Disappearing/reappearing hot water from taps in 1 bathroom???

I have an odd plumbing question/problem. A couple nights ago, the hot water taps in the bathroom stopped working. Nothing out of the sink nor the tub, and the shower (one tap for both) didn’t work. This wasn’t a lack of hot water, it was a total lack of water from the hot-water tap. On the other hand, the cold-water taps worked fine, as did both hot and cold taps in the other two bathrooms and the kitchen sink. I could find no sign of a water leak in the walls or through the ceiling, it wasn’t exceptionally cold outside (and the lines to the taps are inside interior walls), all the valves seemed to be in their normal position, and the overall pressure was fine. Given the apparent stability of the situation, I figured I’d wait until today to call a plumber and avoid weekend charges. Then, just to prove that plumbing has a sense of humor, the hot water came back. All three taps in the bathroom were working fine by some time Sunday night.

Well now what do I do? Pretend like nothing happened? Call in a plumber and strip out all the pipes looking for a hot-water speakeasy? Call in an exorcist? Start accusing Mrs. Dvl of trying to Gaslight me? Any ideas as to how/why this problem would come and go like that?



I had something similar in my coldwater pipes this summer (but it didn’t block them completely).

Caused by the City doing work on the water supply pipes in the next street. (They posted a notice on our doors that the water would be out for a few hours.) When it came back on, a piece of junk (looked like a large flake of rust from a really big pipe) got stuck in my water pipe, and cut the flow down to just a trickle. Turning the water on & off repeatedly eventually forced this piece out the faucet. Then I let the water run for a while to make sure there weren’t any more pieces in the water supply. It also cleared up the water – it was real dark and rusty looking for a while.

Could you possibly have had something like that stuck in your pipes? In hot water, it could have been rust from your water heater.

The creepy thing is that the water heater’s only five years old, and seems to work fine (no rust stains in the water). Also, we’re on a well, so no construction has come near it. And it wasn’t the whole house, it was just the hot water in that particular bathroom… though I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and hope that something similar is happening here.

Hot water failed to flow from our bathroom sink tap recently but the bath tap was unaffected.

I turned off the water supply at the mains and checked out the offending tap but couldn’t find anything amiss. I reinstalled it and turned on the mains supply again whereupon normal service was resumed. I suspect an airlock was the problem but I can’t be sure. In any case, since everything is now working OK it doesn’t concern me.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Your wife was doing some plumbing and turned off the hot water temporarily. Then she turned it back on, but forgot to mention it to you. That’s my guess, anyway.

Egad it’s happening again.

Cold water is fine from the bathroom sink.

Nothing from either hot or cold water taps in the tub, nor the single tap in the shower.

The hot water tap in the sink is slightly difficult to turn at first (as if there is a wee bit of resistance), then turns freely—but nothing comes out.

We’re going through a cold snap at the moment, but frozen pipes don’t make sense to me: the cold water tap in the sink still works fine.

Chez mentions airlock—is there any way of checking if that’s it?


How old is the house?
Water pipes do scale up over time.
Sometimes whacking on the affected pipe with a hammer will fix it.
Sometimes you have to replace the line.

Now that you’re having problems with some cold-water lines, too, the source of the crud must be some common point upstream - the well, the pump, the tank.

If you have the stomach for it, I suppose you can wait it out to see if the problem eventually clears up. If not, or if it never goes away, you’re probably looking at replacing one of the items named above.

The feed line to the hot water tank may be freezing.

As kanicbird suggested, it could be the cold feed to the water heater. freezing and thawing. Beyond that you might follow the line from the heater and check each valve, or any other device, in the line. You can shut off the water and open the devices to see if they’re operating properly. It is a strange problem, but a plumber is probably going to have to go through an elimination like the one I suggest. Cheaper to do it yourself, if you have some knowledge and tools.

Unlikely unless the OP has multiple hot water tanks, since: