Don’t Fall For The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off

Don’t Fall For The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off

The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off 

The great sacrificial anode replacement rip-off resurfaces every few years.

The routine invariably starts in the middle of the day with a knock on the door by a friendly “salesman”. After warm greetings, they state they are in your neighbourhood doing some work and that a neighbour had suggested they do the same “free check” on your hot water service.

This unsolicited pitch or a variation of it is the signature pitch of conmen who prey on unsuspecting homeowners, especially the elderly creating fear about their hot water tank. Commonly they display a great deal of empathy and concern and are only doing the “free check” of your hot water service as one of your neighbours had already had theirs repaired and were concerned for you.

The “free check” invariably concludes with you urgently needing a sacrificial anode replacement. If you have water stains on your hot water tank similar to the photo below then you have a leak in the tank.

What Is A Leaking Sacrificial Anode

As you can see below this tank needed replacement as it was leaking around the sacrificial anode. Installing a new sacrificial anode will achieve nothing.

A leaking hot water tank cannot be repaired.

Even if your hot water tank is not leaking the friendly salesman will assure you it is about to start leaking if you don’t replace the sacrificial anode now.

To back it up he will have information from the manufacturers about replacing the sacrificial anode backed up by horror photos.

Does A Sacrificial Anode Need Replacing?

Yes, your sacrificial anode on your hot water service should be checked at least every 5 years.

But if it has never been checked or replaced and your hot water service is over 10 years old you are wasting your time replacing it as the damage has already been done to your steel storage tank.

The photo above illustrates perfectly a brand new sacrificial anode at the top of the photo. The sacrificial anode in the bottom of the photo was removed after nine years inside a hot water tank.

 Basically your hot water tank is prevented from rusting away by the sacrificial anode. The anode corrodes instead of the steel tank which is the cathode. This principle of electrolytic corrosion control is described as cathodic protection. Hence the term sacrificial anode. As a cathodic surface cannot rust, the steel hot water tank is protected as long as the anode is whole and working.

These days the majority of hot water tanks last around 12 to 15 years. The sacrificial anode prolongs the life of your hot water tank. But once the anode becomes ineffective the steel tank is no longer a cathode and begins to rust from the inside. Once the rusting process begins, it takes about 3 to 5 years for it to eat away through the steel tank wall. 

Who Can Replace A Sacrificial Anode?

As with any plumbing fixture, only a licenced plumber working for a QBCC licensed plumbing contractor can replace a sacrificial anode.

Take it from me knocking on your door and cold-calling is not a professional or viable way to market or operate a plumbing business.

In all likelihood, the person knocking on your door is not a licensed plumber or a licensed plumbing contractor. Simply ask them to produce their licenses. In our experience, they are not a plumber but ordinary old con artists who have no experience or knowledge in servicing a hot water service.

Trouble shooting why do I not have hot water

Trouble shooting why do I not have hot water

Why do I not have hot water?

May, June and July are the coldest months on the Gold Coast, and no-one wants to start the day with a cold shower in winter. Unluckily for some clients of Whywait Plumbing who are not Service Partners it is in these months they go to the shower and question why do I not have hot water?

Unfortunately, hot water systems are a case of out of sight out of mind. Continually where hot water systems are concerned, there were warning signs that there was a problem. Over the summer months, hot water problems are overlooked as the demand for higher temperature; hot water is not a critical consideration.

Several warning bulletins in Queensland have been issued by the QBCC and Queensland Health advising homeowners that their hot water systems need to be maintained and serviced frequently.

AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Heated Water Services

The Australian standard that all hot water installation is based around is AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Heated water services that are an integral part of the National Construction Code of Australia issued by the Australian Building Codes Board and it is all legal requirements in Queensland.

In AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 there is Appendix M which provides guidelines for the operation and maintenance of your hot water system which is below:

M1 SCOPE
This Appendix provides guidelines for the operation and maintenance of a heated water system.
M2 GENERAL
In order to ensure maximum performance and length of operation, water heaters should be inspected periodically.
M3 MAINTENANCE OF HEATED WATER SERVICES
Heated water services should be maintained in accordance with the following:
(a) Water treatment units: Where installed, water treatment units should be inspected periodically to ensure proper operation.
(b) Water vessels and tanks: All vessels and tanks should be inspected and cleaned periodically, and in accordance with any requirements of the regulatory authority.
NOTE: The frequency of periodic cleaning depends upon the quality of the supply water, design, materials of construction and the pipe system. Combinations of materials giving rise to corrosion should be avoided.
(c) Valves: The following valves should be inspected periodically to ensure proper operation:
(i) Temperature/pressure-relief valves.
(ii) Expansion control valves.
(iii) Thermostatic mixing valves.
(iv) Tempering valves.
(v) Other associated valves/devices.
(d) The requirements of AS/NZS 3666.2, where applicable.

Common reasons for why do I not have hot water

why do I have no hot water so call Whywait PlumbingBelow are listed the most common reasons we attend to clients jobs who call up to as why do I not have hot water? Listed are elementary troubleshooting ideas that you can undertake yourself to resolve or understand why your hot water is cold:
  • blown fuse or circuit breaker – replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker and if it blows again it’s probable there is a fault with your element or thermostat, and you need to call Whywait out to repair
  • Energex relay switch failure – this is not the easiest to detect but if you are on off-peak rates and there are no obvious electrical faults or water leaks then its worth a phone call to your energy supplier to check whether the relay switch has failed to activate in your area
  • defective relief valve – most relief valves on the side of the HWS only have a life span of around 3-5 years. Still, they can jam open so first check if you see water running from it by pulling the lever up and then easing back down again. If water continues to run then you need to call Whywait out to service the unit
  • no water at all – this is when you wake up turn the tap on and cold water flows, but there is no flow from the hot water. Frequently this a failure of the non-return or isolating valve and a quick way to check is to turn the handle on the valve all the way off and then all the way back on. In many cases, the hot water will simply begin to flow again. However, if there is still no flow you need to call Whywait out for repairs
  • water fluctuation from hot to cold – there are several reasons for this occurring, but the most common is a faulty tempering valve. There is nothing you can do to solve fluctuation other than call Whywait and read our information on tempering valves
  • water leaking from hot water tank – there is only a maximum of 7 possible points on an HWS tank where there are joints that can possibly leak. Only 2 of those are concealed in the housing so if the water is leaking from the tank and its not from the visible water connections you need to call Whywait for service to check the HWS. In all likelihood, if the hot water tank is more than ten years old then its a 50/50 chance you need a new one installed

DIY warning

The above reasons are the most common problems you will experience with why do I not have hot water. As you can see above, there are only a few simple DIY solutions when you have no hot water.

A word of warning though. Please never open up the housing near the bottom of the tank where the electrical connections are as they are all live wires inside there and therefore very, very dangerous.

Whether you have a solar, heat pump, gas or electric hot water system they do need periodic maintenance so for all hot water problems call Whywait Plumbing now on (07) 5580 4311 as we guarantee a same-day rapid response for hot water problems.

Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement

Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement

Like For Like Online Pricing

In Queensland, if you see online website prices or are quoted over the phone a price for like for like hot water service replacement for an electric or gas storage tank¹ system, don’t believe one word of it. The prices are a sham designed to scam you into calling them to book in the job.

The prices quoted above are about right for a like for like installation. The problem is probably only one person in a hundred would qualify for this pricing.

I can 99% guarantee² you will not receive that price for a legally compliant hot water service replacement issued with a QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate.

The pricing and terminology are deliberately deceptive and are a scam. I will categorically state the prices are absolutely bullshit and lies, for most installations.

Going back over ten years ago yes all plumbers undertook like for like hot water service replacement when replacing electric or gas storage hot water tanks. Simply this was legally compliant at the time and accepted industry practice.

What is like for like hot water service replacement?

“Like for like” installation is frequently seen as the basis of pricing on websites as a starting point for pricing for replacing your hot water system. They usually use confusing terminology stating that the pricing is starting from what is a low price for a like for like installation. They then vaguely define like for like as being for replacing the hot water system where it is:

  • the same type of hot water system as the old hot water system
  • that the hot water system is being installed in precisely the same location as the old hot water system
  • that the new hot water system is the same size as the old hot water system
  • that the new hot water system has the same electrical requirements as the old hot water system

Of course, it’s not explained clearly like I have using sixty-seven words.  Instead, they tell all of that in one compressed vague sentence of thirty-four words.

And naturally, there will be getting out of gaol clauses that are again vague and confusing. These clauses will state that other costs may be incurred because:

  • you have individual site installation requirements to ensure your like for like hot water service replacement is compliant with all regulations
  • if you require any additional valves installed that were not in the like for like scope of works
  • if you request removal and disposal of the old hot water service
  • if you require a new concrete slab or support base
  • if you need any additional piping to be installed
  • if you require any additional electrical wiring or any electrical work other than disconnecting and reconnecting
  • any work what so ever that is required to the existing plumbing, electrical or gas infrastructure to ensure your like for like hot water service replacement is compliant with the council, state or commonwealth regulations
  • any additional labour or equipment required due to site access conditions

All of the above are standard requirements on any hot water system replacement to meet the legal requirements of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019.

The whole reason all of the above and many more possibilities are excluded from a like for like hot water service replacement offer is to fool you.

Ultimately every existing hot water service installation has individual requirements when installing a replacement hot water service.  That is why a website price or a quote over the phone is meaningless.

You can only ever get a correct price for replacing your old, leaking hot water service after a comprehensive site inspection. In the small print on all websites that quote like for like replacements, they almost always state somewhere that pricing may change once their plumber undertakes a site inspection

Why Is A Like for Like Hot Water Service Replacement Non-Compliant?

The photo below is a Dux 50 litre electric hot water service that has been replaced like for like. Except it is utterly non-compliant because:

  • the hot water pipes are not insulated
  • the relief valve is not insulated
  • there is no pressure reduction valve
  • there is no cold-water expansion valve
  • there is no tempering valve
  • as it is an internal installation, there is no hot water tray to contain water leaking from the tank, pipes or valves
  • there is no automatic shutoff valve to cut off the water should there be a leak
  • there was no QBCC form 4 given to the property owner

There is no such thing as a like for like installation. There is definitely no such thing as an exemption for a QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate if you are only undertaking a like for like installation.

What is required to replace a leaking hot water service?

If your hot water service is leaking and requires a replacement then in all likelihood it will be at least eight years old and probably much more. I can guarantee the infrastructure regarding valves and overflow drains will not be compliant with the legal requirements that we must now adhere to.

We recently replaced the nine-year-old Siddons heat pump unit in the photo below that was no longer functioning with a CO2 Smart Heat Pump hot water unit. Even though it was only installed nine years ago, it was utterly non-compliant with the current requirements.

Since 1 July 2019 every hot water service whether its a new installation or a replacement installation must be installed in complete compliance with AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Plumbing and Drainage Part 4: Heated Water Services.

This standard, along with several other standards, is called into law via the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019.

The installation of a new or replacement hot water service must comply absolutely with the standard and in particular Section 5 Installation of Water Heaters – General Requirements. The scope of this section states explicitly: This Section sets out general requirements for the installation of water heaters, their location, support, cold water service valves, the vent or drain lines, and the first 2 m of heated water supply piping.

This section sets out exactly how all hot water service installations must be undertaken. Nowhere does it refer to a like for like hot water service replacement.

No professional, reputable plumber will quote you on a like for like installation as they know it does not exist. Companies who market on this basis are engaging in deceptive and misleading marketing to get their foot in your door, so they can then upsell you.

Any plumber who starts telling you that you can get a lower price with a like for like replacement is simply a liar.

Every hot water service replacement must have a Form 4 compliance certificate lodged with the QBCC and the appropriate fee paid. Ultimately this is for your protection as compliantly installed plumbing, and drainage installation is about protecting your health.

Replacing a hot water service does not involve guesswork it’s about merely obeying the law and being compliant with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018. If you have had your hot water service replaced as a like for like replacement you need to report it now to the QBCC as an offence complaint. The plumber who undertook the installation will be required to return and complete the installation in compliance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 at his cost.

If you are uncertain about your hot water service replacement or need assistance contact us on (07) 5580 4311 and we will give you our opinion on how to proceed.

Footnotes

¹ : Replacing an instantaneous gas hot water unit is frequently like for like as it is a straight disconnection and reconnection to the gas connection and to the water pipes. In most instantaneous units, there is no need to install or replace valves as all management of temperature is undertaken inside the unit.

² : The only time I have seen a compliant like for like replacement is when a faulty hot water service has had to be replaced within the first 12 months after installation and was already fully compliant. This is a genuine like for like replacement under the manufacturers guarantee where the client pays nothing and where everything concerning the plumbing and electrical infrastructure was already compliant.

Why Do I Need A TMV or Tempering Valve?

Why Do I Need A TMV or Tempering Valve?

Every week we have clients asking why we are required to install a TMV or tempering valve to their hot water system. The short, simple answer is because it’s the law.

The longer answer is because it’s about safety. A TMV or tempering valve reduces the risk of scalding. This is because storage type gas, electric, solar and heat pump systems are storing hot water at between 60° C and 75° C. You need to be aware a severe hot water burn can occur in one second when the water is delivered at 60° C or higher. Hot water burns like fire because:

  • At 60°C, a severe burn can happen in 1 second
  • At 55°C, a severe burn would take 10 seconds
  • At 50°C, a severe burn would happen after 5 minutes

What is a TMV?

TMV or thermostatic mixing valve installed by Whywait Plumbing Services Gold Coast

TMV or thermostatic mixing valve installed by Whywait Plumbing

A TMV is a thermostatic mixing valve but is commonly referred to as a TMV. The role of a TMV is to mix hot and cold water together to provide you with hot water delivery at your tap that is at a consistent temperature.

When we install your TMV, we set the temperature to deliver the hot water in all bathrooms at 45°C in aged care or childcare facilities or 50°C in all other bathrooms.

A TMV is compulsory for use when used in common areas for aged care or childcare. A TMV is very accurate and very responsive to fluctuations in incoming water temperatures keeping the temperature to within 1° C of the temperature that it has been set at when we install it.

Accuracy of temperature in the TMV is delivered by a thermally sensitive element which expands and contracts in response to the temperature fluctuations of the incoming cold and hot water. This expansion and contraction regulate the temperature by controlling how much cold water mixes with the hot water. An added safety feature of a TMV is that if cold water flows become too low, they shut down to prevent 60°C plus water being delivered.

What is a Tempering Valve?

illegal tempering valve installation replaced by Whywait Plumbing

Non-compliant tempering valve installation connected with flexihoses replaced by Whywait Plumbing

A tempering valve’s role is also to mix hot and cold water together to provide you with hot water delivery at your tap that is at a consistent temperature.

The tempering valve is a simple three-way valve that is temperature actuated to mix the hot and cold water. These days most come preset at 50°C and when we install them, we test them by measuring the temperature of the water from your hot taps in the bathroom.

A tempering valve is commonly used in residential homes as a one-off valve at the hot water service. A tempering valve is slower to respond to temperature fluctuations compared to a TMV plus it will deliver water to within 3°C of the temperature that it has been set at when we install it.

Which Valve do you Require?

The Plumbing Code of Australia in AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 is very specific about water temperature is section 1.11, which states:

  • To avoid the likelihood of legionella bacteria growth, an installation shall store water at a temperature of not less than 60°C
  • All new heated water installations shall deliver heated water not exceeding 45°C for the aged, the sick, children or people with disabilities in healthcare, aged care, early childhood, schools and nursing homes. For all other situations, heated water shall be delivered not exceeding 50°C.

Ultimately when we are installing a temperature control device, we are legally obliged to comply with the requirements above and much more as they are prescribed in AS/NZS 3500.4:2018.

Overall a TMV is more expensive to install initially compared to a tempering valve. However, a TMV has a much longer working life span compared to a tempering valve as they are more accessible to service and replace the working parts. A tempering valve, by comparison, is usually just replaced when it stops working as they are not easy to service or replace parts in.

In Queensland, all work undertaken on a TMV or tempering valve is reportable to the QBCC and must have a compliant Form 4 submitted. For your protection always demand a copy of your Form 4.

Plumbing Innovations are Disruptive Innovation

Plumbing Innovations are Disruptive Innovation

Plumbing innovations have always been the norm in the plumbing industry. Innovation is change and is always about better ways of doing the same thing.

When I started my apprenticeship the clearing of a blocked drain started using a plunger and was at least a two-man job using 1m long drainage rods. The rods were screwed together and manually pushed slowly down the drain until we hit the blockage. Clearing drains this way frequently took 3-4 hours.

Plumbing innovations mean that we now clear a blocked drain with state of the art high-pressure jetrodding technology that was unknown 20 years ago.

Innovation is always about change, but at Whywait Plumbing we have always been at the forefront of plumbing innovations. We have always lead change as Gold Coast plumbers from the purchase of our first high-pressure water jetting unit in 1992 or installing vehicle tracking systems or introducing guaranteed upfront pricing in 1999.

What we always considered was developing and improving our way of solving your plumbing problems is now referred to as disruptive innovation. I agree disruptive innovation is the new term in business in the 21st century. But it’s not new it’s just a new way of talking about improving our methods and practices using the latest technology.

Change is the norm, but it just appears to be frantic to an outside observer with online banking, online shopping, online flight bookings and so the list goes on. At least with plumbing, it can’t be done online except for those DIY enthusiasts who believe Google Plumbing has all the answers.

The level of disruption through plumbing innovations has impacted all plumbing installation and maintenance has been significant starting with:

  • Increasing use of prefabrication of bathroom and kitchen modules off-site where the plumbing is all undertaken in a factory, transported to the site and connected up to a water and drainage connection.
  • Continual advances in sustainability with the advent of low flow toilets, low flow taps, waterless urinals and recirculated hot water.
  • Advances in energy efficient products with heat pump hot water units, solar hot water, instant hot water and underfloor heating.
  • All of the different materials we now use in the pipework, relining of existing pipework, CCTV cameras to inspect pipes and pipe jointing methods where welding is now obsolete.
  • Excavation methods with advanced technologies in hydro excavation and tracking and locating of underground services.

The ongoing changes in technology in the plumbing industry are disruptive if not embraced. I agree that plumbing innovations cause a significant difference in how we undertake to solve plumbing problems and how the plumbers at Whywait work now.

Ultimately plumbing continues to be about protecting the health and safety of the community for now and the future to ensure we have good quality water and sewer systems in our buildings.

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