Home » Watermaster’s domestic plumbers explains thermal expansion

Watermaster’s domestic plumbers explains thermal expansion

Our team of domestic plumbers has been working in Melbourne’s Bayside suburbs for a long time. We’ve fixed, replaced and diagnosed all sorts of problems, including jobs involving hot water plumbing.

In that time, we’ve encountered several recurring suspects – in particular, thermal expansion.

“Thermal expansion” – even the name sounds ominous and foreboding. The knowledge that it’s a common cause of plumbing issues certainly doesn’t help either.

So, is it something you should be worried about? Our Bayside plumbers explain!

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Physics 101: our Bayside plumbers explain thermal expansion

Simply put, when you heat something up, it expands – conversely, if you cool something down, it contracts.

That’s thermal expansion in a nutshell.

This doesn’t just apply to solid objects, either – when talking about plumbing, it’s important to remember that water also expands when heated up.  

And remember: water isn’t a substance that can be compressed, either.

This is important to know because when water heats up, it expands. There’s nothing you can do about that – it’s just physics. 

Just think about when you fill your kettle up with too much water. When the kettle finally boils, the water spills out of your kettle and onto the kitchen bench. 

Now imagine that happening throughout your plumbing system.

Your pipes are closed off, with no room whatsoever for water to spill out. When the water gets hot and begins to expand, it doesn’t have anywhere to go.

This puts pressure on your pipes and plumbing structure and over time can cause issues.


What types of issues come with thermal expansion in your plumbing?

We shouldn’t have to tell you that hot water can put extreme pressure on your home plumbing system.

Thermal expansion is a big issue for many houses – in particular, those that don’t have a system that allows for it!

When a system is ill-equipped to stand up to the negative effects of thermal expansion, you may experience damage to your plumbing system. 

And if you don’t update your system to accommodate for thermal expansion, these issues will occur again and again… which means you will have to continually get them fixed.

What type of issues are we talking about?

While a worn out seal is easy to fix the first time, a ruptured pipe can create a lot of work for domestic plumbers to fix – not to mention, a ruptured pipe can end up being very costly to fix.

In particular, thermal expansion is a risk of your home uses a tank-storage water heater (which is to say, most Melburnians).

Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take to stop thermal expansion from damaging your plumbing system.


Protect yourself from thermal expansion damage

In an “open” system (that is, the cold water inlet is two-way), water simply expands back out into the municipal water supply.

Essentially, the water main acts as a giant relief system against thermal expansion.

But what if your inlet valve is one-way only? When this happens, you’ll have to take extra precautions.

Luckily, there are two main ways to prevent thermal expansion from damaging your plumbing. Depending on the set up of your current plumbing system and you budget, either one could work for you. 

Need advice figuring out which option is best for you? Watermaster’s team of domestic plumbers will be happy to take a look at your hot water plumbing.

Method 1: thermal expansion tank

Most of the hot water in your home plumbing comes from the hot water system.

By installing a thermal expansion tank to the cold water pipe that runs into your water heater, you can reduce the likelihood of thermal expansion-related problems in your hot water system.

Essentially, these tanks serve as an overflow receptacle, accepting excess water volume.

As the water heats up and wants to expand, the water can escape back into the expansion tank, taking the pressure off the water heater.

Every thermal expansion tank has what is called a bladder. As water needs to move in and out of the expansion tank, the bladder will expand and contract allowing water in and out as needed.

While most modern hot water systems come with these built-in, many older ones do not. And in an area like Bayside which features so many older houses, this could be a problem for many residents.

Worried about thermal expansion in your hot water system? Call our Bayside plumbers to get your hot water system inspected (and upgraded, if need be).

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Method 2: relief valves

If you have an unvented water heater system, you are going to need to use some kind of release valve.

We’ve talked before about the problems with high water pressure, as well as the importance of pressure limiting valves (which our friends at H2-Pro Plumbing did a great write-up about).

Essentially, thermal relief valves function similarly, but with the express purpose of relieving built-up pressure generated by hot water.

When excess water builds up in the hot water system (thanks to thermal expansion), the valve opens, leaking a little bit of water and releasing pressure. So if you notice your relief valves leaking, don’t panic – it’s just doing its job!

This prevents damage to plumbing equipment and piping, or worse.


Our Bayside plumbers will protect you from thermal expansion

Our family-run business is owned and operated by Sam – a local plumber who has been working in the plumbing industry since 1996. Thats 23 years of experience (and counting!)

Over the years, we have provided plumbing services to Eureka Tower, Alto Apartments and Melbourne’s famous Tramcar Restaurant.

The Watermaster team are passionate about our trade and are committed to providing Masterful plumbing services to homes and businesses across Melbourne’s Bayside.

Our team of experienced domestic plumbers provide a range of plumbing services, including:

  • Blocked toilets
  • Gas plumbing
  • Blocked pipes
  • Roof leaks
  • Shower leak
  • Inspection report
  • Plumbing maintenance
  • Drain cleaning

Give us a call anytime – you can rely on our emergency plumbers to provide Masterful service for all your commercial or domestic plumbing needs.

Get in touch with our Bayside plumbers today! Give us a call on 1300 156 650 or fill in this form and we’ll get back to you.

2022-01-25T02:33:37+00:00 July 23rd, 2019|Blog|