Hot water is an essential aspect of any Australian household, providing comfort and convenience for daily tasks like washing dishes, doing laundry, and taking showers. When your hot water is not working properly (or not functioning at all), it can lead to frustration and inconvenience for all household members.
Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes of hot water failure in residential households, the steps to diagnosing the issue, the repair options available, and maintenance tips for a consistent supply of hot water.
The Importance of Hot Water Systems
Hot water systems are crucial to the comfort and well-being of Australian households. They provide a reliable source of hot water for homes and businesses, ensuring that occupants can carry out their daily tasks comfortably and efficiently. These tasks can include taking a shower, cooking, making coffee or tea, washing dishes or doing the laundry.
Hot water systems also help to maintain good hygiene, as hot water is needed to properly clean dishes, laundry, and household surfaces. In addition to this, hot water systems can help reduce energy costs and carbon emissions by using energy-efficient technologies such as solar heating systems. By investing in a quality hot water system or water heater and regularly maintaining it, you can have access to a reliable source of hot water, improving your overall quality of life.
Types of Hot Water Systems
When trying to identify a problem with your hot water heater, it’s best to start by assessing which kind of system your household uses. Below, we’ve listed the 3 most popular hot water systems.
Electric Hot Water System
Electronic hot water systems and electric water heaters use an electric heating element to heat water and store it in an insulated hot water tank. They are relatively easy to install and require little maintenance, but they are typically less energy-efficient compared to other systems.
Gas Hot Water System
Gas water heaters use a gas burner to heat water, therefore providing hot water quicker than alternative hot water systems. On average, the energy consumption of gas water heaters is lower than electric water heaters but may require more maintenance and higher upfront costs.
Solar Hot Water System
A solar hot water unit is a sustainable hot water system that uses solar collectors as heating elements, with the water kept in an insulated storage tank. While Solar hot water units can be more expensive to install compared to electric or gas hot water systems, they provide significant energy savings long-term.
No Hot Water In The House: Common Problems & Causes
If you’re currently experiencing issues with your hot water system, we have provided a list of the most common hot water problems and their potential causes.
Not Enough Hot Water
Are you filling up a bath or your kitchen sink, and you’ve noticed that your water is nowhere near as hot as you expected it to be? A common issue that homeowners and tenants face is running out of hot water too quickly.
This could be due to an undersized tank, a malfunctioning thermostat, or a buildup of sediment in the tank that reduces its capacity to store hot water. For reference, according to Australian plumbing regulations, hot water should be delivered to your taps at an average temperature of 50°C.
Why Do I Have A Noisy Hot Water System?
If you hear strange noises coming from your hot water system or water heater, it can be a sign of a potential problem.
- Gurgling or Bubbling Sounds: Common noises that indicate a fault include gurgling or bubbling sounds, which suggest that there is an air bubble trapped in the system.
- Popping or Cracking Sounds: These sounds indicate a buildup of sediment in the tank, causing the heating element to overheat or the tank to expand and contract.
- Humming or Buzzing Sounds: A loud humming or buzzing noise may indicate a faulty element or thermostat.
Any strange noises coming from your hot water system should be investigated by a professional to identify and resolve any underlying issues.
Hot Water Tank or Plumbing Leaking
A leaky tank or pipes from your water heater can be indicative of a serious issue that may require attention as soon as possible. The culprit could be a faulty valve, a cracked tank, or a damaged pipe. If left untreated, a leaking hot water tank or pipe can cause significant water damage to your home. We recommend hiring professional help to fix the issue before it turns into a serious problem.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can be caused by a range of issues, including a clogged shower head, a malfunctioning pressure relief valve, or a broken pipe. Low water pressure can also be a potential side effect of plumbing work being done within your household or your local area. This can make it difficult to take a comfortable shower, or fill a bathtub or sink at an efficient rate.
Hot Water Slow To Heat
If your hot water system is slow to heat up, there are several potential causes. It could be due to a malfunctioning heating element, a buildup of sediment in the tank, or a faulty thermostat. A slow-heating water system can be frustrating and may lead to a lack of hot water, or slow hot water flowing when you need it most.
Solutions For Hot Water Not Working
You have a few options when it comes to fixing your hot water system problems, but always keep in mind that certain issues require professional services to remedy them. Otherwise, you run the risk of causing further damage to your water heater and being faced with an even bigger problem.
Replacement of Hot Water System
If your hot water system has stopped working altogether, or is quite old, replacing it may be the best solution. The average lifespan for electric hot water systems is between 10-15 years, whereas gas water heaters typically last for 8-12 years. Solar hot systems tend to function for 10-20 years.
When choosing a new hot water system, you should consider factors such as your household’s typical hot water needs, desired energy consumption, and the availability of solar or natural gas options in your area. Most importantly, you should hire licensed plumbing services for the installation to ensure that your new system complies with your state’s plumbing standards.
Professional Repair Services
Hiring professional plumbing services to repair your hot water problems is a highly recommended and straightforward solution. A licensed and experienced professional can diagnose and solve your hot water system or plumbing issues.
There are some causes for your water system not working correctly that may be too dangerous to attempt to fix yourself. For this reason, we advise you to hire professional help to prevent any further issues and ensure that your hot water system continues to run safely, efficiently, and effectively.
Attempting to repair your hot water unit yourself is not recommended unless you are a licensed plumber or have experience with hot water systems. Certain systems can be dangerous to work with if you’re not trained adequately. A DIY fix can also void your warranty, or potentially cause further damage to your hot water unit.
If the issue is relatively minor and you believe that you can fix the problem yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Always turn off the power supply or gas source before attempting any repairs.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and use the correct tools and materials for the job.
- Consider consulting online resources or tutorials, but be wary of unreliable or inaccurate information. Stick to verified sources like experienced plumbing services.
- Wear protective clothing and equipment, such as gloves and safety goggles, to prevent injury.
- If you encounter a problem that you are unsure how to fix or if the repair seems beyond your ability, stop and call a licensed plumber for assistance.
Hot Water System Maintenance Tips
Regular Inspections and Cleaning
Performing regular inspections and cleanings of your hot water system is important to ensure its longevity and efficiency. It’s recommended that you get your hot water unit inspected every 6-12 months.
The system’s components, such as the storage tank and heating element, should also be cleaned to remove sediment build up, which can reduce the unit’s efficiency and shorten its lifespan.
Flushing The Tank
Flushing the tank of your hot water unit is an important maintenance task that can extend your system’s longevity. Either a licensed plumber or yourself can flush the tank by draining the water from the system and flushing the tank with fresh water.
This should be done at least once a year to remove sediment build up and debris that can accumulate over time, which can reduce the amount of hot water the tank can hold or keep the system from working properly.
Testing The Water Pressure
Testing the water pressure of your hot water system is a great way to identify any issues that may be affecting the unit’s performance. We recommend testing the water pressure regularly, once a year for functioning systems or more often if you notice instances of high or low pressure.
High pressure can cause damage to the system’s components over time, while low pressure can result in reduced efficiency or inadequate hot water supply. Fixes include installing a pressure-reducing valve or booster pump, or adjusting the system’s pressure regulator.
Fixing Your Hot Water System Problems
When your hot water system malfunctions, it can be an extremely frustrating experience. Depending on the specific problem that you’re facing, there are a few potential causes and ways to remedy the situation.
If you’re looking to replace or repair your hot water unit, we recommend consulting with professionals before making a decision. If the problem is significant, it’s important to hire a professional plumber as soon as possible to prevent long-term damage.
Whether it’s time for a replacement or you’ve got a hot water emergency, contact us for all your professional plumbing help.