HSE Alert – Geyser – a home equipment to be handled with caution
A geyser provides a ready-to-use stock of hot water that can be set thermostatically to give a constant temperature, normally between 60-65°C, regardless of the outside temperature. Geysers are hard-working appliances – think of how much hot water you and your family use in a day. Geyser bursts can be dangerous and many times Geyser burst will be so powerful that all doors and windows along with door frames would be broken. It is also likely to cause cracks in the walls of the house.
The typical geyser installation is on the roof (preferably above the ceiling). In the event of a burst, water can pour down the ceilings, affecting light fittings, walls and furniture and furnishings in the room below.
In general, Geysers burst for a number of reasons – most often because of human error, that is, either due to:
– poor installation,
– the use of the incorrect valves,
– incorrect setting of thermostat
– wear and tear
– or the absence or plugging of safety and pressure-reducing valves
The burst usually happens because of an incorrect setting of the thermostat, which is an instrument used to control the heating temperature and the steaming pressure of the geyser. If the thermostat is badly regulated, it will incorrectly control the heating levels of hot water in the geyser, subsequently causing an explosion due to the amount of steam accumulated in the geyser.
Insurers all over the world has experienced many claims over the decades as a result of a burst geyser. Over the past few years, several people have been killed as a result of burst geysers and other accidents caused by poor plumbing installations.
In order to reduce these types of accidents due to lack of awareness, here are some handy tips to make sure your geyser won’t burst:
– Make sure you call a good plumber either to fix the old geyser, or to install a new one. The emphasis here is on the word ‘good’.
– It is always important to have a specialist to install your geyser to avoid a household disaster.
– Always take a proactive approach, if possible, by consulting a good plumber and instituting a preventative maintenance programme to protect the geyser and geyser valve. Timely anode replacement and a regular geyser-valve clean-up can save countless problems.
– If you use an unqualified plumber to install your geyser and it bursts, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk.
– Have your geyser and pipes insulated, as well as the ceiling.
– Urgent action is needed if you hear a rumbling from the ceiling. This could be a signal that water in the geyser has begun to boil. Alternatively, steam may gush out when you open your hot-water taps.
– If these danger signals occur, switch off the geyser electrical isolator on the main distribution board.
– Now turn off the water at the main meter box. Most homes have a stopcock fitted to the inlet side of the geyser.
– If possible, look to see whether the geyser, the pressure-reducing valve or the pipes are leaking. This helps the plumber identify the problem.
– If a replacement geyser has to be fitted, it may also be advisable to fit a drip tray beneath the geyser. The tray’s outlet pipe will carry away a lot of the water in the event of a geyser burst at some stage in the future.
– If your geyser bursts, you should switch off the electricity mains immediately.
The reasons for this are twofold:
– Firstly, if the geyser element continues to heat up even if there is no water in the geyser, you could burn the house down. This is like switching on a huge, empty kettle.
– Secondly, water leaking from the geyser could get into electrical systems and cause a short circuit, and possible a fire.
– Find the water mains and switch it off. This will stop new water from running into the geyser and leaking all over your house. If you don’t know where your water mains are, make a point of finding it out today. You can phone the water department of the local municipality, but by the time they arrive, you might all be floating out the front door. So, do this check once you move in to a new apartment or house.
– If you are living in a flat, contact your neighbours, as water may be cascading into their flat. They don’t want to find that out when they step into three inches of water when they get up in the morning.
– If the area where the geyser burst is sopping wet, try and mop it all up with towels, mops or anything that is absorbent. You want to minimise damage to your floors and your furniture, or whatever else is close by.
– Buckets and plastic containers will also help to catch up some of the falling water.
– Although out of sight, the home’s plumbing system should never be out of mind, because when something goes wrong, the problem can take on nightmarish proportions. Consider the geyser, for example.