I'm having some serious trouble with the immersion heater in my apartment. I believe the set up is similar to the one described in this answer, however there is no thermostat to turn the immersion heater off when the water tank gets hot enough.

Consequently, turning the immersion heater on heats the water non-stop, and ultimately leads to an overflow which causes hot water to come out of the cold taps, and for the toilets to fill with hot water also. Finally, water begins to leak from underneath the boiler. Is this a safe setup?

My landlord has blamed me for the leak, saying that I left the immersion heater on for too long (it was on for a little over an hour). He's now saying that I will be held liable for any future leaks.

Can this problem be put down to misuse of the equipment, or does it indicate a flaw in the system?

  • 1
    Are you asking who's fault this is, or how to fix it? – Steven Feb 27 '13 at 14:48
  • I am asking if it's a problem that needs fixing, I will edit the question to clarify. – MattDavey Feb 27 '13 at 14:53

Hot water coming out of your taps is a serious safety issue as an unsuspecting person could scald themselves. It could cause damage, so an emphatic yes, this is an issue that needs resolution.

There are 2 problems I see here:

  1. No Thermostat: every heater should have a thermostat, or a control of some kind to prevent overheating. It's not just for safety, overheating reduces the life of the heater
  2. Hot water getting into the cold supply. This shouldn't happen, an overheat should lead to some sort of pressure relief which dumps the hot water safely

This system is unsafe and I'd be surprised if it was up to code. Your landlord should fix it.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for your answer. I had a plumbing/heating expert look over the system and he was not impressed. He said the lack of a safety cutoff on the immersion caused a "runaway condition". He advised me to report the issue to trading standards. – MattDavey Mar 6 '13 at 15:24
  • I don't know what practices are/were in the USA but in the UK it was normal for pressure relief for the hot water cylinder to be provided by a vent pipe ending at the cold water tank in the loft. So if the thermostat failed you would end up with a mix of hot water and steam being discharged into your cold water tank. – Peter Green Feb 27 '16 at 4:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.