There are few things more annoying than jumping in the shower only to find there’s no hot water. Or to move into a rental and discover the kitchen burners don’t work. Generally our hot water system, cooktop and heater aren’t things we spend too much time thinking about – until they stop working, that is. But with a little care and attention you can prolong the life of these essential appliances, helping to run more efficiently and make your household more sustainable in the long run.
Caring for gas appliances in the home
In the house, gas – be it LPG or natural gas – is primarily used for heating, cooking and hot water. Most properties have at least one or more of the following appliances:
*Gas stove or oven
*Gas hot water system
Here’s a few tips as on how to care for those appliances in your home:
As a general rule, a licensed technician should service your gas appliances at least once every two years. Observe the manufacturer’s guidelines for individual items, and keep all your service notes filed away.
Looking after your appliances
Between services, there are plenty of things you can do to help keep your appliances in top condition:
Ovens, cooktops & rangehoods
*Give your entire stove and grill a thorough wipe down with warm, soapy water to remove food particles and dust.
*Inspect the flame – it should burn blue. If it burns yellow, it means full combustion isn’t taking place, and it’s something you should get assessed by a licensed technician as soon as possible.
*Clean your oven and filters regularly (yes, more regularly than you do now).
*Check the door seals to confirm that hot air isn’t escaping during the cooking process.
*Spread foil at the base of your oven or grill to catch food scraps – letting grime build up is not only unhygienic, your meals may start tasting like charcoal.
Top tip: Try a baking soda and vinegar cleaning solution for an environmentally friendly way to remove stubborn carbon deposits from inside your oven.
*In the warmer months, gas heaters tend to sit neglected and build up dust. So before connecting your gas fire, be sure to give it a good clean with soapy water.
*Include the filters too – and remove any obstructions, lint or dust.
*Check that all the leads are tight, and free from leaks or corrosion.
*If you suspect a leak or smell gas, turn the heater off immediately and call in a licensed gasfitter.
*If you have a flue-less gas space heater, it means it does not have an outlet to collect and exhaust to an outdoor area, so it’s essential to keep the room it’s in well ventilated. If you suspect a gas leak – have it seen to immediately.
Top tip: Avoid using a gas heater unless it’s been certified by the Australian Gas Association and displays plates that indicate that it meets current emissions standards.
Don’t leave your BBQ to the mercy of the elements – give it a little TLC after each use and it will you reward you for years to come:
*Give your BBQ a thorough clean before each use to remove accumulated dirt, food, grease, and yes, insects.
*Check the drip tray too – if it’s full, get a new one.
*Check all the connections and leads for leaks by spraying the hose with a soapy water solution or household detergent. If you notice bubbles forming, gas is escaping and you’ve got a leak – turn the gas off and have it seen to straightaway.
*Store your LPG cylinders upright and outdoors, in a well-ventilated area.
*Give your barbie a decent scrub after each use so it’s ready to go for next time.
*Throw a cover on for protection between uses.
Top tip: Never store a gas cylinder indoors.
Hot water systems
Gas hot water systems are generally quite reliable so it can be quite a shock if you’re faced with the sudden prospect of freezing cold showers. To avoid expensive repairs, it pays to give your system a quick check over at least once or twice a year.
*Take a look at your system’s thermostat – if the temperature is set too high, you could needlessly be wasting energy.
*Over time, rust and corrosion-causing sediments can build up in your hot water tank. To help remove these sediments, drain a few litres of water from your tank into a bucket via your system’s drain valve.
*Check the burner – the flame should be blue. If it’s yellow, or you notice excess soot, contact a licensed technician for immediate servicing.
Top tip: Install a temperature control valve – that way you can limit the bathroom water temperature to 49C when in use, and 60C when idle. Don’t be tempted to turn the temperature down any lower than this, as it encourages the growth of hidden nasties and pathogens.