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Is it just a coincidence that winter in Australia is traditionally the most common time of year for electric hot water systems to fail?
No, it’s not. There are logical reasons why this happens. For one, we use more hot water during winter as we tend to spend longer in the shower warming up in the morning. The cold water supplying the hot water system is more complex, which causes the hot water system to work harder and heat longer. And the general temperature overnight is colder. The hot water system, its associated valves, and pipes are cooler, contributing to more work the system has to do. But this is necessary to provide us with reliable hot water each morning.
Think of your hot water system as sending your soldier in a battle. If you and your hot water system are prepared for the war, it’ll be in your best interest.
So even before the cooler season settles, it is worth having some preventative hot water system maintenance in place. This will minimise costly repairs and double your hot water system’s lifespan. There are some simple things that you can do, with and without the help of a licensed plumber, to avoid a hot water system failure and lessen the likelihood of waking up to no hot water on a chilly morning.
1. Heating and Thermostat Failure
The most typical hot water system repairs are due to the heating element and thermostat failure.
A heating element and thermostat in a hot water system is like the working of an electric kettle. Depending on use, the heating element in a hot water system will cycle over 15,000 times in a decade.
2. Tank Failure
The second most common repair of a hot water system is the tank’s failure.
When water is heated inside a hot water system, it expands — the cooler the water before heating, the greater the expansion. Over time the tank weakens by oxidising or rusting, and increase causing a weld or the cylinder within the tank to fail.
It is not widely known that there is a sacrificial anode inside electric hot water cylinders. Sacrificial anodes are found where mechanical components are in contact with water. They work by oxidising or rusting as the weaker metal rather than the steel tank.
They dissolve due to an electrochemical reaction inside the hot water cylinder. And after five years they become spent and require replacement.
The rise and fall of the temperature of the water will change the volume of water and the pressure it exerts on the pipework and storage tanks. Temperature pressure relief and expansion-control valves protect tanks and pipework from bursting when the water expands or collapses as the water contracts.
The law requires the installation of Cold Water Expansion valves on any new hot water system installations.
Cold Water Expansion valves relieve expanded water from the cold supply pipes, not hot water, during the heating cycle. This saves wasting hot water, which you have already paid to heat and discharges cold water instead. It also increases the life of the pressure-temperature relief valve (PTR).
The Pressure Temperature Relief valves are essential to prevent devastating consequences such as the rupture or explosion of a hot water system if the thermostat fails and the hot water system continuously heats. It’s ideal to replace these safety valves every five years.
May this hot water system maintenance advice help you keep those hot water systems and hot showers running through the cooler months! If you already have hot water problems or plumbing issues, check out our hot water system troubleshooting guide or get in touch with the best plumbers Gold Coast residents can rely on! Our fully licensed team can help you with any plumbing problems with our full range of plumbing services. From hot water system repair and maintenance to new system installation, blocked drains, gas fitting, and many more, we’ve got you covered.