5 things you can do to prevent a blocked drain

Blocked drains can be a real emergency especially if your whole house gets blocked up and you cant use the toilet or shower so here's 5 things you can do right now to prevent a blocked drain. Did you know that some household blockages can actually be prevented and there things you can do your self to stop it happening?

Keep toilet paper to a minimum - This may seem a little odd, especially as toilets are designed to be used with toilet paper. However, using too much toilet paper can cause your drain or toilet to block. So how much is too much? Well thats a tricky one. Different toilets have different flow rates and outlet sizes so there is no none rule fits all here. However if you flush the toilet and the water level rises a significant amount before draining, its a good sign you have overloaded the toilet.

Use stick on fresheners instead of the cage types - While cage type toilet fresheners are common, it is also common for them to get accidentally flushed down into the drain where they get stuck. Fortunately there are new stick on types that can be used that stick directly onto the side of the bowl. Not only these pose no threat at all to your drains, they are actually more hiegenic as there is nowhere for the germs to hide.

Put food scraps and oil in the bin - This should be an obvious one but we are all guilty of trying to push those few pesky food scraps through the drain grate after we have finished washing the dishes. While its definitely not as pleasant to remove them by hand and place them in the bin, it does save your drains from food build up which may eventually cause a blockage

Clean your shower drain - Hair has to be the most common reason we see for shower drains to block up. You have you someone in the house who brushes their hair in the shower or it may even be you. You can rest assured that some of that hair is getting stuck and over time will cause your drain to block. Most showers these days can be cleaned by hand by removing the grate and this should be done often enough to keep the drain cleared.

Keep kids away from outside drains - Kids love to explore and experiment, and the drain connection pipe in your rear yard can be an attractive object to experiment. “Lets see how many toys we can get inside that drain” If you have a child that would love to play this game, it could be time for a chat or better yet find a new play area. Toys may be fun to put in the drain but they are not fun or easy to get out.

What to do when your drain blocks up

What To Do When Your Drain Blocks Up

So you have a blocked drain. Your stressed and your not sure what to do. In fact your pulling your hair out right now. Well, we understand having a blocked drain can be stressful but don't worry, follow these steps and you'll be well on your way to getting your home back to normal

Stop using the drain. This may seem obvious however just because the toilet flushes doesn’t mean the contents of said toilet are actually going where they should. Using your drain when you know you have a blockage only makes the cleaning and unblocking process more difficult. Not to mention messy.

Organise your plumber. Now is the time to get professional help. You'll need a plumber who has lots of experience and the right equipment for the job. Blocked drains can be complicated and should only be tackled by trained professionals

Keep children and pets away from the area - while they might think its an interesting thing to play with, blocked drains can leave a mess that is not only unsightly and foul but also unhygienic as well. Keep your kids and pets safe by keeping them away from the effected area

Close any doors that lead to the area - the last thing you want is anyone touching or accessing the area. Make sure that any unsuspecting guests don't accidentally enter the area but making sure all doors to the area are locked or noticed put in place

If you have sewerage inside your home try to clean this with a mop and bucket. Sometimes some sewerage will end up inside your home. To prevent damage to your home and to keeps smells and germs at bay, it is a good idea to clean the area as soon as you can with a mop and bucket. Try adding some detergent into the bucket as well to help the smell and kill the germs

Wait for help to arrive - let the professionals deal with the drain blockage while you relax. Your drain professional will know what type of blockage you have and the best way to fix it. They will be arriving with a professional drain cleaning vehicle and will be assessing your home as soon as they arrive. They will also be letting you know the charges up front for any works before they start.

Our expert professional plumbers clear blocked drains in Melbourneblocked drains in Geelong and blocked drains in Canberra.

Avoid costly hot water repairs in 5 easy steps

When your hot water system stops working it can be a real disaster. Not only do you have the inconvenience of having cold showers but the cost of repairs can be hefty depending on whats wrong. There are however things you can do to get the most out of your current hot water system and reduce the likely hood of needing expensive repairs done

Turn your system down - I know what you might be thinking, “but Richie I like a good hot long shower!” Don’t we all. My point is that more than 70% of all houses we attend have there hot water system turned up too high, not only does this cost you more to run but it puts extra stress on the tank which shortens its life. It also burns out the thermo couple quicker and shortens the life of the burners. So do your self and your system a favour and turn your system down

Release the PTR - whats the PTR you ask? It's the little valve on the right hand side of your system which acts as a safety release valve when the system is heating. Releasing this every 6 months allows the valve to open to full position which ensures it will work when you need it to.

Don’t cover your system - we have repeatedly seen home made covers for systems that effect the way the system works. Placing cover over your unit can restrict the air flow into and out of the system which can effect the combustion and in some cases stop the system working all together.

Keep your grass short - This may seem like an obvious one but we have seen some systems that have grass actually growing inside of them because the lawn was not kept under control. Keeping the access panel on and grass away from your system ensures it works as it is supposed to.

Don’t let pets dig under your system - Dogs love to dig right? Yep! well some dogs may see your foundations under your hot water as the perfect place to invest some digging time honing there skills. Unfortunately if the foundations are moved and the system starts to lean, you’ll be calling your plumber soon as the system will eventually turn its self off and you will more than likely need to re install the system from scratch. Soo… ensure your dogs dig up the roses instead of your hot water system.

How hot should your hot water be?

Can your hot water system actually be too hot? Does it really matter that much? Hot water inside the home is a necessary part of every day life. We use it from cleaning the dishes to showering the dog. So its important that this is done safely. Water that is hotter than 60 degrees is very dangerous especially to older senior citizens and younger children too.

However your water temperature can be too cold. With water sitting at lower temperatures Legionella can grow causing serious health concerns.

Above 70 °C : Legionella dies almost instantly

At 60 °C : 90% die in 2 minutes

At 50 °C : 90% die in 80–124 minutes, depending on strain

At 48 to 50 °C : Can survive but do not multiply

Ideal growth range

Setting too high can scald someone using the water. Setting the water too low can grow Legionella, so what temperature should you set your water. So what should you do?<

Check your hot water temperature - If you have a thermometer at home, run some hot water and test it. The temperature should be no hotter than 55 degrees at the tap, if it is hotter than that you should have your system turned down

Adjust your tempering valve - If your not sure what this is we don't recommend attempting this step on your own. If you do, Check what setting your hot water system is at and then check your tempering valve setting. Your system should be set to 60 degrees or hotter but the tempering valve should be set to deliver water no hotter than 55 degrees at the house

Got a burst water pipe? What to do next…

Got A burst water pipe? Almost everyone who lives in a home with toilets, showers and taps is going to have to deal with a burst water pipe at some stage of their life. So what to you do if this type of plumbing disaster happens to you? Below I will explain the things you need to know and do so you'll be prepared and handle it like a pro.

Who does this usually happen to? Notice I said people who live in a home and not just the person who owns the house. Thats right, you could be staying at your parents home for the weekend, you could be lodging at an Air BnB for the weekend or you could just be home alone one night. Everyone will deal with this plumbing disaster at some time or another.

How do I know if I have a burst water pipe? Several signs to look for when you suspect you a burst water pipe.

  • You could see water building up in a pool in your garden - you may even see a stream of water running across your concrete path way
  • Water spurting out of a wall or wetness around walls that seems to be getting worse
  • Hissing or loud spraying sounds in and around areas within your home where plumbing is installed
  • A high water bill - extremely high water bills are often a sign you have a hidden leak

So what can you do? Here are some practical and essential tips of things you can actually do once you have determined you have a burst water pipe.

If you have a burst outside your home

  • Turn off the water supply at the water meter - this will shut off the flow of water and stop the leak, it will also turn the water off to the whole house so toilets and showers will not work
  • Keep pets and children away from the effected area - hot water bursts especially can be harmful to pets and children
  • Contact your local plumber as soon as you can
  • You may turn the water back on briefly and only if it is safe to do so, so you can shower and use toilets then turn it back off again
  • Keep water off during the night should you need to wait overnight to get help

If you have a burst inside your home

  • Turn off the water supply at the water meter - this will shut off the flow of water and stop the water flowing into your house, it will also turn the water off to the whole house so toilets and showers will not work. Do this as quickly as you can
  • Do not turn the water back on for any reason
  • Contact your local emergency plumber and stress you have an emergency and need immediate assistance
  • Reduce damage to your home by using a mop and bucket and any old towels you have to clean up excess water
  • Contact your insurance company ASAP and inform them what has happened and get a claim lodged

Tips for tennants

  • Follow the steps above but contact your agent to get an emergency plumber for you
  • If your agent is uncontactable or is refusing to help you do have the right to organise a plumber yourself and seek reimbursement once the burst pipe has been fixed. (Check with local laws about the exact procedure and amounts you are able to claim)
  • Do your best to limit the damage to the landlords property, this will make the rectification works easier and less time consuming and will enable you to get back to normal quicker

A note on insurance - most insurance companies will pay for and damage resulting as a cause of the burst water pipe. They will not usually cover the pipe repair itself. If you have a hidden water leak, your insurance company may cover the cost of investigation water leak detection works and the damage caused by the leak, again they do not usually cover the pipe repair.

Follow these simple instructions and you will be able to deal with a burst water pipe at home or at work easily and with very little stress. Handle burst water pipes like a pro


friendly plumber in kitchen

Richie's last tip - If you are going away for a weekend or an extended amount of time (like leaving a holiday house or going on holiday from your home) turn the water off at the meter. This will save you a considerable amount of stress while your away as well as protecting your home from potentially catastrophic damage

Lower your hot water costs in 3 easy steps

Many of us are concerned about the rising cost of gas and electricity and with hot water making up approx 1/3 of your energy bill why not keep it as low as possible. We have put together 3 easy steps that anyone can do at home to keep your hot water energy bill as low as possible

Limit your showers - now before you get all angry with me, let me explain. What I don’t mean is cut your shower time down to 2 minutes and only shower once a day, by all means if you can do this it will make a big difference. what I mean is if you are customer to taking a good 20 minute shower, lets try to knock that down to 15 minutes. Ideally a 5 minute shower is what we are aiming for but lets take baby steps. Tasks like brushing your teeth can be done at the basin with cold water for example, rather than in the shower. You with me?

Turn your hot water system down - This may seem obvious but 80-90% of all hot water systems are set too hot. Reducing the temperature in the tank greatly reduces the running costs and also makes your system last longer! Double whammy! and you also have less chance of scolding yourself or young children too.

(Side note, hot water must be stored at 60 degrees or higher to prevent bugs developing in the system.)

Wash on cold water - This little tip can not only save on your hot water use it can also save you clothes too. Most modern machines have the ability to wash on cold water only and some only come with cold water supply. You will need to buy cold water detergent, so once your done with your current supply, make the switch to cold, you’ll never go back 🙂

Follow these simple steps and you’ll instantly save money on your hot water running costs

How much do plumbers charge?

It's probably one of the most asked question in our industry so I'm going to go through it step by step.

How much do plumbers in Melbourne and surrounding areas charge? What is a good hourly rate? Should I get a quote upfront? How much mark up should I expect to pay on materials? Do I need an itemised bill?

I'd like to address each of these questions to give everyone a clear guide to plumbers and how they charge.

A service plumber and a contract plumber

  • A service plumber is a plumber who will come to your home day or night and save you from anything from a dripping tap to a full blown burst water pipe emergency. They usually have sign written vans and you can find them in the Yellow Pages or on Google and they usually have a website and some reviews (Notice I said usually)
  • A contract plumber is a plumber that gets most of their work from builders and/or renovations. These guys specialise in new builds and tend to be booked up for months in advance. They are set up for dealing mostly with builders and can be very hard to get a hold of over the phone.

Now that we have that out of the way, there are two ways plumbers can charge and they often get mixed up

  • Hourly rate (Time + Materials) - this is when a plumber will typically charge a call out fee ($80-$160 and sometimes more) then charge an hourly rate or a division of that (per 15mins or per 30mins) once they have arrived. The good thing about this is you can keep an eye on the time and roughly know how much the bill will come to. The downside is that you have no control over how much your bill will be at the end and controlling your costs can be very difficult.
  • Flat rate (Standardised pricing) - this is similar to quoting upfront but is used for small jobs as well. (quoting is usually done for larger jobs where you may even get 3 quotes). This is where your plumber will price all the tasks that need to be done upfront before they start so you know what the total bill will come to before they start. Sometimes there will be a dispatch fee (usually small ranging from $39-$69) and that will usually get waived once you go ahead with any work.

Choosing the right plumber for the job.

If you have a large project (renovation or are building a new house) It makes sense to get a plumber that specialises in this type of work (Contract plumber). They tend to be set up for this, they should have the right tools (Excavators, lazer levels, pex piping tools) and will quote upfront and are used to competing with other plumbers for work. They will be competitively priced and usually very fast at completing the work. They can be messy, hard to get a hold of (especially after hours) and paper work will typically be the last thing they think about. (Think invoices, compliance certificate, permits and the like). Using a service based plumber on a large project could be likened to going to the milk bar for your weekly shop - you are paying more for convenience when you don't need to.

Service plumbers however are the ones you call when you have a small job or need someone really quickly. They tend to charge more than contract plumbers and are usually more organised and a lot easier to get in contact with. They will also have specialist tools and equipment that project plumbers don't have (Such a leak detection equipment or CCTV cameras). Service plumbers can use both methods of charging (hourly rate or flat rate)

So which way of charging is best?

While hourly rate can seem attractive - it often seems low especially when the hourly rate can be between $60-$120 per hour because you may already have an idea of how long you "think" a job should take. There are some things you will need consider when choosing a plumber who charges by the hour

  • Will they have all the parts with them when they arrive? - or will they need to get them (and charge you for the time they spend)
  • Are they experienced in the job they are doing for you? - this may seem like an obvious one (After all you've called a plumber right) But Plumbing is a very broad trade and your plumber may take longer to complete some tasks (and therefore charge you more)
  • If something goes wrong are they going to charge you extra to fix it? Again seems obvious but some plumbers on an hourly rate (Especially at the lower end) expect to be paid even if they are fixing their own stuff ups
  • What happens when the job takes longer? Is there a cap on how long the job will take or are you throwing money to wind?
  • Are you paying for the plumber to answer their phone? Many small plumbers will get calls while they are on your job (They need to answer it after all and don't have a receptionist) Are they going to be doing that on your time? or do they pause the "clock" while they take a call?
  • How much is your plumber charging for parts? Do they give you the "trade price" and if so will they show you the receipt or do they charge a margin? and if so do they offer a warranty for their parts and will they handle a warranty claim on your behalf on larger items like hot water systems or heaters?

Is flat rate a better option? If you feel more comfortable knowing how much a job will cost you before the plumber starts work - here are some things you should look for...

  • Is the call out fee/dispatch fee waived when you go ahead with work? Sometimes it is and sometimes it is added to the bill
  • Have you checked the reviews for the plumber? A great way to get a gauge on a plumbing business you have not used before is to see what other people who have used them have said. Do a quick Google search and check the reviews. some good review sites are
    • Google
    • Facebook
    • Trustpilot
    • Product review
    • Yelp
  • What warranties does the company offer on the products or services they sell? Most plumbers and plumbing companies should offer at least a 10 year warranty and be willing to stand behind their work if something goes wrong.
  • What are they like answering their phone? How hard was it for you to get through the first time you called them? If it was hard the first time, imagine how hard it will be if you have a complaint.

The bottom line

It is almost impossible to give a price over the phone or otherwise without actually seeing the job. Any plumber that tries to do this is doing you a disservice for several reasons...

  • No plumbing job is ever the same so the price is inaccurate which can lead to two things happening
    1. The plumber will charge you more than they quoted you which will leave a bad taste in your mouth
    2. The plumber won't charge you more and will try to do half a job to get out of it by taking as little loss on the job as possible (inevitably leading to faulty workmanship and an angry customer)

Do your research into which method of charging you are most comfortable with and research each plumbing company to see how reputable and experienced they are.

You should always know how much a job will cost you before any work is started and you should know who will be liable if something goes wrong.

You should feel comfortable with the company you have chosen and the process should be fairly easy from initial call to completion.