Immersion Problems

So, the story goes like this…My son rents a flat in London. He works shifts and unsociable a hour and convinced himself it was OK to leave the immersion on 24/7. The timer for the heating burnt out and the landlord is trying to charge him for the repair saying its because the immersion had been left on permanently.

Now, apart from the stupidity of leaving the immersion from an economy perspective, does this sound right? Anyone with an electrical background able to help? Surely its a design fault if the thermal cut-out doesn’t prevent damage to the timer - views appreciated

A load of rubbish, immersion heater elements are intended to be used this way, they are thermostatically controlled & are usually set to keep the water at apricot 60’C. Actual element “on” time will depend on water use & the thermal efficiency of the hot water tank insulation.

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VintageMike is saying that the timer burnt out, not that the immersion heater burnt out.

Anyway of course it’s complete nonsense. The timer doesn’t care whether the immersion is on or off.


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Thanks Both,

OK, I’ve got a few more details, apparently the first visit was by a “maintenance guy”. There are 2 immersions, one to maintain the temperature of the water in the tank and one to heat it on the way in (apparently - sounds odd to me, but I’m not an electrician). The maintenance guy concluded that one of the immersions wasn’t working and did some re-wiring. After that visit, the water only got to luke warm, which is why he left it on permanently as when he used the timer it lost all heat and was stone cold. When the maintenance man came back on the second visit, some of the wiring had burnt out and he said it was “beyond him” and it needed an electrician.

So to Happy Listener’s questions
1 - By bills, do you mean electricity bills? If so yes. If Repair Bills, no.
2 - Noted
3 - See my explanation above, apparently, one element was burnt out on the first visit from the maintenance guy.

I suspect this will be a battle with the property management company, SIGH…

Its a property management company that he is dealing with. I’ve just drafted him a factual email setting out what happened when,

David - thank you for correcting.

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Actually David, I think that one immersion was already burnt out, and then following rewiring from the maintenance guy, the timer burnt out as well…I think this is what is technically known as a ‘fishing trip’ by the property management company…

Mike - sorry, I deleted my post per DH’s observation - but I somehow expected there was more to this, as it now appears.

I would read the tenancy agreement and chase down the management company as appropriate. Per my deleted post, this is simply a property maintenance issue and on the usual AST arrangements (landlord maintains the property - any other way can be a right pain and full of issues), it’s all down to the landlord/their agent to sort things.

…it’s blindingly obvious that the maintenance person doesn’t appear to have electrical qualifications given the outcome of events, such that this is unacceptable and dangerous.

A reputable management company should only send suitably qualified people to work on the property - as it (and the landlord) must have an electrical safety certificate alongside a gas one (IIRC).

Good luck.



There are probably 2 immersions in the cylinder, one in the bottom which heats the whole cylinder and one about a third of the way from the top which is to heat a smaller amount of water more quickly.

Both should be fitted with thermostats and usually only the bottom one is controlled by a timer. Nothing should burn out in a healthy installation no matter whether they are left on or not.

If the landlord persists with his attempt at extortion then I would get an independent niceic registered electrician in to make a condition report. I would then threaten legal action if the fault isn’t repaired and the cost of the report refunded.

Hope you get it sorted.

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Thanks all, I’ve spoken to a director at the property management company and explained that this is clearly a case of negligence, from the maintenance guy and underlying issues. An electrician has been and repaired the system, and they have passed the bill of £485 onto my son. They now are going to go back to the Landlord to suggest that he covers the cost of the repair.

I’ll post an update on here if/wjen its resolved

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Mike -

Re the repair, firstly, £485 appears a big invoice for what could have been a minor repair - perhaps just a bit of re-cabling and a new timer? Joining some dots here (and assuming maintenance of the property falls to the landlord per the tenancy agreement) my position would be/actions:

1- understand exactly what the electrician did and how their invoice is broken down etc, - the scale of the invoice suggests to me that something substantial was awry (as you think).
2- who actually engaged the electrician? If this was done via the managing agents, then unless your son has committed to cover the invoice beforehand, I would push it back to the MA’s.

I may be picking apart language here but I wouldn’t ‘suggest’ the landlord pays if the tenancy agreement requires they are responsible for maintenance** - it is highly likely they are 100% responsible under the terms of the tenancy agreement.

**Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 imposes repairing obligations on the landlord (assuming this is per the tenancy agreement)……which extend to any issues which may pre-date the tenancy agreement.

Do be aware there could be a bigger picture here i.e. if he accepts this bill, there could be others thrown at him, and (s/t the terms of the tenancy agreement) maintenance usually falls squarely on the landlord unless the issues have been created by the behaviour of the tenant which, from all you’ve said here, is clearly not the case – and the MA’s should know this.

As I recorded in my deleted post, landlords have the ability to net the costs of such things from the rental streams (effectively tax relief on property maintenance expenses). Being a landlord is not a one way street - they have legal obligations too.


Thanks HL. The repair consisted of 2 new elements, the timer and labour to fix it. It’s a standard STA, but the agents are trying pass the bill onto my son because they are saying he caused the damage by leaving the system on permanently

The electrician was appointed by the managing agents, along with the initial maintenance guy

Thank you for the belt and braces references :+1:t3: if I don’t get a satisfactory response following my conversation with the agents, I will write a response and include that reference


You need to get a copy of the tenancy agreement (if not already). An AST (assured shorthold tenancy agreement - if that’s what you mean by ‘STA’(?)) is a relatively straightforward document albeit there is room for practical interpretation. Landlord’s Obligations are clearly set out (assuming not varied/amended) - see down.

From your last post, it seems (not categorically proven) that one/both of the heating elements gave up and this appears to have affected the timer - although I’m not sure why so. If a short of some sort were to have occurred, one would expect the breaker on the circuit** should have protected the timer in the ordinary course. Of course, there is no proof (from info to date) the elements weren’t already distressed prior to your son’s occupation.

** as I understand matters, this is one of the tests under the landlord’s electrical certificate. I may be venturing here but it seems like this is an elderly property?

Now the solution - the MA’s and/or landlord may blame the tenant but this is life for a landlord but one must balance up the utility of the property for your son in all this e.g. if he really likes the property, then there may be a balance to be struck(?).

My stance remains that unless there is any documented responsibility, the bill falls to the landlord (under the terms of the AST) - the tenant may wish to make an offer to pay some but they are not obligated to and this is something not to be done/proposed at the outset.

This issue defines as wear & tear = falls to landlord.

While you are at this, as well as getting sight of the tenancy agreement, I’d also ask to see the electrical safety certificate and the gas one (if there is one), to ensure these things are UTD and above board. I think gas is annual and electrical every 10Y (do check) s/t no material changes between times.

And do make sure this issue is closed and the MA’s/landlord don’t seek to access your son’s tenancy deposit to in any address this issue, now or in the future.

This is for Economy 7 with daytime boost. To make this work with a single 24/7 supply a time clock is fitted to set the overnight heating period and provide a daytime boost. Otherwise it’s just a switch. As a landlord I investigate and call out my mostly long serving tradesmen. Electricians are the most problematic.


A large cylinder (100l plus) will usually have two elements to combat the physical law of heat rising, or better/as well a destratification pump to constantly circulate the stored water. Having repaired countless commercial immersion heaters, the temperature difference between top and bottom of the tank with only one element working can be surprisingly large. In this case one element would have been working virtually constantly, but the load produced would not affect the time clock in any way

Thank you everyone for your assistance. Having reviewed the AST, I have challenged the managing agent that this should be a Landlord responsibility to cover these costs. The pushback was that they feel my son has contributed to the issue by leaving the system on permanently. I pushed back on this on the basis that it was broken when he moved in and they sent a non-qualified electrician to do the initial repair and it cannot be ascertained how much damage was done by that individual.

The managing agents have come back to me this morning and confirmed that the Landlord has agreed to cover the costs.

@HappyListener In answer to your question, this is a short term arrangement for my son. He is in the process of buying his first apartment and is currently waiting for that to be finished, so all being well he will be in his own place within a few months and is not by any means wedded to this apartment!


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Mike -

A good outcome and, from all that’s been recorded here, the right one.

Next challenge? - make sure your son serves notice to exit under the AST at the appropriate time and doesn’t get hooked for a month or so’s extra rent. Sadly, as many completion dates slip due to the conveyancing process & legals, balancing up to an agreed exit date from rented property isn’t always easy.

Make sure he takes photos on exit to evidence condition on leaving and ensure there should be no/minimal deductions from any deposit.

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