How To Avoid a Cold Shower


Winter can be a challenging period for your hot water heater: as the freeze sets in, you’re more and more reliant on that hot shower in the morning to get you going, or a relaxing hot bath when you get home to thaw out and stop the chills. So if your hot water heater gives up in winter, it can be a real nightmare!

We want you to stay toasty this season, so we’re going to teach you:

  • How to check a sacrificial anode
  • How to inspect your safety relief valve
  • How to investigate general tank condition
  • What to do when your pilot light goes out.

So read on for the Plumber To The Rescue hottest hot water tips in Sydney!


Every kind of hot water heater is fitted with what’s called a sacrificial anode. This metal pole attracts corrosive elements in the water in order to protect the inside lining of the tank itself.

This means your sacrificial anode will need replacing regularly! A replacement and check is super easy. You’ll need a spanner, some gloves, and a minute of your time.

  1. Turn off any heat or power to the hot water heater. This will protect you from scalding steam, or burning your hand on the sides of the heater.
  2. Open a hot water valve near the heater. You’ll release any pressure that’s built up in the tank.
  3. Using your spanner, remove the hexagonal anode head. It’s on the top of the heater. This bit will require some strength; for good reason, the anode will be secured very tightly.
  4. Remove the anode partially or wholly. Depending on the size of your heater, the anode can be quite long (up to 3 ft), and it might be near impossible to remove it safely without bending it. In order to inspect it, you only really need to see the first 6-12 inches that have been inside the water; so pull until you’re clear of the water line for a general picture of the anode’s condition.
  5. Look for signs of corrosion or rust. The anode is designed to rust so that the tank doesn’t. If it looks pristine then lucky you! You don’t need to replace the anode. But if the anode has been eaten away by corrosion to the point where it’s less than half an inch thick (they start out at about an inch wide) then it’s time to replace it.

Calling a plumber is your best bet for a safe, reliable installation of your new anode. As a vital and delicate part of the heater machinery, you’re best off trusting the experts!


Don’t worry: there are no spanners involved in this step! You just have to know what to look for.

A safety relief valve, also known as a temperature pressure relief valve, is installed on all storage hot water heaters. The valve keeps the hot water heater safe and effective, reducing internal pressure and letting small amounts of water to escape as the water expands from heat.

Normally, there’ll be a small amount of water let out during the water heating cycle. But if you’re seeing a bucket’s worth of water released in a 24hr period, you’ve got a problem.

If you’ve got a continuous dribble in your hot water valve, you might have particles caught in the valve itself. This is a pretty easy fix. Gently open the valve with the control lever or knob, and release a bit of water. This will hopefully move any particles, dust or what have you caught in the mechanism.

More dangerous is a steady flow for a long period, or a heavy flow of hot water. Both of these can be signs of a more serious issue with the valve. Steady or heavy flows might mean the water pressure of the mains has risen above the designed pressure of the valve. In this case, it’s time to call your local Plumber To The Rescue team on 1800 620 227 to organise an inspection and a replacement.


This is an easy investigation, and it can save your hot water pressure. If you want to know more about other methods of fixing hot water pressure, see our detailed guide. But it’s also important to check the condition of your hot water tank itself. What you’re looking for are any signs of rust or degradation on the exterior of the tank itself. There’s a few common problem spots.

  • Seams on the tank can be a weak spot. This is particularly true of older tanks. While the heater itself may function, there may be leaks from seams, leading to a loss of hot water or a waste of electricity/gas.
  • If the hot water tank has buckled or is otherwise misshapen, it’s time to call a plumber. This may indicate that the tank has exceeded its pressure limits; you’re at risk of a nasty, dangerous surprise down the line if you don’t get any tank buckling investigated ASAP by your local licensed, insured and fully qualified plumber at Plumber To The Rescue.
  • Check for rust. This usually goes hand-in-hand with leakage, but can also be caused by the tank itself degrading over time: especially if you haven’t had that sacrificial anode replaced! Again, this can end up as a real hazard, so call the experts before it’s too late.

Hot water heaters generally have a pretty good lifespan of around 8-12 years. Of course, this will change depending on the location, design, quality of the unit, how often you’re getting it maintained and the quality of mains water in your area.

A quick investigation of the tank itself can let you know when it’s time to repair or replace!


Pilot lights are a common cause of annoyance. If you’ve got a gas hot water heater, you’ve probably had to work with one of these before; especially with older heaters.

While newer heaters often have an electric lighting system, where fixing the pilot light is as simple as switching on the gas and turning the burner knob to ignite the light, some older models requiring manual lighting can be more frustrating.

A pilot light not working can lead to a cold shower at best or a serious plumbing failure at worst.

Either way, the process works along pretty similar lines. The first step, once you’ve lost hot water, is to check that the light is on. If it’s not, with a newer model, simply turn the gas on again, and light it with the electric igniter. With an older model or if the ignition system isn’t working, a long handled stove-top lighter can be used safely to ignite the gas.

Once the gas is lit, leave it on full for a solid minute before you walk away. This should ensure you’ve got a proper flame going, and you’ll be back on your way to a nice hot shower. 

Still not 100% sure? Watch the video below for a step-by-step walkthrough. But remember, your heater may be different from the one shown.


We’ve done out best to make the steps above as simple as possible, but please bear in mind that the above information is general and is by no means a substitute for comprehensive professional advice. Before working on your home plumbing, you should always consult a licensed professional.

The key to keeping costs low on your plumbing is identifying faults whilst they are still minor and easily fixable, before they become larger problems, which cause serious damage to your heater or your property – not to mention the safety risks.

At best, a hot water heater malfunction can be a frustrating nuisance; at worst, it can literally explode, which could spell disaster for your home.

Regular maintenance of your hot water heater is a great way to save in the long run. But there are some jobs that really should be left to the experts; heaters are delicate and temperamental, and can be dangerous if you’re not careful.

A DIY inspection is a great first step; but the expertise of your local superhero plumbers Sydney wide, you’re always in safe hands. We’ve got 30 years of experience saving Sydney from hot water heater disasters!

Check your heater manual; on average, manufacturers recommend a professional investigation every year or two. This investigation will turn up any issues that may be invisible to the untrained eye!

What’s more, with fully stocked vans on the go 24/7, the team at Plumber To The Rescue can repair or replace your heater that day, and get your water back on track.

Your local Plumber To The Rescue Sydney plumber is the plumber Sydney trusts for every hot water job.

With amazing customer care keeping you in the loop the whole way through, you won’t be in the dark; we’ll keep you in the know every step of the job, from the time you call until it comes time to settle the bill, and it comes time for you to enjoy your new hot water heater.

Never fear the cold shower again: Plumber To The Rescue is here! Contact us now, or call 1800 620 227 for more information.

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David at Plumber To The Rescue