Hot Water Issues: Do You Need A Plumber Or Electrician?

It’s never a good day when you wake up and discover that the hot water system you need to shower, wash up and keep your home clean has inexplicably stopped working. For homeowners seeking a professional tradie to repair the problem, the situation is complicated by the fact that the hot water failure may be due to a plumbing issue, or an electrical one, or, occasionally, both. If you’re struggling to work out who’s the best tradie to call, we’re here to help.

Take a look at our straightforward guide to deciding if a plumber or electrician is the best person to call to solve your hot water issue.

Table of Contents

Does water come out when you switch on the tap?

If you turn on the tap and nothing comes out, the chances are that you need a plumber, as the water supply is disrupted somehow. This may be due to a leak, a fall in water pressure or an airlock somewhere in the system. Whatever the cause, a plumber is the best person to get the water flowing properly.

If no water comes out when you switch on the tap, call a plumber.

There is no water coming out of all the hot water taps

This is likely a plumbing issue and usually associated with the cold water inlet to the heater. Check to see if the cold water inlet valve is turned on. This is usually found on the pipe that feeds into the heater on the lower side of the unit. If the valve is on then it could be that the pipes or valves are clogged and may need dismantling to cleanout. We suggest this be done by a licenced plumber.

If no water comes out of all the hot water taps, call a plumber.

Have you simply used all the hot water that's been heated?

In some cases, hot water systems have been set to only heat water during “off-peak” hours, when the electricity tariff is lower. If a householder has used all the hot water before the next “off-peak” heating period is due, there may, temporarily, be no hot water. In these circumstances, it’s possible to reprogramme the system to heat water as required, not just during “off-peak” hours.

If there’s been no hot water for at least 24-hours, it’s worth checking the relief valve, which is located at the top of the tank. If you turn this a little, water will be released from the valve. Check the pipe the water flows down to see if it’s hot or cold. If it’s tepid, or hot, there’s likely to be a problem with water distribution, which means you should call a plumber. Conversely, if the water is cold, it’s likely the problem is due to an electrical fault with the heating mechanism, which means you’ll probably need an electrician.

Is your relief value leaking?

Leaks from the relief valves are a fairly obvious problem with a hot water system. If you suspect that your relief valve is leaking more than 500ml of water a day, we recommend calling out a plumber. Note that a small amount of leakage through the relief valve is perfectly normal – as the hot water expands due to heating and the relief valve acts as a safety mechanism, allowing small amounts of hot water to drip away safely. This relieves pressure on the hot water system.

If your relief valve is leaking more than 500ml a day, call a plumber!

Plumber or electrician?

In general terms, if the problem is probably connected to the flow of water through the system, you’re likely to need a plumber.

In contrast, if the problem is due to a failure in the electrical mechanism that heats the water, you’re likely to need an electrician. An electrician will also help with problems that are due to faulty programming, a malfunctioning thermostat or issues with under-performance – water taking too long to heat, for example, or not reaching the desired temperature despite the heating mechanism being switched on.


Water from my hot water system is rusty-coloured or has bits in it - what's the most likely cause of the problem?

The presence of rust inside the system, which is likely to cause rusty-coloured water, is due to the deterioration of the hot water system‘s pipework. If the pipe is corroded, there’s a high likelihood that a leak will develop shortly. A plumber is the best tradie to call for some options on how to restore or replace your hot water system’s pipes. Bits in the water may be due to pipe corrosion, but could also be due to impurities from the water supply. If you’re concerned about contamination of the water source, we recommend not drinking any hot water and getting a sample tested for the presence of contaminants. Again, a plumber is the best person to call.

Will I need my entire hot water system replaced?

At some point, every hot water system will need to be replaced or upgraded. Signs that yours may need a replacement include frequent breakdown, failure to heat water to the required temperature when required, high energy bills due to an inefficient system, a badly corroded system, or a system that isn’t meeting the needs of your household.

How often should I have a hot water system service?

Annual servicing reduces the risk of future repairs, ensures that your system is working optimally (which helps to keep energy bills low) and may even extend the life of your hot water system. As part of an annual service, we will check for any signs of wear, ensuring you can get parts replaced or other work done in a timely manner.

Which hot water system is best?

The best hot water system for households varies, depending on individual needs. If you’re considering a new hot water system, or want advice on what type is going to be best for your home, it’s worth giving the team at Oceanside Services a call. We can advise and give recommendations based on our experience as both plumbers and electricians. Thes result is a high-quality, helpful assessment of your system and replacement recommendations that are tailored to your circumstances.

What about gas hot water systems?

As well as plumbers and electricians, Oceanside Services also employs fully qualified and time-served gas fitters, who can assist with the repair and/or replacement of your gas-powered hot water system.

If you’ve got a complex hot water failure, or can’t decide whether to call out a plumber or an electrician, get in touch with the team at Oceanside Services. Our team includes trade professionals qualified and certified in plumbing and electrical work. If in doubt, call us out and we’ll have the right skills in our team to sort out your hot water problem, whatever might be causing it.