Water heating

Most homes had electric water heating but some used solid fuel to provide or boost hot water supply.

Water heating options

In 1945 only three-quarters of houses had a hot water system, but by 1956 this had risen to 88%. Ten years further on, in 1966, 98% of houses had hot water.

Most 1940s-60s houses had electric hot water cylinders – typically a 30 gallon (136.4 litre) low-pressure cylinder. The cylinder was installed in a cupboard in the kitchen or off the laundry or hallway.

Early state houses had a gas-fired or solid fuel copper boiler for laundry washing, but by the 1960s washing machines were becoming more widely available.

The other alternative for providing or boosting hot water was the installation of wetbacks into a  solid fuel water heating system such as a solid fuel range, a chip heater, or an open fire. Solid fuel ranges used coal, coke or brickettes to heat the stove and the water. The main disadvantages were the need to continually stoke and maintain the fire and the fact that it created unwanted heat during summer.

During the 1960s, small 2, 3 or 5  gallon (9, 13.5 or 22.5 litre) electric mains pressure water heating units or boiling units were marketed for under or over bench installation in kitchens to provide a water supply at point of use.

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Low pressure hot water systems

With most 1940s-60s hot water supply systems, limited water pressure or head was provided by a supply tank, usually installed within the roof space. If there was insufficient roof space, that is, low pitched roofs or roofs with no roof space, the header tank was mounted on a timber platform on the roof.

If the low pressure system is still in use, there is probably insufficient pressure to run some modern bathroom fittings.

If renovations are being carried out, the hot water system should be converted to a mains pressure system – there are numerous options available. The pipework and fittings should be checked for their ability to cope with the additional pressure and it may be necessary to replace fittings.