Hot water being run over a bath to test the installation and connection to hot water system in Sydney Inner West.

Instant Hot Water vs Electric Hot Water Systems. Which is best?

Cant decide weather you want to upgrade your hot water heater to instant hot water or stick with the trusty old electric storage hot water heater?

Let us help you decide which way is the best to go!

Gas vs electric hot water is a case where the initial cost and running costs are major factors to be considered.

Depending on your gas and electric prices you are receiving, gas heated hot water systems are less expensive to run but cost a little more to set up in the initial installation, but don’t worry studies have shown that within a year of installing the gas hot water heater that you will have made that money back in savings.

Electric storage hot water heaters have been the most commonly used heaters in Australia  for decades, unfortunately with the rising cost of electricity and high green house emissions generated with electricity these units are quickly becoming unpopular amongst Australian house holds. In fact the Australian government have passed legislation to try and limit their use.

How do electric hot water heaters work?

The most common electric hot water storage tank heats the water up all day depending on use. Although there are off peak options where the hot water is heated up over night and storing the hot water during the day, as soon as that hot water is depleted your hot water will not be heated until the next off peak time, therefore those heaters are quite large and cost a lot more on the installation as they need to store a lot of hot water.

How do instant hot water systems work?

When you choose instant hot water systems, they are extremely energy efficient, some coming with a 7 star energy rating. Instantaneous heaters only heat the water when they are turned on so when you turn your hot water tap on and water starts to pass through the pipework, the heater ignites and quickly heats the water as it passes through the heater on the wall and onto your back in the shower.

As I mentioned above, the instantaneous heaters are tankless and do not store water and only heat when water passes through, this means YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF HOT WATER!

Benefits of Instantaneous Hot Water Systems

Instant hot water systems do not store any hot water so therefore are free from potential bacteria that can form within a storage heater. Unless a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius is maintained, electric tanks can be breeding ground for legionnaires. This is a respiratory disease that can cause severe pneumonia and is sometimes fatal.

Instantaneous heaters are also space saving, they are not very large can be mounted onto a wall high up and out of the way, storage heaters are quite large and take up a lot of room down the side of your property or taking up valuable storage space with your kitchen or laundry.

Traditional storage tank water heaters have a life span of around 10 to 12 years. Instant hot water systems can last up to 20 years.

So I hope that I have helped you decide on whether you’d like to upgrade your bulky old storage heater and replace with a sleek small instantaneous heater.

If you want more information we are only a phone call away and we’d be more than happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Thanks for reading.

Scott Atkins | FXD Plumbing Solutions

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Tell Tail signs of a blocked drain

Gurgling sound from sinks, showers or toilets

A common early warning of a blocked drain is a gurgling sound. This sound is caused by the pipe starting to fill up further down the line, or filling up and getting away really slowly. This means a complete blockage is only a couple flushes away.

Water fills up and slowly drains away in toilet bowl

This is a very common problem, and one we hear a lot from our clients. This is very similar to gurgling mentioned above, where the pipes are filling up. However, this is a partial blockage. The drain is only allowing a small amount of the flush to get away, thus backing up in the toilet bowl. Another reason could also be the excessive use of toilet paper getting stuck in the trap of the toilet bowl. In both cases, you are best off calling a licensed plumber when dealing with a blocked drain.

Bad smells outside house and in gardens, near drainpipes

When you walk outside and you can smell sewer, this isn’t normal. A vent pipe installed on your sewer system prevents this from happening. The bad smell you are experiencing is most likely caused by overflowing sewer somewhere in your garden or sometimes a broken pipe, both of which need urgent attention.

Overflowing sewer out of drains

As mentioned above, overflowing sewer should be attended by a licensed plumber urgently. The overflowing doesn’t mean your sewer system is broken, your sewer system/design is doing its job. The open drains are installed for that reason so that they overflow outside of your house and not inside.

The Next Steps

If any of the above points are occurring at your place, call us straightaway. At FXD Plumbing Solutions we will come out, inspect your sewer, quote you a price to clear your blockage, send a camera down to observe what is causing your blockage and then provide you on what options you have to repair or prevent it from happening again. We also want you to be informed on what is causing the problem, and what better way is there then actually showing you? Communicating and understanding is so important for us to provide you, the last thing we want is you not understanding. If we are talking too fast, ask us to slow down! If we are talking to much in plumbing terms, we will simplify it for you. We want all of our clients on the same page! 

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Importance of a Flowing Stormwater System

There’s nothing quite like a hot summer’s day in Sydney with a thunderstorm in the afternoon, especially if it’s followed by an almighty downpour of rain. What is even more satisfying is knowing your grass, gardens or even your rainwater tanks are getting their piece of the action. But on the other hand, there is nothing worse than your stormwater drainage system failing you, and leaving your house at risk of being under attack from flooding.

Often, people don’t pay a lot of attention to stormwater drainage until it’s too late. Blocked stormwater drains are a huge problem when left unattended.

Having a flowing stormwater system is extremely important, and you may be asking yourself; why? Well, flooding/pooling can cause serious damage inside and outside of your beloved home. Interior flooding is the obvious no-no: nobody wants to float into bed at night. The exterior of your home is also just as important, as stormwater can cause very expensive damage to your house’s foundations, which hold your house sturdy and upright. Also, pooling water near walls is just an open invitation to damaging walls and creating rising damp, which isn’t healthy at all.

Common signs of blocked stormwater drainage:

The stormwater pipe can be blocked by a number of intrusions. These include silt (from roofs), mud, tree roots and leaves.

If you feel you may have a blocked stormwater system, these signs will help in being certain that you actually do:

– Water overflowing out of gutters or roof during heavy rain.

– Water overflowing out of downpipes or connections to the ground drain.

– Pooling of water in and around your house.

– Piles of leaves visible in roof gutters.

– Stormwater drains installed in paver or concrete driveways covered in leaves and sticks or full of mud and silt.

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How to prevent stormwater blockages:

Cleaning and maintaining your stormwater system is important, as this will help keep them clear and move water away from your house.

The steps below are an easy way to avoid blocked stormwater drains:

– Check your drains weekly for debris build up and clean when required.

– Once a month, check and clean your roof gutters to prevent any leaves and sticks (or any other debris from the roof e.g. tennis balls, toys, silt) going down the downpipes and into your drains.

– Once a year, have your drains inspected and cleaned by a plumber with a high pressure water jetter.

– Run the hose down the drains every couple of weeks (especially if no rain has occurred for a while) as this may help move on a potential blockage.

– Consider installing a gutter guard on gutters or silt filters on stormwater grates.

Also, if possible, check your drains during a heavy downpour to see if they are coping or backing up. This is the perfect test or reward for all your hard work on maintaining your stormwater system, and if they are not coping  you will then know they need more attention.

How we can help:

Stubborn stormwater blockages are not a do-it-yourself with a garden hose type of job. Sometimes these jobs can require specialist equipment, e.g. high pressure water jetter, CCTV camera inspection and/or locating equipment. At FXD Plumbing Solutions, we carry all of that equipment on our specially equipped Utes to make our life easier and to get the job done quicker for our happy clients. You can be sure you’re receiving the best service and the latest technology when asking us to help you with your stormwater issues or any other related plumbing problems.

Storm Preparation – FXD Plumbing Solutions – Our Blog

Storm Preparation

Damaging winds, flash floods, lighting, hail and tornados can cause extreme damage to homes, cars and the environment. Sometimes, these storms can even cause injury or loss of life. Storm preparation can help you stay safe and reduce damage potential.

Most storm damage to homes happen due to the following:

  • Loose and broken roof materials
  • Fallen trees and branches
  • Flooding from blocked gutters and downpipes

What is a Storm?

Before learning how to prepare for a storm, you first need to know what exactly defines a storm. Storms develop when humid, warm air near the ground is pushed rapidly upward into the unstable atmosphere.

How to Prepare

Overall, preparing is your responsibility. Living in a storm prone area makes safety preparation a priority.

Inside and outside of your house, there are a few simple storm preparation steps to help minimise damage:

  • Check roof and gutters for damage or loose materials.
  • Clear gutters and downpipes of leaves and blockages.
  • Trim branches near your home and hire a contractor to clear trees from powerlines.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with portable radios, torches, spare batteries, a first aid kit and family emergency plan.
  • Prepare an emergency relocation plan in case your home becomes flooded. Consider options for pets, gather water and know how to turn off the gas and electricity.
  • Display a list of emergency phone numbers.
  • Check you have adequate home and contents insurance.

When a Storm is Forecast

  • Secure or remove loose material and rubbish from around your home because strong winds can turn objects into potentially deadly missiles.
  • Weigh down loose objects using plastic bags filled with sand, rather than bricks that could be blown around during strong winds.
  • Ensure your emergency kit and plan is up to date.
  • Ensure pets and animals are in a safe area.
  • Move your vehicles under protected cover.
  • Boat owners should ensure their boats are securely moored.
  • Campers should find alternative shelter.
  • If you are away from home, contact family and friends to ensure your home is secure.

During a Storm

  • Close your curtains and stay away form windows.
  • If caught outside, seek shelter away from trees, powerlines, metal objects, storm water drains, rivers and streams.
  • Where there is lightning, unplug electrical appliances and do not use landline telephones.
  • Create your own sandbags by using plastic bags or pillowcases filled with sand if there is flooding.
  • When driving in heavy rain, take extra care on the roads.

After the Storm

  • Assess your home and property for damage.
  • Check on friends and neighbours to see if they need help.
  • Keep children away from fallen powerlines as they are dangerous and should always be treated as live.
  • Be careful of fallen trees and damaged buildings.
  • If roads are flooded, do not drive into water of unknown depth and current.
  • Avoid gravel roads as surfaces will be slippery and muddy, and vehicles could become bogged.

Cleaning Up

  • Start cleaning up around your home. Stack loose materials such as branches and debris away from water meters valves and telephone lines.
  • Call your local government to get advice about the removal of green waste and other materials such as asbestos fencing.
leaking toilet sydney with the cover off showing the internals of the cistern

Toilet Leaking? Here’s what to do.

If you have noticed water pooling around the bottom of your toilet then there are a few things you should do to: 

  1. Locate the source of the leak
  2. Repair the leak to prevent the chance of further damage to your property. 

Whilst water leaks are quite common, they can be annoying if not remedied quickly, lead to increased water bills and have the potential to damage other parts of your home, such as your floors, carpets, skirting boards or walls. 

If you have noticed a toilet leak, then read on for expert advice from the team at FXD Plumbing. 

Water on your bathroom floor? What to do next!

First, we need to try to identify the source of the water. It may be that your toilet has a leak that will need to be repaired by a professional residential plumber, but this is not always the case. Quite often there is a simple explanation for this problem, that can be rectified with some basic tools and equipment and minimal DIY knowledge. 

Common causes of toilet leaks

Rusted or Cracked Pipes

Depending on the age of your home, and when your plumbing was installed, you may be looking at an issue with the pipes feeding into your toilet, rather than an issue with the toilet itself. Overtime, pipes can rust and crack and when this happens the best thing to do is call a licensed plumber to help assess the damage and provide advice on the best way to approach the repair. When left unattended to, damaged pipes can lead to extensive damage and waste thousands of liters of water over time. If you suspect that this is the issue, then call a plumber straight away. 

Loose or Worn Seals at the Base. 

Another common reason for your toilet to leak from the base is that the seals are either damaged or worn out. When this happens, the toilet will need to be removed from its position in order to get access to the seals. Whilst an experienced DIYer may be able to complete the task, getting the help of a professional plumber is advisable, as removing the toilet requires multiple steps including disconnection of water supply, valves and other key components of your toilets mechanisms. 

Leaking Toilet Tank or Cistern

If you have been able to identify that the water is not coming from the base of the toilet and is causing pooling water, then it is time to move into further investigation. The next most likely culprit would be a leaking toilet tank or cistern. To find out whether this is the cause of your problem there are a couple of simple steps you can take that require a few items that you should have around your home. 

Step 1. Carefully remove the cover from your cistern. Cistern covers are generally quite heavy, but can also be fragile and prone to cracking and chipping. Before removing the cistern, make sure you have laid down a towel on a flat surface large enough to hold the cistern lid, to prevent damage to both the cover and your other bathroom surfaces. 

Step 2. Once removed, place a few drops of food colouring into the water held within the cistern. You should put enough in to be able to clearly tell the water is a different colour, but not so much that you risk staining the inside of the toilet, or surfaces that may be leaked on to during testing.

Step 3. Ensure that the toilet is not flushed until you have allowed sufficient time to pass to determine whether your leak is coming from the toilet tank. If it is, you will notice that the water that is pooling on the ground takes on the colour of the ‘dyed’ water in the cistern. If you do notice this, the food colouring will also make it easier to spot exactly where the cistern is leaking and provide you with the opportunity to spot repair the leak. 

Now there are a few different types of leaks that will require a different approach. Read on to find out how to deal with toilet cistern leaks. Upon inspection, you will notice that the leak could be coming from one of four main areas. 

  1. Leaking where the toilet tank or cistern, meets the toilet bowl.

If water is escaping from between the cistern and the bowl, it might be a good idea to call in a professional plumber to seek some general advice. If you are confident enough however, you may be able to undertake this repair yourself. A few issues you might need to resolve include replacing the tank to bowl sponge gasket, which is usually the problem if the leaking increases when the toilet is flushed or you may need to replace the washers on the tank to bowl bolts.

 The actual cause of these toilet leaks can be difficult to pinpoint as often the leak itself is hidden by the toilet tank itself. More often than not it is easier and more effective to replace both the bowl sponge gasket and the tank to bowl bolts at the same time to ensure that you have both bases covered. 

2. Fill valve shank gasket leak

If the above mentioned methods of toilet repair haven’t solved the problem, then you may be dealing with a leak on one of the mechanical parts of your toilet’s system, such as the fill valve shank gasket. The fill valve shank gasket (ballcock), is the part of your toilets mechanism that lets water into the tank after is has been flushed. This piece is attached to the fill valve on the inside of the tank where water is directly plumbed. Firstly, check for possible cracks surrounding the valve as even hairline fractures in the porcelain have the ability to leak quite a large amount of water over time. 

If there are no visible cracks or fractures then you may be able to solve the problem by tightening the shank nut. Over time, some parts of the toilet can become loose and cause leaks. Try tightening this component and waiting an hour or two to see whether this has rectified the problem. If not, you may need to look at replacing the gasket all together. We would recommend at this point you should contact a plumbing professional to get advice on what to do next, and whether you should call in an expert. 

3. Cracks in the plastic or porcelain

The final culprit that we will discuss, and also quite a common cause of water leaking on the floor around your toilet is cracks in the plastic or porcelain. Toilets are manufactured using a number of different materials and in various qualities. It may be the case, that over time the plastic on your toilet becomes brittle, or that impacts such as slamming the toilet seat cause these plastic and porcelain surfaces to crack. Cracks might be small, and barely visible to the eye, but can still lead to water leaking over an extended period of time. If this is the case, you can either seek to repair the cracks with a waterproofing agent, such as silicone however this can take away from the overall look and feel of your bathroom.

If cracks are indeed the problem, it might be better to consider having a new toilet installed by a professional to ensure that you are not risking the same problems happening time and time again.

Other Possible Causes of Toilet Leaks

Shut-off Valve Leaking

If you notice that water is leaking around the shut off valve, which is usually at the very back of the toilet, then you may need to look at getting this replaced. Valves do wear out over time, and when they do it is best to replace the part before it causes a bigger problem. If you suspect this is the case, it is always best to call in a professional plumber who has experience in repair and replacement of residential plumbing fixtures. 

Toilet Supply Line Leaking

Another possibility is that the supply line to the toilet may be leaking. Check the line to see whether there are any obvious signs of water around the hoses and connections. If so, these parts will need to be replaced and again, it is best to call in a professional who can ensure the job is done right, so that you won’t have repeat problems or cause further damage. 

Blocked Drains

Drains can become blocked for a number of reasons. Anything from flushing items that are not made to be disposed of in toilets through to tree roots causing damage to the underground sewerage lines could be the culprit. If you suspect that the water pooling around your toilet is coming up from the ground, or is obviously waste-water then you should call a professional plumber immediately.

Need help with a leaking toilet? Call FXD Plumbers Sydney on 0428 795 498.

At FXD Plumbing Sydney we are dedicated to providing the very best customer service to our Sydney clients. Our team are highly skilled in all areas of residential plumbing and commercial plumbing and have been providing industry leading plumbing services in Sydney for over 10 years.  

If you have a blocked toilet or drain, or need help with any other plumbing issue then feel free to reach out for an obligation free discussion. We can provide you with a fixed price quote or estimate for any plumbing repairs or replacements. We also provide a lifetime guarantee on labour, so if there are any issues after your plumbing work has been completed, then we will come back to fix it for free. 

FXD Plumbing Sydney can help you with a wide range of plumbing problems including:

  • Blocked Drains
  • Leaking Taps
  • Gas Fitting and Fixtures
  • Toilet repair
  • Toilet installation
  • Pipe repair and replacement
  • Commercial plumbing
  • Residential plumbing

If you need help with any of these issues, or any other plumbing job then we would love to help!

how to fix a blocked drain

Blocked Drains – A DIY Guide, and when to call an expert.

Blocked Drains – A DIY Guide, and when to call an expert.

Unblocking A Drain | How To Guide

Blocked drains are a very common problem, but one that can usually be easily fixed by following a few simple steps. There are many reasons that a drain can become blocked. The most common reason is that some kind of obstruction has made its way through the drain cover, and caused a build up that is preventing water from running through freely. The most common things we find blocking drains are hair, if the drain is located in a bathroom, food scraps and waste if the drain is located in the kitchen or leaves and twigs if the drain is located outside. 

In most cases, a blocked drain can be cleared using a few different methods which we will outline below. If you have a blocked drain in Sydney, then read on.

Before You Start

Before you attempt to unblock a drain, there are a few things you should check and consider to ensure that you don’t accidentally cause damage to the pipes. In cases where you have easy access to the pipes, such as under a kitchen sink or bathroom sink, fixing blocked drains can be easy. For drains that you don’t have access to the pipes, then this can be significantly more difficult and may need to the help of a licensed plumber. 

Also, if you are wanting to unblock your drain with chemicals you should make sure you have read all safety information and taken every necessary precaution, as the commercial chemicals used in drain cleaners are very corrosive and will cause serious injury if exposed to skin or eyes directly. 

Options for Unblocking a Drain

Plunger

The first thing you should try to unblock a drain is a plunger. Plungers are available from any hardware store and can range in cost from a couple of dollars and up to $20 depending on the quality, brand and size. Before buying a plunger, make sure you take note of the size of the drain you are trying to unblock and buy a plunger that is big enough to handle the job. 

Using a plunger is pretty self-explanatory. The idea here is to create a vacuum seal over the drain and agitate whatever is blocking it to a point where it dislodges it. Most kitchen and bathroom sink blockages can be fixed this way, however, if you have tried the plunger method with no success then it is time to step up to some more sophisticated equipment. 

Hand Held Drain Auger

When the plunger hasn’t worked, it might be because the blockage is further down the pipe, making it harder to dislodge. Again, a handheld auger can be purchased from Bunnings and costs around $30 to $40. Drain augers, sometimes known as drain snakes have a long flexible extension that is designed to guide itself through the curves of your pipes without getting stuck. 

Using an auger or drain snake is fairly simple. Take the hose, and begin feeding it into your blocked pipe. Continue feeding in until you find the location of the blockage, and then try to manually clear it. It is best whenever possible to retrieve and dispose of whatever is blocking the pipe, rather than trying to push it further down the pipe. Whilst some blockages can be cleared and evacuated through the normal drain system, sometimes this just pushes the obstruction down further, and cause problems in the near future. 

Getting Serious

If a handheld auger or drain snake still hasn’t managed to successfully unblock the drain, then you might want to consider calling in a professional plumber for advice. We have access to specialised equipment that makes light work of most blockages and ensures that you aren’t making the problem worse in the long term. 

Electric Drain Snakes

FDX has a wide range of equipment designed to unblock residential and commercial drains. Our electric drain snake is much longer than a handheld auger and is designed to take care of more serious blockages. Whilst the concept is similar to the previous, electric drain snakes can help to clear more serious blockages, like ones caused by tree roots, mud or hard food scraps.

If you suspect that the cause of your blockage is more serious, then it might be best to call an expert to minimise the risk of doing any damage to your pipes. This is especially true when pipes are underground or cemented in, as accidentally damaging inaccessible pipes can be costly when it comes to repairs. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Clearing Blocked Drains with Chemicals

Some blockages can also be cleared with the use of specialty chemicals. Whilst effective, these chemicals can be very corrosive and are dangerous if not handled correctly. Before using any type of chemical drain cleaner make sure you read the safety warnings and instructions in detail, and take every precaution to prevent any part of your body coming directly in contact with these harsh chemicals. 

There are some other potential risks that you should consider also, before deciding to use chemical drain cleaners. Direct contact with the drain cleaner can cause serious injury but so too can exposure to the fumes given off when using. If the drain you are trying to unblock is not in a well-ventilated area, then we advise that you never attempt to unblock a drain using chemicals, otherwise you might be risking the safety of yourself and your family. 

Another consideration is that drain cleaners are hugely toxic to the environment and as with anything that makes its way into your drain, will ultimately end up in waterways, or water treatment plants. At FDX, we strongly advise our clients to avoid the use of chemical drain cleaners if possible.

Natural Drain Cleaning Recipes

Although maybe not entirely natural, there are a number of recipes you can try that will provide you with another drain cleaning option that is not as harmful to the environment and has a significantly lower risk for personal harm. 

The ingredients that go into homemade drain cleaners are usually non-toxic and are readily available from most supermarkets or hardware stores. If the problem causing your blocked drain is minor, then a mixture of baking soda, borax, lemon juice and vinegar could be enough to clear the blockage, whilst presenting no danger to you or risking damage to your pipes. Also, combining both a natural homemade drain cleaner, with one of the manual methods above can have better results than simply trying to manually clear the blockage. 

When should you call an expert?

If you have attempted to unblock your drain with the above mentioned methods and have no success, then it is probably time to call an expert. We have access to specialised equipment that will quickly and easily solve most blockage problems and minimise the potential for causing damage to your pipes. 

Also, in the interest of health and safety, any blockage that could involve you being exposed to sewerage should also only be attempted by a trained plumbing professional. Whilst it can be unpleasant, it is a part of our job and we understand all the precautions that should be taken to prevent illness or injury from being exposed to contaminants. 

Also, if the blockage is located in any stormwater or main drain lines then an expert should always be consulted. There are many things that can go wrong if you don’t do the job properly. The last thing you want is to cause further damage to your drains or plumbing and risk them backing up which can cause huge damage and significant repair bills for the average Sydney homeowner. 

Contact FSX Plumbing Lilyfield for Assistance with Blocked Drains in Sydney and surrounding suburbs. 

We hope that you have found this article helpful and that you are able to quickly and easily unblock your problem drain. If you have followed the advice of this article, but are still having issues with blocked drains, then feel free to reach out to our team of qualified, trained and skilled plumbing professionals. We have been helping with Sydney plumbing problems for many years and have earnt a reputation as one of the best 24 Hour plumbing services in Lilyfield.