28 Mar The importance of geyser maintenance in sectional title schemes
Insurers of sectional title schemes have a love-hate relationship when it comes to geysers as a result of the frequency of claims and the costs involved.
Geysers are insured in different ways: Some insurers specify the size of the geyser (in litres) and others the age of the geyser. In addition, insurers also limit the amount that can be claimed when a geyser is replaced or they specify the excess amount that must be contributed by the person lodging the claim.
Lifespan of a geyser
The reality is that the lifespan of a geyser can be prolonged with regular maintenance. The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA) states that the maintenance and upkeep of a geyser must be performed by the owner of the section that the geyser serves. Sadly, geyser maintenance is often neglected, leading to regular claims and increases in scheme insurance premiums.
Geysers do not always provide a clear indication of when it is no longer fit for use but typically, when water leaks or drips from the geyser casing it is time to replace it. Having said that, there are a number of things that can be done, proactively, to maintain and prolong the life of a geyser.
The purpose of the anode – the steel rod located inside the geyser casing – is to prevent rusting from taking place in the geyser but when it is worn out, it stops performing its function. When the geyser starts to rust, it inevitably will result in leaking which will necessitate replacement.
Here are some maintenance tips that will help to prolong the use of your geyser:
- Year 1 – Clean the geysers and valves inside; replace the anode
- Year 2 – Clean the geyser and valves inside; replace the anode and element
- Year 3 – Clean the geyser and valves inside; replace the anode, vacuum breaks and valves
- Year 7 – Clean the geyser and valves inside; replace the anode and element
- Year 9 – Replace the geyser
Servicing your geyser every other year will allow a plumber to check if all its parts are still in good working order. Doing this check-up periodically will assist with early detection of failed parts which can then be replaced or cleaned for a fraction of the cost to replace the entire geyser.
It is important to know that the geyser requires all its parts to work optimally. If not, independent parts will fail which will lead to the entire geyser becoming obsolete.
Why insurance is important
Although insurance cover does not directly help with the maintenance of geysers, it is important for the trustees to consider the right insurer for the scheme. As insurance companies do not operate in the same manner, they have different requirements when it comes to reporting geyser failure and replacement.
If you select an insurer with a 24-hour call centre that assists with geyser claims, it will ensure that any urgent problem is attended to promptly. This will prevent the leaking geyser from causing too much damage to the fixtures and fittings in an apartment which will prevent high premiums due to excessive damage repair costs.
Many insurers include an allowance for checking the anode and element annually in their policies and premiums. Where schemes have this cover in place, they should make use of this allowance in their policies.
Many owners forget or ignore geyser maintenance until the geyser causes damage and must be replaced. Expecting owners of sectional title units to remember to attend to the regular maintenance of their geysers is challenging at the best of times.
One way to address this is for trustees to be proactive and take control of periodic inspections. By appointing a plumber to regularly inspect all the geysers in the complex, preferential rates can be negotiated which will save the scheme money in the long run.