Why Do Hot Water Systems Stop

Why do more Hot Water Systems stop working in Winter?

Have you ever wondered why a hot water system always seems to fail in Winter just when you need it the most? A hot water heater such as an electric storage , gas storage or a continuous flow system works much harder in the cooler months as it tries to heat water from a lower temperature. In an electric water heater, this puts more strain on the valve, heating elements , thermostat and the tank itself. These can be easily repaired at a relevantly small cost.

Thermal Shock

The biggest problem with trying to heat water from a low temperature is a condition called Thermal Shock. So what is Thermal Shock? Thermal Shock is when lower a normal cold water supply flows into already hot water heaters causing a possibly large reaction. The large difference in water temperatures will cause the water heater to expand and contract very quickly and somewhat uncontrollably resulting in the water tank not working properly. This situation may also effect components such as the relief valve, thermostat, and many other components of the water system. The shock will put large strain on welds on your hot water tank. Whether it is a gas hot water or electric water heater, the sudden change in temperature will effect the water heater. Unfortunately the more age that your hot water system has the more likely that the system will stop working properly.


If you make sure that regular maintenance as advised by the manufacturer of the unit is carried out, you will prevent many hot water failures. Check that the thermostat is correctly set and adjust the temperature to suit your hot water system. Make sure that the relief valve is operating as per the owners manual. If your hot water tank is reasonably old you may even need to consider replacing the water heater with a new more efficient model.

What to check if your hot water system is not working properly

If you find yourself with no hot water, here a a couple of quick checks before called a service technician.

Electric: If you have no hot water inside your house

Check that the circuit breaker is on and that you have power to your hot water system.

The next steps applies to electric and gas storage hot water system

Slowly pull the pressure relief valve on the top of the tank. Water coming from this valve is generally very hot so please show caution. If the water is cold and the water inside is cold, you will need and electrician. If the water from the valve is hot but the water inside is tempered or cold, you will need a plumber.


Help Protect Yourself Against COVID-19

At 1st Choice Hot Water, we are still open for business, but we have been taking preventive measures to keep our staff and customers safe to limit the spread of COVID-19. Our Sales and Service teams are still available by phone, mobile and email. Deliveries are being dispatched and received a little slower than normal due to restrictions in gaining access to warehouses. Where possible, we have facilitated a working from home arrangement to limit the amount of staff in our offices, and we are limiting all non-critical face-to-face interactions We will continue to monitor and implement the advice outlined by the Federal and State Governments

Touch-Free Hand Washing. One of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. The respiratory virus is spread when mucous droplets enter the body through the eyes, nose and throat, and most commonly transmitted via the hands. 

Sensor taps provide the best solution to hygiene as your hands do not need to come into contact with the tap. This is particularly important in shared bathrooms, where users are exposed to germs from other users. 
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Should You Leave Hot Water on While Away on Holiday

Whether or not you leave your hot water on while you are on vacation will be determined by a number of factors. These include the age and location of your water heater, its hosing or piping, and the amount of time you will be away on holiday. 

How Old is Your Hot Water Heater?

If your hot water heater is approximately (or older than) 10 years old, you may want to turn off your hot water heater when you leave on holiday. Older heaters have a greater risk of leaking or rupturing and may cause damage to your home while you are away. 

You should note that it could be difficult to turn on an older heater after a holiday as well. If you plan to be gone for a day or two, it may not be worth it, especially since you may have to wait for you post-travel showers. 

Where is Your Hot Water Heater Located?

If your hot water heater is indoors, you may want to turn it off while you are away. Even if your hot water heater isn’t aged, if it were to leak or rupture while you were away, it could cause flooding in your home. Unchecked for a period of time could cause costly repairs. 

Braided Hoses or Copper Pipework?

If your hot water heater is connected with braided hoses, turn it off when you leave for your holiday. Braided hoses are created out of rubber and can rupture under pressure. If you have copper pipework, there is a smaller chance that your heater will cause damage. 

How Long Do You Plan to Be Gone?

If you are gone for a weekend or a few days, there may be little difference on whether or not you turn off your heater. It is unlikely that you will see much of a change on your bill either way.

If your holiday will last for a few weeks (over a month), you may save a fair amount on your utility bills while you are away if you turn it off. Ensuring that your water heater is off will also prevent water damage if something were to happen to your hot water heater.

Use “Holiday Mode”

Instead of turning your hot water heater off completely, you could also reduce the heat to between 10-20°C while you are away. You won’t have to worry about restarting the heater when you return, you may still save a few pennies per day on your utilities, and it is less likely that your hot water heater will explode.

Can a Hot Water Heater Explode?

A hot water heater can explode if the pressure relief valve of the hot water heater malfunctions or the temperature is set too high. The best way to prevent your hot water heater from exploding is by making sure you keep it at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature or lower. 

As the hot water heats and turns to gas, the heater needs to release its pressure through the relief valve. If the valve malfunctions, the pressure will build until it ultimately explodes. When it explodes, it is likely to shoot through your roof, causing damage to your home. Exploded tanks have often been found several blocks away from its origin. 

Is it Cheaper to Leave Your Hot Water System on All the Time?

It is generally cheaper to turn off your hot water system when you don’t need it and only turn it back on 30-45 minutes before you take a hot bath or shower. Allowing your hot water system to continually run requires it to use the boiler periodically to keep it a specific heat. 

Some systems have a central heating programmer to give you a little hot water in between periods where you need a lot. 

The Dangers of Installing a Hot Water System Yourself


There are many things that can go wrong if you try to install a hot water system by yourself. If you fail to set it up correctly, it could fail and cause a lot of damage to the rest of your home, resulting in costly repairs. This post will cover a few reasons why you should consult a professional.

Buying the Wrong Sized System

When purchasing a hot water heater, it is important that you buy the right size. If you purchase one that is too small for you or your family, you will continually run out of hot water, which will cause it to continually run. This can lead to your hot water heater failing or increased utility bills. 

While the size of the hot water heater you’ll need will depend on the amount of hot water you use as a family, the typical heater size for a family of 3-4 people is between 182-284 litres for an electric model. For a gas model, you would look at a hot water heater that held 151 litres for a family who uses a small amount of water and 189-227 litres for a family uses more. 

If you aren’t sure about the size of hot water heater you need, reach out to 1st Choice Hot Water. Their 40+ years worth of experience gives them the knowledge they need to assist you in finding the right product for your home. 

Installing a Water Heater Requires a Plumbing Permit

In Australia, it is required that a hot water heater is installed by a professional plumber. While it is classified as notifiable work and doesn’t need a specialised permit, the plumber will need to register a notifiable work form to the QBCC.

This includes replacing, removing, or installing a hot water heater in an existing building or in an extension or a structure for an existing class 1 building. 

Without proper care and a full understanding of how hot water systems work, several mistakes could potentially be made that could cause damage to the system or to your home.

Location Issues

Some hot water heaters are located in a difficult access location, including under floors, attics, and smaller rooms. While there are guidelines in place on the openings and service space for the unit, replacing an older model with a new heater can occasionally be very tricky, even for a professional. 

The average weight of a hot water heater is anywhere between 55-70 kilograms, making it unsafe to move it into a place alone, especially if it is located in an unusual spot, such as an attic. 

The Risk of Dry Firing Your Water Heater

The heating elements of your hot water heater were created to operate in water. If there is no water or an inadequate amount of water in the dank when the power is turned on, the heating elements could be dry-fired. If a copper element is dry-fired, it means the temperature on it has been raised to the point of destruction. 

When the copper element is in water, it won’t get much hotter than 1°C above the temperature of the water. However, if the power is turned on while the tank is dry, the elements can heat up to between 1035-1100°C.

Once a copper element has been dry fired, it could fail immediately (within seconds) or fail after a few more months of use. 

How to Tell if Your Elements Have Been Dry-Fired

You may be able to tell if the elements on your hot water heater have been dry fired in one of the following three ways:

  • The element’s tubing will have become soft (annealed) to the point where it can easily be bent, even in their straight sections. 
  • Exposed copper due to zinc plating being burned or melted off. 
  • (On Sandhog Elements)  Signs of melting next to the screw plug on the element box.


There are several things that could potentially go wrong if you are installing or replacing a hot water heater alone. To ensure that it is installed safely and correctly, you should reach out to a professional. 

1st Choice Hot Water not only offers the most competitive pricing for hot water systems but with decades of industry experience, they can ensure that you find the right heater for your family and will install your unit in a safe and timely manner. Contact us for a quote today. 

How Do You Tell If Your Hot Water System is Going Out

As your hot water unit begins to age, you could begin to notice a few symptoms that indicate that it will need to be replaced. The good news is that a newer model will, most likely, be more energy efficient than your old system, which will save you in utility costs. Most hot water systems will last about a decade, and you can find out when it was manufactured from the tag on the manufacturer sticker on the heater. 

Here are a few common signs of a failing hot water system:

Strange Noises

Typical noises from a failing hot water system include popping, banging, or an echo. These sounds generally indicate that sediment has built up within the system. Your tank will take longer to heat the water, which will increase your utility bills.

Water Around the System

If water is leaking from your tank (and not the connections), replace your system as soon as possible. Since metal expands when it is heated, the leak is likely to increase if not dealt with properly.

Brown/Rust-Coloured Water

If your cold water is clear, but your hot water is a rust-colour, it is due to either your system or your hot water pipes. To determine which is failing, run your hot water for a while. If the liquid clears, it is most likely your pipes. If not, it is a good sign that your system is failing and should be replaced soon. The cause of the brown water is due to corrosion. If ignored, you could end up with a damaging leak.

Are Hot Water Systems Covered by Insurance?

There are two situations in which insurance may cover the price (or part of the price) of a new hot water heater. If it is covered, it is typically located on your Home and Contents Insurance policy. The first is in the event the hot water system is damaged, the second is for an environmental upgrade.

Insurance Replacement Due to System Damage

If your hot water system suddenly bursts or begins to leak or discharge liquid, your Home and Contents insurance may help cover the price of a new system. Check your policy or call your insurance adjuster for clarification. Keep any receipts or technician notes handy in case you need to file a claim.

Insurance Upgrade for Environmental Purposes

As Australian residents continue to be more environmentally-conscious, some insurance companies are happy to help cover the price of an upgraded hot water system. If your insurance does cover upgrades, it is typically to a solar system. Call your insurance provider and ask them what your policy covers. 

You might also qualify for a government grant to help you cover the cost of a solar hot water system.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Hot Water System?

The cost it would take to replace your hot water system would depend on the type and size of the system. Here are the things that would influence the replacement cost:

  • The system itself
  • Additional plumbing materials if you have chosen to relocate where your system will sit
  • Labour costs

1st Choice Hot Water has been serving the Brisbane area for over 40 years and has since expanded to be Australia’s #1 online hot water system, specialist. We are committed to quality and good customer service. We strive to exceed your expectations every time you deal with us. If you are experiencing issues with your hot water system, contact us today for guidance on your next step.