Whether for showering, washing dishes, or laundry, hot water is essential to our daily routines. As such, when the hot water system fails to work, it can be an incredibly frustrating and inconvenient experience. 

Your hot water may not work for several reasons, from simple issues such as a tripped circuit breaker or a malfunctioning thermostat. Sometimes it’s more complex problems such as a broken heating element in the water storage tank or a faulty water heater. 

Recognising the underlying causes of hot water system failures can help homeowners promptly identify and address the issue, quickly restoring the hot water supply to their homes. 

In this piece, we will look at hot water problems and what to do when it isn’t working.

Why is My Hot Water Not Working Properly?

If your hot water is not working properly, it is likely due to a problem with your gas or electric water heater or related components. You need to have professional plumbers inspect the issues and make any necessary repairs to ensure the restoration of hot water safely and efficiently. 

Some of the most common problems your hot water unit may be experiencing include:

Problem #1: Faulty or Damaged Heating Element

Your electric hot water system uses a lower and upper heating element which consists of a coil, ribbon and strop of wire to heat water. These are responsible for most of the heat for your hot water tank. You will lack a consistent hot water supply when the lower element no longer works efficiently because it’s not getting the power it needs.

You may also notice a change in the water temperature, possibly due to:

  • Sediment build-up: Natural minerals and sediment gather inside your gas or electric water heaters, which limits hot water flowing efficiency from your water heater.
  • Broken thermostat: If you have a failed heating element, a common cause is the thermostat. Sometimes it simply needs replacing because it cannot be fixed and will leave you without a functioning hot water system.
  • Fault in the wiring: The heating elements rely on the wiring to create an electrical current to heat the cold water from your gas and electric hot water systems. Over time the writing can break or wear out, which affects the efficiency of your heating element.
  • Water Temperature Fluctuations: The water is likely to fluctuate when experiencing a faulty or damaged heating element,  which easily interrupts the flow of your day.

Problem #2: Water Leak

If you have a water leak, your hot water supply may stop working efficiently because it has been compromised in some form.

Aside from being evident because your hot water is not working, there are other signs you have a leak:

  • Drop in water pressure: The drop in water pressure from a water leak can stop your hot water heater from working because it relies upon a certain amount of pressure to function effectively.
  • The tank doesn’t fill: When there is a leak in your electric or gas water heaters, it never fills, so it has nothing to warm.  
  • Leakage near the hot water heater: If the leak is near the water heater, it can damage the electrical components, causing it to malfunction or stop working altogether.

Problem #3: Improper Installation

Improper installation of electric or gas water heaters can cause various issues, including a lack of hot water. Here are some ways it can lead to a lack of hot water:

  • Incorrect size: If the water heater is too small for your household’s hot water needs, it won’t be able to produce enough hot water.
  • Incorrect wiring: If the wiring is incorrect, the water heater may not receive enough power to warm the water properly, leaving your household without hot water.
  • Poor insulation: If the water heater is not insulated correctly, it can lose heat faster, leaving you without hot water access.
  • Improper placement: Installation of a water heater in a location that’s too cold may struggle to keep up with hot water demand. On the other hand, if installed in an area that’s too hot, it may overheat and shut off, leaving you without access to warm water.

Problem #4: Pilot Light 

With gas hot water systems, one possible reason for this problem is a pilot light that has gone out. The light constantly burns in the gas water heater in the form of a small flame. It is responsible for igniting the gas burner that heats the water. If the light goes out, there is no ignition source for the gas burner, and it will not heat the water.

There are several reasons why the light may go out. It could be due to a gust of wind blowing it out or by a malfunctioning component such as the thermocouple. A thermocouple is a safety device that shuts off the gas supply if the pilot light goes out. If the thermocouple is not functioning properly, it may mistakenly shut off the gas supply even if the pilot light is still burning.

Problem #5: Natural Gas Leak

If you have no hot water and smell an odour like rotten eggs, take immediate action to ensure your safety. If not handled correctly, natural gas is a flammable gas that can be dangerous. If it’s leaking, it will cause an interruption to your gas hot water heater from functioning effectively.

If you suspect a leak, it’s important to evacuate the area and contact your hot water emergency plumber or gas utility company immediately. 

How To Fix Gas & Electric Hot Water System Problems

Hot water flowing directly to our homes is part of Australian culture, and we are dependent on gas and electric water heaters working efficiently. When the water heater fails, the best action is to contact Canberra Plumbing & Drains for safe repair, maintenance or replacement. 

There are some simple steps you can take before making the call to our plumbing service:

  • Inconsistent hot water: Check the thermostat settings if the water temperature fluctuates while you’re using hot water. The thermostat setting may be too low or too high, causing the temperature to fluctuate. Adjust the thermostat to the desired temperature.
  • No hot water: If you turn on the hot water tap and there is no hot water, check the power supply or gas line to the heater. Ensure each is on and the pilot light is lit (if applicable).
  • Leaking tank: If you notice water leaking from the hot water tank, turn off the power or gas supply to the heater, drain it, and inspect it for leaks. If you find a leak, you may need a plumber to replace the hot water units.

Need Your Water Heater Fixed? Call Canberra Plumbing & Drains

If you turn on the hot water tap and there is no hot water, it’s time to call a professional plumber to diagnose and fix the issue. Don’t let these problems disrupt your daily routine. Call Canberra Plumbing & Drains at (02) 6288 9929 today for fast and reliable gas and electric water heater repair services.