If Replacing Your Hot Water Service – How Will You Know What’s Right For You?
When replacing your hot water service the most common question asked is what will it cost? In fact, online the most searched phrase is hot water system prices. Whilst price is always an important consideration we at Whywait Plumbing believe that there are other equally important factors that should be considered.
Besides renovating your home replacing your hot water service is likely to be one of the major household costs.
Besides renovating your home replacing your hot water service is likely to be one of the major costs any household will face and is most often a situation that occurs with little warning. Unfortunately, unless you like cold showers, this gives you little time to carefully review the available options.
With the cost of heating hot water ranking second in dollar spend to air conditioning for household electricity costs it is imperative that you are well informed before making any decisions. Hot water systems are not all created equal and the choice you make today will be one that lasts for the next ten to fifteen years. With ever increasing energy costs impacting household budgets having an efficient, well maintained hot water service has never been more important.
With modern technological advances and the push for energy efficient sustainable solutions it’s no longer a matter of just replacing like for like.
Hot water services are available in electric, gas, solar and heat pump models in a range of sizes and a plethora of brands so making the right choice for your situation is not easy.
With a little help from Whywait’s Hot Water Specialists you will be able to select the system that best suits your situation. Before making any decisions you will need to think about:
- What size is your current hot water service and have you ever run out of hot water with your current hot water system?
- Does your current hot water service operate on an off-peak electricity tariff?
- Is your hot water needs likely to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next five years?
- Do you intend to remain in your current property for at least the next five years?
- What is more important to you the initial up-front installation cost or the ongoing running costs?
- Is quality of the product and length of warranty a consideration when comparing hot water services?
Once you have answered the above points it will be time to consider the available options and here’s where we can help.
Speak with a Whywait Hot Water Specialist and Get the Right Advice
Call Whywait Plumbing today to find out about the next generation of highly efficient water heater now available, with the added benefit of saving on your energy costs.
If you are reading this because you have no hot water and wondering if having no hot water is a plumbing emergency, read on.
Generally speaking if you have time to look a problem up on a website it’s probably not a plumbing emergency (yet) so technically speaking, having no hot water isn’t exactly a plumbing emergency, but still……
Having no hot water is considered a same day guarantee situation for our plumbing business, but this may not be the case for other local plumbing companies.
Even though no hot water usually isn’t an emergency, at our Gold Coast business, Whywait Plumbing, we made the decision many years ago that we don’t consider hot water to be a luxury, so for this reason we offer a same day guarantee for situation where a household is without hot water.
So why haven’t you got hot water?
In our 40 year history at Whywait Plumbing, we have found the most common causes of having no hot water are:
- Faulty element or thermostat (possibly both)
- Relief valve constantly leaking
- Faulty tempering valve
- Off-Peak relay switch failing to activate
- Insufficient sunlight to heat solar hot water
- Demand exceeds capacity
- Leaking hot water service
Hot Water Troubleshooting Checklist
Follow the DIY check list below before calling for help
Locate your hot water service and check the following:
- Check for any leaks at the tank especially around the electrical box. (Do not remove the cover as doing this will expose live wires)
- If the relief valve is leaking activate lever until water runs out in a continuous flow, then return lever to original position and see if the leak stops.
- A faulty tempering valve usually results in tepid water rather than no hot water, you can test this by activating the relief valve and checking if the water in the tank is hotter than the water delivered at the taps.
- If your hot water service is connected to off- peak electricity check with your energy supplier to see if there has been any problems, in your suburb, with transmitting to the relay switch at your home.
- For solar hot water check for foliage blocking sunlight to panels, that panels are clean and if cloudy or wet that the booster switch is on.
Locate the meter board and check the following:
- Check the hot water switch is in the on position.
- Check for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse.
Emergency or not, having hot water that is not hot enough, or no hot water, can be unpleasant and inconvenient, however you will be happy to hear in most instances it is a simple fix.
If you’re thinking about replacing your hot water service and not sure what is best to suit your family then look out for next weeks Blog – Choosing a New Hot Water Service – How do I know what’s right for me?
Whywait Plumbing recommends that all adults residing in a household should at a bare minimum know:
- Where the main water isolation valve for the property is located.
- How to turn off the water at the water meter (usually located in a turf box on the property boundary).
- How to turn off the water at the hot water service.
- How to isolate the power to the house at the meter board.
Should an emergency arise where any of the above is required having this prior knowledge will allow the situation to be handled quickly and calmly allowing you to make the situation safe and minimising damage to the property.
A common question we get asked this time of year in relation to hot water repairs is “Why is my hot water not hot enough?”.
We find our customers tend to notice this problem predominately when showering and in most instances the temperature of the water hasn’t suddenly changed.
It’s more that when the weather is cooler we tend to increase the ratio of hot to cold water and therefore any fault that affects the hot water becomes more apparent.
Hot Water Not Hot Enough, Common Causes
When customers ask “why isn’t my hot water not hot enough” we always provide as much information as possible.
In our 40 years of plumbing experience and as hot water specialists, we have found the most common causes of this problem are:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these possible problems.
Malfunctioning tempering valve
Tempering valves are designed to blend hot and cold water to deliver water at a constant temperature that does not exceed 50’C. If water entering the tempering valve contains small amounts of sand or other debris this can become lodged in the filters of the tempering valve and affect the operation of the valve resulting in lukewarm rather than hot water. Read more about tempering valves.
Faulty hot water service
If your hot water service is older (usually 10-15 years) or you have overlooked regular maintenance it could result in a problem with the heating system.
A hot water system fails most commonly at these points:
The element is the mechanism with in the hot water service that heats the water with the thermostat being responsible for switching the element on and off. Any problem with either of these parts can result in disruption to you hot water.
The relief valve is responsible for releasing built up pressure as the water heats. If this valve is constantly leaking then you will lose hot water which in turn is replaced with cold water that cools the hot water stored in the tank.
Hot water demand exceeds capacity
Typically if a tanks capacity is over 125L then you would connect to one of the off peak tariffs which means that electricity used by the hot water system will be charged at a lower rate. Whilst this makes for a cost effective solution it does come with some limitations as you do not have an unlimited supply and if for any reason your demand for hot water increases there is always the possibility that you could run out of hot water.
If you are finding the hot water in your household is consistently not hot enough, and repairs are not required, then seriously consider a larger capacity, new hot water system.
Help Is On Hand
Here at Whywait Plumbing we don’t consider hot water a luxury, it is a necessity. So if you live on the Gold Coast, call us now for Same Day Service.
Perception is reality and nowhere is this truer for us at Whywait Plumbing than when dealing with the issue of hot water temperature and the possibility of a serious hot water burn.
Everyone has a different perception of how hot they want their hot water whether it is for cleaning or sanitation or personal hygiene use.
Recent research in the United States from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, confirms hot water heater temperatures are too high.
In Australia, most manufacturers preset the thermostats for hot water heater temperature at 60-65 degrees. This is dangerously high for a significant proportion of homes, presenting a scald hazard particularly for young children and the elderly. This is because literally hot water burns like fire because:
At 60°C, a serious burn can happen in 1 second
At 55°C, a serious burn would take 10 seconds
At 50°C, a serious burn would happen after 5 minutes
It is estimated a serious hot water burn causes an estimated 1,200 hospital admissions and 50 deaths per year. Young children and elderly adults have thinner skin which burns more quickly putting them at increased risk.
In Queensland, it is the law that hot water delivered to bathrooms used primarily for personal hygiene purposes be regulated by use of a tempering valve or a thermostatic mixing valve that does not exceed 50°C. This is due to the fact that in 1995 the laws were changed requiring tempering valves to be installed on:
all new homes having a hot water system installed
replacement or upgrading of an existing hot water system
or when moving an existing hot water system to a new location on the property
However, homes built before 1995 will frequently still have hot water being delivered at 70°C. It is estimated that 37% of homes still have older electric or gas heaters delivering hot water that presents a scald hazard that will cause a serious hot water burn in one second.
Frequently these homes are rental properties. Many landlords and real estate property managers are unaware that recent litigation has placed a ‘deed of care’ onus on them to ensure the safe delivery of hot water in domestic bathrooms used primarily for personal hygiene purpose.
The installation of a tempering valve is an acceptable solution to hot water scald prevention. Delivering hot water at a consistent temperature is difficult without a tempering valve. This is due to the fact that as a hot water tank is depleted through use then replenished and reheated, the water temperature will not be constant throughout the tank.
Despite a perception by many people, a hot water service thermostat is not designed to provide precise estimates of water temperature. Its purpose is to begin heating when the temperature drops below a set level and turn off when it reaches a set level. Without a tempering valve installed it is almost impossible to assess the exact temperature of hot water delivered from a tap.
The advantage of a tempering valve is that guesswork is eliminated as tempering valves are designed to blend hot and cold water to deliver mixed water at a constant temperature and thus reduce the risk of a serious hot water burn.
Unfortunately for plumbers, property managers, homeowners and property investors hot water has increasingly become a legal minefield with the duty of care provisions.
It is for this reason Whywait Plumbing recommend that you install a tempering valve and maintain it compliantly with annual testing.
It is normally the routine of a knock on the door by a friendly “salesman” stating they were in your neighbourhood doing some work and that a neighbour had suggested they do the same “free check” on your hot water service.
This unsolicited pitch or a variation of it is a signature of rip-offs who prey on gullible homeowners, especially the elderly. They commonly show a great deal of empathy and concern and are only doing the “free check” of your hot water service as your neighbour had already had theirs repaired and were concerned for you.
In the photo on the left the anode on the left was replaced by Whywait Plumbing with the one on the right with the differences between old and new perfectly illustrated.
Take it from me knocking on your door and cold-calling is not a professional or viable way to market or operate a plumbing business. And yes to work on your hot water service you must be a licensed plumber. In all likelihood the person knocking on your door is not a licensed plumber or a licensed plumbing contractor and in our experience they are ordinary old con artists who have no experience or knowledge in servicing a hot water service.
Yes your sacrificial anode on your hot water service should be checked at least every 5 years. But if it has never been checked and your hot water service is over 7 years old you are wasting your time replacing it as the damage has already been done to your steel storage tank.
By Gary Mays
During much of the year on the Gold Coast we frequently hear clients ask why do I need to maintain my hot water system there is nothing wrong with it and I’m still getting plenty of hot water. In summer it is easy to forget just how much we depend on our hot water systems for showering, bathing, cooking, washing dishes and washing laundry.
But by April many people suddenly appreciate just how important their hot water system is when it fails to deliver enough or frequently no hot water. Frequently the signs that there is a problem with the hot water system have been there for months and often would have been diagnosed and rectified as part of an annual service. Because hot water systems appear to be complicated many people adopt a head in the sand approach but in reality like most working fixtures in your home they will always benefit immensely from a bit of routine maintenance
In over 37 years of experience we at Whywait Plumbing are well aware that Murphy’s Law applies usually in a spectacular fashion to the failure of a hot water system with most of them failing and leaking late at night usually when it is very cold. In all honesty basic maintenance of your hot water system is fairly simple but vitally it can double the effective lifespan of your hot water system.
To maintain your hot water system the main things you need to allow for are:
- replacing the sacrificial anode every 5 – 7 years
- flushing out all of the minerals and sediment that over time are deposited in the bottom of the storage tank every 3 – 5 years
- have the tempering valve maintained, tested and certified every year
- flush the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) every 3 – 6 months
- replace the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) every 3 – 4 years
- replace the expansion control valve (ECV valve) every 3 – 5 years
Apart from flushing the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve) all the other work is legally required to be undertaken by a licensed plumber.
Most concerning from our perspective is the failure to replace the sacrificial anode which is the biggest single cause of premature hot water service failure. Regularly replacing your sacrificial anode will extend the life of your hot water service by ten years or even more. Whywait strongly recommend that you call us to service your hot water system and replace the sacrificial anode every 5 years as the cost of the service is minor compared to the thousands of dollars replacement costs not mentioning the inconvenience.
The one task we recommend you personally undertake is to activate and flush the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve. TPR valves continuously work automatically discharging hot water if the temperature or pressure of the water in the storage tank gets too high. Many people fail to understand if your TPR valve is not functioning properly it can potentially cause the tank to explode.
Flushing a TPR valve is relatively easy and straightforward, plus is something you can do yourself, but if the valve is already continually dripping water in all likelihood it needs replacing. To trigger the relief valve and flush it out all you need to do is lift the lever on the front of the valve all the way open and let water discharge from the drain pipe for 5 – 10 seconds then slowly put back the lever in place.
Very simply maintaining your hot water system is an investment not a cost.
By Gary Mays