Getting ahead of the next water outage | Tips to protect your geyser

3 min read 10 August 2023

The recent planned water outage impacted several areas within Gauteng. An outage can cause extensive damage to certain types of geysers, and consumers should be aware of steps that can be taken to reduce what can be potentially costly damage to their geyser systems as a result of future outages. 

This is according to Fanus Coetzee, Head of Claims Adjustment Services at South Africa’s largest insurer, Santam, who says that consumers who have a geyser without an anti-syphon loop and/or the installation should take certain precautions to minimise the risk of damage to their geyser during an outage. “Where a geyser does not have an anti-syphon loop – a high pressure system, it may run empty and lead to dry-heating. The omission of the anti-syphon loop during an outage would lead to hot water back-flowing through the cold-water taps. On low pressure installations, a geyser would run empty through the normal flow direction. Dry-Heating will damage the element and thermostat and the switching on of your geyser without being filled with water may lead to severe damage and potentially pose a safety hazard,” says Coetzee.

To avoid any issues, Coetzee suggests switching off your geyser entirely during the duration of a water outage. “This precautionary measure will help protect your geyser from overheating or any malfunction that may occur when operated without water.”

“While many insurers will provide insurance cover for solar and/or electric geysers per policy conditions following an insured event where the item is ruptured or otherwise irreparably damaged, it’s prudent for consumers to try and switch off their geysers during these planned outages,” says Coetzee .  

He adds that repairing or replacing items like geysers almost always adds up to more than one estimates, “If you don’t have insurance, it’s wise to have some kind of saving for when the curveballs come. For example, the average cost to replace and install a geyser can be anything from R7 500 to R10 000! Usually, that’s a lot more than people think.”

Consumers should also ensure that their systems are installed by registered professionals where possible. “Adherence to the design and installation specifications is paramount to ensure cover. Electrical connections/ plumbing must be completed or approved by registered professionals,” says Coetzee.

He concludes that consumers should ask a plumber to check that geysers have all of the important safety features, such as the vacuum breakers, shut off valve, temperature and pressure safety valve and the multi (pressure) valve as these are important safety features of the whole water heating system.