E___ household to CRA 22.1.16

Legal action being considered

… One issue that has recently arisen for us, I am aware that it may also be an issue for others, is the longevity (or lack thereof) of hot water cylinders installed post the Canterbury Earthquakes. We have had problems with the brand new cylinder that was installed in 2013. We have had 5 elements blow and now the tank leaks. Testing done by the tank manufacturer seems to indicate that we have “corrosive water” in Cashmere. Clearly this is an issue people need to be aware of if installing cylinders so they know to query the type of cylinder installed to ensure it is suitable.

I would be most interested to know if other members/ residents have experienced similar issues and also about joining the association.

Our hot water cylinder is a Superheat one. To be fair they have been good at coming to view the problem, the solution however is less practical. They have advised that if we are able to take the tank to them, they will check it for corrosion and repair. Oddly while our cylinder was leaking pre-Christmas it stopped leaking while we were away for 10 days.

Given the problem has been going on for some time I am surprised that hot water cylinder manufacturers (Bosch excluded) haven’t taken more care to put warnings on their website about certain cylinders not being suitable for certain areas. Our plumber has never heard of “corrosive water” and equally Superheat said they have no idea where the cylinders go as they are simply ordered by the plumbers. In my view I have a right of action against both under Consumer Guarantees Act …

Hackthorne Road

CRA email to CCC 14.1.16

Residents’ group asks questions of council

Dear Tim,

As you are aware, some Cashmere residents have repeated and expensive problems with their domestic hot-water systems. All information brought to Cashmere Residents’ Association attention has recently been pooled and shared, in the search for the best technical solution, as presented here: https://chchwater.wordpress.com/

This email is to politely inform you of the new website and publication of your correspondence to the Roberts family upon it. Thank you very much for the answers contributed so far.

We would also be grateful for:

a. Your reading of https://chchwater.wordpress.com and any comment.

b. Any additional information you might like to add to the website.

c. The results of Council’s most recent test analysis of Cashmere water, as offered to the Roberts, that we can publish as an update.

d. An opinion on the August 2012 water analysis that we have shared, as to any effect added chlorine may have had at that time & etc.

Thank you for any further assistance you may be able to provide, in resolving this worrying matter of Cashmere water being “slightly hard… The parameter pH did NOT meet the guidelines laid down in the publication ‘Drinking-water standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2008)’ published by the Ministry of Health for water which is suitable for drinking purposes.”

We look forward to your considered reply.

Kind Regards

Rik Tindall

Chair pp CRA

Cc Roberts, Johnston, Suckling and Hobbs households & CRA committee.
____________________________________

Cashmere Residents Association
info@cashmere.org.nz
http://www.cashmere.org.nz
http://www.facebook.com/CashmereNZ

Read council reply here: https://chchwater.wordpress.com/ccc-response-to-h2o-complaint/

CRA email to Cashmere 26.8.14

Cashmere water quality issue?

A Bengal Drive resident has reported ongoing problems with ‘hotwater cylinder element corrosion causing it to burn out’, Peter Cocks brand, that their plumber ascribes to changed Cashmere water quality, post earthquake repairs.

If you are having a similar experience or know more about it, please reply / contact the Cashmere Residents’ Association Chair.

Thank you

Rik Tindall
CRA Chair
033321069

Extract from cashmere.org.nz/news/Cashmere-News-Diary-26Aug2014

Hobbs household to CRA 26.8.14

solar system + anode

Hi CRA,

Re: Hot Water Cylinder corrosion

Interesting to read that others experience same issue.

We have just had our third cylinder replaced recently – our third in 15 years. We have a Superheat branded one which is compatible with our solar heating system and provides mains pressure.

We have heard same reason re water quality post quake but as our issues precede this, with plumbers mentioning the need to replace cylinders frequently in the Cashmere area, there must be other issues involved.

We cannot change our type because others are not compatible. We now need to have a plumber check the anode every 3-6 months otherwise the warrant is invalid, at our cost.

Surprising that this issue has not been raised before.

Cheers,

Nicky and David.

Suckling household to CRA 2.1.16

Cylinders supplied not “fit for purpose”

Dear CRA

RE: High Pressure Hot Water Cylinder Elements

We have had a similar experience to one of our Residents’ subscribers. I am sure there will be plenty of others on the Cashmere Hills who will have had similar stories to tell. Hopefully my comments below will fill in some of the gaps.

BACKGROUND

We live in Purau Terrace and we had both our hot water cylinders replaced by EQC after the earthquakes. One was a low pressure one and it hasn’t given us any trouble since.

The high pressure one was another story. The elements of this new hot water cylinder lasted only 3-4 months before they were eaten away and failed. We had to replace 4 elements in this cylinder over a 14 month period! We tried all sorts of elements but even the better quality ones only lasted another month on average.

The EQC plumber who supplied the high pressure hot water cylinder explained to us that there was a problem with the water quality on the hills and that there was no consumer guarantee for the elements. He went on to tell us that we should contact the Council and the only way of solving the problem was to remove all the copper pipes in our house and replace them with plastic ones!

I contacted the water cylinder distributor (Superheat) the supplier of our high-pressure hot water cylinder and was told that they couldn’t help. The manager (Trevor Edwards) of Superheat’s distributor in Christchurch told me that they hadn’t changed their cylinder design or the materials used within their cylinders in recent years. He told me that the cylinder wasn’t a low quality cylinder. It was especially imported in for the earthquake repairs. He also told me the most corrosive salt in water affecting hot water cylinder’s elements is chlorine.

I contacted the City Council (Tim Drennan) and was told that the Cashmere Hill uses a different aquifer from the rest of Christchurch, that the CCC hadn’t changed the source of the water for the hills since the earthquakes and that the only change is that a new reservoir tank has been built on the top of the hill.

We got fed up with the EQC plumber and contacted our own plumber who retrofitted an anode to our existing hot water cylinder. Our current hot water cylinder element has lasted 2 years now. It is exactly the same type of element as we had had previously.

MY OPINION

In my opinion, the water quality issue is a red herring designed to blame someone else so suppliers of hot water cylinders and plumbers do not have to face up to their responsibilities and can wriggle out of the Consumer Guarantees Act. In my opinion, the problem with these failing elements isn’t that the water quality has changed. Nor do I think the hot water cylinder elements are to blame although this will be a small factor. It is simply that some of the hot water cylinders that have been supplied to us on the Cashmere Hills are not “fit for purpose.”

I am no chemist and it is over 30 years since I did chemistry at school but I have two theories about why the elements are failing now and weren’t before the February earthquake.

1) The old rusty cast iron water street mains, that have been replaced by plastic pipes after the earthquake, used to neutralise some of the chemicals in our water so that our old elements didn’t corrode.

2) There were/are some salts leaking out of the concrete storage tank up the hill. If there is a leaching problem surely this should have stopped by now.

Perhaps someone with more chemical knowledge would like to comment.

In our case, we have been fooled into paying over $800 to an EQC plumber (.. ….. Plumbing), for replacement hot water elements. I am sure there will be many other residents on the hill in the same situation.

THE SOLUTION

I wish I knew the answer. If the hot water cylinder manufacturers can’t make cylinders that are “fit for purpose” for the Cashmere Hills then perhaps they should fit them with anodes. Anodes are eaten away preferentially and this should in turn help to stop electrolysis eating away the hot water cylinder element. Anodes shouldn’t be expensive.

I would suggest that if you are having trouble with your hot water cylinder elements (high pressure) regularly failing prematurely, you should seriously look at retrofitting an anode in your water cylinder if there is a spare inlet. Some water cylinders have spare inlets to allow for solar heating.

Does anyone know how long fitted anodes in hot water cylinders last on the Cashmere Hills? Will they last 10 years? At what yearly interval should they be replaced?

I hope my comments will stop others being fooled into paying for unsuitable high-pressure hot water cylinders.

Also, I hope my comments will help spark debate among residents on the hill about their significant plumbing issues.

Cheers
Richard Suckling

Johnston household to CRA 22.12.15

metals corrode galvanically … sacrificial anode

Hello CRA

I read with interest your article on cylinders. We too have the same problem – a Peter Cocks mains pressure stainless cylinder installed 4 Feb 2011. Our elements blow on average once a year due to corrosion. I have replaced the elements so many time that I have had a plumber recently rotate the cylinder in our cupboard so the elements could be more easily accessed – I change my own elements and it has sped up the process significantly. But that cost around $200+ and each element costs around $70. I think out hot water supply costs more in elements than electricity! It was perhaps Murphy’s law, but the element would always blow when it was least convenient for me to repair so I have installed elements not suited to the application but that was all that was available at the local hardware on those weekends. Your letter has prompted me to look further into the problem.

Usually the metal sheath surrounding the element heating wire corrodes right through. The attached picture shows how the nickel coating has corroded but so has the copper element tube. The bottom of shiny new cylinder is now littered with metal debris and fragments of the ceramic insulation I can’t reach to remove. Sometimes the elements last only six months and the most recent failure was after only three months. We have two elements in our cylinder – the top element is not powered but still failed with corrosion albeit after a longer period of time.

As an Engineer, I have reviewed the Electrode Potential of the various metals involved. It is no surprise that the nickel and tin plated copper elements didn’t last as these metals corrode galvanically compared to the copper base metal of the element tubes. The copper corrodes galvanically relative to the stainless steel cylinder casing. I was recommended to use an incoloy element but it didn’t survive much over 12 months which was disappointing as that is normally a special corrosion resistant alloy. The latest attempt is another incoloy element with a grey protective coating, around $110 + GST.

To have galvanic corrosion take place, there needs to be the electrical circuit created by the metals and there needs to be an electrolyte (it performs the same function as the acid in older car batteries). Pure water is a poor electrolyte so there has to be a dissolved chemical in the water supply to enable the electrons to flow and make the corrosive electrical circuit. This may be the key issue for Cashmere as it doesn’t happen in other areas of the city. The manager at Peter Cocks was very familiar with the issue and I have attached a water quality analysis test he provided me.* Hopefully someone can comment further on this water quality. This test was dated 2012 post EQ. It would be interesting to have another current test for comparison.

An Engineering colleague experienced in hot water cylinders has suggested that the element electrical earth be checked for its real earth potential. If the earth functioned well, then it should dissipate this small galvanic potential and reduce the corrosion. There are cases where earth wires have been disconnected by the earthquakes or building repairs. The resistance between a house and the “earth” should be no more than 10 ohms, this can be measured by electricians.

Traditionally we have all relied upon the network of metal plumbing supply pipes buried in the ground to provide earth bonding and back up the earth stake for each property. Most modern water pipes being installed including those in the Council network are plastic so the traditional earthing capability of plumbing systems may no longer be as effective compared to the past. The hill suburbs have a problem where apparently many earth rods don’t reach into the ground far enough to get to wet ground because of rock. This isn’t the problem for us as I can reach ground water at 700 mm depth in our part of Bowenvale valley.

Our next step of remediation after Christmas will be to install a low cost sacrificial anode in our cylinder that corrodes before the element of the cylinder. We are fortunate to have spare connections on our cylinder but others may not be so lucky.

Another plumbing issue that I have stumbled over in Bowenvale is very high water pressure. Mains pressure is rated 450 kPa (65 psi). On the nights where the pumping stations are refilling the hill reservoirs (dry summer evenings) we can receive water at 950 kPa (140 psi). It was such a problem that I installed a pressure regulating valve to correct the problem. I couldn’t find maximum water pressure supply limit from the CCC, only a minimum.

Symptoms included hose fittings blowing apart, washing machine solenoid valves making a lot of noise but worst of all was the toilet cistern ball cock valves. Typically (late at night) as the ball cock was about to close, the flow was very low and the pressure very high. The valve would “scream” with a high pitched tone that would loudly echo around the whole house! Such high pressures are not covered by typical appliance warranties.

I hope this adds to the discussion. It would be good to have support from a larger group such as CRA to ask CCC what is in the Cashmere water supply.

regards

Dean Johnston

* See Cashmere Water Analysis Report
https://chchwater.wordpress.com/about/cashmere-water-analysis-report/

Editor’s ref. http://www.argusheating.co.nz/metal-sheath-elements Argus Heating Ltd, 211 Maces Road, Bromley, Christchurch. See esp. http://www.argusheating.co.nz/heavy-duty-tank-heating-element-water-heaters

Roberts household to CCC 30.11.15

Cashmere family asks questions of council

30 November 2015

The Manager
City Water & Waste Unit
Christchurch City Council
PO Box 73014
Orchard Road Mail Centre
CHRISTCHURCH 8154

Dear Sir/Madam

CORROSIVE WATER IN CASHMERE AREA

I have recently been advised that the water in the Cashmere area (specifically Hackthorne Road in my case) contains impurities that (amongst other effects) causes standard Hot Water Cylinder (HWC) elements to fail prematurely.

Background

I had a new locally-made Peter Cocks Ltd mains-pressure stainless-steel HWC installed in September 2011.

In January this year the Eutron main element burst through its outer casing because of corrosion and/or build-up of impurities. It was only 16 months old! It was replaced with a similar Hermatic element. Although the original Eutron element had a warranty, the guarantee expressly excludes failure due to impurities in the water supply. I therefore had to pay the cost of the plumber and electrician, plus the element, totalling $430-35.
The replacement Hermatic element was installed. It also has a warranty, which states that it does not cover failures “due to corrosion, liming or build-up of water impurities…”.

In September this year (i.e. after only another 8 months) the Hermatic element failed in a similar way.
I decided to ring Peter Cocks Ltd (spoke to ‘Simon’) to see what type of replacement element they recommended. He said that they obviously have no idea where their HWC are installed (they are distributed through merchants). However, in the past 6 months or so they had become aware that the water in the Cashmere area contained substances that lead to premature failure of HWC elements. He suggested we have a stainless-steel element installed.
I also rang Hermatic (spoke to ‘Allan’). He recommended their ‘Incoloy’ element be used.
So a coated ‘Incoloy’ element has been installed at a cost to me of another $735-71! This cost included the replacement of the thermostat and a meter-box fuse as well because they had been damaged by the high fault-current generated when the element failed/burst.

Cost

The cost to me of the failure of the two elements, thermostat and fuse has so far been $1166-06! If the standard second booster-element (which has been used each time the main element has failed) also fails, I will incur further cost.
These costs appear to have been caused by corrosive and/or excessive liming impurities in our Council-provided local water supply.

Your Response?

I therefore have some questions that I would be grateful if you could answer, as follows:

1. Do you carry out regular tests of the composition of our local water supply? (I realise that your website provides ‘typical average chemical analysis’, but it seems that our local supply is NOT typical).

2. Can you please provide me with the most recent analysis?

3. Has the composition of the water changed significantly over recent time?

4. What financial contribution are you prepared to make towards the costs ($1166) I have incurred to date through no fault on my part or that of the HWC or element maker?

5. What steps, if any, do you propose to take to improve the quality of our local supply to hopefully prevent such premature failure?

6. Will you be informing the local residents, and Christchurch plumbers and electricians, of the current impurity problem with our local water supply, so that they can know and install special corrosion-resistant elements in our area? (From information provided by Peter Cocks Ltd, other Cashmere properties have been similarly affected).

I would appreciate your responses as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

(JLD & AM ROBERTS)

Copy to
Cashmere Residents Association (Inc)
Peter Cocks Ltd

See the CCC response here:
https://chchwater.wordpress.com/ccc-response-to-h2o-complaint/