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The Property Pack

The Murky Secrets of Brisbane Plumbing


Next time you are perched on the porcelain throne, take a moment to thank your lucky stars that you were born in an era with modern plumbing and drainage! 

Being able to flush toilet waste away without a thought for where it is going is something that many of us take for granted, but it’s a luxury that older generations of people living in Brisbane may remember living without. In fact, much of Brisbane didn’t have sewer connections well into the 1960s - and as late as 1965, 45% of Australian homes were not connected to any sewerage system. Take a moment to shudder if you need to – we certainly did! 

The Problem of Night Soil 

Outdoor toilets - or ‘dunnies’ as they are known colloquially - were mandatory in Brisbane from the late 1800s. Many of these remained in use in Brisbane’s outer suburbs into the late 1960s when the whole city was connected to a sewerage network. These outdoor toilets were emptied once a week by the dunny man or the night soil man. File this under Worst Career Choice Ever! 

Historically, the term ‘night soil’ was used to refer to human faeces, or what has also evocatively been named ‘faecal sludge.’ Once the night soil men had collected the city’s waste, the conundrum was what to do with it. Before Brisbane was connected to a sewerage network, a range of solutions to the unpleasant problem were employed, including burying it in shallow trenches on St Helena Island (home to some very unfortunate prison inmates), and putting it on a barge, towing it out to Moreton Island and then dumping it in the sea! 

Modern Plumbing Problems 

Whilst we no longer need to worry about heavy rain washing night soil into our streets, or the smell of cesspits wafting into our homes on a hot Brisbane day, modern plumbing is not infallible. In fact, there are a variety of ways your plumbing can leave you up the proverbial creek! 

Cracked or Blocked Pipes 

The flood season definitely causes a spike in drainage issues, but it’s actually during periods of little to no rain that Brisbane plumbers see an increase in cracked and blocked pipes, often as the result of damage from tree roots desperate for water. 

What you may not know, and many plumbers won’t tell you, is that there is a method called pipe lining that is a fast, reliable, and budget-friendly alternative to excavating and replacing broken pipes. If you suspect cracked or blocked pipes in your home, call in a drain blockage specialist to investigate. Addressing the problem promptly could save you lots of headaches both now and in the future – and significantly reduce your plumbing bills, too. 

Skipping Hot Water System Servicing 

Neglecting to service your hot water system may cause it to run inefficiently. This leads to higher running costs – but even worse, could reduce the overall lifespan of the system which means you’ll need to replace it sooner. Our advice? Find a reputable plumber to service your hot water system regularly! 

Clogged Toilets 

If you have a toilet that gets clogged regularly, do not ignore it and hope that the problem will go away. A toilet that is left clogged can result in leakage at the base. If you’ve ever noticed a little puddle on the floor at the base of your toilet, there is a very good chance that it is toilet water. If left untreated, you could be paddling in your own night soil any day now! 

A Final Word on Avoiding Plumbing Disasters 

Plumbing problems are a part of homeownership – BUT plumbing catastrophes shouldn’t be! If something isn’t quite right with your home plumbing, call in a Brisbane plumber before little leaks turn into big bills.

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