Life expectancy of geysers

How long does the geyser in your home last?

When you buy a new home have you ever thought about how long the geyser may last before you encounter problems? Probably not!

Your homeowner’s insurance may replace a burst geyser. However, be sure to check if you can claim the cost of repairs or if your home is unlivable due to water damage. Some policies allow you to claim for accommodation for the time it takes for your home to be habitable again.

Most geysers will not give you problems for ten years or more in new houses. Check with the seller how old the house is if you are buying a house. Also, check if the geyser has been replaced and when.

Most homeowners realize too late that they never checked if their insurance covers geyser replacement and water damage. Be sure to check your policy and ask your insurance agent.

Hot water problems

No hot water is probably the most common geyser problem you may experience. It is also the most complicated plumbing issue to solve! Various factors can be responsible for cold water in your hot water taps.  A faulty thermostat will need to be changed as this results in no hot water. It could be that the element burnt out. This one of the bigger jobs done on a geyser and involves draining all the water from the faulty geyser. This task can get tricky as you do not want water dripping from the ceiling onto your furniture and belongings.

Be sure to check if your plumber is a qualified plumber. Your plumber will need to complete Ceta accredited training in order to become a licensed plumber.

Valves on your geyser installation

Most homeowners are concerned about water dripping from their home’s pressure reducing valve. This valve can be outside the house at the point where the water supply enters your home. It can also be in your roof near the geyser. This should be one of the pipes that project through the to the outside under the eaves of your home. The pressure reducing valve controls your geysers operating pressure. The valve reduces the municipal water pressure to the required pressure for the geyser.  It is normal for the valve to leak a little. For example, every 100 litres of hot water from your geyser, should equate to about 2 litres due to overflow.

Hot water overflow means either the thermostat and temperature and pressure (TPR) valve requires changing. The piping that leads to the outside of your roof should be copper or steel and at least 20 mm diameter. Furthermore, it should also be installed where no one will be hurt if it were to spurt hot water. It is also one of the pipes under the eaves of your house. Normally, you will find it close to the 40mm PVC pipe overflow from the geyser tray.

If you don’t see at least one steel or copper pipe and PVC pipe under your house’s eaves phone a plumber urgently! Your geyser installation is faulty!

Please read the article below! Nick Gromicko is the founder of InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Estimating the Lifespan of a Geyser

by Nick Gromicko and Barry Fowler

The typical geyser has a lifespan of about 10 years. However, careful consideration of the factors that pertain to its lifespan can provide the InterNACHI home inspector and the homeowner with information about the potential costs that would be incurred by replacing the geyser. These factors include correct installation; usage volume; construction quality; and maintenance.

Correct Installation


hot water geyser

hot water geyser

A geyser can be installed both vertically or horizontally depending on whether it is installed inside or outside the dwelling. It can place structural stress on parts of the structure due to inadequate support for the heater and its pipes. This may cause premature failure.

Geysers in well-ventilated areas conform to safety requirements and prevent heat build-up.

A geyser should not be placed in an area susceptible to flood damage. Water can rust out the exterior and pipes, decreasing the life expectancy and efficiency of the unit. A geyser should be placed in an easily accessible area for easy maintenance.  It should also be readily visible because of fire and health-hazard requirements.

Your insurance company may inquire whether the geyser was installed professionally when you install a new one. Homeowners may install their own units to save money. However the installation of a tankless gas geyser, for example, requires more skill than the average DIY task. In South Africa, a certified gas installer must install gas installations. The installer must issue a Gas Certificate of Conformance to you.


The life expectancy of the geyser depends a great deal on the volume of water used. Using large quantities of water means that the geyser will have to work harder to heat the water. In addition, the greater the volume of water, the greater the corrosive effect of the water will be.

Construction Quality of the Geyser

As with most household systems and components, you get what you pay for in a geyser. Cheaper models will generally have a shorter lifespan, while more expensive models will generally last longer. A good indication of a geyser’s construction quality is its warranty.  Longer warranties naturally imply sounder construction. Models with longer warranties invariably were of superior manufacturing quality. Most geysers have a five-year guarantee. Some models typically having larger or higher-wattage heating elements, as well as thicker insulation. In addition, models with larger heating elements have much better resistance to mineral build-up or scum.

Pay attention to the model’s features.  A porcelain casing, for example, provides an additional layer of protection against rusting, and a greater level of heat insulation. Some models come with a self-cleaning feature that flushes the pipes of mineral deposits. This is an important consideration in the unit’s lifespan.  Models with larger or thicker anodes fight corrosion better.

Maintenance and Parts Replacement

The hardness of the water is another consideration when looking at estimating the lifespan of a geyser.  In areas where there is a higher mineral content to the water, geysers have shorter lifespans. The mineral buildup reduces the units’ efficiency.

Moreover, some mineral deposit also occurs in areas where the water is softer.  However, a way to counteract this mineral build-up is to periodically flush the geyser system. This will remove some of the build-ups. Higher-end models typically come equipped with a self-flushing feature.  It is important not to damage the geyser valve in manual flushing models. It is easy to break if made of plastic.

An older model that appears to be well-maintained may not be worth maintaining! Often, guarantees exclude labour costs! When repair cost per year is greater than 10% of the cost of a new geyser, install a new one.

Replacing the sacrificial anode in geysers is worth the benefit of increasing the life of the existing geysers. However, in the process of emptying the tank and replacing the anode, it is easy to damage the unit. Furthermore, anode replacement may void some warranties.

In summary, there is a variety of factors influencing the lifespan of geysers.

  • You should consider the age and warranty of the model
  • Carefully weigh the cost-benefit of maintaining an existing heater versus buying a new one.

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