Cylinders supplied not “fit for purpose”
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.
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.
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.
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.