Archives

More rain please


The rain has kept emergency plumbers on their toes.

If you need help with a flooding emergency, please call us.

Meanwhile, blow the rain to the west.
Our country cousins need it!

Blocked Pipes and Council Trees

Did you know many blocked sewers are caused by the tree roots from Council street trees?
Tree crushes sewerThis issue is becoming a very big drain on the budget of many local councils.
The council owned trees that make some of our more sought after suburban streets very special, are creating havoc underground by repeatedly blocking the sewer pipelines from many of the homes on those streets. Councils are fighting a losing battle trying to bring the tree roots under control.

The budgets of many local councils are strained as they just can’t keep up with the demand of their ratepayers to attend to sewer blockages caused by these street trees.

There is an economical way for local councils to Stop Tree Roots in Pipes and ease the burden on the budget and the ratepayers who have regular tree root blockages.

Vaporooter Kills Roots. Period!

Happy Plumbers + Great Service = Happy Clients

We have a great team of plumbers here at The Lone Drainer and Pronto! They are good at their job. They Love their work. We call it “Furk”! Having FUn..at..woRK

On Monday afternoon, 27th October 2014, I got the following email:

Hi Dave,
Thank you so very much for taking my phone call early this morning and organising Chris and Leigh to come to my house so quickly.

Chris and Leigh arrived, knocked on my door, introduced themselves with smiles and put me at ease that my sewerage problems would be fixed.

Such a relief. I could not have had nicer people to arrive on my door step. Both well mannered and very pleasant people to talk to.

I also had a problem with my kitchen sink tap. Unfortunately I had to leave Chris at the kitchen sink as I had to go to work. He did a good job and I now have a brand new tap looking at me! Both men were very efficient.

Again, thank you for being so prompt and getting the job on its way.

Kind regards,

Julie B. Randwick NSW

Leigh and Chris with Plunger

Leigh and Chris with Plunger

My Plumber is a Wizard

Sometimes its great to laugh at ourselves.

I’ve always loved the Wizard and this is a good one!
Wizard ID Plumber

Flush with Facts #2

August is the month of the good toilet flush!

Did you know the dual flush toilet cistern was a 1980 Australian invention by Bruce Thompson, an employee of Caroma?

The dual flush toilet cistern saves 32,000 litres of water per household per year. In 2014 most modern toilet cisterns have an internal overflow tube, so if your float valve doesn’t shut off, the water runs straight into your loo, rather than overflowing onto the floor….. So the single flush toilet cistern should be a thing of the past!

Stormwater drain blockages

Send it down Huey! As Sydney gets through another day of torrential rain and some eastern parts of this country are getting their best rainfall for more than a year, its important to keep your stormwater gutters, downpipes, grates and drains clear.

My own roof gutters were overflowing yesterday ’cause the leaves from our deciduous tree were blocking our down pipes.
Blocked stormwater

The Lone Drainer Rides West

Shitbox RallyGood Luck to Henry Midgley and Ryan Spaccavento setting off for adventure tomorrow in the 2014 Perth-Darwin Shitbox Rally . Travel safely boys, have fun raising funds for the Cancer Council.

If there are any plumbing emergencies or blocked drains out there, I guess the other drivers are going to come looking for you. ūüôā

Common pipelines; easements, ownership and liability #3

Common walls and common pipes

One recurring topic of 2023 is the Ownership and liability of common water, sewer and gas pipes.
When we send out an emergency response team to a ruptured gas or water pipeline or an overflowing sewer, the first thing our team thinks about is rescuing the property under threat.
Often, it is after the emergency, that ownership and liability of the problem are hotly debated.
This series of 3 blog posts is aimed at clarifying some of that debate and to read #1 click here and to read #2 click here

Our friends at the Law Reform Commission have helped to clarify this interesting subject and in part it says:

LIABILITY FOR COSTS

Role of the Water Board

An important and related issue that was raised in DP 22, in respect of utility services, is establishing liability for the repair and maintenance costs of common service pipes for individual users. The problem only really exists in respect of joint sewer services, because the Water Board will absorb the costs of repair and maintenance of water services (joint or single) within the areas of its operation. In those cases where the Board does not assume responsibility, it can still do the repair work itself and then issue notices for payment to the users of the service. The Water Board Act 1987 (NSW) does not contain any guidelines in respect of apportioning the costs of the work carried out.

The Water Board does not assume the same level of responsibility in respect of sewage services. A liability policy similar to the water supply policy (as discussed above) was considered for sewage services, but was rejected as too expensive. Where the Water Board is aware that work needs to be done on a joint sewer service, the Board will issue a defect notice requiring the users to repair the service within a certain period of time. Sometimes repair is ordered to take place within 24 hours, if the damaged service is deemed to be a health risk. It may also be the case that the users of that service realise that the service is in need of repair and attend to the repairs prior to receiving a notice from the Board.

Existing guidelines for apportioning costs

There are no guidelines to assist the owners in dividing the cost of repairs, although DP 22 argued that Regulation 9 of the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation (September 1989) could be interpreted as making owners jointly responsible for the maintenance of their water service pipe, sewer or storm water drain.8 Some users may argue that they were not responsible for any damage to the service and thus refuse to pay anything; other users may argue that the cost of repair should be divided equally, regardless of which users were directly affected, on the basis that the service is jointly owned; and others may consider the amount charged to be excessive and only wish to pay an amount they consider appropriate. Although a recommended rate may be obtained from the Master Plumbers Association, this rate is not a standard or enforceable rate and the final figure charged may be higher or lower depending on the circumstances.

In practice, one user (usually the person most affected by overflow from the blockage) often pays for the repairs and is then forced to seek contribution from the other users, and when payment is not forthcoming, he or she may be forced to litigate for the recovery of the money. Whilst a user may wish to claim equally against each of the other users of the service, it is difficult to prove what their contribution should be. A plumber may be retained to give expert advice about who or what caused the damage to the service. This lack of legislative direction stands in sharp contrast to the specific contributions that unit owners of a Strata Titles plan are required to provide by way of levy where maintenance and repair of the common property is necessary.

A plumbing emergency and ducks we’ve rescued

We were called out to this plumbing emergency that brought an unexpected surprise.

Our client had a blocked drain and when we had just about completed that repair, cutting tree roots from her sewer pipes, she called out because she needed a hand in her back yard.

A mother duck that had been nesting in her dense rear garden had chosen today to take her babies for their first swimming lesson. The ducklings took to the water like ….. well, ducks to water. The only problem was that the water level in the pool was a little low, they couldn’t get out of the pool and they were getting very tired.

Our attempts to rescue them by hand and with the pool scoop, brought a tirade of squawking and flapping of wings from the mother duck. She didn’t want us anywhere near her babies! We found a plank in the back shed which we put in the pool and then draped an old towel along the length of the plank, then stood back.

When mother duck settled down she could see we were trying to help, she led the baby ducklings up the plank and after checking they were all out, she herded them back to the nest in the dense undergrowth.
She gave us another flurry of feathers when we tried to check on the babies.

Every day brings another adventure!

mrs-rogan-ducks-aug034

 

Common pipelines; easements, ownership and liability #2

Common walls and common pipes

One recurring topic of 2010 is the Ownership and liability of common water, sewer and gas pipes.

When we send out an emergency response team to a ruptured gas or water pipeline or an overflowing sewer, the first thing our team thinks about is rescuing the property under threat. Often, it is after the emergency that ownership and liability of the problem are hotly debated.

This series of 3 blog posts is aimed at clarifying some of that debate.

Our friends at the Law Reform Commission have helped to clarify this interesting subject and in part it reads:

A user of a service may attempt to disconnect the joint service and force other users of the service to bear the cost of a direct connection to the main service. Such action will however, be illegal unless conducted in accordance with the Water Board Act 1987 (Water Board (Plumbing and Drainage ) Regulation 1989),2 or a court order declaring that the common user of the service has a right to discontinue the service.

The creation of permanent rights of access is seen as a means of avoiding problems of access in respect of utility services, and applications have been made to the courts over the years to have access to and over utilities such as water pipes and sewers recognised as easements of necessity. The courts have, however, gone to considerable lengths to hold that although such an easement may be considered by a landowner to be essential for the reasonable enjoyment of property, it is not an easement of necessity, because at law, easements over such services are not considered necessary to the land itself.

Although DP 22 raised the possibility of statutory recognition of these ‚Äútrespassing‚ÄĚ services as a means of rectifying the problem, the Board of Surveyors pointed out in their submission that few authorities know with any exactitude the location of their service lines. Consequently, the Board of Surveyors opposes the creation of statutory easements over them until such time as they are properly defined on title. The Commission agrees that such a step may be expensive and premature at this stage. It would seem desirable however, that steps are taken in the long term by the relevant authorities to locate such services, properly record them and establish the appropriate rights over them.

Carrying Out a CCTV Survey of Sewer Pipes

The Importance of Carrying Out a CCTV Survey of Sewer Pipes when Clearing Blocked Drains

Once again there is water all over the floor from a blocked drain, and you need to grab the phone book and look up plumbing services Sydney to find plumbers that can come out and unblock the drain. You can save yourself repeated repairs and repeated calls for service by simply having a plumbing service carry out a CCTV survey of sewer pipes, so that when there is a problem it will be easy to clear the blocked drain. The CCTV survey can tell you what caused the initial drain blockage.

There are many reasons a drain would get blocked, and having a map of where all the pipes are is going to save you a lot of money in the long run.

Tree roots, industrial waste, and cracked or broken pipes are all reasons the drain might be blocked. The problems that come with blocked drains are foul smells and potential health risks. Call a professional plumbing service to make sure that your plumbing is not going to cause you discomfort in your home or business and end up costing you many times more than it needs to.

It is said that prevention is the best cure and by having a CCTV scan and mapping of your sewer system just got a lot easier with help from professional plumbing services. The scan will clearly show small objects, hair blockages, and any other refuse that is stuck in the drain. The scan maps the sewer lines so that you can track where a problems lies.

Plumbing services that are practised in using the CCTV scans can quickly and easily solve your blockage problems. The clear detail shown with this method will save money right from the start. Instead of having to tear up half of your garden and part of your paved drive, the scan shows exactly where the work needs to be done. Plumbing services have stepped up to the plate to carry out the scans and correct any problems the home owner or business owner may encounter in their plumbing.

By using the opportunity of a blocked drain to get a CCTV scan done, you will be able to better maintain the sewer; now that you know where all the pipes run that is.

Renovation is another time you may want to use the services of a professional plumbing service. The map will give you a clear understanding of where you can and cannot build.

Call on the plumbing services of certified plumbers to address and correct the problems with your system and to maintain them as needed. The CCTV scan saves time and money that would be laid out for labour. Understanding how the pipes run in and around your house will enable you to dig anywhere on your property. Be careful, and be sure to call in a team of professionals that take care of everything from doing the scan to fixing whatever problem you may be having with your plumbing.

Toilet Paper or Bidet?

The Harsh Reality of Using Toilet Paper Rather Than Washing with a Bidet

Having travelled Europe extensively, one gets used to a bidet. Coming back to Australia made some of the queried group bemoan the loss of the bidets they got so used to. The question as to whether or not it was environmentally responsible to throw tissue paper in the toilet or in the trash was raised.

The questioner remarked that they were bothered by how much tissue paper is used by a single family and they wondered just what it takes to remove the paper from sewage lines and from the treatment plants. Some experts were asked this question and they came up with answers to those questions and wonderings. Of course, all the experts came from the plumbing services fields and would know best how to deal with this problem; they gave opinions on what they felt were the best options. We also inquired at several plumbing services and a couple of places that offered a professional plumber.

When attached to a sewer line that is maintained and repaired by a city, the toilet paper is decomposed through the processing system. In order to break down any solid matter that is in the waste water, methane is used. Ways to harness this methane gas is being researched and tested to make this process more efficient. Toilet paper blockages in the sewer lines don’t happen often, but consider the fact that the blockages would be reduced if a bidet were used.

Cleaning one’s self with toilet paper in a home that is hooked to a septic tank can cause all sorts of nasty things to happen inside your house when¬†blockages happen. Plumbing services have to be called in to remove the offending paper, and then any crack in the pipe or seam that is a little rough can gather another huge wad of toilet paper and clog everything up again. This is good news for the plumber; they appreciate the business, but for the home owner, this is a costly repair.

Bidets would do away with the need for toilet paper and end the numerous blockages that are created when someone shoves a huge wad of paper down the toilet.

If you are really lamenting the loss of the bidet, call in the plumbing services and get your bidet installed. Almost any plumber will be more than happy to install a bidet for your home. With a bidet of your own, you will reduce the amount of paper that is used, reducing the amount of trees used in the process.

Giving up the toilet paper is much more sanitary than giving up the bidet. The bidet allows for a cleaner person while not using as many resources.

In the end it was decided that the bidet is the best way to go environmentally, for the best sanitation and for low repair bills.

Tree Roots Growing In Sewer Pipes

Are the Roots of my Neighbours Trees, or the Trees Growing Out the Front of My Property, Growing in my Sewer Pipes?

One of the major plumbing concerns is trees that send roots into sewer lines, especially in homes that were built over twenty years ago. Trees are equipped with water finding capabilities that send tiny roots in every direction in a quest for water. The trenches where there are sewer lines do not usually have hard packed soil therefore, roots gravitate to this loose soil. When these roots invade from trees growing out the front of your property or from across the street and get into the sewer system, it is time to call in the professionals who do plumbing that know how to deal with a blocked drain. Read More

Problems with hot water during the long hot summer?

Welcome to 2010!

Over the Christmas and New Year period we were called to rescue people with all sorts of plumbing emergencies!

Burst water pipes, blocked sewer drains, leaking taps and toilets are commonplace, but, here at the height of summer, calls for help for running hot water is at an all time high!

Ruptured water heaters or burst water heaters happen all the time and we only think of it as a problem in the winter, but we love a warm shower in the summer just as much.

Try telling a family that we can’t replace their particular type of heater over the holidays, because…………..ahhhhhhhh!

So here are a few simple tips that will assist:

1. Know where your water heater is. You would be surprised how many people don’t know where their water heater is!

2. Know how to turn your water heater off.

3. Try turning your water heater off to check that the cold water valve that turns it off works. One emergency water heater job we went to on Boxing Day, could have saved the owner money if they could have simply turned their heater off at the control valve or tap. The tap would not work, so we had to shut down the entire house, cut out the faulty tap valve and fit a new valve. We then turned the water to the house back on, so our clients at least had cold water to flush the toilet, make a cuppa and have a cold shower until we could track down the appropriate new water heater that was needed.

4. Pull the pressure relief valve on your mains pressure water heater, let it run for 5 or 10 seconds. When you let the valve go the water should slow down and then stop. If it does not stop, try it again. The pressure relief valve should be eased at least every 6 months.

5. Make sure its dry and clean around the base of your water heater storage area. Keep it clear of leaf debris, and long grass if it is outside.

6. Don’t store flammable liquids, petrol or paint anywhere near a gas water heater.

https://www.thelonedrainerandpronto.com.au/hot-water-services.html

Expensive Kitchen Sink Repairs

During  an Advanced Business Mastery session I had the pleasure to meet Peter August  from Australian Bullion Company, www.austbullionco.com.au.

Peter’s knowledge of Gold and other precious metals, his wealth of experience, and his stories about the mystical and precious metals he deals in, had us all amazed.

In the early 1980s, when the price of gold was around $400 per ounce, I was called to an elderly lady’s home to assist with a blocked sink. I removed all the usual cleaning products from the blocked drain; detergent, sponges and a nest of plastic bags.

Two of the plastic bags were surprisingly heavy to lift. I needed both hands and all my strength to lift these two bags onto the kitchen bench. Inside each of the bags was a¬†gold bar roughly the size of a house brick. I felt like I was in Aladdin’s cave! The elderly lady was standing over my shoulder. She didn’t offer any explanation…. and I didn’t ask.

I went out to the truck to get some more tools to finish the plumbing repairs and when I came back in, the bags and their precious contents were gone.

Based on the standard mass of a gold bar and the price at the time, I estimate that one of those bars would have been worth about $160,000.

Meeting Peter reminded me of this incident. After retelling it to him, he pointed out that earlier this month (September 09) gold had reached a price of  US$1000 per ounce, and then estimated that one of those bars would have been worth at least US$400,000.

Not a bad mornings work.

Peter J August, Managing Director of Australian Bullion Company:

http://www.australianbullioncompany.com.au/index.php

www.thelonedrainerandpronto.com.au

Holy S_ _t! A Gondoliers impressions

Today’s post comes courtesy of¬† the World Famous Venetian Gondolier, my mate Giovanni Giudice.

I met Gio in the summer of 07 -08. He was visiting Australia, learning to surf¬†and was escaping the Venetian winter because “business is slow”. Gio was staying in Coogee at the home of a client who funnily enough had a blocked drain. We hit it off straight away; I told him about places to visit along our beautiful coast and Gio in return told stories of the romantic city of Venice, Italy.

Invariably the conversation got back to blocked sewers and blocked drains and how different it would be to deal with a blocked drain in Venice, compared to being a Sydney plumber. Upon his return to Venice, Gio answered my question with a series of photos he took on the way to his gondola one morning.

Below are the photos he sent of a septic boat, pumping the waste from the Palace of the Bishop of Venice.

Gio Venice2

Gio Venice4

If any of our readers are lucky enough to be travelling to Venice, ask for Gio’s contact for the best gondola tour of that beautiful city.

George Bush Toilets

The reign of¬†US President George W Bush has come to an end, but as this piece of urinal art¬†proves, when it comes to “Dubya”, many people will never grow tired of taking the piss….

presidential_urinal_1

The creator of this fantastic piece is a subscriber to “toilet humour“. His bathroom creations are unbelievable; I will soon share with you some of his other works.

And for all you plumbers, imagine clearing a blocked drain in the outlet of this urinal; be careful now!

www.TheLoneDrainerAndPronto.com.au

 

PVC Pipes Blocked by Hills Weeping Fig

The Hills weeping fig (ficus microcarpar var.) is a beautiful tree which in some areas  provides a shady archway for many streets in our Sydney Eastern suburbs.

But why are the residents of these streets pulling out their hair?

The Hills weeping fig is like Jekyll and Hyde.

Dr Jekyll brings shade in summer; tree lined streets become a breezeway, cooling our homes as their majestic branches cast shade and protect us from the searing summer heat, attracting birds to feed on their fruit twice a year.

But, Mr Hyde is lurking. Those same fruit bring flying foxes…and other mysteries.

My interest in this tree is¬†the power of its root system. Their reach is widespread, sometimes 3 or 4 or¬†more times wider than they are high. The root system will¬†move stone walls, lift concrete footpaths and driveways and of course invade sewer and stormwater pipes. The ¬†roots from this tree ¬†just keep on coming after they are internally pruned with an electric eel or “Rattlesnake” high pressure water drain cleaner.

Last week we attended  to 4 tree root sewer  blockages directly caused by the Hills Weeping fig.

The 2 blocked sewer pipes that particularly interested me were PVC sewer pipes.

Why is that interesting, I hear you ask?

Well… tree roots don’t grow into PVC pipes! …..or do they?

The Kensington blocked drain was in an established housing estate about 10 Р15 years old. The townhouse in question had no previous blocked drain history. The Hills weeping fig was about 30 metres away. Its root system had grown up to this house and had actually grown into the PVC pipeline through a screw-on cap that we plumbers call a cleaning eye. The fine  roots had grown into the cap thread and multiplied inside the pipe thus causing the sewer blockage.

The Bellevue Hill blocked sewer was similar.

This house was built during the year of Sydney’s 2000 Olympic games after the long term owners, were tired of having blocked sewer pipes every 3 months, and tree roots “growing up through the back of the toilet”, amongst other reasons.

During the rebuild all the pipelines were installed in PVC pipes and fittings. The house finish was state of the art plumbing fixtures, with beautiful sandstone tiles around the outside of the house. All the pipes were concealed! No cleaning eyes! Why would we need access to the pipes as they have all been installed in tree root proof PVC?  The nearest fig tree was 30 odd metres away.

Well, what started as a simple blocked floorwaste, grew to removing that beautiful toilet suite to clear the blocked sewer pipe. We used the “Rattlesnake” high pressure water drain cleaner to remove tree roots from the blocked pipeline. When the blockage was cleared we carried out a camera survey of the pipeline. About 14 metres downstream the camera showed the remnants of the cut tree roots, but just as important, our drain camera survey showed the PVC pipe had been squashed. What was a round internal pipe, was now oval shaped with a crack in at least 1 of the fittings.

Who¬†said tree roots don’t¬†grow in¬†PVC sewer pipes?

Beware Mr Hyde!

https://www.thelonedrainerandpronto.com.au/vaporooter.php

hills-weeping-fig-tree-or-monster-001-mod

Hills Weeping Fig Tree

Never Underestimate The Power of Water and its Effects on Drainage

The awesome power of water and the damage  it can cause has been widely witnessed in the past month, not only throughout Sydney, but also along the entire eastern coastline of Australia. These problems have been caused by freak weather patterns and the failure of man-made stormwater systems to cope with the sheer volume of stormwater.

Large storms in South East Queensland have caused the largest floods that the area has seen in 20 years. These floods left hundreds of people stranded for days, as well as causing millions of dollars in damage and completely submerging many towns, with levee banks being breached and  rivers bursting their banks. Locally, damage from extensive rains was also seen in Coogee and Randwick with flash flooding sweeping parked cars out onto the street, turning low lying areas into lakes and severely damaging some local homes, properties and businesses like Coogee Bowling Club, only 200 metres from our Coogee base. The world famous Coogee Oval was submerged, with only the tops of the picket fence still visible.

Stormwater systems throughout the Coogee and Randwick area were put to the test, and any property with¬†even slightly blocked stormwater¬†drains had water lapping at their doors, and in some cases had water damage¬†inside their homes. Many gardens were ruined by the¬†“walls” of stormwater passing through.

Dolphin Street Coogee turned into a riverbed

On May 28th 2009, a water main running underneath Victoria Road in Bellevue Hill burst, causing such a great deal of erosion that a 25m stretch of road collapsed, washing away two cars with it into Cooper Park below. This landslide caused a major road to be closed indefinitely. The damaged gas pipes meant that the surrounding area had to be temporarily evacuated because of the risk of an explosion.

It has been reported in the press that water was seen leaking from the road in this area in the week leading up to this hole appearing.

Never ignore a leaking water pipe or blocked stormwater pipe.

Cooper Park below burst water main in Bellevue Hill

Cooper Park below burst water main in Bellevue Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fixing a Blocked Drain with The Electric Eel!

I asked Bruno, the plumber, to attend to a blocked drain at a well-known food shop in Bondi as I was on crutches and could not do so myself.

Whilst Bruno was fixing the blocked drain he rang me to say that he couldn’t get the electric eel out of the drain¬†pipe and could I come and help.¬† My wife (who was 8 months pregnant at the time) drove me to the site and I limped in and found Bruno with the electric eel over an access drain with the eel cables stuck fast!

“What happened” I asked. Bruno said, “The eel cables just kept going in, so I kept on¬†putting them in”.

“How much cable is in that hole”? I asked.¬†“About 45 feet” (15 metres) he replied!

“How far to the blocked toilet”? I asked”¬† “About 10 feet” he replied!¬† I cringed!

I held on to my crutches and tried to help Bruno drag that electric eel out of that pipe. It wouldn’t budge!

Fortunately for us, the house behind the shop was vacant …. except for the “beast” that had been unleashed in the bathroom.¬†The extra 35 feet of eel had come out through the back of the toilet, done a complete circuit of the small bathroom, then out the door and down the hallway towards the kitchen. The spinning action of the eel had allowed it to¬†grab the old carpet hall runner in a “death roll”.¬†When we had tried to wrestle the eel from the pipe, the old carpet had got stuck fast!

We were of course able to salvage the situation, had the carpet cleaned, replaced the loo and successfully cleared the blockage.

Some 12 years later when I have a coffee with Bruno (who now has his own very successful plumbing business) and we laugh about¬†our daily plumbing lives, telling those gathered about the dangers of the electric eel, Bruno still blushes and says “David, it’s just The Nature of The Beast“!

Plumbing¬†Tip: Don’t keep putting your resources into a black hole!

https://www.thelonedrainerandpronto.com.au/plumbing_services.php