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combined common property hot water systems
Penny Hill
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04/08/2012 - 10:13 am
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Subject: re: combined hot water systems

Date: 4 August 2012 6:58:07 AM



Why should I have to wait to be scalded so badly that I need hospitalisation – with maybe surgery needing skin grafts – before someone in authority will act to protect me?


I live in a 9-unit strata scheme with a combined common property hot water system and erratic water pressure.  I am constantly scalded in my bath and shower as the boilers are set at 67*C.  Hot water reaches my taps at 65*C.  When the cold water suddenly drops out, I get a column of scalding water on my head and body…


The churlish EC refuses to install a tempering device so that the water in my unit does not exceed 50*C – the statutory maximum for nursing homes, homes – but NOT strata homes. It will not let me install one/pay for it as it is common property – outside my unit.


 In theory we have a choice re installing them – but our EC refuses to let me install one – costing maybe $107 each + installation.  It won’t even let me pay for this.  The device affects only my unit – but not the rest of the scheme.  All the other owners have vacated – having suffered this problem – except the secretary who changed his system. taps, etc. illegally in 2003.  Tenants just suffer, and leave.  As an owner, I cannot sell, lease, or have house-guests.  All units are affected.


On 16.7.12, the CTTT dismissed my case saying that, as I had not yet been hospitalized, I am probably not so much at risk.  It also said that the EC/OC needed time to reflect on spending $107 on a tempering device for my unit – even though it had already spent nearly $40,000 on legal costs to avoid having to do so – and had $80,000 in our funds.  And I ahd offered to pay.


The EC now has had 5 plumbing/hydraulic consultant’s reports recommending the tempering device for my unit  –  but the EC just refuses to act/allow it.  The tempering device MUST be installed on common property as the hot and cold water pipes are all common property connecting to my unit.


A super-toxic scheme.


I first applied to the OFT/CTTT about this issue on 23.12.09.  I got an Order on 1.4.11 that ‘the OC correct the fluctuations to within a reasonable range’ by 1.7.11 – but the CTTT refuses to enforce the order – even though the OC has done nothing to fix the problem. The CTTT is trashing its own Orders.


Any suggestions?  The EC also refuses to let me install at my own cost an independent hot water system.


I can only bear 36*C – near blood temperature.


P. L. Hill

Sydney NSW
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04/08/2012 - 8:29 pm
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Hi Penny, it looks like your whole block needs serious work done on the hot water supply. Obviously it can not cope, and as you say, the very hot water is dangerous.

Old houses have problems when a tap is turned on if someone is in the shower.  Sometimes you are standing under cold water, or very hot water, or have a tremendouse noise with pipes banging.

The Plumber who installed our last hot water service would not set the temperature below 67 degrees, because he said, bacteria could grow?  Also the lower the temperature of the water, the fewer hot showers/baths you will get out of it before the water runs cold.

You definitely should be able to have some sort of tempering device so that the water is not able to fluctuate, if the current system is able to cope.

Hopefully some Flatchatter plumbers will have some good advice for you.

Take care.

Sir Humphrey

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05/08/2012 - 11:13 am
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It is normal that hot water systems are set to >60 degrees to ensure no growth of bacteria but it is also a requirement in any new installation that a tempering valve be installed to protect against risk of scalding, at least in bathrooms. IE safety requires both the higher tank temperature and the tempering valve. 

On another matter unrelated to plumbing we had legal advice that included the penalties that might be faced by the OC for exposing someone to risk of serious harm. IE nothing bad needed to actually occur. It was enough to be liable if we did not remedy a serious safety risk. 

It seems bizarre that the OC has a problem with such a routine matter. I would think the only technical matter to address is whether it would be better to have one tempering valve for the entire system or separate ones at the entry point of each unit or just on the bathroom of each unit. The last option can be useful to have hotter water in the kitchen for washing up. 

I think there would usually be a point at which you could shut off the water just for your unit and a point at which the pipes inside the unit become your responsibility. Is is possible to install a tempering valve on a bit of pipe that is your responsibility and feeds the shower?

06/08/2012 - 8:13 pm
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The water pipe in the wall is common property, but the taps are in fact the Lot owners. You can now buy taps that have in built tempering, so go to Reece or some other plumbing supplies and look at what is available. You will have a separate master water shutoff to your unit so it should take all of a few minutes to fix your issue, without any permission needed from the OC.

If you are not a handy person call a local plumber to help with advice and install.

Chris Mo’ane 

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