Water heater

If you ever encounter a water heater that looks like the one above, here's how to operate it...

Initially, the gas tap on the wall should be turned off (horizontal in most cases) and the ignition dial (top of the unit in this example) and the water tap (front of unit) should both be pointing straight up.

If you only want cold water then all you need to do is turn the water tap on - in this case 90° to the left for the shower or 90° to the right for the tap.

For hot water:

1. Press the gas tap on the wall and turn through 90 degrees (to a vertical position).

2. Press down on the ignition dial and turn 90 degrees anticlockwise, to the ignition symbol - I'm afraid I don't know how to reproduce the kanji here but on mine there are two characters, the first of which is a square. Hold down until the panel in the indicator window changes fully from white to red (about 5 seconds on mine). If you didn't hear the gas ignite, return dial to vertical position and try again.

3. Release dial and turn a further 90 degrees to shower/tap setting. (I presume the other setting is for heating water that's already in the bath; the Japanese re-use their bathwater, as they wash before getting into the bath and so the water remains clean.)

4. Use water tap to turn on water - either shower or tap. It doesn't matter if the water misses the bathtub; Japanese bathrooms are actually designed for you to shower outside the bath, so they're pretty watertight and have drainage built into the floor.

5. Use the temperature control dial to adjust temperature. Adjust gas tap on wall to reduce temperature further if necessary!

After use:
- Return dials to vertical position.
- Turn off gas tap. If the gas tap is left on then it could cause a fire hazard in case of earthquake.

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© Lynne Donaldson
This page last edited 17th October 2002