Home inspectors reckon that badly installed or faulty hot water geysers are easily the most common problem they encounter when doing home inspections. Here are some geyser problems which you the home owner may encounter.
Dripping geyser overflow
Geysers often leak (drip) through the pressure control valve overflow pipe. This is normal as the water in the geyser heats and cools. However, anything more than a few litres a day usually indicates that the pressure control valve is faulty. This valve should be replaced if there is a constant steady drip from the overflow pipe. An occasional dripping after water has been drawn from the geyser is fine.
Overheating: Steam or hot water escaping from the overflow
Geyser thermostats are specially made to fault in the open or “off” position. If the thermostat does this the water in the geyser obviously ceases to heat. However, sometimes the thermostat faults in the “on” position, in which case the water will eventually boil and the geyser may explode.
An indication that this is occurring is when hot water and steam is observed coming out of an overflow pipe. This escaping hot water and steam shows that the temperature and pressure valve (TP valve) is releasing hot water because excessive temperature and pressure is building up in the geyser. The most common cause of overheating is a faulty thermostat. This is potentially very dangerous and must be seen to immediately. Switch off the geyser and call a plumber.
Water leaking through the ceiling
This indicates that the geyser has either burst, or a major leak has developed, and the drip[ tray and overflow system (if there is one) is not coping. Immediately switch off the power supply and the cold water supply to the geyser. Switch of the geyser power at the main distribution board. Call a plumber.
No hot water
Check whether the geyser circuit breaker on the main distribution board has tripped. Only reset the circuit breaker once or twice. If it continues to trip, then call an electrician. If the power supply is OK, but there is no hot water – then this indicates that either the thermostat or the heating element which has failed. The thermostat and the heating element should always be replaced together. Call a plumber to do this.
Water not hot enough
This indicates that the setting on the thermostat is too low, or or that that the thermostat and/element is malfunctioning. Set the thermostat to 65 deg. C – a higher temperature setting is not recommended. If the geyser is old it may have become calcified and inefficient. In this case consider replacing the geyser.
Poor hot water pressure
A number of things can cause low hot water pressure. These include old, blocked galvanised pipes, or a dirty or blocked valve. Some houses still have old low pressure geysers – only 100 kPa – rather than modern high pressure geysers – up to 600 kPa. Low pressure geysers usually have spherical “Lacto” valves in place of the modern pressure balancing valves. A pressure balancing valve, fitted on the cold water supply to the geyser, ensures that both the hot and cold water supply to the bathrooms are at the same pressure rating as the high pressure geyser.