Hot water! We are fortunate to be able to take this for granted in our modern lives. With just the turn of a tap we can luxuriate in a hot bath or a warm shower. Except when we can’t – and there is not much more to get the blood pumping in the morning than being half asleep and stepping into a hot shower to discover it is freezing cold.

Unfortunately, two things that often go hand in hand which result in the failure of many hot water systems are corrosion and bacterial growth. The two are linked together, with bacteria speeding up any corrosion and corrosion causing an increase in bacterial growth.

Although you might expect this with a 40-year-old electric hot water tank, you would probably be surprised to discover a relatively new system had failed, but it does happen.

The Dangers Of Faulty Plumbing
One of the issues that is seeing a resurgence around the world is people who are contracting Legionaries disease. This highly infectious form of pneumonia is usually transferred to humans by breathing in bacteria from a water supply. The reason we are seeing a spike around the work is , in part, because in order to save money and reduce their power consumption people are lowering the temperature of their water heater to below 140°F/60°C, which puts the water at the perfect temperature to breed this life-threatening water born bacteria.

Although you may think you are saving power by turning your water heater off when it’s not in use, or by lowering the temperature to under 140°F/60°C you are not. Most heating tanks have a cut off so that they keep the water at the set temperature, which means every time you turn your system off you are going to be increasing power consumption when you turn it back on. This is quite aside from the health risks you are causing by having stagnating aqua kept at prime bacteria breading temperatures.
Another reason why we may be seeing a spike in aqua born illnesses is because we are not replacing our systems as often as we should, partially because if it works, we just don’t think anything more about it, and partially because we haven’t really been well educated as to why we need to have these units regularly serviced and replaced before they start to become a health hazard.

How Often Should I Service My Hot Water System?
By getting your system checked once a year you can extend the life of your heater and decrease your overall power consumption. Looking at hot water services and repair, you should also be seriously considering flushing your tank every six months.

If you are a DIY type of person you may want to google for how to videos and tricks on being able to do flush your tank yourself. While you can ask your technician to do this at your yearly check-up, you may be able to save a few dollars by doing it independently, however having your tech complete the task at least once a year ensures that it done well, and if you let them do it the first time you will know if your tank has any particular tricks or quirks that could make the process more difficult that a YouTube video would suggest.

Flushing your tank helps to remove any sediment that may have gathered at the bottom, which if left alone may not only decrease the operating efficiency but can also increase the rate of corrosion.

Tankless Water Supply
One of the reasons that put people off getting a tankless water heating system (see here) is that they should be serviced each year, but this is because people are unaware that their tank system should also be regularly serviced!

Plumber’s Advice
While you may not actually need yearly inspections with any system, talking to a qualified plumber will give you a better indication, and the requirements will vary from area to area depending on a range of factors. Whether you have copper or PVC plumbing, whether you live in an area with hardwater (water with high levels of mineral content), what type of system you have, what age it is, how often it gets used, the size, the number of people using it, these are just a few of the things that can make a big difference in the recommended frequency for repairs.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your plumber is recommending a particular level of frequency because they want the work, in fact many will give you a few tips so that you can do the work yourself if you ask.

Did You Know
As a little trip down memory lane, did you know that by 1940 not even half the homes in America had full indoor plumbing with hot water. It wasn’t really until the 1960s that people really started to get into a plumbing system that most of us wouldn’t think twice about.