Renovations need to allow for Plumbing Upgrades

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1019
Angular Bath

When looking to renovate a bathroom or kitchen, it pays to have your plumber over at the same time as your builder to get a quote. The reason for this is to ensure that what is being requested can be done legally.  It also allows the plumber to check if the plumbing to the property needs to be upgraded to align with the current plumbing by-laws.

Whenever plumbing is altered on a house, the plumber is required to ensure the rest of the house complies with current plumbing standards. His or her negligence to do so can

  • incur a fine from the Plumbing Authority
  • hold up the sale of the property if it was to be put on the market
  • and/or be void of insurance should the unimaginable flood or accident occur causing damage or harm

We started a bathroom renovation last week. All the fixtures were going back in the same position, but some of the waste pipes had to be adjusted to suit the new wall positions. (For example the existing basin waste was run externally along the wall and the builder requested for it to be run inside the stud wall to the same position.) Once we touched the waste pipe, we had to check that there was an ORG (overflow relief gully) on the property and that the hot water unit had a tempering valve.  Because the house was over 30 years, both these items needed to be installed to bring the property up to the current standard.

I have written posts about ORG’s before. They are mandatory on all houses as they prevent sewerage overflowing  inside the home if the sewer backs up.

On Friday we installed the ORG but there were a few minor hiccups.

Firstly, in the area that needed to be excavated we could see that a Telstra line was also laid down underground in the same position. The owner had told us that when a plumber replaced the sewer pipe 7 years ago, he had cut into the phone line and Telstra had to come out and fix the line. We were hoping to avoid doing the same thing.

So dad and I arrived at 6:45am to hand dig the area to locate the Telstra line and ensure the excavator wouldn’t lift it up.

We were able to locate and follow the Telstra line to know where not to excavate. When we hand dug a bit more we found another white conduit pipe which we assumed must have been the old phone line because the first line we found looked newer so we assumed Telstra had left the old broken phone cable in the ground and had rerun a new line.

 

We found two conduits for the phone line, one looked newer than the other
We found two conduits for the phone line, one looked newer than the other

Well the excavator came and started to dig deeper and deeper and we couldn’t find the sewer. This was our second problem. So the excavator moved to another position to see if the sewer could be dug up there and in the process lifted and broke the phone line which we thought was the old line.

Starting to excavate to find the existing 100mm sewer
Starting to excavate to find the existing 100mm sewer

Unfortunately it wasn’t an old telephone line, it was the telephone line and the other new conduit line we found was Foxtel.

I felt my gut drop when we realized the phone line was stuffed. Thankfully the electrician onsite was  licensed to run cables and advised that he could fix the line for us. Thank the Lord for that because who knows how long and how much Telstra would charge to fix the line.

Found the sewer under the garden bed. Cut in using a junction to branch off for the ORG
Found the sewer under the garden bed. Cut in using a junction to branch off for the ORG

Once we found the sewer it was relatively easy to cut a junction into it and run the branch for the ORG to where the hose tap was located on the gate wall.

ORG’s need a hose tap over top to keep the water seal at the bottom of the trap to prevent sewer gases coming up into the air.  You or your neighbours don’t want to smell poop.

Bedding sand being placed under the pipe
Bedding sand being placed under the pipe

So the lessons to be learned from this are:

  • Renovations need to allow for plumbing upgrades so have your plumber and builder over at the same time to discuss what needs to be done and allow extra in the budget to cover the costs AND
  • Dial before you dig and don’t assume that old looking cables in the ground might be redundant
    The ORG is the grated drain which is the deepest part of the sewer so if a blockage ocurrs, the sewerage will overflow out of the grate and not in the lowest bathroom fixture in the house
    The ORG is the grated drain which is the deepest part of the sewer so if a blockage occurs, the sewerage will overflow out of the grate and not in the lowest bathroom fixture in the house