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Here’s how to ensure your geyser lasts 20 years

There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.

General maintenanceshower

Keep the bottom track of the shower door clean and make sure water will drain back to the inside and not stand in the tracks.

A loose or unsecured shower door is dangerous, remove it or have it fixed.

Over the years calcium does build up in the shower head and will eventually block the small holes or jets of the head. If you are able to remove the head, do so and then leave it in a bowl of vinegar overnight. The vinegar will dissolve the calcium inside the holes. Alternatively, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and pull it over the shower head and leave it overnight.

Keep the water meter always accessible and clean for the meter reader to read, otherwise he will make an estimate.

Make sure that all the people in the household know where the cold and hot water shut off valves are as well as where the electrical main switch is, in case of an emergency.

Albert says: “You should check regularly for any signs of damp”

You might have noticed a smell coming from the sewer drain in the guest bathroom which is not used often. The reason for this is that the water from the traps of the bath and shower has evaporated and now the smell from the drain can escape there. Open the taps to fill the traps again and the smell will disappear.

Water can leak through the grout of the tiles in the shower and damage the paint and plaster on the other side of the wall e.g. the passage.

Albert says: “Pour drain cleaner in all the drains once a month”

If you have a shower on the first floor, then you should regularly check the ceiling directly below the shower for wet spots in case the shower trap could be leaking.

How to treat mildew or mouldmould

Install an extractor fan if the windows are not large enough to remove the moisture from the bathroom. There are special products available to successfully remove the mould before the ceiling is repainted.

I have seen some recipes out there which suggest that you use vinegar to kill mildew, but it does not do nearly as good a job as chlorine bleach does. This actually kills the mildew which helps prevent it from returning.

The main ingredient in this recipe is chlorine bleach. The reason for using chlorine bleach is that it kills mildew and mould.

Here is the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup chlorine bleach;
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water; and
  • 1 tablespoon borax

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together and place in a spray bottle. Spray the mildew cleaner onto the hard surface and let it sit for about half an hour.

The reason you want to let it sit this long, is that the bleach cannot instantly kill the mildew and mould, but instead needs to stay in contact with the spores for about half an hour to make sure it has killed it all. Now physically remove the mildew and mould that has built up. You can do this with an old rag, sponge, toothbrush or scrub brush.

Finally, rinse the area with water and dry thoroughly to prevent it from growing again because of damp conditions. You may want to use this spray every couple of days for a while to make sure you kill all the spores and to prevent them from returning.

The filters of some of the extractor fans above the stove need to be serviced or replaced regularly. Consult the manual for instructions.

Albert says: “Want to know the best-kept secret of a plumber on how to prevent your geyser from bursting?”

Inside the geyser, in the water are 3 instrumentsgeyser blow resize

  1. The heating element.
  2. The thermostat which regulates the hot water temperature according to the setting. A temperature setting of 55 degrees Celsius is economical
  3. A self-sacrificing anode rod

The rod is made of magnesium or aluminium and wrapped around a steel core wire. Because the rod is made with a higher current potential than other metals, it will ensure that the galvanic current flows from the rod to other exposed metals, and prevent the corrosion. In other words, the anode rod will corrode and not the body of the tank or the element. The body of the geyser will start to rust when there is no more metal left on the anode. It is installed by the manufacturers for this exact reason. Anode rods generally last about 5 years but it depends on the quality and quantity of the water which travels through the geyser.

The tank of the geyser is actually rusted through when it breaks, or cannot withstand the pressure for which it was designed.

If you replace the anode rod every 3 or 4 years, then there is no reason why the geyser will not last up to 20 years. This is a much cheaper option than a busted geyser with all the consequential damages.

Why do plumbers and suppliers not tell you this?

Pressure control valvepressue control valve

This valve is usually installed over a gulley where the main water line enters the building. The pressure of the water supply from the council varies substantially and the geyser is designed for a maximum pressure of 4 Bar. The purpose of the valve is to control the water pressure to the geyser and balance the pressure of the hot and cold water supply to baths, showers and basins.

The valve reduces the cold water pressure to the same as the hot water from the geyser.

The valve will also release excess pressure in the geyser and will drip about 3 litres of water per day, which is a sign that it is functioning correctly. The valve is faulty when water is continuously running from it or when it is dry. A strainer is fitted in the valve which you can clean yourself when you experience low water pressure.

Albert says: “Attend to the problem immediately”

For more, and to order your copy of The Proud Home Owner, click here, or visit Gauteng Home Inspections if you’re building, buying or doing maintenance


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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