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COVID-19 Plumbing & Electrical Home Safety Checklist

Drains
Drains block due to various reasons. In your home you have two drainage systems running:

  1. Sewerage System – The waste that comes from your home from the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, sinks and other plumbing components.
  2. Stormwater System – Flows from rainfall.

These systems are essential to the health of your home. The last thing you need when isolated at home are for toilets to block up or your kitchen sink to gurgle and groan.

Here are some tips to keep your drains running clear and efficiently. If you follow these simple steps and you still experience blocked drains then a plumber experienced with a drain machine, high pressure water jetter and CCTV drain camera can investigate and look deep into your drains to check whether tree roots have damaged and cracked pipes.

Do NOT flush the following items. They will clog up drains and cause blockages:
• Flushable wipes (ironic! They are “flushable” – isn’t everything? However, they do not break down and get stuck in drains causing huge issues.
Have you heard of the Fatberg? If you can stomach it – google it.
• Sanitary item They too get stuck in the sewer system and block drains.
• Excessive toilet paper With stores still running 24/7 to keep our stocks available you may be rationing rolls of toilet paper. But once we are back to normal – keep it mind to limit how much you flush.
• Newspaper/Napkins/Serviettes etc It was common during the second world war cut up squares of newspaper hung with a piece of wool, replaced toilet rolls in the shortage. However, as paper is quite dense it can block drains and cause huge issues.
• Grease – After cooking always dispose of cooking oils etc in a glass jar and throw in the garbage. Grease down drains also ends up in our waterways and causes damage to marine life and our oceans.

Hot Water
Hot water is something that we take for granted and when we don’t have any, can cause havoc and subsequent health issues.

While we are forced inside for a greater part of our day more pressure is placed on our hot water needs. Now is a great time to get a health check on your hot water system and perhaps consider upgrading to an instantaneous unit so you never run out.

As we go into our winter flue season (over and above the COVID-19 issue) it’s even more important now for those in the older age groups to have a constant flow of hot water. Cold showers mean they may be more susceptible to sickness. Keeping healthy must be a priority and hot water plays such an important role.

Unfortunately, like with anything in our home, hot water systems can fail without any notice and at any time of the day or night. Getting a health check can prevent such emergencies.

Pipes (Copper, PVC, Braided Flexible Hoses, Galvanised)
Pipes are the cornerstone of connecting all our water and gas to fixtures such as toilets, taps, washing machines, gas cooktops, hot water systems, showers, baths etc

When pipes burst or leak – Water gushes. Gas escapes.

The very best precaution you can take IMMEDIATELY is to inspect flexible connections that connect your taps and toilets to water. These should be inspected and changed every 5 years.

These pipes are “ticking time bombs” in your home.

If you do just one thing to protect your family while in isolation from a plumbing disaster – do yourself and a favour and check these! Failed Flexi’s Flood™ and it’s damaging.

Here are a couple of links to videos on what they are, what to look for and what to do.
Take this seriously.

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-PG7bamPM3xL7ivYYohNJw
Burst Flexible Hose Video: https://youtu.be/ltd1KXIq61I

Gas
Cooking is an essential part of life and being home more means we are preparing and cooking food more regularly. Ensuring your gas cooktop is safe and your gas supply coming into your home is leak free is very important. Make sure to contact your plumber even if can smell the slightest amount of gas.

As we move towards the colder season, gas becomes an integral part of our day for heating and hot water needs.

Most importantly we must be keep our families safe when using gas appliances and ensure that all internal heaters are checked prior to the winter season for carbon monoxide leakage.
Please refer to the Energy Safe website for further messaging regarding this potentially fatal hazard and ensure all heaters are checked.
Energy Safe Victoria: https://esv.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ESV_Beware_carbon_monoxide.pdf

Safety Switches
Safety switches are incredibly important in your home.
Check your switchboard to see if you have them installed.
Safety switches save lives.
A safety switch quickly switches off the electrical supply when a fault is detected.
An effective safety switch can prevent electrical fires, electric shock.
If your home is built prior to 1991 then you may not be protected.

If tripped, the fault may be an appliance so the easiest way to trace it back is to do the following:
Step 1: Turn off all appliances and disconnect from power point
ie toaster, dishwasher, cooktop, fridge, kettle, washing machine etc
Step 2: Flick the safety switch back up to the “on” position
Step 3: One by one, turn on each appliance. If a certain appliance trips the safety switch then you know the fault is with that appliance and DO NOT use.

Surge Protection
A surge protector is an appliance or device designed to protect electrical devices from surges in voltage.

Working from home and having multiple devices plugged in and running at the same time can cause power overloads. Do not overload power boards or run extension cords.

Ask your electrician to check if you have surge protection the next time they perform a home electrical safety check.


Smoke Alarms
On April 5th we turn our clocks backwards as daylight savings ends.
This is a good opportunity to check your smoke alarms too and ensure you and your family are safe from any potential fire hazards.
Replace batteries on those that are low and have an electrician test hard wired smoke alarms.

We have also put together a list of online resources you can access on how to look after yourself and your families wellbeing:

● Headspace – How to cope with stress related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) https://headspace.org.au/young-people/how-to-cope-with-stress-related-to-covid-19/
● Coronavirus: How To Talk To Your Kids About The Disease
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/coronavirus-how-to-talk-to-kids-disease_l_5e5c615ac5b601022113151d
● Reassuring Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/parenting-new-generation/202003/reassuring-children-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
● BeyondBlue – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
● ReachOut – Self-Care
https://parents.au.reachout.com/skills-to-build/wellbeing/self-care-and-teenagers
● Calm – some resources to help us stay calm and grounded
https://www.calm.com/blog/take-a-deep-breath?utm_source=lifecycle&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=difficult_times_nonsubs_031720
● Quarantine at home – coping tips
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/quarantine-at-home-coping-tips
● How to stay positive 🙂
https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjaminlaker/2020/03/13/how-to-be-positive-in-the-coronavirus-world/#580fbb7f3450


Where to access support:

● Lifeline – visit www.lifeline.org.au or call 13 11 14
● BeyondBlue – visit https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ or call 1300 22 4636
● onPysch – Telehealth counselling and support, https://onpsych.com.au or call 1300 659 350
● Headspace – visit https://headspace.org.au/
● Parentline – 13 22 89

The Importance of Quality Control, Staff Training and Safety For Any Industry

Two days ago, our electrician knocked on a customers door, stood back and waited for the customer to open up and greet him. First impressions are very important and a relationship can be made or broken in those first 3-4 seconds.

Upon opening the door to him, the customer snapped “Why are there two of you here? – my job is very small” .

And it reminded me of a piece of negative feedback posted to one of our social media channels a couple months back, where I left a lengthy reply.

My electrician responded that the other man with him is an apprentice and not to worry – “you aren’t being charged for two men, we’re here to help”.

I understand. It can be overwhelming having two extremely handsome tradies on your doorstep 😉

In all seriousness it can be. Especially if you haven’t used our service before, don’t know what to expect and have seen all the current affair episodes about getting ripped off by tradies.

However, apprentices play a really important role in keeping trades alive and educating the next generation of plumbers, electricians, carpenters, bricklayers etc

On the job training, not only for apprentices but for all staff, is imperative for constant improvement, developing skill sets and learning from peers.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning”. – Benjamin Franklin

We also use the opportunity to quality control on the job. Having the responsibility of staff entering customers homes, we need to ensure that they uphold the standards both in technical quality and customer service experience.

Our team take many many photos whilst onsite to allow us to quality control technical ability and also for future assistance. But nothing comes close to having a teammate coaching and training on the job.

Safety is also another reason there may be more than one tradesperson turning up for your job. We take safety seriously and always ensure we do things the right way – the safe way. Sometimes jobs require two, three or four staff on site. We do whatever it takes to ensure our staff and your family are safe.

Finally, onboarding new staff is also a great opportunity to teach the “how we do it our way” because part of our difference is how we do what we do…..and let’s be honest – there are many out there who have the attitude “chuck it in and she’ll be right”.

Every industry has them. It’s just not our way.


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Saving Money On Water Usage

Water Meter

If you live in an apartment, townhouse or unit you may be paying more for your water bills than you should.

Many properties managed by Owners Corporations or Body Corporates are engaging plumbing professionals to install individual water meters feeding units rather than just “splitting the bill” between occupants.

Some units have families of 5 living in them whilst others are single occupants – all the while having differing levels of water usage.

Installing individual water meters is a project undertaken between the owners corporation, a licensed plumber and the local water authority to ensure that all occupants are only responsible for the water usage within their occupied unit.

As utility rates for gas, electricity and water increase, many occupants welcome the individual water meter installation as opposed to sharing the quarterly invoice for water usage.

Many older units still have galvanised water lines that should also be replaced for copper.  This will also reduce the likelihood of bursts along the old galvanised line. Something we see a lot of in older areas with building over a certain age.

We recently had a call from someone looking to install a new water meter at his unit and had not called a licensed plumber for advice beforehand.  Paperwork had already been lodged with the relevant local water authority to have a new meter installed and they had been given no framework of the work involved.

Always ensure you speak to a licensed plumber before undertaking any project as you may find yourself stuck in a situation that costs you more than you bargained for.

 

Top 6 Tips To Keep Your Family Safe From Fire Hazards

Each year more people die and are injured in house fires than bushfires. In 2017 there were 1,532 preventable house fires in Melbourne resulting in the loss of three lives and causing $32 million property damage.

  • 48 per cent of those fires started in the kitchen
  • 7 per cent in the bedroom
  • 5 per cent in the lounge room
  • 3 per cent in the laundry

There are some very simple rules to follow to help keep you safe in your home. Print them out and discuss them with your partner, family or housemates. They could save your life one day.

Keep emergency numbers near the phone

  • Ensure emergency numbers are keyed into all the phones in your home.
  • Dial 000 (triple zero) for fire, police and ambulance.
  • It’s never too early to teach children how to responsibly contact emergency services.

Practise your home fire escape plan regularly

  • Identify the quickest, safest way to get out of the house from every room,
    including upper floors.
  • Agree on a place to meet outside (letter box or nature strip) and practise it.
  • Ensure your house number is clearly visible so emergency services can find you quickly.
  • Document your plan.

Stop, drop, cover and roll

  • If your clothes catch fire – stop, drop, cover your face with your hands and roll to smother the flames.
  • To help someone else, throw a woollen blanket over them to extinguish the flames.

Get down low and go go go!

  • If there’s smoke in your house, get down low and go, go, go!
  • In a fire, the safest area for breathing is near the floor where the air is cooler and cleaner, so remember to crawl low in smoke.

Check doors for heat before opening

  • Use the back of your hand to check for heat, then get down low and crawl to safety.
  • Close doors behind you if possible. If the door is hot, use another exit.
  • Get everyone out of the house as quickly as possible.

Call the fire brigade

  • Call the fire brigade from a neighbour’s house, public or mobile phone and wait for them to arrive.
  • Tell them where the fire is and if anyone is still inside.
  • Never go back inside for any reason.

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your home is safe is to have your electrical switchboard inspected and ensure there are safety switches installed.

To schedule your annual safety check call us on 1300 390 045

This is a FREE service to all our Home Protection Shield Plan Members

Our $375 Gift To You

Top Plumbing Tips For A More Comfortable Home

When it comes to plumbing, many things can go wrong. Some plumbing issues are very easy to repair, while others can become quite a bit more difficult. No matter how difficult or simple the plumbing problem may appear, it’s wise to have some plumbing knowledge to ensure that repairs are done correctly and efficiently. After all, it’s your home, and you don’t want any nasty surprises by trying to do the work yourself without knowing what to do.

Use this article to help you understand what’s happening and make the best decision for your family’s plumbing needs

Prolong the life of your toilet. Avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach tablets, blue toilet deodorizers, or the other odor removers inside your toilet. These may deodorize, but they can seriously damage the rubber pieces in the toilet, causing poor functionality or even complete breakdown of the fixture. This will create a messy surprise that no one wants.

Only water down the drain! Don’t pour cooking grease, leftover frying fat or any oils down your sink drain. These materials may be liquid when you pour them in, but they will solidify and can constrict the space in your pipes. If you own a garbage disposal, grease can even cause the blades to stop working if they have fat on them.

Upgrade your shower heads. Not all shower heads are the same. Save money on water costs by investing in energy efficient shower heads that still give you a good shower but put out less water. A single energy efficient shower head can save you $100 or more each year.

Watch what you flush. Too many people use their toilet like a trashcan. To limit toilet problems, reduce what you flush down the toilet. Never flush paper towels, tissue, diapers, or feminine hygiene products. Even flushable wipes can cause problems! These things do not break up correctly and they can clog your pipes.

Use a screen. Hair is a common material in drain clogs. Stop the clog by covering your drains with screens to keep hair from going into the pipes. You can remove hair much easier from a screen as opposed to getting it out of the inside of a pipe.

It’s easy to forget about your plumbing when it’s working well. But when a plumbing emergency happens, it can get messy, uncomfortable, and even unsafe very quickly! Taking preventative measures means you will not have to spend as much on plumbing repairs. Drain clogs are probably the most frequent issue you will run into with your plumbing. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent plumbing emergencies from happening, and even ways to save money to make sure your family is safer and more comfortable.

Simple Electrical Tips When Trouble Strikes

Has this ever happened to you?

You want to turn on the coffeemaker in the morning… only to press the button and not see any coffee being brewed! Or maybe you plug in your phone to charge but it never charges!

We never really think about our home’s electrical systems until something doesn’t work correctly. And then we notice that something’s wrong!

Your home is made up of many systems, one of them being the electrical system: wires run through your home to power your lights, fans, and receptacles so you plug in your appliances and gadgets.

So, when something is not working, what should you do?

First, see if there is power anywhere else in the house. It could be that there’s a power outage affecting your home or the whole block but you didn’t notice because it was such a sunny day!

If there’s power elsewhere, make sure there is nothing wrong with the appliance or gadget that you’re trying to plug in! (It happens a lot: you might think there’s something wrong with your home’s power when in fact your coffeemaker has just decided to stop working or your phone cord has actually broken.)

If there’s nothing wrong with the device then the problem may be associated with that power point and/or any other powered items sharing the same electrical line. (For example, maybe there are too many appliances plugged in and turned on to that one line.) Unplug other items that share the same circuit.

Next, head to your electrical switchboard (sometimes people call it a “fuse box” or “circuit panel”) and look for any breaker that has been tripped. Reset it to restore power to that line. (Your switchboard is made up of circuit breakers that will temporarily “break” the line when something is wrong.)

If power is restored to the line, great! Go back to making coffee… and just keep an eye on how many items you plugging in to the power point that share the line at any one time.

If power is not restored, you may consider calling an electrical expert to help you. Do not attempt to investigate further or do your own electrical repairs. Electrical current is dangerous and can even be deadly. Leave it to the pros. Get an electrical expert to help you and they’ll quickly and easily diagnose the problem and give you a recommendation to help you solve it.

Our home’s electricity is something we don’t think about… until we no longer have it available to us. Use this simple list to help you troubleshoot any electrical issues you face in your home.

Spring Home Maintenance

 

In spring, focus on freshening up your home and protecting your property against the season’s strong winds, warm days and leading into the summer rains.

Outdoor Tasks

  • Clean gutters and downpipes. Learn how to maintain your gutters. Remember ladder safety here
  • Inspect roof and chimney for cracks and damage
  • Touch up peeling or damaged paint.
  • Wash all windows inside and out
  • Install screens on doors and windows (those summer bugs can be pesky!)
  • Clean outdoor furniture and air out cushions (be mindful for any hidden creepy crawlies)
  • Service your lawn mower
  • Fertilize your lawn

Indoor Tasks

  • Test smoke alarms and change batteries
  • Wash and change seasonal bedding
  • Dust blinds and vacuum curtains throughout your home
  • Clean kitchen and bathroom cabinets and throw away outdated food, medicines and cosmetics
  • Have air conditioner outside professionally inspected and serviced
  • Test electrical switchboard and safety switches

Like your car, your home needs regular maintenance and occasional tune-ups to stay in tip-top shape.

Fortunately, you can complete most of these tasks by yourself and schedule the professionals for any indoor or outdoor tasks.

Regular home maintenance is essential to ensure a safe and efficient home.  It’s a good idea to set aside some money in your budget each month for home maintenance and repair.  As a rule of thumb, homeowners spend between 1% to 3% of their home’s value on maintenance and repair each year.

Following these simple maintenance checklist every year can help your home look its best, keep utility bills down and prevent more costly repairs in the future.

The schedule safety checks and servicing you can call us on 1300 390 045

The Hidden Secret To Keeping Your Home Insurance Policy Valid

Close-up Photo Of Flooded Floor In Kitchen From Water Leak

Do You Know That a simple task of replacing an old tap for a new one, could void your warranty and potentially void your home insurance policy in the event of major water damage?

And we’re guessing that if you have ever stepped into a big box retailer to buy a new tap that no information has been provided to you at the point of sale or by the person installing the new tap…..

Now imagine that new tap blowing off and causing major water damage inside your home.

Your first instinct may be to ask if your insurance policy will cover all that damage.  The floors, the skirting boards, the carpet, the walls, the swollen cabinetry, the furniture damaged by water…the list goes on.

We have attended to thousands of service calls to replace kitchen taps over the last 15 years and one of the most important bits of information we provide our customers with is the fact that the manufacturer’s warranty for that tap will be voided if the water pressure is above 500kPa and no valve is present on the meter to maintain the water pressure limit.

According to the Victorian Building Authority “Common Audit Failure: report published on 5th October 2017 the 2nd highest failure from practitioners was to to demonstrate the static pressure to any outlet other than a fire hose outlet, within a building does not exceed 500kPa.

“But I’m not so concerned because the tap only cost me $x from the big box supplier and Ill just replace it again if it fails…”

This is a common comment we have heard often.

This is where it gets juicy….

If your water pressure is tested and it is above 500kPa and you DO NOT have a pressure limiting valve installed – not only will the manufacturer void the warranty on the tap – YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY MAY CHOOSE TO NOT COVER THE DAMAGE.

That’s right….so that relatively cheap tap or decision not to invest in the valve to protect your home, could potentially cost you more than you had bargained for…not to mention the stress, inconvenience and headache that comes with it.

That is why our service experts ALWAYS test your water pressure to ensure it meets the VBA requirements and to educate you about the importance of protecting water fixtures….for your safety and peace of mind.

 

How To Safely and Easily Troubleshoot A Faulty Safety Switch

My safety switch wont turn back on – what can I do?

This is one of the most common questions we receive and there is something you can do before the experts come out.

The first thing to do is identify what appliances are connected to the safety switch. HINT: There should be a label underneath each switch identifying appliances or areas of your home.

The first step is to turn off all appliances (and even disconnect/remove the power cord from the power point).

Once all appliances have been disconnected, ensure the safety switch is back in the “ON” position.

Then, one by one, turn each appliance on.

If for instance you turn on the dishwasher and the safety switch trips – it’s pretty safe to say that the the dishwasher is the appliance that is tripping and could be faulty.

Common culprits are normally kettles, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, tank pumps.  The fridge being the number 1 culprit! Other common culprits are pool pumps andigniter powerpoints for gas cooktops and water heaters.

If your switchboard does not have safety switches, this would be something you should attend to immediately.  The role of the safety switch is to prevent electrical faults that could lead to electrical fires in your home.  Always keep you and your family safe by having safety switches and surge protection in your home.

Remember also not to overload power boards.  It’s better to have more power points installed throughout your home than overload power boards or run extension cords.

For homes and families that have many devices, you can also change over power points to include USB adaptors making.

In any event we are here to answer all your questions and help troubleshoot as a first point of call.  Call us on 1300 390 045 to have a chat.