26 September 2023

Regulator flushes out toilet trouble

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Western Australia’s plumbing regulator is warning homeowners about the health risks of do-it-yourself installation of toilet hygiene spray hoses.

The Executive Director of Building and Energy, Saj Abdoolakhan said the warning followed a rise in sales of the flexible douche hoses in the wake of toilet paper shortages due to COVID-19.

“Hygiene spray hoses for toilets or bidets are classed as high-hazard plumbing equipment due to the risk of toilet water mixing with drinking water if they are not installed according to specific Australian plumbing standards,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“By law, only a licensed plumber is allowed to install this equipment, which must have an appropriate backflow prevention device to eliminate the risk of contamination of the drinking water supply.”

He said cross-contamination of waste products with drinking water could cause serious illness or even death from bacteria and other infections.

Mr Abdoolakhan said bathroom spray hoses continued to sell out quickly at hardware stores in Western Australia, while data sourced by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission revealed that Google searches in Australia for the term ‘bidets’ increased tenfold during March.

“We are also reminding consumers not to flush paper towels or wipes down the toilet,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“Toilet paper is designed to be flushed, but heavier paper or wipes can cause expensive and inconvenient blockages at your home or gridlock of the wider sewage system.”

He noted that Product Safety Australia had also published advice on the supply and installation of bidet products.

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