Hot water systems are the unappreciated and often unnoticed hero of our homes. We rely on them daily and rarely give thought to how wonderful life is with them, and how much of an inconvenience it can be when they are not working correctly.
If it’s time for a hot water system replacement, choosing a new one can be a little confusing. To help with your decision we explain the three types of hot water systems available today.
But first, let’s take a look at the interesting history of the humble hot water system.
Hot Water System History
The first type of hot water system was invented by a Painter named Ben Maughan in London back in 1868. It was a pretty crude contraption that was named a “Geyser.”
It used a gas burner to heat a cold water pipe and the heated water ran into a sink or tub. The main draw back was that the gas burner was not vented to outside and quite a few people died from exposure to Carbon Monoxide by using them in the cold London winters.
Around twenty years later a Norwegian Engineer living in Pennsylvania US named Edwin Rudd developed the first automatic gas storage tank hot water system that is still used in our homes today.
Edwin must have been a brilliant engineer as the gas storage hot water system he invented is used in billions of homes worldwide and the Rudd Manufacturing Company has continued to manufacture hot water systems for 120 years.
Types of Hot Water Systems
Storage Hot Water Systems
The method of heating water for a storage hot water system is the same for both gas and electric. Like the electric kettle in your kitchen, energy is converted to heat and by an element and the water is heated. Convection movement of the heated water inside the tank moves or stirs the water. Then when the water has been heated and reaches a preset temperature the element switches off.
Keeping the temperature of the hot water within a preset range is controlled by a thermostat. The thermostat is like an automatic switch. When the water inside the tank cools to a set temperature the thermostat switches on and allows the element be energized and heat the water.
Gas storage hot water systems work in exactly the same manner with the only difference being the energy supply. Instead of an element like a kettle, there is a burner like a cook top burner under the tank cylinder which heats the water. Gas systems also use a thermostat which is also called a Unitrol.
Some types of hot waters systems are specially are designed to be installed indoors. Indoor gas storage hot water systems are designed to be flued or vented to outdoors to prevent the problems that Ben Maughan’s invention caused. Electric storage hot water systems are safe to install indoors and it is only the space available that is the limiting factor when selecting a system.
On Demand Hot Water Systems
On-demand, instantaneous or tankless heaters are another popular type of hot water system. These units heat water only when supply is required and can be incorporated into a hot water systems that use storage tank and solar heating.
The majority of instantaneous heaters work by a flow sensor activating a gas burner which heats a heat exchanger. The water supply pipes are wrapped around the heat exchanger and the water is heated by heat transfer from the heat exchanger.
Small indoor electric instantaneous hot water systems are also available. These systems are perfect for small kitchenettes, smoko rooms and bathrooms. These units can be installed inside of a kitchen cupboard and do not need additional power supply. They operate by heating water on demand.
Many people purchase an instantaneous water heater after being seduced by promises of lower energy bills and in some situations there is an overall saving. The ongoing costs of maintaining an instantaneous system and the initial cost of supplying and installing the system may not actually make it any better an investment than a standard gas storage or electric storage hot water system.
The most efficient use of instantaneous water heaters are by installing the unit as close to the point where the hot water will be used. This keeps the loss of heat through the pipe work and fittings to a minimum.
Solar Hot Water Systems
Solar systems are great, they are the most cost efficient heating energy source available.
There are two types of solar hot water systems available. Active systems utilise a pump to circulate water through the storage tank and through the solar collectors. Passive systems require draw off of hot water to allow cold water feed into the solar collectors and then into the storage tank on the roof.
Both active and passive systems require a secondary heating source which is normally electric and is in some homes manually operated via a boost button.
Instantaneous systems can also be utilized as a secondary heating method for solar systems.
Solar systems are a significant investment in your home and careful sizing of solar collector area is required for big families or large properties.
Water quality is an important consideration when thinking of installing a solar system as hard or highly mineralized waters can cause problems for solar collector efficiency and lifespan.
Hot water systems are an integral part of our homes and with a little tender loving care can perform perfectly for years. There are a few simple hot water system maintenance hacks that you can do yourself to prepare your hot water system for winter.
If you do need to replace or install a hot water system. then call our friendly team at Gold Coast Plumbing Company. We’ll help you choose the best type of hot water system for your home.
A small bathroom renovation is, without doubt, one of the most important things you will ever do in your home or apartment – even if we don’t always know it. The lounge seems like the vibrant conversation hub, the kitchen is the living and breathing heart, and the bedrooms are where the real relaxing and unwinding take place. And the bathroom? “Oh, it’s over there.”
Unfortunately, the bathroom-as-an-afterthought phenomenon can be doubly true if the room is limited. But make no mistake: big or small, the bathroom is an incredibly important room. It’s where your day starts and finishes, it’s where that refreshing and relaxing bath or shower takes place, and it’s often the very best place for a few justified minutes locked away from the pesky kids!
All of those benefits are easy to take advantage of if you have plenty of space – but what if you don’t? What if your bathroom is tiny? Don’t fret – we know plenty of little tricks to make even the smallest of small bathrooms work a treat.
1. Ditch the bath
Ok – so a hot bath in the dead of winter can be breathtakingly great. But if space really is limited, you’ll be amazed how useful and liberating that bath space can really be for a small bathroom renovation project. Keep in mind if you plan to sell the home and want to market it as truly family-friendly, bear in mind that people with kids tend to really want a bath.
2. Clean lines
So if you really do need or want to keep the bath, there are other ways to create the illusion of more space. A well-established design principle along these lines is keeping it simple. Simple, clean lines remove the perception of a closed-in, cluttered space, and coupled with lots of white, natural light, large tiles, doorless shower screens and big mirrors, it really can all come together to make a small bathroom seem much bigger.
3. Divert attention
On the other hand, another great little small bathroom trick is to distract attention away from the fact that space is cramped. We’re talking about things like bold pops of colour, unusual or ultra-contemporary or conspicuous fixtures and design elements, or eye-catching focal points – like an awesome full mirror wall.
4. Small things!
After choosing white or neutral colours, favouring natural light and maybe ditching the bath, the next thing you can do is downsize those fixtures and accessories. In the era of apartment living, there are plenty of high quality, beautiful fixtures and accessories including toilets, sinks and vanities that are just a little or a lot smaller. Also, you can opt for other space-saving things like wall-mounted taps and vanities and built-in toilet tanks – ask the guys at Gold Coast Plumbing Company what else can be done to open up that cramped bathroom space.
5. Creative storage
Every bathroom needs storage, but how it is incorporated in a smaller bathroom is particularly important. Plenty of modern vanities have great built-in options, but you can also opt for recessed storage areas near the bath or in the shower, put shelves higher up on the walls for example for storing towels, or get creative and store items in other ways, such as in baskets or pots.
As you can see, when you’re considering a bathroom renovation with the help of the Gold Coast Plumbing Company, there are plenty of ways to make a small bathroom appear and function much more like a bigger space. Need more ideas or are you ready to get started? Get in touch with our friendly team today.
As we approach the cooler months of the year it is worth considering some preventative hot water system maintenance to avoid costly repairs.
There are some simple things that every homeowner can do to potentially avoid a failure of your hot water system and minimise the likelihood of waking up to no hot water on a chilly morning.
- Winter in Australia is traditionally the most common time of year for electric hot water systems to fail.
- 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 colder which causes the hot water system to work harder and heat longer.
- The general temperature overnight is colder, the hot water system, its associated valves and pipes are cooler and this contributes to more work that the hot water system has to do to provide us with reliable hot water each morning.
Why Do Hot Water Systems Fail?
The most common hot water system repairs are due to the heating element and thermostat failure.
A heating element and thermostat in a hot water system is very similar to the working of an electric kettle. Depending on use, the heating element in a hot water system will cycles over 15,000 times in a decade. This is a repair that requires a licensed tradesperson undertake due to the requirement to disconnect electricity during the repair process.
The second most common repair of a hot water system is due to the failure of the tank itself. When water is heated inside of a hot water system it expands. The cooler the water prior to heating the greater the expansion. Over time the tank weakens by oxidising or rusting and expansion causes a weld or the cylinder within the tank to fail.
It is not widely known that inside of electric hot water cylinders there is a sacrificial anode. A sacrificial works by oxidising or rusting as the weaker metal rather than the steel tank. Sacrificial anodes are commonly found where mechanical components are in contact with water. Sacrificial anodes dissolve due to an electrochemical reaction inside the hot water cylinder and after 5 years they become spent and require replacement. This again is a task best left to a licensed tradesperson due to the different range of anodes and potential for incorrect fitting to damage the hot water service.
Another method to combat the failure of tank cylinders is with the fitting of Cold Water Expansion valves. Nowadays we are required by law to install Cold Water Expansion valves on any new hot water system installations. Cold Water Expansion valves are set to a lower release pressure than a Pressure and Temperature Relief valve. This allows the discharge of the expanded water from the cold supply pipes instead of hot water from the Temperature Pressure Relief valve. This is a saves wasting hot water which you have already paid to heat and discharges cold water instead.
Every homeowner can prevent the failure of their hot water system by regular operation of the Pressure and Temperature Relief valve. (Us older plumbers know them as TPR’s)
Pressure and 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. PTR’s should be operated each 6 months to check their operation and to keep them in working order.
Most hot water cylinders have a warning from the manufacturer to replace the PTR valve at 5 year intervals. This is to ensure the reliable operation of the valve if it is required. If your PTR has begun to discharge water or leak, it is a sign that there is a problem and should inspected by a licensed tradesperson. There are other valves on the hot water system which fail and require replacement.
Put simply, preventative maintenance can avoid more serious hot water problems from occurring.
Hot Water System Maintenance Schedule
Hot Water System Maintenance (Every 6 months):
- operate the Pressure and Temperature Relief valve
- Operate the Cold Water Expansion valve (if fitted)
- Check the operation of the Isolator valve (which is also a non return valve)
Hot Water System Maintenance (Every 5 years):
- Replace Pressure and Temperature Relief valve
- Renew the Sacrificial anode
- Check Isolator valve
- Check Tempering valve
- Check Element and Thermostat for correct operation
I hope this hot water system maintenance advice helps you keep those hot showers running through the cooler months! If you already have hot water problems checkout our hot water system troubleshooting guide or get in touch!
From the bathroom to the kitchen, and even outside your house, a local plumber can help with installations, repairs and maintenance in most areas of your home.
Plumbers can handle pool & spa plumbing, gas lines for BBQs & ovens, as well as repairs on any plumbing emergency. Below are just some of the many things your local plumber can help you with.
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“What can your Plumber do for you?” Infographic Transcription
WHAT CAN YOUR PLUMBER DO FOR YOU?
From the bathroom to the kitchen, and even outside your house, a plumber can help with installations, repairs and maintenance in most areas of your home. They can handle pool & spa plumbing, gas lines for BBQs & ovens, as well as repairs on any plumbing emergency. Below are just some of the many things a plumber can help you with.
IN THE BATHROOM
IN THE KITCHEN
IN THE YARD
INFOGRAPHIC PROVIDED BY
Gold Coast Plumbing Company – Your Local Plumber
Water. It’s refreshing in a cool glass on a hot day and great fun in your swimming pool, but in and around your home? Water and termites can be nothing short of a nightmare.
We all know that if water leaks from your pipes at your place, it can cause a lot of damage. But that plumbing emergency is not always a gushing burst water pipe emergency – in fact, the damage that can be the most expensive and problematic can be hidden for a very long time.
We’re talking about termites. But why is a simple water leak so relevant to the risk of a termite infestation? It’s simple – termites just love the damp.
Despite this fact, it’s surprising how few people realise that a simple leak is among the leading causes of termite attacks. Many people think having termites is just a case of bad luck, but why is that, exactly? In many cases, it’s because homeowners never realised they had a hidden water leak in the first place.
These leaks can be in the form of:
- Leaky pipes
- Leaky taps and fixtures
- Incorrectly installed plumbing
- Degrading irrigation fixtures
- Hot water system faults
- And so much more.
So what’s the solution?
The answer to that is simple: vigilance. We can’t stress this point enough, because the Australian Institute of Architects has estimated the cost of termites to homeowners each year to be $1.5 billion – and that’s a lot of damage. In some parts of Queensland, up to 40% of all homes are termite infested in some way, meaning it’s no surprise general insurance doesn’t cover termite damage and repairs.
If you have even a minor leak, get it fixed by your local plumbing service as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to have regular plumbing inspections.
But what else can I do?
Luckily, you don’t just have to rely on the experts to help with that potential water leak termites simply love. You can be proactive by:
- Making sure water runoff can’t collect around your foundation.
- Don’t store wood near your house, in contact with the ground or exposed to the elements.
- Arrange for termite or pest specialists to do regular inspections.
- Arrange to have even minor plumbing faults fixed promptly.
The extra benefits of expert water leak detection
Of course, the purpose of that visit by your plumbing expert is to pick up minor of major faults with your water supply, plumbing and irrigation systems so that termites don’t have any tempting areas to start that expensive attack.
But water leak detection experts will also:
So with a little bit of vigilance and the help of friendly, experienced plumbing experts, you can be proactive about protecting your home from the big trouble that water leaks and termite infestations can cause.
A dripping tap can be annoying, but also expensive, wasteful and damaging. And even if you can’t hear that annoying drip sound, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem – in fact, the leaks you can’t see can cause serious damage without you even realising.
In this post we’re talking about detecting water leaks from taps and plumbing. Further down we’ll share how to detect leaks as they happen and even cut the water supply automatically. But first, a quick test you can do to see if you have any leaks right now.
How to detect a leak in 4 easy steps
While precisely honing in on that leak can be much more difficult, it’s actually really easy to know if you have a leak somewhere at your place.
Step 1. Double check that everything that uses the water mains in any way is completely turned off – including things you may have forgotten about like a washing machine or evaporative air conditioner.
Step 2. Find your mains water meter and do a visual check for a couple of moments – is the dial moving at all? If it is, stop your search – you have a leak. If the dial is not moving, move on to step 3
Step 3. If the dial is not visibly moving, write down the numbers you see on the meter, which represent kilolitres and litres. Get on with your day for 10 minutes, remembering not to use any water in or around the house.
Step 4. Return to the meter and take another meter reading. If the numbers don’t match from Step 3, you have a leak – somewhere.
What to do about that leak?
Once you’ve detected a leak, next is finding it! Trouble is those leaks could be anywhere. If you’re lucky you’ll find evidence in wet areas like the bathroom, kitchen and laundry, or places where damp patches can be easily detected. But is could also be in your garden and irrigation systems, hidden pipe work, hot water and air conditioning systems – and more.
Although you might consider yourself pretty handy, there are strict limits throughout Australia about what sort of plumbing work you can do. Yes, you can fix a leaking tap – but you can’t go much beyond that without needing a licensed professional to do the work for you. As a general rule, if you aren’t sure whether you need a licensed plumber, it’s best not to risk breaking the regulations and voiding your insurance coverage.
How to detect water leaks 24/7
To be on the safe side, here at Gold Coast Plumbing Company we recommend getting one of the best leak detection devices on the market installed. The industry leader is AquaTrip, which is the eyes and ears of a skilled plumbing professional working 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
AquaTrip is permanently installed by a plumber on the main pipe at the water meter, and constantly checks for even tiny leaks in your home. If and when one is found, it is ready to shut off the water supply thanks to an automatic shutoff valve – and turning the water back on is fast and simple. The technology is more effective that the 4 step leak detection test above, as it will see tiny leaks that your water meter will not show.
Basically, it’s a bit like the RCD safety system on your mains electrical system – but for water. If any pipe, fitting or appliance in your place starts to leak, AquaTrip will automatically turn off the main at your place to prevent that leak from causing damage, wasting water or creating safety hazards.
It’s also practical for those forgetful moments, as it can be programmed to ‘know’ that your bath is running over or you’ve forgotten to turn off the tap after filling the pool.
If you want an AquaTrip installed, a difficult-to-locate leak fixed, hammering pipes silenced and higher-than-usual water bills got under control, it may be time to call your local Gold Coast Plumbers. Whether a niggling leak or an absolute gushy emergency, we can be at your place before you know it.