If you are a homeowner it is almost certain that at some point you are going to have to deal with the ramifications of a burst geyser.
Generally, your homeowners’ insurance policy should cover you in the event of a burst geyser as well as any structural damage to your home due to fire, storm damage or a landslide. If your home is in a sectional title housing complex then the body corporate of your particular community should provide insurance for your geyser, which is financed by your monthly levy payment.
While it is comforting to know that your insurance policy will cover you in the event of a geyser rusting there are still several steps you should take to limit the likelihood of this occurring. After all, even the best insurance policy can’t change the fact that your home is likely to be without water for a period between instituting your claim and the eventual installation of a new geyser.
“Even if you are an insured homeowner, you still need to take reasonable steps to safeguard and maintain your property and try to reduce the likelihood of an unfortunate event occurring,” says Louis Hay, head of Short-Term Insurance at Standard Insurance Limited. “The other important thing to remember is to notify your insurer as soon as you notice a problem that you think will result in a claim. That way they can advise you on the correct steps to follow so you can avoid inadvertently rendering your claim ineligible.”
Hay offers the following tips for people wanting to ensure their geyser is in the best health possible and that the claims process does not become a nightmare.
Hit the switch
It’s not good for your geyser to be left empty as it’s much like boiling a kettle with no water. If the water supply to your suburb gets shut off, ensure you switch off your geyser immediately to avoid the element overheating.
If your geyser is installed in your ceiling, ensure you have a drip tray underneath it to catch any water that might leak out of the unit if it bursts as this could cause additional damage to your ceiling, your carpets and even the electrical wiring in your house. Make sure that the outlet pipe from the drip tray is not blocked and that any water that collects can run off via the overflow pipe. Where possible, have your geyser installed outside the house to limit any potential damage.
Wrapping your geyser in a special geyser blanket helps to reduce heat loss and keeps the temperature of the water inside the unit at a more constant temperature. This helps reduce rising and falling pressure on the unit and can also lower your monthly electricity bill.
Switch off your geyser when you’re away
If you’re going away for a couple of weeks and nobody will be staying at your home, switch off your geyser at the mains. There’s no point in keeping the water hot for that amount of time if nobody is going to be there to use it. This will also reduce unnecessary pressure on the geyser system during this time.
Make sure the temperature of your geyser isn’t too high. Generally, it shouldn’t be higher than 60ºC, but most people don’t need the water heated beyond 35ºC. In summer, you can also keep the temperature slightly lower than usual, which can help you save on your electricity bill.
Install a geyser sensor
There are specialised sensors on the market that can be installed which shut off the water and electricity supply to the geyser when a leak is detected. Some of these products even come with the ability to send a text message to your phone to warn you that your geyser has burst, allowing you to take steps to notify your insurer even if you’re not at home. There are even some products that can be installed inside the geyser to attract oxidation (rust), thereby prolonging the life of the geyser.
Check your policy
Many insurance policies in South Africa will only pay a maximum of around R6,000 for a burst geyser, excluding the excess that you will have to pay. Make sure you know what your policy limitations are, particularly if you live in a sectional title unit.
If possible, have a plumber give your geyser a check-up every couple of years to ensure that there are no leaks and that all pressure valves and seals are in good working order.