Should I service my Perth hot water system?

23rd October, 2023

The Ritz P&E logo in front of a hot water anode covered in scale.

Just like your car, a hot water system needs regular servicing to ensure it lives a long and productive life, saving you money and hassle for years to come. Matt Risinger, host of The Build Show (and one of our favourite YouTubers out there), put it better than any of us could when he cut open four different hot water tanks to compare them:

“I’d be willing to bet that 99% of water heaters never get maintained, so if you’re watching the video, maintain your unit, drain it once a year and replace that anode rod”. Matt Risinger summed it up well.

The stark contrast between a well-maintained system and one that’s been left to its own devices is astounding, but it’s also something we see every day as your local hot water professionals here in Perth. With our high mineral content water and scaling being a common sight across many of Perth’s suburbs, corrosion and rust can build up quickly without proper maintenance. Join us as your trusted tradies give the low-down on how to prevent your hot water service from failing when you most need it, saving you money and time now and for years to come!

The two crucial components in your hot water system

No matter what kind of hot water system you have, whether it’s a super-efficient heat pump system or an old electrical storage inherited from the last owner of your house, in our experience two common culprits tend to be behind cracked tanks and leaking pipes:

The Sacrificial Anode: Protecting your hot water system

Think of the sacrificial anode as the unsung hero of your hot water system. These often-overlooked components are an essential part of any storage-based hot water system. Made from steel-core rods surrounded by more reactive metals such as magnesium, aluminium or zinc and installed in the tops of your water heater’s tanks, use a process called electrolysis to protect your hot water system from corrosion. By drawing in the different metals and corrosive substances found within Perth’s water, these rods give their lives to protect the essential parts of your system from corrosion and damage.

Replacing these anodes once they reach the end of their lifespan (every 3-5 years, depending on the quality of water in your area) can significantly increase the longevity and effectiveness of your hot water system, keeping it rust-free and functional when you need it most.

The Pressure Relief Valve: Ensuring your family’s safety

Every hot water system has one or more pressure relief valves connected to it, acting as a guardian against dangerous levels of pressure building up in the tank or connecting pipes. These valves, which can include Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves (TPR or PTR valves) and Expansion Control Valves (ECVs), as the name implies, relieve excess pressure caused by temperature increases in the system when needed.

Failed valves are a common cause of leaks, and in the worst-case scenario, can lead to explosive results. Ensuring they’re working properly by visually inspecting and opening the valves on a regular basis is important to keeping your hot water system working both safely and effectively.

What goes into a hot water service? Our recommendations

To enjoy the luxury of hot showers without worry, we reckon being proactive with your maintenance is key. Consider conducting a minor service every six months yourself, which includes:

  • Visual inspections around the heater, inlet, flue, and more to spot any damage or debris.
  • Checking the functionality of your heater, including the pilot light and any digital displays.
  • Cleaning away debris, bugs, or plant growth to ensure safety and proper functioning.
  • Inspecting and testing pressure valves—an imperative task to protect your household and your system.

Of course, each hot water system is different and has its own manufacturer recommendations and processes, usually found within the operating or brand’s website. Not sure if you’re allowed to DIY it, or not comfortable dealing with the complexities of your household plumbing? Get in touch with one of our friendly representatives now by calling 13 74 89 or send an enquiry using our easy online contact form, and we’ll sort it out for you!

A major service, carried out by a properly licensed plumber and recommended every 3-5 years, is non-negotiable for preventing unexpected emergencies. It’s especially crucial in areas with high mineral content such as Perth’s northern suburbs, where hard water and limescale can build up quickly if you’re not careful – You don’t want your storage tank looking like the videos from earlier!

Here’s what a major service, conducted by a properly qualified plumber every 3-5 years, can include:

  • A comprehensive inspection and adjustment of all components, from water valves to electrical connections.
  • Inspection and replacement of the sacrificial anode to prevent mineral buildup.
  • Professional inspection, testing, and flushing of the pressure relief valve to ensure it protects you and your family.
  • Ensuring the functionality of temperature control functions or valves, essential for household safety and hot water maintenance.

Signs You’re Due for a Service

How do you know when it’s time to schedule a service for your hot water system? There are a few tell-tale signs that point to an overdue service that can lead to bigger issues if not dealt with quickly:

  • Your hot water isn’t heating as well as it used to (or at all).
  • There’s visible cracks or leaks in the system.
  • You can see noticeable mineral buildup from scaling, indicating potential issues within your tank or blockages in the pipes or valves.
  • Excessive leaking from the pressure relief valve (note that a small amount of leakage can be normal as it does its job protecting your system).
  • Increased operating costs or energy use, signalling that your system may be working overtime for reduced outputs or it’s past its operating life.
  • You notice anything else out of the ordinary, be it strange noises, unusual water colour, vibrations or other irregularities.

If you notice any of the above signs or know your hot water system is due for a service or replacement, getting in touch with your local hot water professionals can help you save your family money and effort quickly. Whether you’re after a brand-new heat pump hot water system or just servicing your existing storage water heater before it lands you in hot water (metaphorically speaking!), the friendly team Ritz Plumbing & Electrical are here to help. Chat to one of our friendly representatives now by calling 13 74 89 or send an enquiry using our easy online contact form.