Plumbing repairs Archives » Building Regulations South Africa
Dec 042013
 

What to do when you have Blocked Drains

Blocked Drains01W Blocked Drains

Blocked Drains02 Blocked DrainsDo your drains sometimes look like this, with smelly overflowing waste-water running into the street? Well a few days ago we had this problem. After a few tries with the plunger I gave it up as a bad job.

If you think that this is going to be an article on how to DIY and unblock your drains, you’re wrong. I called in the plumbers – and that’s what this is about. As I have an agreement with our landlord to check with him before incurring any expenses when it comes to essential maintenance of his property, I duly sent an email with a couple of pictures explaining the situation before taking action. When, after nearly a week there was no reply from him, I decided to go ahead anyway as the stench and health risk to everyone had to be sorted out. I phoned and asked the plumber for an estimate over the phone. This sounded reasonable, and I asked how soon they could get here.

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Blocked Drains06 s Blocked DrainsWithin 30 minutes of my call, the plumber – a company I had sourced myself, but which was highly recommended – was at the front door. What follows here is a step-by-step of what they found and how they fixed it.

 

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*A word of caution, if you are slightly prone to feeling queasy DO NOT read any further.*

Blocked Drains03 Blocked DrainsFirst they did a site inspection and located all the manhole covers. There are six plus one on the verge next to the road.

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Blocked Drains05 Blocked DrainsThe manhole next to the road seemed to be fine as there was nothing backed up.

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Blocked Drains07 Blocked DrainsThis is what they found. Disgusting sewage completely backed up and overflowing.

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Blocked Drains08 Blocked DrainsNext it was out with the “Big-Guns” – an industrial-strength rotating drain cleaner.

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Blocked Drains09 Blocked DrainsThe way it works is that the man at the septic pit feeds in the rotating coil with an attachment fitted to the front that is designed to clear the drain pipes. The second man attends to the machine and feeds the coil through.

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Blocked Drains12 Blocked DrainsOnce the blockage had been cleared, and the sewage had flowed away, then the coil was withdrawn and all the tree roots that had been blocking up the pipe were visible.

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Blocked Drains14 Blocked DrainsExtra lengths of the coil were then attached and re-inserted into the drain to make certain the blockage had been cleared.

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Blocked Drains13 Blocked DrainsThe extra lengths allowed the probe to go into the municipal line to check that it was clear.

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Blocked Drains15 Blocked DrainsThe next section to get sorted was the line from the kitchen that runs under the house.

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Blocked Drains16 Blocked DrainsThe same procedure was followed as before, with one person on the front and the other man working the machine.

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Blocked Drains18 Blocked DrainsAll sorts of unpleasant matter was extracted after a lengthy probe down the pipe.

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Blocked Drains20 Blocked DrainsA special long-handled plunger was used to clear the grease trap outside the kitchen.

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Pipe SquashS Blocked DrainsThese guys are the experts, but they found it particularly difficult to clear the drain under the house. They explained that the reason they struggled was because, without a concrete casing (which should have been in place), the weight of the soil and the house above it has gradually, over time, made the pipe oval (or irregular) in shape, which can cause blockages … and clearly this is what has happened.

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Blocked Drains06 s Blocked DrainsIf you see what these plumbers have to go through to sort out our problems, they are worth every cent they charge. And they have smiles on their faces.

Specifically, I can recommend these guys if you are in the Cape Town area. Contact Casa Plumbing and ask for Cheyenne (pronounced Shayne) or Anni on 073 228 4278

Mar 062013
 

Water Pipes, Steel Reinforcing and
Electric Cable Detector

MultiFinder Plus D Etch Detect Pipes and CablesEven though instruments that detect pipes and cables have been around for a number of years, they are, I believe, under used.

Pipe and cable detectors are indispensable tools for any contractors in the building industry from plumbers to electricians, and installers who have to drill holes into walls from time to time. All DIY homeowners should own one of these as well so that they know if they can safely drill in a particular spot or not. Building inspectors will also find this tool useful when making a report on a site. This universal detector for locating wood, metal, copper, iron and live wires is manufactured in Germany and distributed locally by RT Agencies cc. You can visit the rtagencies website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 MultiFinder use graphic1 Detect Pipes and CablesSeveral integrated sensors make the MultiFinder Plus a scanning and detection tool for many different applications. It features:

  • One-button operation to switch between the different measurement modes.
  • The user guide on the LC display makes the MultiFinder Plus easy and reliable to use.
  • Auto-Calibration: adjusts the device to different surfaces immediately after switching on.
  • Auto-Cal Plus: allows objects to be localized easily in Metal-Scan mode.
  • Acoustic and visual detection signals for finding objects.
  • High safety is guaranteed by the permanent voltage warning function.

Special feature: in metal mode it is even able to detect concealed lines when they are not live.

Detection Depth

MultiFinder use graphic2 Detect Pipes and CablesThe range of detection is up to 40 mm for wood/metal beam location in dry-walling i.e. a stud-scan, non-ferrous metals up to 50 mm and ferrous metals up to 100 mm depth. Live and dead electric cables can be measured to a depth of 40 mm with a live wire warning alarm built in.

The MultiFinder-Plus is the top-of-the-range model and there is a smaller model, the CombiFinder-Plus with a few less features but still a key piece of equipment to have in your toolbox.

There is more information on the RT Agencies website.

You can also contact Robbie van der Walt

Mobile: 082 444 2334  Office: 011 976 0388 Fax: 086 635 8799  email: [email protected]

 

Jan 062012
 

Burst Pipe Plumbing Problems can Result in Water Water Everywhere

BurstPipe5Jan775 s 300x200 Plumbing ProblemsIt was a case of water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink recently, when a burst pipe began to flood our rented home.

Tensions were high as water dribbled out from under the fridge. Another appliance was clearly about to give up the ghost! The bad news was that it’s the “best” of our three fridges, having been transferred from my mother-in-law’s Howick house only a year ago. We have one almost identical, but it’s changed its function to a full-on freezer. The replacement we bought when this happened some years ago is falling to pieces – literally, chip by chip. When the door disintegrates just a little more, we’ll be back in the fridge market yet again. So this was not good news.

What Happens When Water Leaks

Water has a devious nature, even when homes have been built according to building regulation requirements. It quite literally goes with the flow. The problem is that it is often impossible to assess the origin of the flow. That is why leaks can be such a huge problem.

In this case it seemed to be flowing from the fridge. But then on second thoughts, it looked as if it was coming from under a kitchen unit installed opposite the fridge. The entire bank of units is nearly 3 m long, and runs from steps that lead down from a guest loo that is located behind the kitchen, alongside the scullery.

Knowing that the house – or at least part of the house extension – was constructed without building plans, we figured it was quite possible that the water was coming from the cloakroom (so to speak). The fact that water was seeping out at both ends of the kitchen units seemed to confirm our suspicions.

Of course the know-all matriarch knew exactly what was going on!

“Your fridge is leaking badly!” she said on Day One… “It’s your fridge actually,” I pointed out.

Hearing chatter of a possible burst toilet or faulty water pipe a couple of days later, she pronounced: “Look, the toilet is leaking.”

“Actually no! It’s neither the fridge nor the toilet!” Like I said, water is devious.

By this time I had done a simple experiment using a towel and a sponge mop, and had ascertained that the flow was definitely from the direction of said fridge. The water that was seeping out the other end had reached its final destination.

BurstPipe5Jan776 s 300x200 Plumbing ProblemsI had also defrosted the fridge. Next we had to move the fridge. It was wet on the floor where the fridge had been, and the water seemed to be coming from the corner. My 21-year-old computer genius son was called in to help find the source. Since the inside floor of the cupboard just inside the scullery was already rotten to the core when we moved into the house – clearly due to flooding and probably due to burst pipes – he went to investigate the outside wall where he spotted water pouring from who-knows-where!

All we could do to stop the leaking water was to switch off the water supply to the house and hope that the owner’s agent would act immediately… which she did, though it only resulted in a temporary solution.

Plumbers and the Regulations

First of all, the National Building Regulations are VERY specific when it comes to plumbers and plumbing work. You’ll find the relevant clauses in Part A, Administration, A18 CONTROL OF PLUMBERS AND PLUMBING WORK.

It is clear as daylight that “No person shall perform the trade of plumbing … unless he is a trained plumber or works under the adequate control of a trained plumber or approved competent person.”

While the reasons are irrelevant when it comes to those who blatantly break the law by using untrained, unregistered people to do plumbing installations and repairs, the fact of the matter is that plumbing is one of the most expensive parts of any building process (if it isn’t then there’s something very wrong). Furthermore, if the proper procedures aren’t followed, people’s lives can be adversely affected in terms of health, injury and/or damage to property. However it would probably be difficult to hold a landlord liable because most lease agreements contain clauses that absolve him or her from all responsibility – even if it was in fact their fault.

So when a plumbing installation is done, plumbers have to use materials that have been approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and work correctly according to the National Building Regulations and various South African Nations Standards (SANS). Drainage installations must be tested by inspectors who work for the local authority before we are permitted to use the drains. Most local authorities also inspect all trenches and excavations before drains can be laid. They also insist that all plumbing and drain-laying is done, or overseen, by a qualified plumber who is registered with the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA).

For the record, a trained and qualified plumber is defined in South Africa as an apprentice who has passed a Department of Labour plumbing trade test or a plumber who has a national certificate in construction plumbing at NQF Level 3. But even if somebody passes the required trade test or national certificate, they cannot claim to be a legit plumber unless they are registered with IOPSA. The reason for this is perfectly simple: to make sure that all plumbing work is done safely, in the proper way, according to industry standards.

If plumbing is done correctly in the first place, maintenance issues will be minimized and we should all live happily ever after.

Plumbers and Our Rented Property

I have previously described a couple of the very many leaks we have experienced in the past 16 months. The horrifying fact is that owners of the property (past and present) have clearly ignored the law!

I discovered just the other day that renovations completed by the current owner include two bathrooms that don’t incorporate a septic tank in the (unofficial) building plans. Furthermore the “builder” who isn’t a builder in the real sense of the word, was also employed to do the plumbing! When a registered plumber was called in, he refused to do the job unless a septic tank was built or installed. Needless to say he did not accept the job.

While not related to plumbing directly, this same builder sealed one section of a roof from the inside! Seriously…  I dare not even think what would happen if these particular bathrooms were used on a continuous basis.

But back to the most recent leak that affects our home.

BurstPipe5Jan853 s 109x300 Plumbing ProblemsOn the positive side, someone was on site within two hours of us notifying the agent of the problem. I was assured that he knew the property. This puzzled me since it was a new name.

Funny how people can twist the “truth”. It turned out that he had never set foot on the property, but had a close relative who had worked for the dodgy “builder”. I cannot repeat what was said about the renovation-come-build because it appears a court case is pending!

The Leak Revealed

Having tracked the source of the flooding water to a corner of the kitchen, we were able to help the new (to us) plumbing expert find out where the leak was. It wasn’t too difficult since the water was pouring out on the outside at a position that coincided with what was clearly a poly-filled track down the wall for several metres, close to the geyser outlet pipe.

BurstPipe5Jan855 s 300x225 Plumbing Problems

Turns out he, like my son, is in IT. Plumbing? Don’t be silly!

BurstPipe5Jan859 s 225x300 Plumbing Problems

The temporary solution.

Nov 152011
 

Drainage, Plumbing, Sanitation and Water Disposal

drainage 035B s Drainage

Drainage and plumbing is not only what you see above ground. All water, waste disposal, soils and stormwater have to be drained away and treated to maintain safety and health. In many instances these pipes cannot be seen as they are buried underground and have to be installed by a qualified plumber using the correct pipework.

We get a number of requests asking us for the number of toilets, urinals, wash-hand basins and baths that have to be installed in buildings. This depends on how many people will live or work in a particular building. Part A20 states that:

“The occupancy of any building shall be classified and designated according to the appropriate occupancy class given in column 1 of table 1 and such classification shall reflect the primary function of such building: Provided that, in any building divided into two or more areas not having the same primary function, the occupancy of each such area shall be separately classified.”

There are two tables below Table 5 for residential accommodation and Table 6 for personnel in the workplace these are extracted fron the SANS 10400 Part P – Drainage.

Provision of Sanitary Fixtures Drainage