Geyser pipes bursting

#1 Jan 7th, 2012, 00:41
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#1
My husband and I are all situated in our flat now. We had the usual leaks and shorts that all needed to be looked at. We thought the leaks from our geysers (hot water heaters) had finally been fixed, but now two pipes (twice in the kitchen and once in our master bedroom) have burst.

We turn on the geyser 10-15 minutes before we need hot water. We use the hot water then we turn it off -- Am I missing something?

We've probably had an electrician/plumber out here nearly everyday looking at these geysers because they were constantly dripping from somewhere.. the nozzle, the safety valve, etc.

I guess I just want to make sure it's not something we're doing. How long can a geyser be left on? What's normal? We have thought maybe there was a water pressure problem (it seems high, but the electrician/plumber have said it's "t.k.")

Suggestions?
#2 Jan 7th, 2012, 01:48
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What kind of "geyser?" Electric?

What kind of burst? pipe breaking? joints literally blowing apart?

As to what's "normal," most people will turn them on just long enough in advance to get enough water heated, and then turn them off again ASAP, in the name of saving electricity. How long can one be left on? Do read the manual, but probably indefinitely, as it should be thermostatically controlled.

My hunches...

a) you have not one, but two bad thermostats.

b) a boiler which is supposed to feed a spout (which allows expansion) has been fitted to an outlet with a tap

c) the connections on the hot water side have been made with cold-water components.

photo please!



disclaimer: I'm not a plumber or an electrician!
#3 Jan 7th, 2012, 10:15
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By your post I get a feeling that not only the geyser pipes, but others too leak and burst.

Geysers pipes do not burst, even if you keep it on 24 ours a day. So that is not something you need to bother. As for the pressure, all the houses must be getting the same pressure.

I guess bad plumbing, and inferior/badly fitted geyser parts are the main reason for what is happening.
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#4 Jan 7th, 2012, 10:23
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#4
If it is the flexible hoses that are giving way, ensure you have good quality ones, at least for the hot water. There is a difference in quality in the same set of 'hot' and 'cold' water hoses- and they are often so marked.

At home, geysers often stay on 24 hours or more, usually by accident; if you are having persistent problems with relief valves, other parts etc, maybe it is time to change the geysers. Thermostats are replacable, and much cheaper to do this than to buy a new geyser. In fact, I would first replace the thermostats anyway if there is doubt
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#5 Jan 7th, 2012, 11:01
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Thermostats have settings so you may look at that. Once you switch on your geyser after some time when the water is heated the thermostat will switch off the heating element and in all gyesers there is a lamp that goes off indicating this. I too suspect the pipes and plumbing.
#6 Jan 7th, 2012, 11:05
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post disclaimer: I'm not a plumber or an electrician!
Heheh... Whatever happended to acronyms? Do they somehow taste like acroneem now?


Quote:
As to what's "normal," most people will turn them on just long enough in advance to get enough water heated, and then turn them off again ASAP, in the name of saving electricity.

Is it really in name only? I can list a number of reasons why this is a good, even a prudent, practice:
  • A 'geyser' does keep losing heat, and the mechanism needs to compensate for that by turning the heater back on as needed, to maintain the preset temperature. Depending on how good the insulation is (and, of course, on the ambient temperature, -- so perhaps Chennai stands apart ), this unnecessary wastage could be significant.

  • Even apart from the question of whether the few rupees so wasted mean much to the particular user, even a few drops of power wasted by lakhs do add up. With her perennial power shortage India can ill afford that (nobody could, when things like carbon footprint are also considered).

  • There is more (keeping apart questions of saving a few rupees, or being a responsible citizen). Domestic connections usually have a preset moderate limit (typically 2-3 kW for non-AC households). It's not a good idea to block a big chunk of it for no good reason.

There may be more ...
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#7 Jan 7th, 2012, 15:03
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Bad choice of words: I meant "reason"

Whether it does save electricity or not depends on the usage pattern. For some people, keeping the thing on, under thermostat control, can be cheaper than letting the water cool and heating it up again, however, for more occasional use, it is better to turn it off.

Many homes, worldwide, can cut their bills by turning down the temperature on their water heaters. It beats me why one London friend of mine (who is seriously short of money) cannot understand the wastage in heating water to scalding hot and having to add cold water before even being able to put hands in it!

A failed thermostat could lead to an explosion. I have seen this happen with a gas heater, where the valve failed, and the gas remained on after the water flow stopped. Well, actually, I didn't see it, but arrived home as others were clearing up the mess. Luckily a pipe joint failed before the boiler blew up.

Our water heater is permanently on. It is solar powered
#8 Jan 7th, 2012, 19:37
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post
Whether it does save electricity or not depends on the usage pattern.
I agree. However, the practice of turning-the-heater-off-when-not-required does lead to minimum power usage, however small the saving might be (including zero).


Quote:
For some people, keeping the thing on, under thermostat control, can be cheaper than letting the water cool and heating it up again,
No! Please look at it this way:
The standby heat loss is non-zero. It equals rate-of-heat-loss x standby time

The net lost heat must be replaced by the heater whether it has been turned off, or put under thermostat control.

The rate-of-heat-loss is necessarily higher when the water-temperature is maintained at a 'constant' higher value, as in the latter case. So the net lost-heat that needs to be replaced is higher in that case.
So leaving the heater under thermostat control must lead to power usage that is more-than-or-equal-to that for the first case, never less!
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#9 Jan 7th, 2012, 21:39
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Is it the case that a hotter thing looses heat faster than a less hot thing? I ask because I just scraped through physics, and don't know the answer.

How about this one: My wife likes to put the AC on at it's lowest temperature setting, and wait until she feels cold, when she turns it off. I am convinced that just dialing in a comfortable temperature and leaving it to the thermostat is more efficient and cheaper. Am I wrong?

Or alternatively, back to mac678's plumbing problem...
#10 Jan 8th, 2012, 07:33
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#10
An alternate to an electric geyser is an instantaneous gas geyser (Comfort Clix)which has no storage but self-ignites when there is water movement through it ie you turn on the hot water tap. These have a reduced flow but are more than adequate for the Indian climate and are much cheaper to run and less hassle. Perfect for the kitchen and bathroom.
The marketing blurb(truth in advertising) tells that it costs about a third per shower than an elec geyser.
In this day of having 1 gas cyl per house it may create a shortage but even getting a commercial cyl will probably work out cheaper and have less problems with scale etc that can trouble elec geysers efficiency.
#11 Jan 8th, 2012, 17:01
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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Is it the case that a hotter thing looses heat faster than a less hot thing?
Yes, it is.


Quote:
How about this one: My wife likes to put the AC on at it's lowest temperature setting, and wait until she feels cold, when she turns it off. I am convinced that just dialing in a comfortable temperature and leaving it to the thermostat is more efficient and cheaper. Am I wrong?
Presumably she turns it back on when it again gets uncomfortable, and wait till she feels cold again, then it's turned off again, and the whole cycle repeats? If so, then the turn-off (cold) temperature is colder than the desired temperature, and the turn-it-back-on temperature is not too far above it. Am I right? In that case your method will indeed be more efficient and cheaper (not only in terms of money alone ).

To compare a case which would be similar to the "geyser" one, it would be cheaper to turn the AC off if you're going out for a while, and turn it back on when you return, than to keep it running.


But you are right, we're straying too far off-topic.
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Last edited by suricate; Jan 9th, 2012 at 10:32.. Reason: replaced 'below' with 'above', -- had heating and cooling mixed up! :-)
#12 Jan 9th, 2012, 18:18
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Here is a picture of the geyser in the kitchen after the first time the pipe seperated from the joint:


It's the hard pipe (hot water line?), not the flexible hose that is blowing out from the wall. And as I said in the OP, each and every one one of the geysers have leaked in various places since we've been here. The plumbers/electricians have been here nearly every day to replaces hoses, safety valves, nozzles, and various other parts on each of the geysers (there are 5 total).

And while saving energy is a concern, I'm more focused on determining the reason why the pipe is bursting from the wall. If leaving a geyser on for extended period of time is not what's causing the pipe to come out from the wall, then I'd like to find out what the other reasons could be. I'll figure out how to efficiently use the geysers AFTER they're working properly.

Several of you have mentioned that the thermostats could be bad. I might have risked telling the landlord about that, but since I wrote this post, he has decided to go ahead and replace all of the geysers in this apartment. Our flat was vacant for somewhere around 2 years before we moved in, and while there were a lot of renovations made, I wonder if the geysers were either installed improperly or somehow damaged from sitting unused?

I am glad that the landlord has decided to replace the geysers, however I feel like it's the equivalent of putting a really expensive bandaid on the problem since we haven't determined the cause of the pipes coming out from the wall. It's only treating a symptom, not the illness itself. If the wiring in the apartment is bad, or the water pressure is too high, it won't matter if we have new geysers - they'll continue to have this problem.

At this point, I'm still considering water pressure to be a culprit... Water practically explodes out of the faucets and bidets at the slightest turn of the handle or lever. So, I think I'd like the plumbers/electricians to reexamine that as a possible cause.

Thanks everyone for your responses. I'll try to follow up with with what we find out and share the outcome of all this.
#13 Jan 9th, 2012, 18:35
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#13
Looks like the thermostat is not working and the pipe has overheated and 'melted'. Similar thing happened to me once. The pipe had given way at the connection.

Of course, assuming that the pipe was genuine and fit for purpose to begin with.
#14 Jan 9th, 2012, 19:07
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac678 View Post At this point, I'm still considering water pressure to be a culprit...
The pipes burst always on the hot side, and never on a cold geyser, right? And others are not having similar problems also? If so, I think you can rule this out.
#15 Jan 10th, 2012, 00:50
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I'd like so see a close up of that, m'lud!

It looks to me like a compression fitting that was never fitted properly. Compression fittings are the ones where you put a concave ring (called an "olive" by UK plumbers) on the pipe (like a wedding ring on the finger) and then tighten down the nut on it. It is the compression of the ring that makes the water-tight seal. They cope with mains water pressures world-wide: the average tank-on-the-roof Indian pressure would be nothing to them.

They do not normally require string, ptfe (teflon tape) or anything else under the nut. No water should be reaching the thread anyway. The nut should just be fully tightened.

My submission: ignorant plumber without understanding of the fitting.


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