What to do when the hot water system is not working properly

Man in shower with no hot water

When the water heater system has an issue, it causes significant disruption to a household. It’s only once it’s gone that you realise how much you take having hot water on tap for granted. 

How can you avoid the ‘hot water not working’ disruption? Here are our professional tips:

  1. Check if the electricity is working
  2. How do I know if my water heater needs to be replaced?
  3. Why is the hot water a rusty colour?
  4. Why does the hot water smell bad?
  5. Monitor your hot water system
  6. How do I fix a broken water heater?
  7. Why is there a knocking sound when I switch on the hot water?

1) Check if the electricity is working

It may seem obvious, but you might not notice if the electricity is off, especially if you head straight for the shower when you get home. Until you find it cold. Maybe call a neighbour and find out if there’s a planned or unplanned outage.

The other option is that your system may have tripped, and you need to reset the switch on the power board. If the electricity keeps tripping on the hot water system, you may have a more serious problem.

2) How do I know if my water heater needs to be replaced?

Check the age of your system. Hot water systems come with an expiry date. They generally last between seven and ten years.

If you’ve recently bought a property or moved into a new rental, check the date on the hot water system. That way, you know why the ‘hot water not working’ problem may arise.

If you’re a homeowner, call your plumber and ask about the new systems. They are a lot more energy efficient than the older ones, and you want to do everything you can to conserve electricity, especially considering the recent price hikes.

Heat pumps are a much more cost-effective option. They work on a system that draws heat from the air and converts it to heat your water. The Enviroheat pump uses 1KW to create 4KW of hot water. The heat pump will even work at -7 degrees but does have a backup to the electrical system if you have a prolonged cold spell. If you are renting, get in touch with the property manager or landlord. 

3) Why is the hot water a rusty colour?

If the water is running anything but clear, the anode rod (inside the hot water tank) may have rusted. The anode rod is designed to keep the tank water chemically balanced so the tank itself doesn’t rust. When the anode rod tip wears down, it needs to be replaced.

Over the life of a hot water system, it may need replacing a couple of times. 

4) Why does the hot water smell bad?

A pungent smell may result from bacteria in the water reacting with the anode rod.

Flushing the tank and replacing the anode rod with one made from a different material can clear up the problem of the sulphurous smell in the water. A metallic smell could be the reaction of old iron pipes leaching metal into the water, and the pipes may need replacing.

5) Monitor your hot water system

If it takes a while for the water to run hot, the hot water doesn’t last as long as you expected, or the breaker switch keeps tripping, you may have sediment in the tank or a leak somewhere in the hot water pipes.

If you can see visible damp patches on the wall where the lines run, or there is a leak at the hot water unit itself, switch off the system and ask for expert help.

Check the tank regularly for leaks if it is hidden inside a cupboard; otherwise, replacing water-damaged cabinets can be expensive.

6) How do I fix a broken water heater?

In Australia, you don’t!

Installing an electric hot water system yourself is illegal unless you’re a qualified plumber. Contact HPG solutions to discuss a water heater replacement.

7) Why is there a knocking sound when I switch on the hot water?

This is known as water hammer because it sounds like someone tapping with a hammer.

The cause of the knocking sound could be pipes expanding and contracting when hot water passes through or could relate to pressure not being constant. Often the pipes may be loose or old. A qualified plumber will be able to locate and fix the problem. 

If your hot water system malfunctions, avoid disruption and call HPG Solutions today.



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