Author Archives: Holly Chapman

Everything You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide Testing

Did you know that even though a staggering amount of Victorian properties are fitted with gas heating, many people aren’t aware of the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning?

Being informed of the risks and the preventative measures you can take - and acting on those measures - is critical for keeping yourself and those around you safe.

As we write this, Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week approaches (29 April - 5 May 2019). Supported by Energy Safe Victoria, CO Awareness Week was launched by the Chase and Tyler Foundation because Vanessa Robinson, their mother, is doing everything she can to ensure other families don’t suffer the same fate as hers.

As a Victorian business and qualified gasfitters, Toscano Plumbing want to do everything we can to support CO Awareness Week and help our fellow Victorians understand how to stay safe.

This article will help you understand why carbon monoxide testing is compulsory, what else you should do to reduce the risk of CO poisoning and who you should engage for carbon monoxide testing at your property.

What is Carbon Monoxide and how do leaks occur?

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that is toxic to humans and animals. It is known as a silent killer because you can’t see it, hear it, taste it or even smell it - that’s what makes it such a threat in our homes and workspaces.

CO can come from any fuel-burning appliance when the fuel does not burn away completely. Leaks occur when those appliances are faulty, poorly-maintained or old.

But improper ventilation and misuse is also a problem. If there is nowhere for the gas to escape, or if extraction fans are drawing the air out of a space more quickly than it can be replenished, air (and the CO) enter the room, instead of venting to the outside. Similarly, if there are cracks or holes in the mortar or brickwork of a brick chimney, the chimney may not be able to effectively vent combustion products, creating back pressure and drawing CO inside.

Lack of awareness around carbon monoxide poisoning also shows up when people move outdoor heating appliances indoors or to enclosed areas. These products were not designed to be used in this manner, so without adequate ventilation, or a flue to disperse CO outside, the gas builds up to potentially deadly levels.

What is Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs by inhaling leaked CO. The severity of the effects suffered depend on the concentration of the gas, the length of exposure and the person who has inhaled it. Those at an increased risk are the elderly, children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, those suffering from heart disease, anemia or respiratory illnesses.

CO prevents the transport of oxygen and oxygen use in the body. Because the symptoms are nonspecific, if you don’t know what to look for, it’s easy to miss the cause until it’s too late.

Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Malaise
  • Reduction in cognitive and functional capacity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ongoing chronic illness
  • Death

A May 2012 Report to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism by the Allen Consulting Group stated: “the QRA estimated that one death and 21.3 injuries are caused by CO poisoning by gas appliances each year in Australia.”

But often, it’s not just one individual at a time that suffers fatal poisoning, but family groups. This is because they were home together when the leak occurred, or a relative has gone to assist, and find themselves also overcome by CO. In fact, Professor Anthony Brown from the School of Rural Health at the University of Sydney said, “in over 60 per cent of cases, not only did the victim die, but the first rescuer as well.” "Between four to six minutes turns a rescue into a recovery," he said.

You can take action today to ensure your property is safe

There are many ways to keep your family, friends, employees and tenants safe from CO poisoning:

1. Carbon monoxide testing

Ensure all types of gas heaters are serviced at least every two years by a registered gasfitter and tested for CO spillage. While every two years is the mandatory testing requirement, you can and often should have appliances tested more often.

If you notice any of these signs, stop using the appliance immediately and contact Toscano Plumbing for advice and to arrange for carbon monoxide testing:

  • Your appliance is showing yellow flames instead of a sharp blue (although yellow flames are sometimes deliberate for decorative effect in some gas log fires/fireplaces)
  • There is no apparent reason for your heater/fireplace to go out, yet it does
  • There is discolouration or soot around the gas heater/fireplace or peeling paint above the appliance
  • The cowl on top of the flue pipe is damaged
  • Debris has fallen down the chimney/flue pipe

2. Sweep and inspect chimneys and flues annually or more often

3. Never DIY the installation of ventilation.

Always contract the work to a licenced builder, gasfitter or electrician.

4. Ensure there is appropriate ventilation when using appliances

5. Have high-quality audible carbon monoxide alarms fitted to your residence by a qualified gasfitter.

Preferably outside the entry points to sleeping and living areas. These serve as an added point of protection to your regular servicing and upkeep.

As there is currently no Australian Standard for carbon monoxide alarms, it is recommended you choose ones certified to European or US standards (EN50291 or UL2034).

Note: alarms are not a replacement for carbon monoxide testing.

6. Never leave a car idling in an enclosed space

7. Never use external gas heaters indoors or in enclosed areas

8. Never tamper with vents on gas heaters

9. Learn how to recognise CO poisoning

How is carbon monoxide testing done?

Gasfitters follow guidelines set out by Energy Safe Victoria in their use of carbon monoxide detection equipment. Gasfitters test for CO in two main ways:

1. Testing for a negative pressure environment

Your gasfitter will test the environment created when exhaust fans are turned on throughout the property. They do this by creating a small source of smoke with a smoke pen and watching where the smoke travels. If the smoke moves towards the heater’s exhaust, this is a sign it is functioning correctly. However, if it moves towards extraction fans, there is negative pressure.

Your gasfitter will advise you of a recommended course of action to rectify a negative pressure environment.

2. Servicing and testing individual appliances for CO spillage

Your gasfitter will dismantle and clean the appliance as part of the service. They will also perform a flue integrity check and ventilation size and clearance check. They will note any damage to the appliance and whether remedial work is required, as well as checking connections between the furnace, venting systems and flue pipes.

After the service, your gasfitter will use a CO analyser to test for spillage. They will test both the appliance and the surrounding area to ensure no detection of CO in the air.

If spillage is detected and is unable to be immediately rectified, your gasfitter is legally required to disable the appliance for being unsafe. They will recommend the appropriate course of action to repair or replace the appliance.

Who can do carbon monoxide testing?

Carbon monoxide testing should only be performed by a licenced and registered gasfitter who has completed the Master Plumbers CO training course. Look for “Gas Servicing – Type A” on their plumbing licence. In Victoria, you will find this on a Victorian Building Authority Plumbing Licence.

All Toscano Plumbing plumbers & gasfitters are licenced and registered to perform carbon monoxide testing, so you can rest assured that your safety is in the right hands.

Don’t be complacent - take action today.

For advice or to book your CO test, contact our team of gasfitters on 1300 867 226.

Why Is Leak Detection So Important For Your Home?

As a home owner, have you noticed that your water bill has gone up compared to previous months, or a water puddle has formed on your floor. Are you concerned that your premises may be in danger from a leak, but you’re not sure what is going on or where the water is coming from?

Toscano Plumbing can quickly determine whether you actually have a leak, pinpoint exactly where your leak is, and provide professional repairs as a licensed plumber. Toscano Plumbing will come out as quickly as possible to ensure that the damage to your property is minimised.

How to Detect a Water Leak in Your Home

Detecting the precise location of a water leak can be difficult, but there are several signs that you can look out for that can tell you that it is occurring:
● Unexplained high water bill
● Wet carpet
● Water puddle
● Wet spot on walls or ceiling
● The sound of water running, but without visible signs of water
● Reduced water pressure from taps

Prevent Damage to Your Home Before It’s Too Late!

Water leaks can cause serious and expensive damage to your home. Here are some of the ways a leak left unrepaired can cause major damage:

1. Damaged Paint/Wallpaper

Your walls can give you the first sign of a possible water leak problem in your home. Water and moisture can get trapped between the wall and the wallpaper/paint and cause the bond to undo, causing peeling and flaking.

2. Damaged Walls

A wall that is deformed or stained for no apparent reason may point to a plumbing leak. When a dry wall comes in contact with water or moisture, the plaster becomes soft, starts to bubble and can crumble. This can become an expensive problem to fix.

3. Damaged Floors

If you find a leak in the floor of your home, such as your bathroom, cracking or staining can occur. The bathroom tiles may also start to loosen due to the moisture underneath it breaking down the grouting between them.

4. Mold/Mildew

The appearance of mold or mildew on your wall or floors can keep reappearing in the case of a leak. Mold tends to flourish in moist areas, and a leaking pipe located behind a wall or underneath the floor provides the perfect atmosphere for it to spawn and cause damage.
Mold or mildew resulting from a leaking pipe can pose a serious health risk to you and your family, which is why it is important to get it detected and fixed as early as possible.

5. Bad Smell of Stale Water

When a pipe-leak goes unnoticed for a long period of time, water starts to accumulate. As it becomes stale it starts to smell very bad. If you clean your home regularly, but still notice a musty or damp smell, then you probably have a leak on your hands. Sometimes, the water may not dry up, which can only worsen the problem by causing mold or mildew that just won’t go away.

Ways to Check for Water Leaks

Detecting hidden water leaks in your plumbing system not only saves you money, but it can also prevent potential disaster down the road.

Check the water meter

One of the easiest way to tell if your home has a water leak is to check the water meter. First, turn off all the water using appliances, making sure the washing machine, dishwasher, and all taps are off. Check the water meter and take a reading. Then come back in a couple of hours, making sure all the water stays off. If the meter changed, you probably have a small water leak on your hands.

Monitor your water bill

It is easy to go on-line and check your water bill. Check previous months and if you notice a large increase without a change in your usage, you probably have a water leak.

Use some food coloring

Toilets make up a good percent of water used in a home so it’s a good idea to test it for leaks. Just add a few drops of food coloring to the tank of the toilet, wait a few minutes, if the color shows up in the toilet bowl, you have a water leak.

Don’t forget to check outside

Check your outdoor taps, hoses, and irrigation system. Just a pinhole leak can account for 5,000-10,000 litres of wasted water a month!

Have a Check Performed by a Licensed Plumbing Professional

Since most water pipes are located underground and behind walls, it can make detecting water leaks difficult. It is worth the investment to have a professional water leak detection service to inspect your home.

Our Advanced Leak Detection Technology

Acoustic Leak Detection: Our technicians are trained to utilise the most advanced acoustic leak detection system. Sensitive ultrasound devices can “listen” at a frequency beyond the human range of hearing. To our instruments, even the tiniest leak makes a traceable noise.

Thermography: We utilise state-of-the-art thermography, which is similar to a color infrared photograph. With it, we can identify tiny temperature differences that can lead us to leaks.

Why Is Leak Detection So Important For A Business?

As a business owner, water can be a silent danger to your business. Left undetected, water leaks can potentially damage your premises, destroy data and ruin your equipment. Potentially, if a leak is left unresolved, the cost to repair or replace equipment or data as well as interruption to your business operation can be disastrous.

Signs that You May Have a Water Leak

There are several common signs that your commercial building may have a water leak:

  • Unexplained high water bill
  • Wet carpet
  • Water puddle
  • Wet spot on walls or ceiling
  • The sound of water running, but without visible signs of water
  • Reduced water pressure from taps

As a business owner, you may have noticed that your water bill has gone up since last month, or you may have spotted a water puddle on your floor or marks on your ceiling. This may be a sign that your premises may have a hidden leak.

Best Get it Checked Out Sooner Rather Than Later

Detecting hidden water leaks in your plumbing system not only saves you money, but it can also prevent potential disaster to your business. Since most water pipes are located underground and behind walls, it can make detecting water leaks difficult. It is worth the investment to have a professional water leak detection service from a commercial plumbing company to inspect your business premises.

Using acoustic leak detection technology, Toscano Plumbing can quickly find leaks in your home, pinpointing exactly where your leak is, and provide appropriate repairs as a licensed plumber. Toscano Plumbing will come out as quickly as possible, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that the damage to your property is minimized.

The consequences of not dealing with a suspected water leak can really compound the problem, leading to the need for more expensive repairs from extensive water damage.

Here are some examples of how water leaks on your premises can quickly turn into a big problem:

1. Damaged Paint/Wallpaper

When water and moisture gets trapped between the wall and the wallpaper/paint, they eradicate the bond and they will start to peel and fall off. This kind of degradation rapidly and significantly reduces the lifespan of your wall surfaces.

2. Damaged Walls

A wall that is deformed or stained for no apparent reason may point to a plumbing leak. When a dry wall comes in contact with water or moisture, it becomes soft, starts to bubble and eventually crumbles. This can quickly create a major structural problem in a surprisingly short amount of time.

3. Damaged Floors

The floors in your building can start cracking or staining, requiring expensive repairs or replacement. The bathroom tiles may also start to loosen due to the moisture underneath it. The culprit could be a pipe that has burst underneath your floor. Digging up floors and replacing them will surely cause an expensive disruption to your business and should be prevented if possible.

4. Mold/Mildew

Hidden water leaks can cause the appearance of mold or mildew on your wall or floors. Mold tends to flourish in moist areas, and a leaking pipe located behind a wall or underneath the floor provides the perfect atmosphere for it to flourish and cause damage. Mold and mildew resulting from a leaking pipe can pose a serious health risk to your colleagues and customers, which is why it is important to get it detected and fixed as early as possible.

5. Bad Smell of Stale Water

When a pipe-leak goes unnoticed for a long period of time, water starts to accumulate. As it becomes stale it starts to stink. You may clean your premises regularly, but still notice a musty or damp smell, then you probably have a leak on your hands. Sometimes, the water may not dry up, which can only worsen the problem by causing mold or mildew. Unpleasant smells are a real sales killer!

How Do We Find Leaks So Fast?

Your leak will be located using a combination of several electronic leak detectors. Toscano Plumbing uses cutting edge technology that combines equipment and techniques developed in-house, as well as the best training available. Equally important is the experience of our technicians, who receive continuous hands-on training at our state-of-the-art training facility.

Our Acoustic Leak Detection Technology

Our technicians are trained to utilize the most advanced acoustic leak inspection system. These sensitive devices can “listen” at a frequency beyond the human range of hearing. To our instruments, even the tiniest leak makes a traceable noise. This allows us to detect leaks no matter how hidden or small, preventing damage before it’s too late.

If you suspect a water leak in your home, contact the team at Toscano Plumbing for quick and accurate detection.