Hot water cylinders are a crucial part of every plumbing system. Needed for day-to-day use, from taking a shower to washing dishes, it is critical that you have a well working energy efficient hot water system in your home. The hot water cylinder needs to be maintained at a constant temperature of 60 degrees celsius to avoid the likelihood of legionella bacteria growth. When turning on your hot water tap, you should receive instant hot water at a good pressure and a constant temperature (no more than 50 degrees celsius at your sanitary fixture).
The two main types of systems which are installed in homes around New Zealand are:
- Low Pressure Systems (open vented)
- Mains Pressure (valve vented)
Each of these have their pros and cons. Usually in older homes you will find the classic Low Pressure System. This is easily recognisable by a copper pipe (open vent) sticking out of the roof. Though sometimes if this is not achievable, there will be a relief valve fitted to the vent and the copper pipe will be terminating outside via a wall or over a drain.
The pros to having a Low Pressure System is that the internal cylinder is made from copper, having a long life span and the lower pressure ultimately means a lower water bill.
The cons of having a Low Pressure System is low pressure. This means the hot water flow in your showers, taps and baths is slow. Also, older cylinders will usually have 1 KW element which means it takes longer for the water to reheat compared to the 2-3 KW elements used in modern hot water cylinders.
Mains Pressure hot water cylinders are made from steel which means they can withstand high pressure (similar pressure to your cold water supply). This pressure is controlled by safety valves which let water pass if the cylinder exceeds a high temperature or pressure situation.
The pros to having a Mains Pressure system, is having constant high pressure to all of your sanitary fixtures. Quick temperature recovery rate by having 2-3 KW elements is perfect for big families and your system will be less affected by simultaneous fixtures being used at the same time.
If you find water around the base of the cylinder this usually means the internal cylinder has exceeded its life span and has a leak which will need replacing. Our recommendation is to immediately isolate the power to your hot water cylinder. This can be done at your switch board or at a wall switch located near the hot water cylinder.
This is now the time you can choose to upgrade your system or continue with the same system you have in place. The easiest and cheapest option is to replace the cylinder with a 'like for like' only, which means all the pipework stays the same and we only replace the cylinder. The option to upgrade will cost a little more as this requires us to alter the existing pipework and install new valves and pipework to suit the new system.
Portside Plumbing can help provide information you need regarding any of your hot water cylinder queries. Whether you are looking to upgrade, or you have had the misfortune of a leaking hot water cylinder, our emergency plumbing service can ensure you do not go a night without your essential hot water.