Bang. That’s right – most hot water systems don’t perish slowly. Instead, most go out super-quickly, leaving you – and those with whom you live – at the mercy of cold showers and no hot water until it can be fixed. Ask yourself: what would you do at this point?

Most people will rush out and panic-buy something that’s cheap, with a low upfront cost, and that’s wildly energy-inefficient. But what if you were missing out on a far more cost-effective, sustainable and efficient product that’s going to be a much better investment over time? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to a variety of important hot water-related questions, including:

  • How do I know if my hot water system needs replacing?
  • What do I do when my hot water system blows up?
  • What options do I have for replacing my hot water system?

…and much more.

The aim? To help you feel as informed as possible when it comes to planning for – and not panic-buying – your replacement hot water system, whenever the time feels right for you.

How do I know if my hot water system needs replacing?

When it comes to replacing your hot water system, you’ll know it’s nearly time if:

  • You experience smelly, discoloured water supply, or water that’s “rusty” in appearance
  • There are rumbling or other strange noises coming from your hot water unit
  • You observe leaking or puddles of water coming from your hot water system
  • You notice your hot water tank releasing water at varying temperatures
  • The system is old (most electric systems have an approximate lifespan of between 10-15 years)

Smelly/discoloured water

While there are many ways that a hot water system can fail, it’s often the case that – particularly in an old system – a buildup of rust, mineral deposits and corrosion will cause a PTR valve to stop working and malfunction.
[A PTR valve (or temperature/pressure-release valves) is a safety device installed on water heating appliances, such as your hot water system. PTRs are designed to automatically release water when pressure or temperature in the water tank exceeds levels that are safe.] What’s more, brown, red, or rust-coloured water can often demonstrate that there’s further corrosion and rust inside the actual storage tank. Often, this happens because the “sacrificial anode”, which is a part of the hot water system that protects the tank from corrosion, has not been replaced often enough, and the steel tank has begun to break down, rust or deteriorate as a result.

Rumbling noises

We all know that awful “hammering” sound that comes from hot water systems and pipes when they’re ready for replacement! Generally, these sounds are an indication of the build-up of sediment in your water storage tank. While some issues can be addressed by draining the tank and flushing them to remove the build-up, a system that has not been serviced regularly can suffer from the ongoing build-up of rust, corrosion and more that we’ve just described.

Leaks and inconsistent heating

By now, we’ve established that the build-up of sediment in a hot water tank is often the root cause of issues that see it needing to be replaced. Water, of course, contains minerals. Over time, these can settle, congeal and build up at the bottom of your water tank, creating “hot spots” and “cold spots” that affect the ability of the hot water system to heat and store water at a consistent temperature. If left unserviced or unchecked, these spots can also damage the tank, or cause the overflow of a leaking pipe.
As you might now recognise, one of the trademark signs that a hot water system is on the way out is when it starts to leak. And now you know why!

A system that’s too old

The general lifespan of an electric hot water system (the most common in Victoria) is approximately 10-15 years. When you consider the lifespan of a home and how many times the home is bought/sold/renovated in its lifetime, 10-15 years doesn’t really stand up, does it?
So, chances are that the hot water system in your home is ready (or nearly ready) for replacing. This gives you the perfect opportunity to do your research now. Why? So that you don’t miss out on a better product when the time to replace arrives!

What do I do when my hot water system blows up?

The key here is to be prepared.
Before your hot water system needs replacing, we suggest considering questions like the following:

  • How many people need hot water?
  • How much hot water does your household use daily?
  • When are your peak periods for hot water usage?
  • What kind of climate do you live in?

Then, when you’re ready, give our award-winning Hot Water team a call on 1300 137 567 and we can walk you through your options – whether it’s a cold-shower emergency, or well in advance!

What options do I have for replacing my hot water system?

When it comes to replacing your hot water system, you generally have three options:

  • Gas hot water system
  • Electric hot water system
  • Heat pump hot water system

Note that each system varies in terms of its:

  • Initial upfront investment level/cost
  • Contribution to gas/electricity bills
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Reliability
  • Ongoing cost
  • Quality and durability

When it comes to electric and gas hot water systems, you generally have two options within those categories:

  • Storage
  • Instantaneous

Essentially, both of these hot water system options heat the water in the same way: electricity is sent through an electric element which generates heat. Following, the heat warms up the hot water stored in the unit. But what is the main difference between electric storage and instantaneous systems? As we’ve already discovered, the most common hot water system in Victoria tends to be the electric hot water storage system. These units work by heating an entire tank of hot water, then storing it in the system’s tank until it’s needed.

Instantaneous systems, on the other hand, use a much higher-powered element to heat water when it’s needed – aka “on demand”. Since the water is only heated when needed, no heat is lost through the tank walls. Note, however, that instantaneous systems tend to struggle if required to run a larger house – or, when the demands of your hot water system are varied (e.g. you have a large family with varying schedules, or large groups of guests staying intermittently).

By far the most efficient, cost-effective over time, and environmentally sustainable unit, however, is the heat pump hot water system. You can read more about this state-of-the-art system here. You can also check out our Learning Centre blog Which Hot Water System is the Best? for more detailed information on the types of hot water systems available to you.

Wrapping up

Put simply, we’d suggest not leaving the replacement of your existing hot water system to chance. You can read more about the options available to you at our Learning Centre, or give our friendly team a call today on 1300 137 567 to discover the best-fit options for you.

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