Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Friday, July 13, 2012

is this the oldest water heater in the city?

When I first moved in here I took photos of the old water heater in the communal backyard area.
Then I lost them.
So I took some more.....as you do.
Recently the heater has been leaking, with the ground around it staying damp for up to three meters.

A plumber was called out and was heard to say, "I've never seen anyhting like it. I've been a plumber for 35 years and I've never seen a water heater like this.

It's a huge storage tank, three of me would easily fit inside it, and it services all of the four flats in my building.


It's an odd looking thing, pipes and electrical cords all over it.

I'm not sure of the original heating source, but it is now gas heated with an electric pump that stirs the water.
Why? Who knows? All I know is the pump runs 24/7 and is quite noisy.

Some of the old pipes.

The rubber hosing is looking very weathered and worn.

Another section of hosing. You can see the pipe it is supposed to be protecting is beginning to corrode.

Water dribbling down the sides of the tank.


See all that water on the ground? See the electrical cords lying in it?
The dampness spreads all the way to the washing line and almost to the fence.
Somewhere to the left of these electrical cords are pipes, one of which had sprung a slow leak.
I thought the damp was from overnight rain which hadn't dried up yet, then as it continued to stay damp, I thought is was overflow, since there was always dribbles of water running down the outsides of the tank.
Eventually someone called a plumber who discovered the leaky pipe.

Here's a close-up of the pump. The plumber said it was used to stir up the water, but I can't see why that would be necessary. I think the pump has more to do with maintaining the pressure of the supply to the individual flats.

I haven't walked behind every single block of flats, but it does appear that mine is the only one to still have this older, shared water heater. All the others that I've seen have the individual heaters shown above.
I'm not sure if there are plans to convert my block. It seems like this would be a good idea, but there's a lot of time, work and money involved in such a conversion.
And there may not be enough space to locate them.
In the above photo, you can see two heaters either side of the central access doorway which has the stairs to the upper flats. This block is the "T" that comes off my block.

In "my" block, the left of the access doorway is my closed in back porch which backs on to the end of the lower right hand flat you see here. To the right of our doorway is the water heater, then two small rooms which used to be outdoor shared laundries. These are now filled with junk. So space is an issue.

But as long as I am still able to run my washing machine and have hot showers, that's fine.


22 comments:

  1. Does the plumber think anyone is in danger? And, who's paying for the lost hot water? I guess that's all I'd ask. Otherwise, it may be interesting to see an antique nursed along.

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  2. Quite fascinating. Hot water is pumped around our building so that there is not an excessive wait for hot water to come through, so maybe the pump does this too, which might be what the plumber meant by stirring up the water. But I expect you are right. It is is to provide water pressure. Are you billed directly for the hot water you use?

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  3. An alternative if it needs replacing would be gas fired wall mounted instantaneous heaters for each flat. They are quite good now.

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  4. Does stirring the water keep it all the same temperature, maybe? No hot and cold spots? That tank is huge!

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  5. Crikey!

    It looks like a 1950s Kelvinator crossed with a station wagon....

    All it needs it to have the words 'o-rama' or 'o-matic' at the end of it to really put it in the ancient age gap!

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  6. Joanne; there's no danger from the heater and any lost hot water was just a dribble, (a wide spreading dribble for about a month), but it's fixed now. There are individual meters along the pipes supplying each flat, so the reading indicates how much water we've used and we pay accordingly.

    Andrew; water pressure is what I'm pretty sure the pump provides. We are billed directly for our used water. I love those instantaneous water heaters! I even know how to restart the pilot light when/if it blows out. I've used them in many of my homes.

    Happy Elf Mom; the pump is more likely to provide constant pressure through the pipes.

    Kath Lockett; Heat-o-Rama. I like it!

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  7. It looks Soviet.... Nasty looking thing. I guess you know it well enough but my plumber mate told me that a heater thats leaking water can and will kill you!

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  8. Tempo; not to worry, it's fixed now. I guess the water volume entering into the tank was enough that a small drip leak wasn't able to empty it. That could have been disastrous.

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  9. if you want instant action just report to the gas board that you think you can smell gas.
    Use the classic 'vague little old lady tone of voice'.
    the safety crew will be out like a shot and when they see it you might get a new one.
    In the meantime, sleep in your clothes, ready for that 3am explosion, and remember to grab the cat and the budgie before you run.
    Good Luck.

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  10. Ann O'Dyne; I think I'm perfectly safe. I'd be much more likely to rescue my laptop and camera.

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  11. dear River I do hope that's because you don't actually have a cat or budgie ... pre-digital, people used to say they would "save the family photos", but now I guess it's save the laptop, the USB's, the camera.
    Second visit I notice the gully trap seems to be a sweet or hilarious use of a pink handbasin. bet that 35-year plumber has never seen anything like that either. X X

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  14. Water heaters typically fail because of rust. The noise is produced when hot water that runs through a cold copper pipe which causes the metal to expand & rub against any wood or metal that's touching it. You can prevent the noise, River by installing plastic spacers or supporting the pipes on hangers.

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  16. Seeing that the pipes were old and rusty, and the hose was badly weathered and worn, I think the best thing to do was to totally replace the pipes and the hose with new ones to ensure that the system would continue running smoothly. The electrical cords shouldn’t touch the wet ground, as that can be a serious electrical and fire hazard. What remedy did the plumber go with, btw?

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  17. A rubber hose significantly jackets the pipes to protect it from the degenerating outside factors, such as harsh weather. Seeing that the rubber hoses are completely worn out, it badly needs a replacement. Anyway, how’s it going?

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  18. It certainly is an old water heater but not the oldest I have seen. Take a look at the one that is linked to my name. It looks Prussian in style because its so old. It really is amazing to think how far water heater technology has progressed in a very short period of time.

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  19. Second only to space heating, water heating is a big energy user in the average home. Improve your water heater's efficiency by insulating the pipes, using an insulating blanket, lowering the water heater temperature to 60ºC or installing a high-efficiency water heater. For even bigger energy savings, install solar hot water heating.

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