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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

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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.

 

Burst Hot Water Unit in St Kilda East

 

RheemHWS


Burst Hot Water Unit (Before)

On Sunday we received an emergency call in East St Kilda where an old Rheem gas hot water unit was making a funny noise and leaking water.

Unfortunately, the homeowner had already called another plumbing company who had let them down so they were admittedly frustrated and cautious when calling us.   We reassured them that we would turn up when we say we will and get them out of trouble.

Once on site we found the existing hot water tank to be burst and will require replacement. Murphy’s law has these things happen at the worst time.  The homeowners are planning an overseas trip in two days time so this could not have come at a more inconvenient time for them.

We supplied and installed the new gas hot water service in the same location and installed new cold water isolation valve, gas isolation and new connections. We also removed the old unit from site and cleaned up all the rubbish.

When performing work on any gas appliances the regulation requires that a gas test be performed on the existing gas line for safety.  We take this very seriously as any gas leak can be very dangerous.  We always consider safety first.  Yes, testing the gas line does come at an additional cost and if a leak is detected there are additional costs to rectify.  However, because we uphold safety first and respect the regulation, we always perform this test.  It’s your safety we care about.

We also supplied and installed a new pressure limiting valve on the cold water meter at front of property.  Water pressure coming into your property should be 500kPa.  If we test your water pressure and it is found to be above this recommended limit, we always recommend installing a pressure limiting valve, known as a PLV, to regulate the water pressure. This can prevent any blow outs in your home and cause major water damage.

ThermannHWS

Thermann Gas Hot Water Unit (After)

Hot Water Emergency

24HourServiceWe were called out to a plumbing emergency in South Melbourne overnight. The owner reported no hot water.

Upon our arrival we noticed that their existing hot water unit had burst and required replacement.

We isolated the cold water and gas to the unit so our customer could still use cold water overnight.

We recommended installing a 5 star gas external hot water system in the same location as the existing unit. We altered some copper pipework to the new unit leaving the existing gas/water isolation valves in position.

We did recommended changing these valves to the customer, however he did not want to go ahead with installing new valves.

We adjusted the PTR (Pressure and Temperature Relief Valve designed to relieve the increase in pressure caused by water expansion during the normal heating cycle) so that it is visible if there is any leakage.

We conducted a test on the gas line for safety and re-lit appliances.

The new hot water unit was filled up and flushed through. The gas was turned on and the new hot water unit was tested and commissioned. We removed the old unit, pack up and cleaned area.

The customer was grateful to have hot water back on and for our prompt service.