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Sydney Troubleshoots Plumbing: Why doesn’t the hot water last when I shower?

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After a long day (or after a long sleep, whatever suits you best) there’s nothing better than a nice hot shower to wash yourself clean and freshen up. On the other end of that scale, we can think of few things worse than jumping into the shower, expecting it to be hot, and being drenched with cold drops of death. If you find that your water never heats at all, it may be because your water heater has been working overtime and needs time to get back to it’s warm and cheery self. If, however, you were enjoying a hot shower up until a moment where things turned cold, the problem may be within the unit itself. Our plumbers have come up with a few tips to troubleshoot your hot water system in case this is happening to you.

Tip #1: Check the fixtures

If you’re experiencing hot water problems (or lack of hot water problems) you should check all of the fixtures throughout the house to see if the problem is isolated to one area of the house or whether it’s an all-house issue. If you find that none of the plumbing allows hot water to pass through, then the problem is the water heater – you should check the temperature control on the unit to see if the setting is ideal, then see whether it has blown a fuse. If you have a gas unit, the pilot light may have blown out, in which case you should relight it following the manufacturer’s instructions. If, after relighting the pilot light, there is still no sign of hot water, then the problems may be any of the following: faulty temperature control, sediment build up, a defective part or obstructions in the flue. In any of these cases, it’s important that you call your plumber so that they can accurately diagnose and fix the problem.

Tip #2: Isolated?

If you’ve checked the fixtures and find that the problem is isolated to one area of the home, you may not have to worry about replacing the pipes if you’re living in a newer home as the possibility of stoppage or obstruction in copper systems are rare. Copper pipes rarely corrode on the interior (unlike older galvanised steel pipes), leaving the piping to stay free-flowing. What you will need to do is find the shut off valve for the hot water and see if it has closed. If it has, opening the valve may remedy the situation. However, if you find that you are still experiencing problems, you may have a problem with the bathroom shower valve. You will need to call your plumber to have them repair the valve.

Tip #3: Do it yourself

One reason for cold water issues is that rubber parts in the shower valve may be worn and distorted from old age, swelling up and restricting the airways. As the water temperature traveling through the valve increases, the swelling increases and it is not uncommon for the rubber parts to break off within the mixer valves. These parts can travel through the mixer and cause an obstruction in the hot water valve. In order to remedy this, you need to take the part off and flush the valve out. If you’re handy, you can disassemble the fixture yourself and clear out the screen on the hot water side. Lay out a cloth over the drain to catch small parts for when you have to reassemble the piece later.

While the initial hot water troubleshooting can be done by yourself, calling your local plumbing is necessary for most hot water solutions – you don’t want to risk damaging your pipes further and having to pay for a replacement. To get in contact with your G.F. James plumber today, call (02) 8488 8777.

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Geoff James
Written By:

Geoff grew up in Berala near Lidcombe in Sydney and attended Birrong Boys High School where he finished his Year 10 school certificate. Geoff was encouraged by his uncle to consider plumbing as he had done a bit of plumbing work on weekends during his school years. DJ Childs Plumbing in Canterbury offered him a plumbing apprenticeship and he spent most of his time working on plumbing maintenance and new roofs on commercial sites. Geoff on Google+.