Let’s face it, as we go about our daily lives, hot water systems aren’t really at the forefront of our minds. Who cares really? Until…
And when something does go wrong with the hot water, the world stops. First, let’s get acquainted with the basics of how water heating systems actually do their job.
A Smidge About Hot Water Systems
Electric and gas hot water systems basically work the same. Cold water comes into the storage tank where it is heated, then (remember heat rises) it flows to the top and is siphoned off whenever a hot water tap is turned on. The method of heating is the only point of difference between the two systems.
At this point, to really simplify things, think of your water heater in terms of how you might boil water for a cup of tea. An electric jug uses electricity to heat up an insulated (because no one wants electrified water) conductor that sits at the bottom. This in turn heats up the water and you pour it out of the spout which is located at or near the top. To use gas, you simply need a gas burner on your stove as the heat source. This heats up the metal bottom of your kettle (because plastic on a flame is a bad idea) and this heats the water. The same goes for your household hot water system.
But honestly, a household system for heating water is no cup of tea. Yes the apparatus is slightly more complicated than that. We don’t want boiling water to hit our faces when we shower so we have to be able to control the temperature of the water. Electricity enters the tank through a thermostat. This determines the temperature of the water. As water cools over time the thermostat closes a switch to let electricity flow and opens when the set temperature is reached again.
Instead of heating the water directly, a gas system will have a burner positioned underneath and will heat the tank directly causing the water inside to warm. Gas hot water systems will also need a vent to release a build up of exhaust fumes. Gas systems may have a shorter life span than electric heaters due to the constant heating of the tank itself.
What are the signs that a water heater needs replacing?
So here are some key things to look out for so that you are not caught out in the cold:
Leaks: Look for water puddling around the base of you hot water tank. This indicates a fracture. These can occur as a result of constant heating up and cooling down. Where there are leaks rust will follow.
Rust: Look at any street on the Central Coast or Sydney and you will probably find someone is throwing out an old water heater. They look tempting to salvage but soon you will invariably discover an ugly brown underbelly – rust. Water corrodes metal (what your tank is made of). Even though it is coated to protect it rust will eventually form in the tank and will slowly eat through it. A rusty tank will brown up your nice clean water. Not cool – you need a new water heat.
Not Hot Enough: Ew. Luke warm baths. We need it hot and we need it now, right? When the water isn’t hot enough there are three problems you might have. First, your thermostat might need adjusting (breathe – this is fixable). Second, the heating element may be broken. Again, fixable but could indicate the end is nigh for your water heater. Thirdly, low temps may simply be because your water heater is too small. No fix for this, gotta get yourself a bigger heater.
Noisy: As a tanks ages, sediment builds up at the bottom of the tank. And the ensuing noisiness is the least of your troubles. Sediment causes a range of problems like clogging places that shouldn’t be clogged and can bury electrical elements or gas burners. While this can technically be fixed, a new tank is probably the way to go.
Age: Problems occurring with your water heat may be mean it is getting old and needs to be replaced. What is the life span of a water heater? Eight to ten years is a good rule thumb. If you heater looks dated then chances are you have been lucky and you might want to think about updating before problems arise. Manufacturers often have a label indicating the year the model was made and sometimes the serial number will reflect this too.
Who You Gonna Call?
So now you know your electric hot water system needs repairing – do you call an electrician or a plumber? It can be very confusing for those not in the know. Let’s look at some examples:
Danny lives at The Entrance and his electric hot water system is not producing any hot water. This could be the thermostat not working or a circuit breaker has blown a fuse. These are electrical problems and Danny should look for an electrician in the Entrance.
In Avoca, Lakshmi has discovered rust at the base of her hot water system. She is worried it will leak onto the unit below here. Lakshmi needs to find a plumber in Avoca to replace her system.
Fresh from a surf at Blue Bay, Samantha turns on her outdoor shower and no water comes out – hot or cold. No water means Samantha should call a plumber based in Blue Bay to find the root of the problem.
Whether you need a plumber or electrician, for maintenance or replacements, or you still haven’t worked out where your hot water tank is located (hey, no judgement here!), Right Solution Trade can provide the best electrical and plumbing solutions to get you out of (or back in) hot water.