN report, a third of schools worldwide don’t have any clean toilet facilities and nearly 1 billion school children don’t have hand washing facilities.

It seems extraordinary that in a world where most people have a mobile telephone approximately 892 million people have to squat out in the open.

This, of course, has knock-on hygiene effects with the pollution of domestic drinking water being a direct contributor to many cases of sickness, disease and even death for those less fortunate than us.

Today, as you use your dual flush toilet in the privacy of your home, workplace or school, spare a thought for these people.

You may also consider buying Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. Who Gives a Crap donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those who have none.

Who is responsible for my sewer pipes?

Did you know homeowners are responsible for their sewer pipes up to and including where they meet the Sydney Water sewer mains?

A lot of people are shocked when they find that out.

If you need to renew your sewer pipe line because it has been damaged by tree roots and the pipes run out in the middle the road, then, the homeowner is responsible for all the costs of the renewal, including Council road opening fees.

Giving a Crap on World Toilet Day 2017

The Lone Drainer and Pronto in Sydney will pay tribute to a unique and special observance whose goal is to install a working toilet in emergent nations.

On November 19, The Lone Drainer and Pronto (TLDP), will participate in the World Toilet Day 2017 (WTD2017). This is a United Nations’ (UN) worldwide event that will highlight the lack of proper sanitation and safely-managed toilets; a problem affecting over 4.5 billion people in economically developing nations.
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Wipe your bum for a good cause!

We all poop. Most of us daily, and some of us do so in style. Now your idea of style can be different to mine, but style is a luxury some simply don’t have.

That’s exactly what the World Poop Day is about!

You might have noticed I have been recently ranting about the ‘poop day’ or to be more specific the World Toilet Day 2017 (WTD2017).

This event is not a joke, not a metaphor of some kind – it’s a REAL DEAL.

If your toilet was blocked for a week, then you probably would be jumping out of your skin, right? What if you had no toilet for two weeks or a month? Unthinkable!

Well, some poor folks in third world countries have no toilet at all. If you had no proper toilet you’d need to squat wherever you can, which sometimes may be very uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Imagine this. You watch the footy (your team is hammering the other team!) when suddenly you have to go for number two. Easy, you visit the loo.

But what if you didn’t have one?

Option one, you run outside, squat anywhere. Shoot.

Option two, you run to your neighbour’s house (you don’t want to poop under your own window). Poop.

Option three, poop in your pants. Wash later. You don’t want to miss your favourite game.

Luckily, for most Aussies we don’t have to think about it, we simply head for the throne, and on the throne, we sit. But we need more thrones especially for those who cannot afford one! No need for fancy ones, only appropriate ones.

That’s the appeal of the WTD2017 – build more thrones, and create proper sanitation conditions for those in need. We need appropriate thrones that can properly take care of business without polluting the environment.

On November 19, 2017 (the WTD2017) be sure to pause and feel grateful if you have access to a working toilet. Billions around the world aren’t so lucky!

If you would like to do something positive, you can purchase the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper – we give 50% of the profits towards building more toilets.

Be sure to forward this page on to friends and family. We all need to wipe ourselves after taking a dump – now you can wipe yourself for a good cause!

Something to think about when you reclaim your throne!

I had a few clients and blog readers asking me questions about the upcoming World Toilet Day 2017. To recap, it’s about raising public awareness of the worldwide problem of inhumane toilet conditions that some must deal with.

Today, I would like to answer some of the questions about World Toilet Day 2017, and suggest an easy way for you to make a difference.

What is the World Toilet Day 2017? (WTD2017)

The WTD2017 is a special observance arranged by the United Nations (UN) to highlight the serious problem of the lack of proper sanitation conditions in many third world countries. Over 4.5 billion people have no toilet/working toilet; this is a third of the world’s population!

When will this important observance be held?

The WTD2017 will take place on November 19, 2017.

Am I at risk?
In Australia, you should be fine unless you live in rural areas with no access to proper toilet and sanitation. If you don’t poop in a hygienic toilet or if the poop is not disposed of properly, then with the aid of rainwater it may enter the ecosystem. This is often the problem in many third world countries. That’s why the goal of WTD2017 is to raise public awareness and get people talking about this important issue – hopefully, that will make a positive difference!

Why should I care?
Well, if no one cares, no one cares, right? But we can all make a difference. You see, according to WHO (2014) improved sanitation could stop around 842,000 people from dying each year.

What can you do?
You could, for example, donate money or support a reputable charity or purchase the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. (50% of its profits go to building toilets for people who need them most).

Here’s the link if you would like to support this important cause. The toilet paper has no chlorine, no inks, no dyes, and no perfume or deodorant. It’s good for your bum–it’s good for the world!

Remember, to pause at least for a moment on November 19, 2017 to think about the World Toilet Day 2017. If you wipe yourself with the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, you know you’re also making a difference with every wipe!

World Toilet Day 2017

A UN report claims that worldwide, at least 2.4 billion people are without basic sanitation. The report states some of the peoples of south Asia and sub Saharan Africa don’t have access to a toilet or clean running water.

It appears that people in these parts of the world have a mobile phone but don’t have a working toilet.

Living and working as a plumber in Sydney Australia visiting some of the best homes in the country, it seems crazy that over 869 million people still defecate out in the open.

So what can the average reader do to help those less fortunate than us?

Good Question!

Look out for reputable organisations that are working to deliver the basic hygiene we take for granted and send them a donation.

Even a small donation equivalent of what we Aussies spend on coffee weekly would change the living standard and the lives of many of those less fortunate.

Make a difference during World Toilet Day 2017!

Did you know that some people have to do without a toilet?

In the West, we’re so used to sitting on one when we go for a number two. If the toilet runs smoothly we don’t even think about it; we take it for granted.

But sitting down for number two in comfort and style is a luxury many simply cannot afford. And we’re not talking about having shiny porcelain toilets with fancy fixtures. They have no toilets–be it porcelain, wooden or a metal one. NONE.

So, where does the poo go? Well, that’s why you just have to hear about the important World Toilet Day 2017 or WTD2017 for short.

You see, when you reclaim your throne, billions of people must wing it so to speak and take a dump wherever possible. Their toileting might happen anywhere. In the woods behind a tree, under a bridge, or in some fenced-in backyard. And, we’re not talking about an emergency where you find yourself driving past midnight with your girlfriend, and suddenly you must go.

Of course, those things happen. But imagine having to plan, search and hunt for squatting space every time you need to take a dump! Well, consider this:

According to WHO/UNICEF (2017) a whopping 4.5 billion people either have no toilet or no working toilet. About 869 million people worldwide practise open defecation because they have no proper toilet! But, it gets worse.

A shocking 1.8 billion people drink water that has no protection against contamination from faeces. So, the question ‘where does the poop go?’ becomes a serious issue. Because every time the poop is not disposed of properly it may enter the ecosystem and end up in a drinking water reservoir!

So, count yourself lucky the next time you take a seat on your comfortable porcelain, and you don’t have to use grass or leaves to clean yourself!

Most importantly, be sure to spread the news about the WTD2017.

And yes, there is something you’re contributing by purchasing the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper – 50% of the profits are used to build toilets in third world countries.

Thankfully, we have the World Toilet Day 2017; it puts things into perspective a little, doesn’t it?