How To Check A Hot Water Heater

DIY Water Heater Testing and Repair

Occasionally, the heating elements on electric water heaters break long before the water heater itself fails, but changing them in a hot water heater is a simple Do It Yourself repair.

Tools Required

The majority of the time, replacing one or both of the heating elements will address the problem if your electric hot water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water more quickly than it used to, or not delivering any hot water. Water heater repairs are simple, and replacement components are affordable ($8 to $20), and they are easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers across the country. How to test the heating elements, remove one if it’s defective, and replace it with a new one will be demonstrated.

If your heater is reaching its end of life, it may be more cost-effective to replace it than to repair it.

Other Causes of Water Not Getting Hot

The majority of the time, replacing one or both of the heating elements will address the problem if your electric hot water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water more quickly than it used to, or not delivering any hot water at all. Rebuilding or replacing a water heater element is simple, and new elements are affordable ($8 to $20) and easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers. How to test the heating elements, remove one if it’s defective, and replace it with a new one will be demonstrated.

The cost of repair may be prohibitive if your heater is reaching its end of life.

Video: How to Test Your Water Heater Element

  • Power should be turned off at the circuit breaker. Remove the metal covers from the thermostats and heating components to reveal them.
  • Pro tip: Check that the power has been turned off by tapping the electrical connections with a noncontact voltage detector.

Test the Wires

  • Please keep in mind that if the wires are covered by metal conduit, the tester will not read the voltage. Take off the metal thermostat cover that is mounted on the side of the water heater, peel out all of the insulation, and place the tester in close proximity to the wires that go up to the top of the high-temperature cutoff switch.
  • Placing the tester against the metal water heater shell will get the following results:
  • Note: If the tester does not light up, it is okay to proceed with the testing of the components.

What’s Inside a Water Heater and How It Works

The vast majority of domestic electric water heaters feature two heating elements: one near the top of the tank and another towards the bottom of the tank. After entering the top, power travels to the high-temperature cutoff switch, and then to the thermostats and elements on each side of the unit. The temperature of the top and bottom components is regulated by two different thermostats. When the water at the top of the tank becomes too hot, the top element goes off and the bottom element takes over to heat the water.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Complete your do-it-yourself tasks like an expert! Become a subscriber to our newsletter! Do It Right the First Time, and Do It Yourself! Step number three.

Test Continuity for a Burned-Out Element

  • Please keep in mind that you will need a continuity tester ($5 to $10) for this stage.
  • Disconnect the wires from the terminal screws using a wire cutter. Attach the alligator clamp to one of the element screws using a hex key. With the tester probe, make contact with the other screw.
  • Note: If the tester does not illuminate, the element should be replaced.

Test for a Short Circuit

  • The alligator clip should be attached to one of the element screws. Touch the tester probe to the mounting bracket for the element
  • Repeat the process on the other screw.
  • It is important to note that if the tester light illuminates either time, there is a short. Replace the element with a new one

The Secret of the Red Button

Occasionally, both elements will pass the test, but you will still be unable to receive hot water. Try pressing the “high-temperature cutoff” button, which is situated right above the upper thermostat, to see if that helps. It may temporarily cure the problem, but if the problem recurs, the heating components should be checked. Step number five.

Remove the Bad Element

  • Close the intake valve for cold water
  • Start by turning on the hot water tap in the kitchen. Pour water into the tank by connecting a garden hose to the drain valve and opening it
  • Note: A water heater element wrench (available for $5 at home centers and hardware stores) is required for thread-in–type elements such as those shown below.
  • Remove the old heating element by unscrewing it using a heating element wrench.
  • Pro tip: To spin the socket, you’ll need a long, robust Phillips screwdriver with a flat blade. To free the threads that have become stuck, use a cold chisel and a hammer to loosen the threads that have become stuck.

Install the New Element

  • Insert the replacement element into the water heater and tighten it down with the heating element wrench if necessary. Reconnect the wires, checking to see that the connections are secure. Remove the insulation and metal covers and replace them.

Buying Heating Elements

Replace your heating element with one that has the same wattage as your existing one. For information on wattage if your old element isn’t labeled, look at the nameplate on the water heater, your instruction manual, or search online using the model number found on the nameplate. Heating elements are secured to the water heater with either a big thread and nut, as illustrated below, or with four bolts and nuts, as indicated in the diagram below. Most home centers carry the type we’ve shown, but if you’re replacing the four-bolt version, you may purchase an adaptor kit.

Low-density parts that are more costly are typically folded back.

Replacement of your old element with a low-density element will result in more efficient functioning and a longer service life.

Troubleshooting Checklist for an Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters have a similar appearance to their gas-fueled counterparts. In order to limit heat loss from the heated water, they both employ an insulated steel storage tank jacket, with insulation between the storage tank and the tank jacket. The primary difference between electric and gas water heaters is the source of heat used to heat the water. Electric upper and lower heating components that extend into the water tank heat the water in an electric water heater, which is powered by electricity.

When it comes to electric water heaters that provide little or no heat, the most common problem is a faulty heating element, which is a pretty affordable component that is quite simple to repair.

Watch Now: How to Repair an Electric Water Heater

Limited warranties are provided with both residential and commercial hot water heaters. Every tank is equipped with a rating plate that displays the tank’s model and serial number. These numbers specify the year in which the tank was manufactured, and they will decide if the tank is covered by a prorated warranty, which may include the provision of a new tank or replacement parts at no cost or at a discount. Take a picture or write down the information, then contact the manufacturer if the tank is leaking or the element is not working correctly.

The following is something that you can perform before you start diagnosing the issue.


Working with electric water heaters when the power is on is risky since they are high-voltage (240-volt) equipment that can cause electrocution. Turn off the electricity to the water heater’s circuit by turning off the relevant breaker in your home’s service panel before inspecting any electrical components of the water heater (breaker box). Also, use a non-contact voltage tester to check all of the wires in the water heater to ensure that the power is turned off before touching any of the wires.

How to Fix

The Spruce Tree

No Hot Water

A water heater that does not generate hot water might be due to a lack of electricity, a tripped limit switch, or one or more faulty heating components, to name a few possibilities. As a first step, make sure that the circuit breaker for your water heater is not tripped on your panel of electrical circuit breakers. Switch off the circuit breaker and then turn it back on if it has been tripped. If the heater’s breaker does not trip (i.e., if it is still turned on), attempt the following steps to reset the high-temperature limit:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker for the water heater’s circuit at the service panel if necessary. Removing the access panel for the water heater’s upper heating element is a good idea. Carefully remove all of the insulation and the plastic safety shield, taking care not to come into contact with any of the wires or electrical connections
  2. To reset the high-temperature cutoff, press the red button above the higher thermostat, which is positioned above the upper thermostat. Reinstall the safety guard, the insulating material, and the access panel. Turn on the circuit breaker for the heater. Test each heating element and replace it if required if this does not resolve the problem

“The Spruce” is a song by Candace Madonna.

Inadequate Hot Water

If your water heater is producing hot water but not enough of it, it is possible that your unit is too small to satisfy the hot water demands of your home.

Take precautions to ensure that the water heater’s capacity does not exceed the demand.

How to Fix

The water heater should be able to provide hot water to a capacity of 75% of its total capacity. For example, a 40-gallon water heater is appropriately suited for a 30-gallon demand. If the demand exceeds the capacity of the heater, attempt to restrict the length of showers, install low-flow showerheads, and spread out dishwashing and laundry to different times of the day rather than doing them all at the same time to reduce the strain on the heater. The failure of one or both of your unit’s heating elements, even if your unit is not undersized, might indicate that one or both of its heating elements have failed.

When hot water runs out rapidly during a shower, it is an indication of a faulty bottom heating element in the shower.

Water Temperature Is Too Hot

When there is too much hot water, it may be almost as annoying as when there is not enough hot water. If you’re encountering this problem, it’s possible that one or both of the thermostats on your water heater are set too high.

How to Fix

To double-check the thermostat settings, do the following:

  1. In the service panel, turn off the electricity to the water heater to conserve energy. The access panel, insulation, and plastic safety shield from each heating element on the water heater should be removed before continuing. Do not come into contact with any wires or electrical terminals. Using a non-contact voltage tester, check the cables to ensure that the power has been turned off. Ensure that the heat is set correctly on both thermostats: Both of them should be at the same temperature as each other. 115 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit is the acceptable temperature range. Make use of a flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature to the correct level
  2. And Set the other thermostat to the same temperature as the first
  3. For each element, replace the safety guard, insulation, and access panel as needed. Turn on the circuit breaker for the heater.

“The Spruce” is a song by Candace Madonna.

Water Leaks

Water leaks are often caused by leaking valves and plumbing connections, but they can also be caused by difficulties with the tank’s drainage system. Water leaks may cause substantial damage to a property, which is why it is critical to repair the leak as soon as it is discovered.

How to Fix

Leaks from water heater tanks can occur as a result of faulty heating components or corrosion in the tank. Inspect the elements for looseness and, if required, tighten them with an element wrench to prevent them from moving. A rusted tank is unable to be repaired and must be completely replaced instead. Turn off the water heater’s power and water supply, and then totally drain the tank to stop the leaks from occurring. “The Spruce” is a song by Candace Madonna.

Rust-Colored Water or Bad Odor

If your water has a brown, yellow, or red tinge to it as it comes out of the faucet, corrosion might be occuring within your water heater tank or in the pipes in your home. If your water comes out smelling like rotten eggs, it’s possible that bacteria has built up in the tank of your hot water heater. A professional plumber may be required to replace the anode rod in the tank, which is something that you should avoid doing unless absolutely necessary. courtesy of KariHoglund / Getty Images

Tank Making Noises

Is your water heater making noises? If so, what are they? Is there a low rumbling or popping sound when you turn it on? What if it’s a high-pitched whine instead? It’s possible that the sounds you’re hearing is the sound of boiling water. When there is a significant amount of sediment building in the bottom of a tank, it can cause the bottom of the tank to overheat, which can result in the water boiling.

How to Fix

In order to remove the silt from the tank, the first thing to attempt is to empty it.

The tank may need to be replaced if this does not alleviate the problem. “The Spruce” is a song by Candace Madonna.

7 Tell-tale signs of a Water Heater not working

During the hot summer months, I’m perfectly willing to take a lukewarm shower to keep cool. To the point where on a hot and humid day, I would even prefer to be splashed with cold water. However, when winter arrives and it’s time to get out the jackets, turn up the heat, sip hot chocolate, and cuddle under the covers, the water heater is generally the unsung hero of the day. When the snug layers and hot beverages aren’t enough to keep me warm, a warm shower or bath is the ideal remedy. Understanding the early warning indications that your house’s vital system is beginning to fail is a crucial skill to have as a homeowner.

Additionally, keeping up with regular water heater operations around your house will help you avoid costly repairs and replacements down the road.

No need to be concerned – here are seven frequent water heater problems, as well as advice on what to do if you detect any of these warning signals of trouble.

1. You don’t have enough hot water

Do you have hardly enough hot water to take a single shower every day? Do you wash the dishes and realize that you’re doomed if you want to take a warm bath afterward? I’ve been there myself: My water heater was inadequate to service all of the units in my apartment building, and I was so anxious for a hot bath that I heated water in my kettle and then poured it into the tepid water in my tub. It’s possible that your water heater isn’t producing enough hot water in these situations; nonetheless, you shouldn’t be boiling water in a kettle on your stove since it’s potentially unsafe.

See also:  Why Does Reset Button Trip On Water Heater?

Your move:

According to HomeTips, moving the temperature dial on your water heater to a higher setting, waiting around 30 minutes, and then testing the water temperature at a faucet is a simple solution to this problem. Make verify that the circuit breaker is still in the “on” position and that the associated switch is still in the “on” position, as this might have caused the thermostat to become stuck on a different setting. A specialist should be contacted right away if you have an electric water heater that is constantly tripping the circuit breaker.

When all else fails, consider emptying the water tank to eliminate sediment and increase the unit’s overall efficiency.

Consider having a professional plumber check the pipes to determine the source of the problem and repair the necessary parts.

Important note: If you consistently feel as if you don’t have enough hot water rather than experiencing a recent lapse in supply, your water heater may be too small for your needs and needs to be replaced.

As a result, you might want to think about upgrading to a newer unit with a larger tank or investing in a tankless, on-demand unit.

2. You have varying water temperature issues

According to HomeTips, the simple solution is to raise the temperature dial on your water heater by one degree, wait around 30 minutes, and then check the water temperature at a faucet. The circuit breaker should be checked to make sure that the relevant switch is still in the “on” position, as it may have been tripped and caused the thermostat to become stuck on a different temperature than it was originally set to. A specialist should be contacted right away if you have an electric water heater that is constantly tripping the circuitbreaker.

If it doesn’t make a difference, consider draining the water tank to eliminate sediment and increase the unit’s performance.

In some cases, depending on your degree of DIY plumbing skill, you may want to consider arranging a professional inspection to find the problem and replace the necessary parts.

As a result, you might want to think about upgrading to a newer unit with a larger tank or investing in a tankless, on-demand type.

Your move:

Check to verify that your water heater’s thermostat is adjusted to the temperature you wish. Consider lowering the thermostat to a cooler setting if you notice the water is too hot to the touch, for example. HomeTips offers some sound advice: Before making any adjustments, make a mark on the current setting with tape or a marker. If the thermostat changes on its own, you will be able to detect it. The manufacturer stated that if the water is regularly excessively hot or cold even after the thermostat has been set to the proper temperature, you may need to replace the thermostat or heating element, according to Sears.

A problem with the bottom element is likely to be the cause of your shower running out of hot water too rapidly.

Another key point to notice about unit size is that a 40-gallon heater, for example, is designed to meet a demand of around 30 gallons.

While a 30-gallon capacity is plenty for one person, two persons would most likely require 40 gallons of storage space.

In order to accommodate a family of three, Lowe’s suggests selecting a model with a capacity of at least 50 gallons, and increasing the capacity from there for families with four or more people.

3. You have a leaking water heater

Water pouring from the unit or gathering around the tank’s base is a serious problem that has to be addressed as soon as possible. A leaky water heater is usually an indication of a significant internal problem with the unit.

Your move:

When diagnosing a water heater problem of this nature, it is extremely vital to be cautious. SF Gate Home Guides recommended that you unplug the electricity or turn off the gas to the unit before attempting to repair it. This will allow the unit to cool down before proceeding. It is possible to check the water heater from there to establish where the leak is coming from. Starting with the unit itself, ensure sure all of the inlets, fasteners, connections, and pipes are secure and haven’t fallen free.

After that, inspect the unit’s bottom for signs of excessive leaking.

A significant leak, on the other hand, indicates that something is wrong and that you should contact an expert for assistance.

4. You notice reduced water flow

It is possible that a build-up of scale or silt in your water heater, or within the tubing that links the unit to various places throughout your home, is causing the changes in flow rate or pressure. This is not a warning sign that should be ignored and dealt with later, since the accumulation will only worsen and may result in you being without much-needed hot water in the heart of winter.

Your move:

Even if you don’t have access to a tankless water heater, you may drain and clean your tank by following these procedures. Ensure that your pipes are in proper working order and that any drainage concerns are corrected before continuing. You can, however, make an appointment with a professional to descale your water heater and clean the intake and outlet pipes in order to cure the problem.

5. You’re hearing some concerning sounds

Listen for any strange sounds coming from your water tank, such as loud cracks or pops, whining or banging, gurgling or boiling. If you hear any of these, call your local plumber. If your unit makes any of these noises, it is attempting to communicate with you that something is amiss. Water heater tank sounds, according to, are often caused by either burning silt and scale or a decaying heating element in the tank itself. Boiling noises are by far the most concerning, since they are typically indicative of severe overheating or pressure building in the system.

Your move:

Like other frequent water heater problems, the first line of defense will be to drain the tank and remove any residue that has accumulated. If the sounds persist even after you have flushed away the burning buildup, it is probable that you will need to repair the heating components.

If, on the other hand, you hear the boiling sounds described above, don’t waste time attempting to resolve the problem yourself. Rather, contact a professional for quick assistance.

6. You have smelly or discolored water

Strange water scents, such as those suggestive of rotten eggs, or discoloration, such as rusty or muddy colors, may indicate the presence of bacteria or rust inside the water heater’s tank, which should be addressed immediately. Furthermore, the anode rod in the tank, which is responsible for killing germs and removing rust from the water, may be damaged.

Your move:

In order to identify whether the foul odor and discoloration are caused by a problem with the source water or the heater itself, the first step is to conduct a test. To do so, turn on a faucet and run both cold and hot water through it. Check your findings against the following professional advice from HomeTips:

  • The following odor and discoloration can be seen in both hot and cold water: Problem with the water supply at the source
  • Only cold water is available due to a source–water issue. There is just hot water because of a water heater problem.

The installation of water filters and softeners to remove iron, copper, and other minerals from the water before it reaches your faucets is the best answer if you have a source–water problem on your hands. Iron, copper, and other minerals are removed from the water before it reaches your faucets. Hot water scents and discolouration, on the other hand, necessitate the cleansing of your water tank. Sears recommended draining the tank, filling it with 32 ounces of bleach, then flushing it again to eradicate odor-causing germs and remove rust, according to the manufacturer.

Draining the tank and running hot water for a few minutes should reveal whether or not the strange smell and colors have disappeared.

Due to the fact that this demands a significant amount of plumbing skills and experience, many homeowners may seek professional assistance in order to finish the replacement process.

Before re-lighting the pilot, switch off the gas valve control and wait for the gas smell to dissipate before turning it back on again.

7. Your water heater is on the older end of the spectrum

A five-year-old water heater is significantly less durable and dependable than a modern water heater constructed just five years ago. If you have recently acquired a new water heater, you may anticipate it to operate quietly, efficiently, and mostly without maintenance for at least 10 years at a time. Older machines, on the other hand, can hum, pop, and clang while producing disappointingly tepid water as they near the end of their useful life.

Your move:

If the age of your water heater is in the double digits – and especially if it is exhibiting any of the warning signals listed above – it may be time to replace it with a modern model to save money. Not only will your showers be more relaxing, but you may also see a reduction in your monthly expenditures. In the opinion of HouseLogic, modern water heaters can be up to 20 percent more efficient than older, traditional ones, resulting in savings of up to $700 in energy bills over the water heater’s lifespan.

And when it comes time to look for a new hot water heater, you may choose from a variety of models, including tank, tankless, hybrid heat pump, and solar models, to suit your needs.

Avoiding issues with regular maintenance

This means that if your water heater is older than 10 years old, it may be time to replace it with a modern one. This is especially true if your water heater is exhibiting any of the warning indications listed above. While your showers will be more relaxing, you may also notice a reduction in your monthly utility expenses. In accordance with HouseLogic, modern water heater models can be up to 20 percent more efficient than older, traditional versions, resulting in savings of up to $700 in energy bills throughout the water heater’s lifespan.

How to Test a Water Heater Element With a Multimeter

An electric water heater heats the water in the tank by utilizing one or two heating elements, depending on the model. It is possible that the upper element on a two element water heater is to blame for a water heater no longer producing hot water. If your water heater generates some hot water, but not nearly as much as it should, the bottom element is most likely to be the problem. If your water heater’s circuit breaker keeps tripping, it’s possible that the element has grounded and is causing an electrical short.


  • To turn off the water heater’s electricity, locate the breaker located within the main electric panel of your home. Typically, a 30-amp double-pole circuit breaker is used in conjunction with an electric water heater.


  • On the side of the water heater, look for panels that have been screwed to the wall. A single or two panels will be installed on the water heater, depending on the size of the unit. Remove the screws from the panels to allow them to be released


  • Discard the insulation that was exposed when the side panels were taken off. Depending on the age of the water heater, fiberglass or closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam may be used as insulation for the water heater. Use safety goggles and gloves when removing fiberglass insulation from your home.


  • Remove the plastic safety cover off the element’s face with your fingers. This cover clicks on and off to allow for easy access to the element and thermostat.


  • Placing a noncontact voltage detector near the wires attached to the element face, as well as adjacent to each wire linked to the thermostat, will provide the best results. If there is still power present in the water heater, the voltage detector gives an audio alert and its light flashes
  • Otherwise, nothing happens.


  • Disengage the two element screws by turning them counter-clockwise. Remove the wires from behind the screws by pulling them out. Write down the wattage of the element, which may be found written on the side of the element’s face.


  • Set the Rx1k dial on a multimeter to the desired reading (resistance times 1,000 ohms). One of the multimeter probes should be in contact with one of the screws on the front of the element
  • The remaining probe should be in contact with the remaining screw. In order to be considered for a 3,500-watt element, the resistance should be between 12 and 13 ohms, and in order to be considered for a 5,500-watt element, the resistance should be between 10 and 11 ohms. If the element does not register on the multimeter, it should be replaced.


  • One of the probes should be in contact with one of the screws on the element face. Make contact with any metal portion of the water heater using the other probe. If the needle on the multimeter moves, this indicates that the heater element is grounded and that it must be replaced. Make certain that both screws on the face of the element are tested.


  • One of the multimeter probes should be used to check each screw. Set aside the leftover probe against the metal base that is attached to the element where it is introduced into the water heater. If the needle on the front of the multimeter moves, this indicates that the element is defective and must be changed.


Reattach the wires to the rear of the water heater element. Replace the water heater element. Replace the plastic cover over the thermostat and the element with a snap. Reinstall the insulation and attach the panels to the side of the water tank to complete the process of insulating the tank. Turn on the water heater by turning on the circuit breaker.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver, safety goggles, gloves, and a noncontact voltage detector are all required.

8 Steps to Test Water Heater Element

Have you noticed a significant reduction in the temperature of the water delivered by your water heater? If so, you’re not alone. Every home need hot water in order to do a variety of household tasks. When your water heater, on the other hand, generates lukewarm water that is incapable of serving the intended function, it may be really annoying. While a variety of factors can influence the efficiency with which your water heater operates, a malfunctioning element is one of the most common reasons of water heater failure.

As a result, it is necessary to understand how to test and replace a water heater element.

See also:  How Much Is A Solar Water Heater?

Tools Needed

When it comes to doing your water heater element testing, the following are some of the instruments you should have on hand:

  • Hand gloves, a screwdriver, safety goggles, and a digital multimeter are all required.

Causes of Failure of Water Heater Element

There might be several factors contributing to your water heater element not functioning properly.

a). Accumulation of Mineral

As a result of the numerous procedures that they go through in order to provide hot water, water heater elements have a limited operating life. The deteriorated state of these elements is exacerbated if there are mineral deposits present in the water. The minerals are solidified as a result of the ongoing process. Lower elements may get encircled by mineral deposits in some instances, which may finally lead the element to fail. Turning down your water heater and flushing your water heater once a year is an excellent preventative action you may implement.

Check out our earlier post to find out how to cleanse a water heater effectively. If you are able to accomplish this, the sediments will be eliminated and the life of the components will be extended significantly.

b). Trapped Air Pockets

All water heater elements must be operated with their heads submerged in water at all times. If the heat created by an element is not transmitted to the water, it might burn through the copper of the element. A bleed line on the water is required once or twice a year to remove trapped air and sediments from the tank. If this is not done, the trapped air, referred to as “Air Pockets,” will cause the upper element to burn since it is not immersed in water. This has the potential to cause the water heater to fail.

c). Malfunctioning Thermostat

The thermostat’s job is to notify the elements when to heat the water at different temperatures depending on the temperature setting. When the temperature rises over a preset threshold, the high limit switch on the thermostat is activated, and the power is turned off as a result. A faulty thermostat will be unable to regulate the amount of heat provided to the water heater element, resulting in the element finally catching fire.

d). Power Surge

A abrupt rise in voltage, such as that induced by a power surge or lightning, can also cause an element to catch fire and burn. Each element has a certain voltage rating, and any voltage that is higher than the appropriate voltage will cause the element to burn.

e). Breakage of Heating Element

When the heating element within the tank of an electric water heater malfunctions, there may be a loss of hot water. Perhaps the element will catch fire, resulting in the water slowly cooling down. If, on the other hand, there is simply cold water, this indicates that the second element has failed. Aside from these three possibilities, a tripped circuit or a blown fuse might also cause the heating element to trip. It is also expected that the fuse box would be checked in this respect.

f). Bad Wire Connection

Electricity is delivered to the elements by high gauge cables. In the event that a wire falls off a terminal as a consequence of a faulty connection, an element may cease to function. Due to the inadequate connection, it is possible that other issues such as arcing will arise as well. You should pay close attention to anything that has the potential to harm your water heater element and take precautions to avoid it if possible.

Steps on How to Test Water Heater Element

The following are the methods to be followed when testing for the water element:

Step 1: Disconnect from the power source

This is an extremely important phase in the testing of the water element. You can find the circuit breaker that links your water heater at the main electrical panel. Most of the time, it is located in the metal box that is fastened to the wall. The majority of electricians label each circuit breaker with the name of the device it powers. You’ve found the one that says “hot water heater” and you’ve turned that one off. If you are unsure of which circuit breaker is responsible for your water heater, simply turn off the entire power supply to safeguard your own safety.

Step 2: Open the metal box cover

To open the box, flip the metal lid to the open position. In this location, you will observe the panels that are secured to the water heater’s side by means of screws.

Depending on their size, most water heaters are equipped with one or two panels, respectively. Using a Philips head screwdriver, unscrew the metal plate from the wall. Make certain that the screws do not fall off and land in awkward spots throughout your property.

Step 3: Detach the insulation

Depending on how old your water heater is, a layer of cellulose or fiberglass insulation will be installed behind the metal cover. Disconnect the insulation and place it to one side. While removing the insulation, make use of your safety gloves and goggles. Check to check if the thermostat is protected by a plastic cover. Pulling off the tab on the thermostat plastic cover will also allow you to remove it. However, because some thermostats do not come with a detachable plastic cover, doing this operation is entirely optional.

Step 4: Confirm that the power is off

You should check to make sure that the power has been turned off once more. Install a noncontact voltage detector next to the wire that connects the element to the thermostat to detect voltage fluctuations. The presence of a beeping sound or flashing lights from the voltage detector shows that the water heater is still connected to the electric source. As a precaution, make sure that the power has been entirely turned off before continuing with the task.

Step 5: Locate the endpoint of the elements in the open panel

Check to make sure the power has been turned off a second time if necessary. In the vicinity of the wire connecting the element and the thermostat, install a noncontact voltage detector. The presence of a beeping sound or flashes of light from the voltage detector shows that the water heater is still linked to the electric power source. Before proceeding with the task, make certain that the power has been entirely turned off.

Step 6: Note the reading of your water heater element

Set the multimeter dial to the lowest setting, which is Rx1k, which is resistances multiplied by 1000. You should pay attention to the base of your water heater tank. You will notice the wattage and ohms that have been imprinted. With a 3500-watt water heater, the multimeter will read 16, whereas a water heater with a 4,500-watt capacity will read between 12 and 13. You will receive between 10 and 11 cents for a water heater with a 5,500-watt element.

Step 7: Use a digital multimeter to read the water heater element

One of the multimeter probes should be placed on a screw that is connected to the face of the element. This can be accomplished by untangling the loose end of the metal component. Because there are no terminals on the water heater element, you won’t have to worry about which one to test first. Make certain, however, that you are just testing the element itself and not any of the other electrical components that are connected to the element. Connect the prongs of the multimeter to the tip of the element screw with a crimping tool.

If they do not, repeat the process.

This video will demonstrate how to use a digital multimeter if you are unfamiliar with the method.

You should also double-check the reading for the second water heater element.

Step 8: Reattach the disconnected parts

Reattach the wire to the surface of the water heater’s heating components. As well as that, cover the exposed panel with plastic and use the plastic to cover the thermostat.

Tighten the replacement wire and reinsert the screws that had been loose. Reinstall the insulation and switch on the circuit breaker to complete the repair. If you replace a defective element, you will have to wait a few minutes for the water to get to a boiling temperature.

How to Replace an Electric Water Heater Heating Element

The process of replacing a water heater element is rather straightforward. You may learn how to achieve this by watching the video below.


Now that you’ve learned how to test the water heater element, you should be able to solve any issues that arise with this important piece of household equipment. Please keep in mind that you simply need to follow the following procedures:

  • Knowing how to test the water heater element, you should be able to solve any problems that may arise with this important piece of household equipment in the future. Remember, all you have to do is follow the steps outlined below.

Any specific questions you have about how to test the water heater element that have not been addressed in this article should be posted in the comment area below. Thanks for reading! Our team is here to assist you with any inquiry. Also, please feel free to forward this post to your friends on any social networking site you like.

How to Test a Hot Water Heater Element

Documentation Download Documentation Download Documentation Hot water heaters are essential household appliances because they heat water for use in sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and showers, among other things. If the water in your house doesn’t heat up to anything more than a tepid degree, try increasing the heat setting. However, if this does not resolve your problem, it is probable that one of the water heater’s heating components is defective or damaged. Before changing the heater elements, it is necessary to test them using a multimeter, which is a compact instrument that measures the electrical current flowing through metal.

  1. 1 Disconnect the circuit breaker that supplies electricity to the hot water heater. While you’re testing the element, the hot water heater must not be in use (must not be receiving electrical power). The electric breaker is a metal box that is around 1 ft 2 ft (30 cm 61 cm) in size and is mounted to a wall. Try looking for it in your home’s basement, laundry room, or huge storage closet, for example. Turn “off” the breaker that is labeled “hot water heater” or that controls electricity to the room in which the heater is located.
  • If you’re not sure which breaker controls the water heater’s electricity, just turn off all of the double breakers (which are groups of two breakers that are linked together)
  • 2 Remove the metal cover from the water heater so that you can view the thermostat. There will be a metal plate near the base of the hot water heater that you will need to remove. Remove the screws that hold the metal plate in place with a Philips head screwdriver and set them aside. Located behind the plate, you’ll find the thermostat and heating components for the water heater.
  • Place the metal cover and screws in a convenient location. To prevent the screws from rolling beneath an appliance, put them in a shallow bowl.
  • Advertisement
  • s3 If your heater is equipped with insulation and a plastic cover, remove them. Many hot water heaters feature a layer of fiberglass or cellulose insulation behind the metal cover, which helps to keep the water warm. Take that out of the bag and put it away. Many heaters also feature a plastic cover over the thermostat to protect it from damage. This type of plastic cover is held in place by friction, and it usually has a tab on the top that you may pull to remove it from its position. Extend your fingertip upwards and you will be able to loosen the plastic cover and remove it from the thermostat
  • Not all water heaters are equipped with a protective cover made of plastic and insulation. If yours does not, proceed to the next step.
  • 4 Check the power using a non-contact voltage detector to ensure that it is turned off. Before you begin working on the hot water heater, double-check that the electric power in the room where the heater is located is turned off and unplugged. To check whether electrical current is flowing to the water heater, place the tip of a voltage detector on the wires heading into the thermostat. If the detector illuminates or beeps, this indicates that the outlet is operational. If the detector does not light up, you have successfully shut off the power
  • Otherwise, try again.
  • A non-contact voltage detector can be purchased at any hardware or home improvement store if you do not already have one. The gadget is approximately 5 inches (13 cm) in length and has the appearance of a giant plastic pen. It comes to a climax with a metal prong at the end
  • 5 Identify the ends of the two metal parts that are located inside the open panel on the right. Because they extend several inches into the hot water heater’s interior, the elements themselves are difficult to see. If you peek inside the open panel, though, you’ll notice that the base ends of the two metal parts have been exposed. a little plastic plate is screwed into the center of each metal base, which is approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
  • The vast majority of hot water heaters for houses are equipped with two heating components. If you live in an apartment or a tiny house and have a small hot water heater, it is possible that it just has one element.
  1. 1 Set the ohms of resistance on your multimeter to the lowest possible level. A multimeter is a gadget that is used to measure electrical current and voltage. It will tell you whether or not current can flow through the elements of your water heater. Multimeters feature a plastic body that is 2 in x 4 in (5.1 cm x 10.2 cm) in size and two metal prongs that are joined to the body of the multimeter via wires. Multimeters are used to measure voltage and current. You should be able to see a dial on the body of the multimeter that regulates the amount of voltage the gadget is working at. Set the ohms meter to the lowest possible level. Diverse models may have a variety of lowest settings.
  • Check if the tool is operational by tapping the two metal prongs. The gadget should be calibrated by holding the prongs together and moving the needle until it points to “0.” If you don’t already have a multimeter, you can pick one up at a local hardware or home improvement store for a reasonable price.
  • 2 Disconnect one of the cables from the water heater element. Electricity is provided by two wires that travel from each element of a hot water heater to screws that secure the element to the heater’s base. Select the heating element that you’d want to put through its paces first. By finding its loose end and unwinding it from around the metal piece, you may easily remove one wire (it doesn’t matter which one).
  • It is vital to do this in order to ensure that you are just evaluating the conductivity of the element itself and not any other connected portions of the water heater element
  • Otherwise, the results will be inaccurate. The removal of the wire, which may be difficult if it is firmly wrapped around the water-heating element, may necessitate the use of a pair of needle-nose pliers.
  • 3 To check for flow, place the prongs of the multimeter on the element screws and the body of the multimeter on the ground at the base of the water heater. Set the tip of one prong in the center of one of the screws holding the water heater element in place. Similar to the first prong, take the second prong and secure it the center of the second screw on the water heater element.
  • The fact that you have shut off the power to the hot water heater eliminates any danger of electrocution.
  • No danger of electrocution exists since you have shut off the power to the hot water heater.
  • Even if the digital multimeter displays a very low value (for example, “1”), this still indicates that the element is not functioning properly.
  • 5 If the first water heater element is not functioning properly, test the second water heater element. If you have tested the first element and it appears to be functioning properly, you should attempt testing the second element with the multimeter. It’s possible that this is the problematic component. It is possible to replace a damaged part once you have discovered which one is faulty.
  • Alternatively, you may call the water heater’s manufacturer and ask if they will be able to send a repair service to your location.
  • 6 Reattach the wire to the water heater and cover the exposed panel on the back. As soon as you’re through testing or replacing the components, use your needle-nose pliers to tighten the wire that you removed back around the screw that it was originally attached to. Snap the plastic cover over the thermostat back into place, then gently push the insulation into place around the thermostat to complete the installation. Replace the metal panel in its original location and reinstall the screws that were previously removed. Using your fingers, tighten the screws in their holes until they are securely holding the metal panel in place.
  • In order to restore the flow of electricity to the room where your hot water heater is installed, you must first turn off the power breaker.
See also:  How Much Does It Cost To Install Hot Water Heater

In order to restore the flow of electricity to the room where your hot water heater is housed, you must first turn off the circuit breaker.

Things You’ll Need

  • Small bowl (optional)
  • Needle-nose pliers (optional)
  • Philips head screwdriver
  • Non-contact voltage detector
  • Multimeter
  • During the heating process, the elements of a water heater are thick metal loops that get incredibly hot when electricity is passed through them. They’re not different to the heating elements on your cooktop, in that they generate heat.

Thank you for submitting a suggestion for consideration! Advertisement

About This Article

Thank you to all writers for contributing to this page, which has been read 28,282 times so far.

Did this article help you?

A nightmarish scenario has unfolded. In the middle of February, the temperature outdoors is 31 degrees. You’re shivering from the chills. You head to the bathroom to take your morning shower, and the warm, soothing flow of the boiling hot water instantly relaxes your muscles. The knobs are turned and instead of the delightful heat, you are blasted with an icy shower that feels as if it has dropped from the clouds of the planet Neptune, causing you to freeze to the ground. Checking your hot water heater to make sure it’s operating properly and replacing components if necessary (or hiring a professional to assist you) is simple when you follow this guide.

If this is the case, replace the blown fuses and wait approximately one hour for the water to warm up.

Turn off the power to the electrical panel, remove the fuses, secure the panel, and inform everyone in the house (or apartment complex) that you will be working on the water heater circuit at this time.

Afterwards, remove the access panel and the insulation to have a better understanding of the controls and heating element.

For the next 30 to 40 stages, use internet primers such as water-heater-thermostat-to for inspiration. Alternatively, you can save time and effort by getting in touch with the East Bay general contracting and heating/air professionals at B.A. Morrison right now.

Our service professionals are experts at dealing with complicated furnace and air-conditioning equipment installation and troubleshooting.

Also, if your hot water heater breaks down in the middle of the night, we can assist you. In the event that the hot water heater fails, what doesn’t constitute as “urgent”? In addition to being an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner in 2010, B.A. Morrison is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (rated A+). Learn more at or call us immediately for assistance with your heater at 510-538-9817 for quick assistance.

10 Signs That Your Water Heater Needs Repair

Also, if your hot water heater fails and you want immediate assistance, we can assist you. (And, honestly, what doesn’t count as “urgent” when your hot water heater breaks down?) – In addition to being an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner in 2010, B.A. Morrison is a recognized business with the Better Business Bureau (rating A+). Visit our website for additional information, or contact us at 510-538-9817 for quick assistance with your heater.

Inconsistent water heat

It goes without saying that the most evident symptom of a problem is that your water is not being heated in a trustworthy and regular manner. It may only reach a lukewarm temperature for a small period of time before dropping back to its previous temperature, or it may just remain chilly. There might be a variety of factors contributing to irregular or variable water temperatures. There are several causes of erosion, but the most prevalent is the formation of mineral deposits, which you will read about a lot in this piece.

They frequently manifest themselves in the form of fine, white particles that accumulate along the water heating channel.

They have the potential to have an influence on and interfere with the systems that generate heat.

However, in older units or in units that have suffered significant damage as a consequence of mineral deposits, the situation may be too severe to cure, and the unit may need to be replaced entirely.

There’s little or no hot water pressure

A noticeable decrease in water pressure or the absence of water pressure when using hot water might also indicate that mineral deposits are interfering with your system. In this situation, the minerals may be interfering with the operation of pipes or valves directly, either by limiting flow or resulting in corrosion. When there is insufficient hot water pressure, it might be an indication of design or construction problems in the original system — this is especially common in older homes. Low pressure is also caused by kinked distribution lines, worn or damaged pressure regulators, and other factors.

For example: The inability to use several taps or water-using equipment at the same time is commonly caused by low water pressure, such as having a shower when someone else decides it’s time to water the grass.

However, if this is not the case — or if you live alone — low hot water pressure may be an indication of a more significant problem with your water heater.

You see leaks

Regardless of how little the rupture, how minor the misalignment, or how poorly sealed the pipe is, any point in your water heating system might experience leakage. Connection points, drain and discharge lines, any of the control valves, or even inside the tank itself, are all potential locations for a leak. Leaks should never be overlooked or dismissed, no matter how little they appear to be. Cracks and cracks may readily grow in size and become more visible, transforming what was previously a somewhat benign leak into a massive pool of accumulating water or dampness in a short period.

The damage caused by a leak that is not addressed immediately might spread well beyond the immediate vicinity of your water heating system’s boiler.

The danger of a mechanical failure and an expensive set of repairs exists if the leak progresses to the point where it becomes a fully fledged flood.

Condensation is collecting around the heater

Water buildup is a common occurrence in both leakage and condensation; nevertheless, the two are not nearly the same thing. It is possible for moisture to build around your water heater even though there are no holes, cracks, or fissures through which leaks may enter. This is due to the process of condensation. Condensation is the outcome of cold water coming into touch with extremely hot components very quickly — in other words, it is the result of combustion. Damp droplets collect on the tank’s surface, which is especially noticeable in gas-powered heaters.

  1. Condensation should not necessarily be seen as a serious source of concern.
  2. It is common for it to clean up within an hour or two.
  3. However, if the condensation does not clear up after a fair period of time, you may be dealing with a far more serious situation than you realize.
  4. It is possible that you may need to improve airflow around your water heater if it is fuelled by gas to prevent moisture from accumulating.

The water looks brown or yellow

If your water has a visible tint of dirt or rust in it, it is most likely the result of sediment that has accumulated within your water heater. When water comes into contact with metal and continues to interact with it through a network of pipes and containers, rust will eventually appear. That is, in essence, how water heaters operate and function. Water becomes more agitated as the temperature of the water rises. This is something you’ve probably seen everytime you’ve boiled water on the stove.

As a result, when the tank is heated, these compounds become more active and begin to circulate throughout the tank.

Pipes that are over 100 years old are typically to fault.

It’s possible that newer pipes with rust issues were not adequately sealed.

A fracture or break in the glass lining of the tank’s walls is also a possibility, depending on the severity of the damage. If this happens, water will get into touch with the metal surface of the container, which will eventually result in rust if the problem is not handled.

The water has a strange smell or taste

When the smell or taste of water offends your senses, there is a problem with the source of the problem. The alternatives are numerous, and they are terrible to contemplate. It’s possible that your water heater is causing the problem, especially if your hot water has a strong metallic odor or flavor. This is a frequent symptom of corrosion occurring within your tank’s interior walls. The same as with rusty-looking water, a crack in the tank’s glass liner may be the cause of this problem. Additional forms of foul odors may signal the presence of other issues.

Water includes trace levels of sulfur bacteria on a regular basis; this is a typical occurrence and is not dangerous in the proportions seen in most drinking water.

Various other bacteria, particularly hydrogen sulfide, can cause hot water to have a sickening smell or a poor taste if you are unfortunate enough to drink it.

The water heater is unreasonably noisy

Because your water heater is an appliance, you might expect to hear the odd noise from it while it is operating well (if you are the sort that likes to linger around and listen intently to water heaters, that is). It is not necessary to be concerned about quick clicks or soft hums. However, if you hear a torrent of bangs, pops, cracks, or hisses, it is likely that the water heater is being buffeted by the winds of chaos. The collection of mineral deposits and silt, particularly if your water heater is fueled by gas, is the most prevalent cause of this mechanical mayhem, as it has been in the past.

Whenever the heater is turned on, the water beneath this layer becomes heated, but it also rubs up against the sediment.

Although this noise may not be very objectionable, it is by no means innocuous, and it may indicate the onset of more serious issues in the near future.

It can also cause the heating element to burn out.

The water heater is too old

The majority of water heaters are not designed to last indefinitely. An electric or similar-powered water heater has an average lifespan of eight to 10 years, depending on the model. Gas-powered heaters typically last between six and eight years before they need to be replaced. In a few instances, it may be feasible to extend the life of your water heater beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, if your water heater unit is approaching its eighth birthday, even though it appears to be in perfect operating order, it’s time to consider its long-term maintenance needs.

The majority of us who have been in our present homes for less than eight years and have not yet replaced our water heaters are unlikely to be aware of how old our current unit is.

Although the serial number appears to be a jumble of random numbers, you only need to pay attention to the first three.

What else is sold in twelve-packs of twelve?

The letter on the serial number correlates to a certain month of the year — for example, “A” represents January, “B” represents February, “F” represents June, “K” represents November, and so on.

As an example, a serial number that begins with the letters “E11” was created in May 2011, but a serial number that begins with the letters “C02” was created in March 2002. If the date you come up with is more than eight years ago, you should start thinking about replacing your water heater.

It’s been more than a year since you serviced it

Water heaters should be emptied at least once a year in order to wash out excessive sediment and minerals that can have a negative influence on water quality and personal hygiene. Even water heaters without tanks require regular maintenance to ensure that their internal pipes and components are in good working order. Draining the contents of the tank into an exterior drain is performed by a plumber to flush your system. When the tank is fully refilled, the plumber will normally use the opportunity to examine and service other components of your water heater system, such as the rods and vents.

Sharp PlumbingHeating: Your source for complete water heater maintenance and installation

Whether you require water heater repair or installation, Sharp PlumbingHeating can handle it all. We serve Milford, Framingham, Natick, Berlin, and the surrounding regions. We provide high-quality repair services while also working to save our customers money on the normal water heater installation cost. To obtain a quote, please contact us by phone or online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.