Inner-west residents are shivering through winter nights as ageing infrastructure fails to keep up with the growing demand for gas.
Residents in Seddon and Yarraville have been particularly hard hit by low gas pressure during peak times, but the problem has also surfaced in neighbouring areas from Footscray and Braybrook to Altona North and Newport.
The issue has left a number of homes without hot water and others facing difficulty in heating, especially between 6 and 10pm.
Seddon resident Mel Coniam said her family had experienced the issue for the past two years, but it has been worse than ever this winter.
“We just assumed the problem was down to our plumber, but he fitted a bigger pipe and we still had the problems.”
The mother of two said the lack of hot water had been upsetting for her baby and toddler as they faced the prospect of cold baths and showers.
She criticised the lack of public information regarding the situation.
“People are paying money to get plumbers to come out for no reason, they are being told there is nothing that can be done at their end and this is just frustrating.”
A post by Ms Coniam to social media about her concerns attracted a flood of similar complaints, with many people indicating they had wasted money on calling plumbers to investigate.
Gas distributor AusNet Services has acknowledged the issue and apologised to those affected, but said there was no quick fix.
“We are aware that some customers in localised areas of Seddon and Yarraville have been experiencing low gas pressure during peak times,” a spokeswoman said.
“Unfortunately, at peak times some older infrastructure is unable to support the increasing demand for gas.”
Works are under way to replace older gas mains in Seddon, with plans to continue through to Yarraville.
AusNet Services did not provide a timeline for when the works may be completed.
“This is being done progressively to minimise cost increases to customers … as this work is progressing, it will provide greater capacity to the area.
“In the meantime, we are monitoring the matter and taking appropriate steps to remediate the issue.”
The issue comes as the latest report by the Essential Services Commission shows energy bills will rise for some customers by more than $300 this year.
Almost 13,000 Victorian customers were disconnected last quarter for failing to keep up with bill payments.
Residents and businesses experiencing gas pressure problems are being asked to contact AusNet Services via 13 67 07.