Depending on what type of system you have, the maintenance ranges from system to system. Regardless of what system you have preventative maintenance is crucial. It is not hard to forget how much we need our hot water systems. Hot showers during winter, washing a greasy pan, or using warm water to wash your clothes; we do not often realise how important and convenient having hot water is until there is no longer hot water coming out the tap.
Like all electrical and mechanical appliances, hot water systems require regular maintenance to function efficiently. When speaking of hot water systems, hot water tanks require extra attention as it stores hot water and builds up pressure. Whereas instant hot water tanks do not store water and heats water when it is demanded.
Specific to hot water tanks, it is important to consider:
Sacrificial anode refers to an aluminium/magnesium wrapped steel core wire which will corrode in place of the tank – hence ‘sacrificial’. However, once the rod is entirely corroded, other steels parts of the tank will start to rust. The sacrificial anode is replaced every 5 years to prevent major tank faults.
The sacrificial anode is the most important component of hot water tank maintenance. It is crucial to replace this rod regularly to prevent major repairs and even total tank failure. By paying attention to this component and scheduling routine replacements, the hot water tank’s service life can easily be extended by at least another 5 to 10 years.
Sacrificial anode replacement is not a task that you should be conducting yourself. Hot water tanks hold scalding hot water and steam which is directly attached to a gas or electrical source. Hot water + steam + gas / electricity = an extremely dangerous scenario.
The replacement can be done by an experienced and qualified plumber who will service and inspect the entire system and replace the sacrificial anode. Servicing your hot water tank regularly carries minor cost compared to the major expenses you would otherwise have to pay to replace or repair major faults.
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These valves are often referred to as TPR or T&P valves. These valves work to vent hot water from the tank if the pressure or the temperature of the hot water becomes excessive. This is a crucial component that will prevent your hot water tank from exploding or splitting. A TPR valve that is not functionally correctly can cause life-threatening consequences.
Generally, TPR valves should be inspected and replaced every 2 years. But this depends on the condition and capacity of your water tank. It is best to speak to a qualified plumber about your hot water tank to receive tailored advice for your home.
Otherwise known as instant hot water systems also need preventative maintenance to make sure that is functioning efficiently and correctly. The main consideration with tankless water heater is ‘hard water’.
Hard water occurs when the water is loaded up with minerals like magnesium and calcium. Over time, minerals can clog up the pipes where water flows and affect the water flow speed. Which means the system will need to work harder than it should to provide hot water.
Routine maintenance is important to extend the life of your system. A qualified plumber will be able to clean out the heat exchanger to allow the system to work more efficiently. When hard water is left alone, the mineral build-up in the system can cause the entire unit to fail which will require a replacement.
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Regardless of which hot water system you invested in, tankless or storage – it is a big investment that you’d want to take good care of so it lasts 8-12 years in your home.
Plus, no one wants to run out of hot water in the middle of a shower especially during winter. So, here are some helpful tips to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Surely, you’ve heard the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This basically refers to not bothering something that is working on something that is working ‘just fine’. However, this philosophy doesn’t apply to mechanical and electrical appliances that can actually breakdown – like your hot water systems.
Hot water systems when left alone for too long with minor issues may need major repairs or even a replacement in the long run. Generally, it is wise to check on your electrical appliances on a monthly basis. It would only take you 5-10 minutes to inspect each appliance. For your hot water system, check the unit from top to bottom and look for any leakage, cracks, rust or other physical signs of concern.
Every 6 months, you need to make sure that your system’s pressure valve is still working well. This is designed to relief any excess pressure within the hot water system. Depending on the type of system you have, each check is slightly different so make sure you locate and understand the tank’s manual before proceeding with this task.
If you are not confident with this task, schedule in a routine maintenance with your plumber and while they are on-site they will be able to demonstrate this procedure to you.
If you are going to be away for a long period of time (over a week), make sure you turn off your hot water system. This way, you won’t need to come back from your holiday with a surprise from your energy bill! While you are away, the hot water system will continue to heat water although no one is home to enjoy the hot water. So make sure this is part of your checklist before you rush to the airport.
The traditional showerheads that are installed in most homes uses around 15-25 litres per minute. Whereas a water saving showerhead (WELS rated) uses between 6 to 9 litres per minute without restricting the water flow. This means a water efficient showerhead can save you more than 63 litres of water for a 7-minute shower.
Hot water tanks only need a temperature of 60° to maintain healthy hot water to limit the growth of microorganisms in your tank. During your next maintenance, ask your electrician/plumber to check the temperature is nothing higher than 60° and your wallet will thank you for reducing the hot water running costs.