Brrr! You reach for the shower handle, expecting a blast of warmth to chase away the morning chill. Instead, a jolt of icy water shocks you awake. Frantic checks confirm your worst fear – the water heater is down for the count.

Sure, you can survive a cold shower (maybe with gritted teeth), but hot water is more than just a comfort on frosty mornings. It’s essential for everything from washing dishes to soothing sore muscles. A broken heater can throw your entire routine into disarray.

But fear not! This guide is here to help you navigate the unexpected chill. We’ll explore temporary solutions to keep your showers warm and your dishes clean. We’ll also provide tips on getting your water heater back up and running as quickly as possible. So, grab a towel (and maybe a sweater!), and let’s conquer this hot water hurdle together.

Warning Signs of a Water Heater Malfunction


Here are some common signs that your water heater might be malfunctioning:

No hot water

This is the most obvious sign of a problem. It could be caused by a variety of issues, such as a faulty heating element, thermostat malfunction, or sediment buildup.

Lukewarm water

If your water isn’t getting as hot as it used to, it could be due to a failing heating element, a thermostat set too low, or a problem with the gas pressure (for gas models).

Strange noises

Knocking, popping, or rumbling sounds coming from your water heater can indicate sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank, which can reduce efficiency and lead to other problems.


Leaks around the base of the water heater are a serious issue and can indicate a cracked tank or loose connections. It’s important to address leaks promptly to avoid water damage.

Discoloured water

Rusty or cloudy hot water can be a sign of corrosion inside the tank. This can contaminate your water supply and damage your pipes.

Types of Water Heaters and Potential Issues

There are three main types of water heaters: electric, gas, and solar. Each type has its own potential issues:

Electric water heater

  • Faulty heating element: This is a common problem that can prevent the water from heating properly.
  • Faulty thermostat: The thermostat controls the water temperature. If it malfunctions, the water may not get hot enough, or it could overheat.
  • Malfunctioning control board: This is the brain of the water heater and can control various functions, including ignition (in some models) and safety features.

Gas water heater

Solar water heater

  • Collector problems: Leaks or clogs in the solar collectors can prevent them from absorbing sunlight efficiently.
  • Low circulation pump flow: The circulation pump moves water between the collectors and the storage tank. If the flow is low, the water won’t be heated properly.
  • Faulty heat exchanger: This transfers heat from the solar collectors to the water in the storage tank. A malfunctioning heat exchanger can reduce the water heater’s efficiency.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to call a qualified plumber to diagnose the problem and recommend repairs or replacement.

Safety First


Water heater malfunctions can be a real headache, but don’t let frustration cloud your judgment. Safety is paramount! If you suspect a problem, especially a gas leak, prioritise your safety:

  1. Turn Off the Water: Locate the shut-off valve for the cold water supply line connected to your water heater. Turn it clockwise firmly to stop the water flow.
  2. Fresh Air is Key: Gas leaks are serious. Open windows and doors to create ventilation and eliminate any buildup of fumes.
  3. Leave the Sparks to the Pros: Resist the urge to tackle repairs, particularly with gas heaters. Electrical appliances and even light switches can ignite a spark in the presence of gas.
  4. Call in the Cavalry: Contact a licensed plumber immediately. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix the issue safely and effectively. Remember, a little caution can prevent a big disaster.

Taking Preventative Measures

Cold showers are invigorating…sometimes. But when your hot water heater unexpectedly goes out, it’s a major inconvenience. The key to avoiding these disruptions lies in preventative maintenance.

Just like your car needs regular servicing, your water heater benefits from annual checkups. This maintenance typically involves flushing the tank. Sediment buildup in the tank reduces efficiency and shortens lifespan. Flushing removes this sediment, allowing your heater to work harder for less.

The benefits of regular maintenance are numerous. First, it extends the life of your water heater, saving you money on a costly replacement down the road. Second, a clean and efficient heater uses less energy to maintain hot water temperature, lowering your utility bills. Most importantly, preventative maintenance allows technicians to identify potential problems early on. Catching minor issues before they escalate prevents major repairs and potential safety hazards.

Don’t Let Your Hot Water Run Cold: Hiring a Licensed Plumber


Water heater woes can disrupt your entire day. But before diving into DIY repairs, consider the advantages of calling a qualified and licensed plumber.

Benefits of Professional Service

  • Expertise: Licensed plumbers possess the knowledge and experience to diagnose problems accurately and recommend the best course of action.
  • Safety: Water heaters involve gas and electrical components. Professionals handle these risks safely, preventing potential hazards like gas leaks or faulty wiring.
  • Specialised Tools & Parts: Plumbers have access to the right tools and parts for the job, ensuring efficient repairs and avoiding delays.
  • Warranty on Repairs: Licensed plumbers often back their work with warranties, giving you peace of mind and protection in case of issues.

Preparing for the Plumber’s Arrival

To expedite the repair process, have a clear description of the problem ready. Gather any information about your water heater, including brand, model number, and age (if possible). Remember, the plumber might need access to the water heater and surrounding area, so clear the workspace beforehand.

While You Wait

A limited hot water supply can be frustrating, but there are temporary solutions. Boil water for essential tasks like handwashing dishes. You can also manage with a tepid shower. If the issue is urgent, most plumbing companies offer emergency services to get your hot water flowing again quickly.

Don’t Let a Cold Shower Be Your Wake-up Call!

A broken water heater can disrupt your entire day. Don’t panic! By following these steps – turning off the water supply and gas/electricity, minimising water damage, and calling a professional – you can prevent further issues and get your hot water back on quickly.

For Brisbane residents facing a water heater breakdown, The Brisbane Plumbers is your one-stop shop for expert repairs and installations. Our licensed and insured technicians can diagnose any problem and provide a long-lasting solution. We’re proud to offer reliable heat pump hot water systems that are known for their energy efficiency and cost-savings. Contact The Brisbane Plumbers today for a free quote and experience the comfort of knowing we’re available 24/7 for all your hot water emergencies.