Plumbing – External

All new Australian houses come with one external tap next to the water meter……..but what other external plumbing might you need?

If you are on an estate with Recycled Water you will have two meters and two taps although they will probably be next to one another.

Here some thoughts about other external plumbing:

Garden Watering

A friend of mine said he needed a tap at each corner of the building and from my experience I think he was pretty right.

Our existing house has one tap at each side and at least one more would be useful.

Ideally these taps should be supplied from either your recycled water supply, or your tank water supply.

Al Fresco / Outdoor Kitchen / Barbeque Area

Whatever you call this area at least a cold water supply will be useful.

If you have a sink, and it is near the other hot water services a hot water tap may also be worthwhile. (If its some way from the house it will probably be a waste of time as it will take too long for the hot water to come through.)

If you have a gas barbeque and you have mains gas think about extending the gas supply,

Mains Gas costs less than half the price of bottled gas and doesn’t run out in the middle of a barby.

Back Door and/or Garage Wash Basin

I usually wash my hands in the laundry trough when I come in from the garden but some swear by keeping all garden and garage dirt out of the house.

Outside Shower

I have seen a couple of examples of this where the bathroom has an external door and an outside shower.

It looks really good for summer use. . . Just make sure you have good privacy screening!

Swimming Pool

  • Supply for topping up, preferably rainwater.
  • Shower, do you want hot or are you happy just with cold.


See the Rainwater section of the sustainability category for more information on this subject.


What’s your most important outside plumbing?

For similar posts see Plumbing

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’



Separate Toilets?

Most house plans show a toilet in the master bathroom but a separate toilet in the other bathroom……………. Why?

Maybe it’s because you don’t want visitors to see the bathroom, but where are they going to wash their hands?

Is it because you want somewhere quiet to go and read?

In England the only time people generally had a separate toilet was downstairs when the main bathroom with a toilet was upstairs.

I used to hang my college certificates in the downstairs toilet in one house. . . . That’s because I think you should never be in a dignified position when you are reviewing your achievements.

To make your house more accessible for a disabled visitor, or even old or injured family members, it’s easier for the toilet to be in the bathroom.

To get an idea go and look how a disabled toilet is organised in your local shopping centre.

I suppose if you have a big family queuing for the bathroom it might be a problem but then I would have though the best thing would be, rather than have a bathroom and a toilet to have two shower rooms each having a washbasin and a toilet.

With the shower rooms being smaller than a bathroom they probably wouldn’t take up much more space than a bathroom plus toilet.

Perhaps in one room you could have a half bath rather than a shower tray so you could still be able to give small children and babies a bath.

Must have a separate toilet

If you really want a separate toilet, as many people do, here are a couple of reasons why you might think of opening the door outwards rather than inwards as is typical.

    • You can make the toilet area a bit smaller which can help fit it in.
    • If someone passes out they will most likely fall forward against the door. If the door opens inwards how would you get them out?

One question I haven’t resolved is how should you decorate a separate toilet and should you install magazine rack?

After all reading on the toilet is the only time most of us men do any multi-tasking.


As you can see I can’t take this issue too seriously so here’s an appropriate web page: Strange Toilets

N.B I hope you liked the photo of the Avocado Bathroom. . . it was very trendy when we were re-modelling our first home

For other posts about House layouts see Plans

For Toilets see Plumbing

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Plumbing Acronyms

There are a lot of acronyms used on plumbing drawings so here are a few definitions:

AGAgricultural (Drains)
B – Basin
Bth – Bath
BT – Boundary Trap
DP – Down Pipe
FW – Floor Waste
HWS – Hot Water Service
IC – Inspection Chamber
IS – Inspection Shaft (also IO -Inspection Opening)
ORGOverflow Relief Gully
PRV – Pressure Reducing Valve
RRJ – Rubber Ring Joints
RWH – Rain Water Head
SHR – Shower
ST – Stop Tap
SW – Storm Water Pipe (or SWD – Storm Water Drain)
SWJ – Solvent Welded Joints
TR – Laundry Trough
VC – Vitrified Clay
VP – Vent Pipe (sometimes UVP – Upstream Vent Pipe)
WC – Water Closet (Toilet)
S –  Kitchen Sink
SV – Stop Valve

If you have seen an acronym you don’t understand, then let me know, and I will try to give you an answer.

See Jargon for more posts


Overflow Relief Gulley

Have you ever wondered what this is in your garden?

Perhaps you have seen ‘ORG’ on a drawing.

Well the answer is it’s called an Overflow Relief Gully. It needs to between the house and the connection to the main sewer.

An ORG is a vital part of protecting your house against Sewage blockages in the main causing an overflow inside your house.

The grate is set 150mm below the level of the lowest waste water fitting in your house. Normally the shower drain or Floor Drain. ( In cases where the 150mm minimum height cannot be achieved, a reflux valve should be installed in addition to the ORG)

In the event of a sewer blockage the sewage can flow out of the ORG. Not very nice!…….. but much better than flowing out across your floor.

To make sure it works when you need it:

  • DON’T landscape over it!
  • DON’T put a plant pot …… or anything else, on top of it!
  • DON’T fasten the grate down! 
  • DON’T allow storm water to flow into it! 


Noisy Pipes

There are three common types of noise in plumbing systems:

Rattling When Water Is Turned On

Reasons for this type of sound are:

  • If the system is new or just been altered it could be air in the pipes.
  • With hydronic heating, or some solar systems it could  be steam in the pipes.
  • Pipes that are not well fixed and can move.

See Rattling or Thumping Pipes for suggested cures.

Whistling or Moaning When Water Is Running

This is known as Harmonic Vibration. Its usually due to  high water pressure combined with  partially open valves. Sometimes it can also be caused by pipes that are too small and/or too many bends.

Turning the Stop tap down a bit can reduce the problem.

Banging When Water Is Turned Off

A single sharp bang, sometimes followed by a shuddering vibration, may occur when a suddenly closed valve forces flowing water to stop abruptly. For example when a washing machine finishes filling.

You should take action to Stop Water Hammer as soon as possible. This is because each time it occurs the pipes are being subjected to the fatigue of  several waves of high pressure which can result in leaks in pipes and fixtures.


See Settling In for more information about when you move into your new house.


Water Hammer Cures

If you are getting water hammer in your new house it can be really annoying.

As the problem is caused by fast flowing water being stopped suddenly here are some options to cure it.

Slow the overall speed of flow down

Pressure, which affects the speed of water flow, does vary depending on your location. By turning down valves you will counteract the high pressure and slow the flow down.

These are both no cost options which are worth trying first.

    • To the whole house

If you have got very high pressure at your property you may be able to turn down the external stop tap to the house, while still getting plenty of flow to your taps.

    • To the washing machine and dishwasher

These appliances have separate supply valves which can be turned down. The machines will take a little longer to fill adding a couple of minutes to the wash time………..but how many of us are in that much of a rush!

Don’t stop the flow as fast

Lever action taps are the worst kind of taps for causing water hammer because they can be shut off quickly.

Softer slowing of flow, rather than a sudden stop will reduce water hammer.

These are three options to achieve a softer flow cut off in, listed in order of increasing cost.

    • Slowly turn off  taps.

The no cost option……….but doesn’t always work if you have got children, or just have fast ‘lever action’ taps or mixers.

    • Fit anti- hammer tap valves

These replace the Standard valve inserts with a unit that includes a spring. The spring allows any pressure surge to escape past it and means the tap need more of a turn, and thus longer time, to fully close.

Typically they cost around $6 each plus fitting.

Not  suitable for the more complex mixer units.

    • Fit a surge arrester

This device is fitted to the pipe before the valve. The cylinder  has a piston that separates the water from compressed air in the top.

When the valve shuts some of the water (and the pressure surge) is diverted into the arrester pushing the piston up and compressing the air. It acts a bit like car ‘shockers’ to slow the water flow.

There are several sizes of arrester depending on your system with prices starting at around $70 plus fitting.

Fit a Pressure Reducing Valves

See this link for more information: PRV


See Settling In for more information about when you move into your new house.

See Rattling and Thumping Pipes for more noise problems.