Why Your Hot Water System Isn’t Working & What to Do About It

 In Heating, Plumbing

Here’s an amazing fact: Only 1 in a 1000 Queensland homes does not have a hot water system. Used every day and definitely the most important home appliance to get you through the cooler months in comfort, every hot-water system is a heavy-duty piece of gear.  They last for years and when they’re operating properly we very much take them for granted.

But when your hot-water system stops working, you quickly become aware that living without steamy H20 for showers, doing the dishes or running the washing machine is a chilly nightmare.

Gas, solar or electric, whether it’s an odd, intermittent malfunction or stone cold water gushing out the H tap, if your system isn’t working, you’ll want a hot-water system plumber or electrician. Before you call, let’s first look at some common causes and complications of a hot-water system that’s just not all that crash hot.

 

Common causes of no hot water

To look at the common causes of a lack of hot water, you first have to know that there are three main types of system: gas, solar and electric. Each heats water differently and, so, different things can go wrong with them.

If your gas hot-water system isn’t working, it could be:

  • The pilot light has gone out
  • A gas leak
  • A faulty heating element
  • Sediment build-up and clogging
  • A faulty thermostat.

If your solar hot-water system isn’t working, it could be:

  • Bad weather or shading on the roof
  • A faulty booster system
  • Malfunctioning valves
  • Degraded pipe insulation
  • Broken solar panels
  • A faulty circulating pump.

If your electric hot-water system isn’t working, it could be:

  • Tripped circuit breakers
  • A faulty heating element
  • A faulty thermostat
  • A blown fuse.

Signs of a failing hot water system

Hot-water systems are among the hardest working of any home appliance. Despite usually being very well made, many still only survive for 8 to 10 years. Why? Because they are in use virtually every day to bring hundreds of litres of room temperature water up to at least 60 degrees (as is the minimum allowed under the Aussie standard).

While a hot water system can fail suddenly and catastrophically, this can only happen when the various safety mechanisms are intentionally deactivated. The real world signs of a hot water system failing are more subtle and much less dramatic than the explosive malfunctions you can watch on YouTube.

First, the age of a system is a simple factor. Even if your system is not behaving oddly, if it is more than 10 years old, it is worth getting it checked over.

Other than that overall issue, here are the signs of a system that needs attention:

  • Lukewarm water is a sign of a broken thermostat
  • Completely cold water is a sign of a broken heating element
  • No water at all from the hot tap is a sign of a broken pipe
  • Discoloured water is a sign of rusty pipes
  • Unusual noises is a sign of sediment trapped within the reservoir
  • Small puddles appearing around the heater are signs of tiny leaks that are worsening
  • Rust on pipes or valves means parts are corroding
  • Scorch marks around the housing can mean a ventilation problem
  • No pilot light is a sign you have run out of gas or the gas line is blocked
  • A yellow flame on the pilot light is a sign your system is at the wrong temperature
  • Low hot water pressure is a sign of blockages in the system or the pipes.

When your hot-water system isn’t working…

So, what do you do if your hot water system is exhibiting any one (or a combination) of the above? The first step is to get advice. A hot-water system is not something to work on yourself.

While the simple case of a pilot light going out shouldn’t trigger a call for an emergency plumber, you can still get into a lot of trouble with DIY repairs. Steam burns from ambitious home-handymen tinkering with their hot water systems are common.

So, if your call to a plumbing expert reveals your defective hot-water system’s symptoms are worth professional investigation, pay attention to what they say. Either getting your hot-water system serviced or replaced before it’s too late can save you an awful lot of hassle. And save you from waking up on a cold morning to a cold shower.

 

Book a professional plumber to inspect or install your hot-water system today

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