If your hot water system broke tomorrow, would you know what to do? It’s okay, neither would we! So we enlisted the New South Wales Central Coast’s hot water system experts, Advantage Hot Water Maintenance & Plumbing, to give us some advice.
Meet Brian! When Brian Knock first began in the plumbing industry as an apprentice he was only 14 years old, he’s been running his own business now for more than 26 years and working in the industry for over 60 years. His dedication to the industry and clients is like no other, still travelling to service his loyal Sydney and Newcastle customers despite his move to the Central Coast many years ago.
Advantage Hot Water Maintenance & Plumbing is a family owned and operated business, offering both residential and commercial plumbing and hot water system services. Priding themselves on fair pricing and quality workmanship has led them to great success with over 2000 clients.
We caught up with Brian Knock to get some expert advice on replacing your hot water system.
Photo by Carson Masterson on Unsplash
4 Steps to Replacing Your Hot Water System
1. Find a licensed installer.
The first thing you’ll need to do is find a licensed hot water system installer. Hot water systems are not something you should install on your own, regardless of your knowledge. When we spoke with Brian from Advantage Hot Water Maintenance & Plumbing he explained if your system is not installed by a licensed professional, often warranty is void, leaving you out of pocket if something goes wrong.
“If you’re not licensed, there’s no warranty if anything goes wrong!” Brian said.
“You certainly don’t want Fair Trading on your back.”
2. Decide if you want a solar, gas or electric hot water system.
There are three main types of hot water systems in Australia; electric, gas and solar. The type of system you choose will most likely depend on the existing power sources in your home.
Solar hot water systems.
If you do not have solar panels on your roof already, be prepared to pay in excess of $7,000 if you’re after a solar hot water system. Even then, if your home is largely shaded, you may not be able to generate enough electricity to offset the costs.
However, if you already have solar panels installed or can afford the initial outlay, solar hot water systems have the lowest running costs over time and are environmentally friendly.
Electric hot water systems.
Electric hot water systems are the most common type in Australia as they’re the cheapest option for most homeowners. Installation is also far safer and easier.
According to Brian, owner of Advantage Hot Water Maintenance & Plumbing, it costs between $1200 and $1600 on average to install a hot water system, depending on the job.
“Sometimes the system may be located under the house and I require assistance to remove the old system and replace new one, needing extra help,” Brian advised.
Gas hot water systems:
Gas hot water systems are very similar to electric hot water systems, with the main difference being that the water is heated by a gas burner rather than an element. These systems are available using LPG or natural gas. Either way, your home will likely need a gas connection, which can be costly. Despite this, these systems are cheaper to run than electric water heaters.
The average cost for a gas water heater installation is between $1200 and $1900. Brian from Advantage Hot Water Maintenance & Plumbing advised us many clients are shocked by the price variation between brands and sizes.
Talk to your local plumbing and hot water systems expert today to find out what system is best for your home.
3. Maintain your new hot water system.
Once installed, hot water systems mainly take care of themselves, with little maintenance required by homeowners. The best practice to get the most out of your hot water system is to do regular checks, looking for signs of wear and tear on and around your system.
When checking your hot water system, be on the lookout for rust and corrosion. Most systems are made predominantly from steel making them prone to rust. While small amounts of rust are to be expected on older tanks, take the time to remove surface rust, if possible.
A great way to extend the lifespan of your hot water system is to drain it annually. This reduces the buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank, a leading cause of hot water system failings. A yearly professional service is the ideal way to maintain your hot water system.
Brian noted his most popular service is hot water system repairs. A client often thinks their system is at its end, when actually a part just needs replacing. Most commonly it’s the temperature release valve, element or thermostat.
4. Know the signs of a failing hot water system.
There are a few key indicators your water heater is on its way out. Some are easy to spot, so you call your local plumber right away if you notice any, before you run out of hot water.
Discoloured or smelly tap water.
The main sign of a failing system is smelly, discoloured water running through your taps. This is often caused by internal corrosion of the anode. The anode rod protects the tank from the corrosive elements in water. If you act quickly this rod may be able to be replaced and your old tank saved.
Rust around the external valves.
If rust is found near the external valves of the tank often means your system is on its last legs Most people don’t spot rust until there is a leak present, which may cause significant damage to homes. If rust is seen on the external fittings of any water heater, call your local plumber immediately.
Abnormal shortage of hot water.
Finding yourself running out of hot water regularly? Either you have too small of a tank or your hot water heater is on its way out. The lack of hot water is caused by a sediment build up in the bottom of the tank, often from corroded parts and dirty water. This sediment hinders the tank in two ways, firstly it takes up space that is traditionally occupied by water. Secondly the sediment blocks the heating element, hindering its ability to heat the water.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Water Systems
1. How long does it take to install a new hot water system?
Brian, from Advantage Hot Water Maintenance & Plumbing, advised us the average electric or gas hot water system installation takes between 1.5 to 2 hours, costing an average of $1200 to $1600.
2. How long does a hot water tank normally last?
A properly installed and maintained system should last between eight to twelve years. It is likely any life span significantly shorter than this will be covered under warranty. Therefore it is important to ensure your hot water tank is installed by a licensed professional so as to not void warranty.
3. Which size hot water system do I need?
Best practise is to allow 75 liters of water per person living in the home. So, a family of four would require a 300 litre tank. It’s important to note the minimum literage in Australian hot water systems is 250L by law.