Do I need a hot water cylinder tray?

Whether you are getting a new hot water cylinder installed or replacing an existing one, in New Zealand the building code NZBC G12 stipulates that a safe tray must only be installed if water damage can be caused to another household making it an optional item (not a legal requirement which can be declined) for single title New Zealand homes. In comparison, in Australia this is mandatory in all cases.

We fully agree that an installation of a safe tray (also called drip tray) is good practice and should be installed under every hot water cylinder for obvious reasons. The most common reason for these not being installed on most jobs is the rejection of additional cost. In many cases between $ 250 – $750 over and above the hot water cylinder installation because a dedicated 40 mm drain pipe from the supplied tray to an approved point if discharge needs to be installed. Whether this is convenient or even possible in many cases is another question all together.

Cylinder_tray

INSURANCE, DISPUTE & THE CONSUMERS GUARANTEES ACT

We from Hot Water Cylinders Ltd recommend that a cylinder tray is installed on every installation, to prevent damage to property and maintain safety. Of course this extra cost is a nuisance, especially when you are spending an additional several thousand dollars to replace your current leaking hot water cylinder!

According to NZBC you can decline the installation of a cylinder tray but please consider the following experience:

We have recently been involved in a case where a manufacturing fault has caused damage to property. In this instance the cylinder element seal was damaged and water leaked onto carpets and through the ceiling.  The home owner naturally sought compensation from the manufacturer but the manufacturer referred to their instruction manual which states the following:

Important
All cylinders have the potential to leak water. To minimise damage to other areas of your home, ensure that your cylinder has been installed with a drip tray—the person doing the installation is responsible for this.

Drip tray/catch pan (MUST be fitted)
The warranty does not cover any consequential loss from leaks to the cylinder, so it’s important a suitably drained drip tray/catch pan is fitted.

Consequential losses
All cylinders are required to be installed with a drip tray, this is a mandatory requirement of the installation. If damage is caused by a leaking cylinder that has not been installed with a drip tray the owner can seek compensation through the installer or consider claiming on insurance.

Does this in return put the responsibility with the installer or home owner insurance??

Depending on circumstances and negligence, here are two possible scenarios that could take place, most likely in court.

  1. The Consumer guarantees Act states “You cannot contract out of the Consumer Guarantees Act when you sell goods or services to a consumer.” This means..
    > exclude or try to limit your liability under the Act in fine print
    > tell consumers to contact a third party when they have chosen to seek a remedy from you. Contracting out of the Consumer Guarantees Act means having a written agreement (or clearly stating) that the goods or services you sell are not covered by the Act.This would mean that regardless, the liability in such a case remains with the manufacturer if damage was caused by a manufacturing fault.
  2. The New Zealand building code Clause 6.11.1 of G12/AS1 states “Water heaters shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions” Which in this case recommended the installation of a hot water cylinder tray.

I do have a personal opinion about the above which I wont share and will only say that these two points contradict considerably and would most likely end up in a court of law if no reasonable resolution is found.

In our experience above, thankfully the damage was minor and the manufacturer agreed to cover the costs of the damage despite the wording in the installation manual which in the end was a great outcome.

The moral of the story folks is that, the best means of protection is prevention! Especially if your cylinder is being installed in a location where a leak may potentially cause damage. Hot Water Cylinders Ltd offer the best price guarantee, so why not ask for an optional quote to include this minor extra which can save you lots of hassles in future.