A hot water system may seem like a pretty technical piece of equipment, but getting it started is certainly one thing that you can manage on your own. There are a few little differences between the different types of hot water systems – i.e. gas, electric, solar – but there are some core steps common to all hot water systems.
In this guide, we will take you through the steps for each type of hot water system, as well as how to turn each of them on or off again for maintenance reasons or going on holidays for a lengthy period of time.
The following are the general steps you will need to take to prepare your hot water heater to be turned on. We will go through the general steps before proceeding to the specifics of gas, electric, instantaneous, and solar models afterwards.
Step 1 – Turn on the water supply
Whether you are using a gas, electric, or solar hot water system, the first thing you need to do before turning it on is to make sure that the tank is full of clean water. To do this, first turn on the water supply using the cold water inlet control valve which is usually located at the bottom of the water heater . This can be turned on by twisting the valve generally anti-clockwise. With Solar systems that have tanks on the roof the valve is generally located up on the roof next to the storage tank . If you are not a person who is comfortable on roofs then do not attempt this . An alternative is to turn the water on or off at the water meter to the home instead .
Step 2 – Check tank is full of water
If the system has been turned off for a while it may develop air in the piping within the house .
Turn on a hot tap inside the house. Turn cold water supply on to water heater. This will allow fresh cold water to enter the system and flush out any residue. Once flushed, keep the cold water coming into the tank. You will know when the tank is full when the hot water tap you have turned on begins to flow with a steady stream of water (rather than spluttering with air).Now turn off the hot tap.
Step 3 – Turn on the energy source
For an electric hot water system, you need to turn on the circuit breaker or a labelled control switch. You should see the circuit breaker or switch as being clearly marked as Hot Water or maybe HWS and with a clear indication of ‘On’ and ‘Off’ direction. If you can’t find the circuit breaker or switch, you can contact us for guidance.
How to check your electric hot water system is heating
Step 4 – Wait for the tank to heat up
Once you have turned the circuit breaker back on, the water in the tank should now begin to heat up. This will take a number of hours and the exact time will vary according to the size and heating element of your tank. (Large tanks are generally on an overnight off-peak power supply. This means they will not be hot until the next day.) Providing the power supply is 24 hour continuous, you can check that the tank is heating up by periodically turning on a hot water tap. The water coming from the tap should steadily become warmer and warmer.
How to ignite an older style gas hot water system
Gas hot water system with a pilot light
You will need to turn on the gas valve located generally at the bottom of the hot water system. The valve handle in picture below is in the off position .The valve handle should be in line with the pipe to be in the on position. For Modern style instantaneous water heaters that have a plug & lead connected to a power point at the water heater position, this will need turning on for the electronic ignition to work.
Step 1 – Adjust settings
There are a few different settings you need to make sure are in the right place before you can begin. Depending on the model you have, you may need to remove a panel or two to access the pilot button area . Firstly, make sure that the On/Off control has been set to the ‘Pilot’ position. Next, you want to make sure that you have turned the temperature gauge to the lowest possible setting. Now, turn the regulator valve to the Off position, before waiting 10 minutes. Now, turn the switch back to Pilot mode. During this process, if you smell any gas or any other strange smell, turn the system off and call us (you may have a leak).
Step 2 – Press the pilot button and ignite the gas
Press the pilot button down and simultaneously start pressing the piezo ignitor button repeatedly .You will find a small silver tube that is connected to the gas control valve. This is where you can look in to the burner area to see the pilot light flame once ignited, alternatively you could use a small mirror .
Step 4 – Keep pressing the pilot button
Once the pilot light has ignited you will need to ensure that you keep holding the button down for around 30 seconds. This will give the flame enough chance to properly activate the thermocouple device that keeps the flame alight . When 30 seconds have passed, slowly release the button and check to see that the flame stays lit. You may need to repeat this process if the flame goes out. Once the pilot flame is lit, replace the panels you removed earlier (if necessary). if you can not get the system going then turn off the gas valve and call us for service.
Step 5 – Turn on the water heater main burner
Now go to the On/Off setting and switch it to On. Now you can set the temperature control. The standard temperature for a water heater to be set to is 50 degrees if there is no tempering valve fitted or 65 degrees if there is one fitted. Once this is done, you should be able to hear the water heater coming to life and begin to heat the water. Run a hot water tap intermittently to check that the system is continuing to heat to your desired temperature. If it is an older machine, the thermostat can sometimes be faulty, in which case you may need to check the water at your taps once fully heated with a thermometer to be sure the setting is right.
How to turn on electric instantaneous hot water system
Step 1 – Turn off the circuit breaker
As with an electric instantaneous system, you need to first turn off the circuit breaker that supplies the power. This should be clearly labelled at the power supply board. This could be named Main Switch Hot Water or HWS and will be a larger circuit breaker than others due to this system needing 415 volts which is three phase power to operate. Some older buildings can also have just one 415 volt main switch independent of three fuse bases located close to the switch . If you’re not sure of your hot water power switches then call us for help .
Step 2 – Turn on a hot tap
Next, turn on a hot water tap connected to the system. This should flush out any air bubbles in the system and check there is water flowing through the water heater at the constant flow rate to operate the switch inside the heater that sends the power to the element . Run the taps for around 1 or 2 minutes and then turn off.
Step 3 – Turn on the circuit breaker
Now you can turn the circuit breaker back on, go back and turn on the hot tap and run water to check the system has activated and started to heat the water . Once the system has reached full temperature turn off the tap again.
How to turn on modern gas instantaneous hot water system
Step 1 – Turn off power point at water heater position.
As with an electric instantaneous system, you need to first turn off the electrical supply that generally is the 10 amp power point next to the water heater. Even though the machine is powered by gas, it still has an electrical current that powers the display as well as the gas igniter.
Step 2 – Turn off the gas
Find the gas shut-off valve and turn it to the off position. When you do this, wait five minutes and check if there is any smell of gas. If there is a smell of gas, make sure the system is turned off and call us (you may have a leak).
Step 3 – Turn on the taps
Next, turn on the hot water taps connected to the system. This should flush out any air in the system. Run the taps for around 1 or 2 minutes then leave off.
Step 4 – Turn on the power supply and gas valve
Now you can turn the power point back on, as well as the gas valve. The system should automatically begin to heat water when you turn on any hot tap in your home .
Step 5 – Set the temperature
Now set the system to your desired temperature. Once again, the recommended heat is 50 degrees for bathing and most instantaneous water heaters are internally pre -set to this temperature. Some installations can have separate temperature control pads installed.
How to turn on solar hot water systems
Given the complexity of different types of solar hot water system as well as the relevant gas or electric power source, these steps should be carried out by an expert technician. The following are basic steps that could help for in the event of returning from a long holiday and the system has been turned off or some maintenance has been carried out with the hot water supply to fixtures within the home.
Step 1 – Turn on the water supply
Using the cold water inlet control valve which is usually located at the bottom of the water heater if the storage tank is on ground level. This can be turned on by twisting the valve generally anti clockwise. With Solar systems that have tanks on the roof the valve is generally located up on the roof next to the storage tank . If you are not a person who is comfortable on roofs then do not attempt this . An alternative is to turn the water on or off at the water meter to the home instead .
Step 2 – Expel air from the system
As with other types of hot water systems, you will need to turn on all of the hot water taps in your home. Next, open the cold water isolation valve fully. Allow the taps to run until water comes freely out of them. When water is flowing freely, this should mean all air has been expelled from the line.
Step 3 – Plug in the solar control unit
Split solar systems have a circulating pump to move water up the the solar collectors. Whether there is gas or electricity supplying the hot water boosting for the storage cylinder, you will need to turn on or plug the solar control unit into the electricity source – generally the power point next to the tank.
Step 4 – Turn booster on
Electrical solar water heaters have either an electrical booster element or a gas booster . Whether there is gas or electricity supplying the hot water boosting this will need to be turned on . Some electrical boosters are on 24hr power supply and have a switch conveniently located inside the home that may also have an indicator light . In most situations the booster will be on an off peak tariff and the switch will be located at the meter board for the home.
Gas solar water heaters will need the gas supply valve turned on . In the homes that have LPG gas you will also need to check that the bottle that supply the gas is also turned on . The modern day gas boosting solar systems have a continuous flow water heater either mounted to the storage tank of the solar system or on the wall next to storage tank . These types will need the power supply to the gas system to be turned on for ignition to take place. There are some conventional style pilot light gas boosters storage tanks used with ground solar hot water systems . The process of starting a storage gas water heater referenced in the this article ( how to ignite an older style gas hot water system ) will be the correct guide in the relighting process of a ground positioned gas boosted solar storage tank.
How to turn hot water systems off
You will see there is a slight difference between the process for turning gas and electric heaters off, but most of the steps are the same for each and generally a reverse of the steps to turn any system on.
Step 1 – Turn off the power or gas source
For an electric hot water system, this is going to mean finding the circuit breaker once more and switching it to the off position. In the case of a gas hot water system, twist the gas valve to the off position.
Step 2 – Shut down water supply
This is not a required step if your are just going on a holiday. For maintenance of plumbing and tap ware within the home then you can follow the simple steps again written in this article related to the type of water heater in your home .
If you are experiencing any trouble with your hot water system, contact us today for expert advice and services including hot water system supply, installation, service and repair.