There’s nothing worse than getting up on a cold morning ready to jump into a warm shower only to find your hot water is cold. Or perhaps you’ve spotted a leak from your hot water system. You may even turn on the tap to find there’s no water flowing at all from your hot tap!
Don’t panic. Although hot water problems are a pain, there are some things you can check yourself before contacting a local plumbing service. In this post we look at common issues, troubleshooting and when to call a plumber.
At the first sign of hot water problems it’s a good idea to inspect your system. Is your hot water heater leaking? Do you see water pooling at the base of your water heater or running down the side of the hot water tank? If you find this is the issue, and water is spraying or flooding from the hot water system immediately shut off the water supply and call a plumber.
If the leak is coming from the pressure relief valve it might able to be replaced. Sometimes unwanted sediment can build up, clogging the valve which could be solved with a simple cleanout.
Unfortunately, if the leak is elsewhere, it might be a more serious problem and you’re probably due for a hot water system replacement.
If you do have water – but it’s only cold water – then the problem could be your hot water system’s circuit breaker. Take a look at your fuse box and switch the hot water breaker back on if it has tripped. Be sure to wait a while to give it a chance to heat up.
If you have a gas hot water system, then perhaps it’s simply a matter of replacing the gas bottle or calling up your gas supplier to check whether it has been switched off in your area for some reason.
If these actions don’t seem to solve the problem, or you find the circuit breaker repeatedly tripping you should Callout a plumber.
If the hot water just seems to have dropped in temperature, this may simply be that the outside temperature has dropped and your hot water is cooling in the pipes on the way to the tap. Check that the hot water pipes have insulation to stop this heat loss.
The first thing to check if your hot water is too hot is obviously to adjust the temperature dial on the front of the water heater, wait an hour and then check the temperature again at the tap. If this doesn’t change the temperature at all then there is a problem and you should contact a plumber to investigate.
Did you turn on the hot water tap only to see little more than a dribble? First check the cold water as well to ensure it’s not a problem with your supply.
If it’s just the hot water with no flow check near your hot water system for an isolation valve. Not all installations will be fitted with one, but look for a red or yellow handle near the water intake. If it’s been switched off that might be all you need to do. If not don’t try adjusting or probing the system further. It’s time to call in some expert help.
Bangs, pops and gurgling sounds can be caused simply by the expanding and contracting of metal parts. This is increased in older hot water units as mineral and hard water builds up on the inside of the tank. A plumber can help remove buildup by flushing the tank which will extend the life of your hot water unit.
If you hear a boiling sound this is a different story and can indicate dangerous overheating and pressure. In this case call an emergency plumber immediately.
In the late 90’s regulators decided to make fitting tempering valves on new or replacement hot water systems mandatory. The valve works by blending the hot and cold water at a ratio that is adjustable and then being piped to the bathrooms or house. This was a great idea as it helped to stop kids from being scalded by hot water. Young skin can be burnt by water at 60 degrees in a couple of seconds however water at 50 degrees would take minutes to inflict a serious burn.
Tempering valves like any mechanical item are prone to failure. Problems with tempering valves can cause a variety of issues including complete loss of hot water supply, a lack of pressure or a reduced hot water temperature. Besides leaking around the tempering valve connections it can be hard for the untrained to detect a problem. So if you suspect the tempering valve could be the problem, contact a plumber. The good news in this case is replacing a tempering valve is much cheaper than the entire hot water system.
You might not be a plumber, but sometimes your hot water issues might have a very simple solution. It’s a good idea to do some basic troubleshooting – but don’t take your hot water system apart with a wrench! Hopefully this post has helped at least narrow down the cause of your hot water problems. If your hot water has failed or shows any signs of the failure modes mentioned in this article then contact us to get your hot water working again.