Having access to hot water is something most households take for granted – until suddenly, the water heater stops working correctly. When your water heater or hot water system starts malfunctioning, it can be unclear whether you need to call a professional plumber or electrician to help diagnose and fix the issue. This can lead to frustration and delays in getting your water heater up and running again.
We will provide a definitive guide on troubleshooting issues with hot water heaters and hot water systems and give you a clear understanding of when you need to call in professional plumbing help versus an electrician. With the correct information, you’ll be able to quickly determine whether your hot water system needs the expertise of a licensed plumber or electrician to get back to enjoying convenient access to hot water in your home.
When to Call a Plumber for Hot Water System Issues
Several signs indicate that your hot water system is having issues requiring the expertise of a professional plumber. Identifying these signs can help you determine when to pick up the phone and call for plumbing assistance.
Leaks, Noises and Loss of Water Pressure
One of the most obvious signs of trouble is a burst pipe or water leak from your hot water heater or somewhere along the plumbing system. A burst pipe is often accompanied by a sudden drop in water pressure throughout your home’s plumbing network. Burst pipes and water leaks should be considered plumbing emergencies, and you’ll want to shut off your water supply immediately and call an emergency plumber right away to prevent flooding and water damage to your property.
More subtle signs of something is amiss include fluctuating water pressure that spikes and drops periodically, gradually increasing unusually high water bills and faint dripping sounds from concealed pipes in walls and ceilings. These can indicate minor leaks in plumbing pipes or issues with your water pressure and plumbing system. Calling professional plumbers as soon as you notice these symptoms can help detect and repair minor leaks before they become major burst pipes.
Strange gurgling sounds, clanging, and knocking noises coming from your hot water heater are also signs plumbers should inspect the system. Sediment and mineral build-up in the tank can cause noises as the system works to heat water. A plumber can flush and descale the hot water system to quiet these noises and optimize performance.
Failing heating elements or tampering valves cause intermittent temperature fluctuations in your hot water. Electric issues tend to be all or nothing – if it’s an electrical problem, your hot water would simply stop working entirely. Temperature fluctuation points to a plumbing-related problem. A plumber can best diagnose and replace faulty plumbing parts causing irregular hot water temperatures.
Rusty or Discolored Water
Finally, rust-coloured or dirty-looking hot water from taps is a giveaway that your hot water system needs professional plumbing maintenance or replacement. Sediment, rust flakes and discolouration signify corroded interior components. Plumbers have the tools and expertise to thoroughly flush hot water heaters to remove corrosion and determine if replacement is required.
When to Call an Electrician for Hot Water Systems
There are specific scenarios where a problem with your hot water system is almost certainly electrical, and you’ll want to call in an electrician rather than a plumber. Recognizing the signs of electrical issues can prevent wasting time and money calling out the wrong service professional.
No Hot Water at All
One of the most apparent electrical problems is a complete lack of hot water from all your faucets and taps. If there is no hot water anywhere in your home, it’s a good indication that something is wrong with your hot water heater’s power supply or electrical components. An electrician can test the fuse box, circuit breakers, wiring, heating elements, and thermostats that control your hot water system. They can diagnose where power is being interrupted and restore hot water by replacing malfunctioning electrical parts.
Unusual electrical noises point to the need for an electrician as well. Buzzing, cracking, sizzling or zapping sounds from your water heater are clear signs of electrical arcing or sparks. This could mean loose wiring connections, corroded contacts or failing heating elements. An electrician should urgently inspect and can quickly trace noises back to the source of the malfunction for repairs.
Water Running but No Leaks
You should also call an electrician immediately if you hear water running in your hot water system but find no leaks or dripping water. This likely means an electrical short inaccurately triggers the water pump or valves. An electrician can isolate the short and restore proper function.
Noticeable electrical sparking or flickering lights when the hot water system activates, are hazardous warning signs; you should get an electrician on-site immediately. Sparks can ignite fumes or surrounding materials, and exposed live wires put anyone nearby at risk of electrocution. Shut off power and call an electrician if you notice electrical arcing anywhere around your hot water heater.
Finally, singed plastic, melting, or burning odours from the water heater are all hazardous signs of potential electrical fire. Shut off the power, evacuate, and immediately call emergency electrical and fire services. An electrician must thoroughly inspect the system before power can safely be restored.
Important Safety Notes
Safety should always be your top concern when handling any issues with your hot water system. Leaking hot water poses an electrocution risk, so exercise extreme caution when water leaks near electrical components.
Do not attempt DIY repairs on electrical wiring or parts – these must only be handled by licensed electricians. Before doing any repairs, shutting off the water supply and power to the hot water system at the mains is crucial. Attempting repairs with water or power still flowing is dangerous.
Finally, if your hot water system is over ten years old and experiencing frequent or expensive issues, replacement is likely a safer bet than continuing to repair an aging, faulty unit. Following these essential safety practices will keep you and service professionals safe when attending to your water heater.
Signs You Need a New Hot Water System
Over time, wear and tear can cause hot water systems to deteriorate, leading to decreased performance, frequent breakdowns, and costly repairs. Several clear signs indicate when it’s time to replace your aging or faulty hot water system with a new, more efficient model.
Frequent Breakdowns and Repairs
One of the most apparent indicators is frequent and recurring problems requiring repairs by plumbers. If you find yourself constantly calling for service to fix leaks, replace heating elements, or address errors, it likely means fundamental parts of the system are failing. At a certain point, you’ll spend more on band-aid repairs than just investing in an entirely new hot water system.
Significant visible corrosion and rust flakes from water pipes, tanks, fittings, and valves are also signs of extensive internal damage. Severe corrosion signifies components are decaying and at increased risk of catastrophic leaks or flooding if they fail altogether. Replacement is safest before this happens.
Insufficient Hot Water
An inability to keep up with your household’s hot water needs, such as running out during showers or waiting for hot water at faucets, indicates your unit can no longer adequately heat and store water. Upgrading to a larger capacity tank or more powerful on-demand system can restore a steady hot water supply throughout your home.
Loud rumbling, banging or churning noises from the hot water tank are clues the system suffers from significant mineral build-up and sediment accumulation. The efforts to heat water despite internal obstructions take a toll over time. Replacement avoids future noise and potential overheating issues.
High Energy Bills
Even when household usage is unchanged, higher-than-average energy bills may make your system inefficient. Newer models are designed for maximum efficiency, saving you monthly money on utilities.
Age Over 10-12 Years
Hot water systems over 10-12 years old are usually considered past their effective lifespans. Even without other apparent issues, the average system deteriorates with age, making proactive replacement a smart move to avoid being left without hot water when old tanks inevitably corrode and fail.
Increased Household Size/Demand
Finally, if your household has increased in size or hot water needs have changed, a hot water system no longer able to provide sufficient heated water indicates a larger system is needed. Upgrading proactively accommodates your household’s growth rather than struggling with an undersized unit.
Questions to Ask Your Plumber or Electrician
Asking the right questions will ensure you get the information needed to decide on addressing your hot water issues.
Diagnosing the Problem
– What is likely causing the hot water issue based on symptoms?
– Do you need to run diagnostic tests to pinpoint the exact problem?
Repair or Replace?
– For older systems, do you recommend repairing or replacing the unit?
– What are the costs of both options?
– What is your estimated cost for the repair or replacement job?
– Are there ways to reduce the costs through servicing parts vs. complete replacement?
Timelines and Disruption
– How long will the job take to complete?
– Will I be without hot water for any period?
– What kind of warranty do you offer on labour and replacement parts?
Get Your Hot Water Flowing Again!
In summary, no hot water is typically a plumbing issue, so call a plumber first when in doubt. New systems often make more sense than patching up old ones beyond their lifespan. With plumbing and electrical expertise, Gold Coast Plumbing Experts can handle your entire hot water system installation or repair with just one call.
Our team is licensed to do the entire job, avoiding referrals that cost you more money and time. With same-day service, upfront pricing, and guaranteed workmanship, rely on the experts at Gold Coast Plumbing Experts to get your hot water system up and running again quickly when problems arise. Call today and get back to enjoying endless hot water bliss!