5 Common Gas Water Heater Problems

Mr Emergency Plumbing van.

Gas water heaters are a popular choice for providing hot water to homes due to their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, like all appliances, they can encounter problems.

Understanding these issues can help homeowners identify when it’s time to call a professional. This blog article delves into five common issues commonly found in gas hot water heaters, allowing you to ensure your hot water system remains in peak condition.

1. Pilot Light Issues

The pilot light is a small flame that ignites the gas burner in your water heater, which enables the production of hot water for your home. Any issues that it encounters can cause your water heater to stop producing hot water.

If your pilot light is frequently going out or is failing to light at all, it could be because of a few reasons. A faulty thermocouple, a blockage in the pilot orifice, or problems with the gas supply, can all be possible issues. The most likely way you will notice an issue with the pilot light is by turning on the hot tap and only getting cold water.

2. Inconsistent Cold and Hot Water

Nothing is more frustrating than inconsistent water temperature. Nobody enjoys being surprised by cold water when they want hot water, or being scalded by hot water during a morning shower. Even just finding lukewarm water coming out of your taps can be annoying. Just as annoying is water fluctuating between the two extremes.

These issues can be caused by:

  • Faulty thermostat – The thermostat controls the temperature level of the water. If the thermostat is broken, then the heater will have issues getting your water to the desired heat.
  • Sediment build-up – Sediment build-up in the bottom of the tank can create a barrier between the gas burner and the water.
  • Broken or faulty heating element – The components of the heating unit can break or become faulty over time.

Inconsistently heated water isn’t as catastrophic an issue as some others on this list. However, having your shower water not heated the way you like it is without doubt one of the most upsetting. Cold water when you want hot water, and hot water when you want cold water is an uncomfortable shock to the system.

Rheem gas hot water system installed on outside wall of a home.

3. Low Water Pressure

Experiencing low water pressure from your hot water taps can be frustrating. This issue is particularly noticeable when using hot water, indicating a problem within the water heater or its related plumbing.

Low water pressure from a water heater can be caused by sediment build-up or corroding of the plumbing. It could also be a faulty diaphragm or the strainer valve. These issues restrict the flow of the water through the plumbing, and lead to poor water pressure.

4. Gas Leaks

Gas leaks represent one of the most serious issues associated with a gas water heater and need immediate attention. In addition to causing problems with your hot water system, they can also cause significant risks to the safety of the household. A gas leak could cause fires, explosions and health hazards from inhalation. If you smell gas, be on the lookout for any of the signs of a leak.

A gas leak can be caused by:

  • Loose connections – The connection between the gas supply line and water heater can loosen over time.
  • Damage to gas lines – The gas lines can corrode or become damaged over time, which can lead to leaks.
  • Faulty gas valve – The gas valve is what controls the flow of gas to the water heater. If this valve becomes damaged, then it may not fully close and allow gas to escape.

Due to the severity of the consequences of a leak, you should be sure to stay aware of the potential signs of a leak such as:

  • Smell of gas
  • Hissing sounds
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dead plants

5. System Corrosion

Corrosion in storage-based gas water heaters is a common issue that homeowners need to be mindful of, particularly regarding the anode rod. This vital part is designed to corrode over time, and protects the storage tank from damage.

However, if you ignore it, the anode rod can completely erode. This leaves the tank susceptible to corrosion. The result of tank corrosion will typically be leakage from the system. These leaks can cause significant water damage and require a costly replacement of the entire water heater.

Regular inspection and replacement of the anode rod are crucial preventative measures to extend the lifespan of your water heater and avoid unexpected breakdowns. Stay proactive about maintenance to ensure your water heater remains efficient and reliable.

The Function and Importance of Gas Water Heaters in the Home

Gas water heaters play a key role in ensuring the comfort and well-being of Australian households. They provide a continuous supply of hot water for showering, cooking, cleaning, and heating, making them an indispensable part of daily life. A gas hot water heater is favoured for its efficiency, as it creates hot water faster and with lower operating costs compared to electric models.

Additionally, options like instant gas hot water systems offer the convenience of on-demand hot water without the need for a storage tank. This further enhances energy efficiency and reduces the footprint of the system within the home. The importance of maintaining a functional and efficient gas hot water system cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts your quality of life, hygiene, and comfort.

Consequences of Not Fixing Your Water Heaters

Ignoring problems with your water heater can lead to several negative consequences that extend beyond the inconvenience of cold or hot water showers.

  • Firstly, minor issues can escalate into major faults, potentially leading to costly repairs or the need for a complete replacement. For example, sediment build-up that is not addressed in time can severely damage the tank and heat exchanger, impacting the system’s longevity.
  • Secondly, a gas leak poses a significant safety risk, including the potential for fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Finally, inefficiencies caused by unresolved issues can lead to increased energy consumption, resulting in higher utility bills.

Regular maintenance and timely repairs are crucial to avoid these consequences and ensure the safe and efficient operation of your hot water heater.

everhot gas storage hot water system

Why You Need a Licensed Plumber

When facing issues with your gas water heater, the expertise and experience of a licensed plumber are invaluable. A water heater is a complex and potentially dangerous appliance that requires professional knowledge for safe and effective installation, maintenance, and repair.

Here’s why relying on a licensed plumber is crucial for Australian homeowners dealing with water heater issues:


Gas appliances, including water heaters, present serious risks. These include the potential for:

  • Gas leaks
  • Carbon monoxide exposure, and
  • Fire hazards

Licensed plumbers have the training to handle these dangers properly, ensuring that any work done on your water heater is safe and up to the latest safety standards. They can detect and fix hazardous issues that might not be obvious to the untrained eye.

Compliance with Regulations

Australia has strict regulations and standards governing the installation and repair of gas appliances to protect consumers and ensure public safety. Licensed plumbers are familiar with these regulations and ensure that your gas water heater’s installation and any repairs comply with national and local codes. This compliance is not only about safety but also avoids legal issues that can arise from unapproved work.

Expert Diagnosis and Repair

Licensed plumbers possess the skills and tools to accurately diagnose problems with your gas water heater. They can identify the root cause of issues, such as pilot light failures, water temperature inconsistencies, and low water pressure, and provide effective solutions.

Long-term Solutions and Advice

Beyond immediate repairs, licensed plumbers can offer valuable advice on maintaining your gas water heater, extending its lifespan, and improving its efficiency. They can recommend upgrades, such as more efficient models or ancillary equipment like water softeners, to prevent future problems. Their guidance can help you make informed decisions about your home’s hot water needs.

A Gas Water Heater in the Australian Household

Gas water heaters are an essential component of the Australian home, providing the comfort of hot water whenever needed. However, common problems like pilot light failures, fluctuating water temperatures, low water pressure, a gas leak, and ignition issues can disrupt this convenience.

Recognising the signs of these issues is crucial for maintaining the efficiency of your hot water system and the safety of your household. Remember, when it comes to hot water systems and other gas appliances, always consult a professional plumber for installation, repairs, and regular maintenance to ensure your system is working properly and safely.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

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