Read on for the 5 most common instant gas system problems and how to fix them.
Losing water is one of life’s greatest frustrations (more so on those cold Melbourne mornings), and although an instant gas hot water system offers cost-effective and performance advantages over tank systems, there are still potential problems for you to run into.
Our expert plumbers have rounded up the most common instant gas hot water system problems to help you spot trouble before it gets out of hand, help you understand a few simple (and free) DIY fixes, and have your water flowing again in no time.
How instant gas hot water systems work
An instant gas system, also known as continuous flow, doesn’t have a storage tank full of water waiting to be used.
While gas and electric systems heat water in your tank before being siphoned into your pipe and delivered to your shower or sink, an instant gas hot water system warms water as it passes through a heat exchanger to deliver heated water at the source.
This offers a virtually limitless supply of water (which means no unwanted icy showers on those chilly Victorian mornings) at a flow rate between 10 and 32 litres per minute.
Instant gas heater helps to save money compared to traditional tank-based systems (which can be a significant saving as hot water uses 25% of your Melbourne home’s power), and since you don’t need to find space for a bulky water tank, you’ll have more options to use your space.
Step-by-step instant gas hot water system process
Step One: You turn on your hot tap and cold water flows into your instantaneous system.
Step Three: The instant water follows a serpentine pattern through the heat exchange to absorb as much heat as possible before exiting via your faucet.
Step Five: You enjoy sizzling hot showers, heated water in the sink, or in your appliances.
Common instant gas hot water system problems
#1 - Mineral buildup
All systems are exposed to water each day and while this sounds like a unit is doing its job, that water can fall into one of two categories:
Soft water refers to water that is free of harsh minerals that can damage your plumbing and gas system. While hard water refers to water that is high in mineral content and can damage your piping (and your skin). These minerals are commonly calcium and magnesium and don’t just leave your skin and hair feeling dry, but can ruin the performance of an instantaneous gas system too.
Over time, these minerals build up inside your tankless unit and impair optimal function. Whether it’s blocking valves, leaving components damaged, or preventing heated water from reaching you, mineral build up needs to be regularly checked and cleaned.
HOW TO FIX THIS PROBLEM: You can flush your tankless unit periodically to avoid excess buildup of minerals. This can be done with white vinegar or other approved cleaners, but be careful not to use harsh cleaning agents as these can damage your system.
It’s recommended to schedule a professional clean once every 12 months, so reach out and speak to our experienced Melbourne plumbers to arrange your affordable service.
#2 - Cold water at the start of your showers
If you’re experiencing an initial burst of heated water, then cold, then a return to hot, this is known as a “cold water sandwich” (and it’s not a meal we recommend).
This problem is to do with the way your instantaneous system works. Remember, water passes through a heat exchange before exiting your taps. When one of your family members finishes their shower, for example, a small amount of heated water remains in your pipes.
Thankfully, this cold water is only temporary. Once your igniter fires up your system, the subsequent water will be heated and come out nice and hot, so you’re only dealing with a small amount of water that’s cooled in your pipes before the temperature rises again.
#3 - Cold water during your showers
An older tankless gas system may have problems with its minimum flow rate. This is the amount of cold water that the system needs flowing through each minute (measured in litres) to produce hot water.
HOW TO FIX THIS PROBLEM: If you’re constantly ending up in a cold shower, contact your local plumber and request a service. They’ll be able to tell you if your system can be upgraded or if you’re better off installing a new tankless unit.
#4 - Ignition failure
Your instant gas system needs to ignite an internal burner to heat your water, but if your heater fails to ignite then your water will come out cold.
HOW TO FIX THIS PROBLEM: If you’re concerned about ignition failure, reach out and schedule a maintenance service today.
#5 - Blocked exhaust
Is having no hot water an emergency?
If your tankless system is giving you trouble, don’t hesitate to contact the Reed Plumbing and Drainage Solutions team for free advice over the phone and an obligation-free quote.
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