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.
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.
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
A abrupt rise in voltage, such as that induced by a power surge or lightning, can also cause an element to burn. A certain voltage rating is assigned to each element, and any voltage greater than the specified rating will cause the element to burn.
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
Water element testing should be performed in accordance with these protocols:
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
In order to get the box out of its packaging, flip the metal lid. In this location, you will observe the panels that are attached to the water heater’s side by means of screws. Depending on their size, most water heaters are equipped with one or two panels. Make use of a Philips head screwdriver to remove the metal plate from the wall. Watch out for screws that may come off and land in awkward spots throughout your house.
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
A single or two elements will most likely be used in your water heater, depending on the size of your residence. Because they extend deep into the water heater’s open panel, you can’t see the elements themselves. You will be able to observe their endpoints, on the other hand. An element measures around 1 inch in length and is fastened to a plastic plate with the use of screws.
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. Click on the link to see the video. You should also double-check the reading for the second water heater element. There are some instances in which both pieces are defective and require replacement.
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:
- Turn off the electricity
- To obtain access to the element, remove the metal cover from the element. Remove the insulation from the ducts. Using a multimeter, measure the resistance of the water element
- And If an element is defective, it should be replaced. Assemble all of the pieces that were previously separated
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 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.
A multimeter probe should be used to test each screw individually. Set aside the leftover probe against the metal base that is attached to the element where it enters the water heater and tighten it. If the needle on the face of the multimeter moves, the element is faulty and must be replaced.
Things You Will Need
- Screwdriver, safety goggles, gloves, and a noncontact voltage detector are all required.
How to Determine Which Water Heater Element Is Bad?
A frustrating sensation is turning on the faucets for a nice shower only to discover that the water is either lukewarm or cold. When the components of an electric hot water heater short out or burn out, the outcome is chilly water. Most of the time, the lowest element is placed first, however this is not always the case. The good news is that a few short electrical tests will disclose which part has to be replaced in order to bring hot water back into your house.
- The electricity to the electric hot water heater should be turned off. Some devices are wired to connect into a wall socket, and power may be turned off by simply unplugging them from the wall socket. Due to the fact that most units are hard wired directly into the home’s electrical circuitry, switch off the breaker for the hot water heater at the home’s main electrical panel.
- Remove the two wires that are linked to the water heater element and push them to the side of the water heater. Using a screwdriver, remove the mounting hardware and bend the wires so that they are no longer in your way.
- Set the multitester to measure ohms, which is the unit of measure for resistance. When it comes to resistance testers, the ohm key is often printed in green and denoted by an omega symbol. Set the scale to the lowest possible values, which are often “RX1K” or “RX1.”
- The probe on the multitester should be touched to each screw on the element. A poor element is one in which you receive no reading or only the maximum reading. Element resistance varies depending on their size and power, therefore it is common to get a reading between 10 and 16 ohms, with higher readings for 3,500 watt elements and lower readings for 5,500 watt elements. This is printed on the plastic block between the two screws where the wires were joined, indicating the wattage of your element.
- Touch each screw on the element with a probe from the multitester. A poor element is one that gives no readings or just the maximum readings. Due to the fact that components have some resistance, a value between 10 and 16 ohms is common, with higher ohm readings for 3,500 watt elements and lower readings for 5,500 watt elements. This is printed on the plastic block between the two screws where the wires were joined, and it indicates how many watts your element produces.
To test the element, place one probe on its screw and another on the metal frame that surrounds it (but not to the other screw). Any movement or reading of the needle shows the presence of a shorted out element. Each screw on both components should be checked in the same way.
Things You Will Need
An electrical multiteter can be purchased from the electrical section of a home center.
The instrument is affordable, and in addition to measuring resistance, it also monitors voltage, amperage, and does battery inspections.
- A 240 volt current is typically used by hot water heaters, and it is possible to receive unpleasant electrical shocks or even worse. Before doing any resistance testing, make certain that the unit’s power has been turned off.
How to Test a Water Heater Element
Heaters often operate on 240-volt current, which can result in unpleasant electrical shocks or even death. Before doing any resistance testing, be certain that the unit’s power is turned off.
- The following tools are required: a screwdriver, a digital multimeter, and a non-contact voltage tester (optional). Step 1: Turn off the power. Step 2: Take off the metal covering. Step 3: Remove the insulation from the house. Step 4: Set the heating element in its proper location. Step 5: Make sure the electricity is turned off. Step 6: Use a multimeter to inspect the element. Step 7: Assemble the water heater again.
One of the most typical reasons for your water heater not to be generating hot water is a defective heating element, which is one of several probable causes. However, checking the heating element is one of the most straightforward diagnostic procedures you can perform on your own. It is not necessary to drain the tank or to interfere with any gas, water, or electrical lines. This Might Also Be of Interest to You: What is the procedure for turning on my water heater? To determine whether the heating element is to blame for your water heater’s problems before spending a lot of money on expert repair — or even complete replacement — follow these simple procedures.
Signs of a Bad Water Heater Element
Even if it is simple to test the element, it is a good idea to be familiar with the most typical indicators of a malfunctioning heater element in order to assess whether or not testing is even necessary. The following are signs of a faulty heating element:
- Water that is lukewarm
- The amount of hot water is little. There is no hot water. The hot water runs out more quickly than normal
- The circuit breaker for the water heater is continually tripping
Although the majority of full-sized home water heaters have two heating elements (one on top and one on the bottom), smaller water heaters may just have one heating element. When there are two elements in a water heater, each one performs a somewhat distinct function. As a result, based on the exact symptoms you’re experiencing, you can typically establish which component has failed.
Symptoms of a Bad Upper Heating Element:
- There is no hot water. The temperature of the hot water does not reach the setting on the thermostat
Symptoms of a Bad Lower Heating Element:
- A small amount of hot water
- The hot water runs out more quickly than normal
Testing the components won’t be a waste of time if you’re suffering any of these symptoms.
- Screwdriver, digital multimeter, non-contact voltage tester (optional), and a pair of safety glasses
How to Test the Element
Instruments to be used: screwdriver, digital multimeter, and non-contact voltage tester (optional).
Step 2. Remove the Metal Covers
Screwdriver, digital multimeter, non-contact voltage tester (optional), and other small tools.
Step 3. Remove the Insulation and Plastic Covers
Most water heaters feature an insulating layer between the metal cover and the heating element, as well as a thin plastic barrier between the two. Rigid foam insulation or flexible fiberglass insulation are also options for insulation. You should be able to remove foam insulation by hand in one piece in most circumstances, but in certain cases it may be necessary to pry or cut it out. With a utility knife, carefully cut away any fiberglass insulation that has been trapped. It is common for the plastic shield to be clipped onto metal tabs on the water heater.
It is important not to damage any of these components, since they will be reinserted when your test has been successfully finished.
Step 4. Locate the Heating Element
Between the metal cover and the heating element, most water heaters feature a layer of insulation and a thin plastic barrier. Rigid foam insulation or flexible fiberglass insulation are also acceptable options. Remove the foam insulation by hand in one piece in most circumstances, but it may be necessary to pry or cut the material out in some instances. With a utility knife, carefully cut away any fiberglass insulation that has become exposed.
Most of the time, the plastic shield is clipped onto metal tabs on the water heater. After applying light to moderate pressure on it, it should pop right out! It is important not to damage any of these components, since they will be reinserted when your test has been performed successfully.
- How to Relight the Pilot Light on Your Water Heater
- Don’t Forget to Flush the System! The following is a 6-Step Guide for Flushing Your Gas or Electric Water Heater: Is it possible to work without a tank? Determine whether or not a tankless water heater is appropriate for your home. What is a Smart Water Heater and how does it work? When your water heater isn’t working, you’ll notice these seven tell-tale signs.
Step 5. Verify the Electricity Is Off
Using a non-contact voltage tester or a multimeter, confirm that the power has been turned off. A non-contact voltage tester is a pen-shaped gadget that illuminates or emits a beep when it comes into close proximity to an electrically charged (“live”) wire or other live wire. In order to identify if the electricity is turned off, it only has to be put near the electrical cables that connect the thermostat and heating element. If it continues to light up or beep, this indicates that the cables are still live and that the energy has not been fully turned off.
Any electrical activity should not be recorded in your logs.
After moving the probes around, repeat the testing.
This will assist you in ensuring that you are receiving a trustworthy reading.
Step 6. Check the Heater Element With Your Multimeter
Generally speaking, the functioning of a heating element is governed by the resistance present in the circuit, which is measured in ohms (). Adjust the ohms setting on your multimeter to the lowest possible value. Touch the center of one of the heating element screws with the red probe, and the center of the other screw with the black probe. When measuring resistance, it makes no difference which probe is in contact with which screw. In order to determine whether or not the heating element is functioning properly, your multimeter should read anywhere between 10 and 30.
If your water heater has two heating elements, repeat this procedure on the other heating element.
Step 7. Reassemble the Water Heater
Irrespective of whether or not your heating elements are in excellent operating order, it’s time to reassemble your water heater. Replace the plastic cover over the heating element (if one is present), as well as the insulation, if necessary. Finally, re-energize the circuit breaker for the water heater. Depending on whether you changed a heater element or not, you may have to wait a few hours for the water to heat up before determining whether your repair was effective.
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 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.
- 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.
- There are certain water heaters that do not have a safety cover made of plastic, nor do they have insulation. Please skip this step if yours does not.
- 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
- A non-contact voltage detector is available for purchase 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 resembles a giant plastic pen in appearance and use. When the metal prongs are removed, it comes to a point.
- 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 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.
- 1 Choose a resistance value on your multimeter that is as low as possible in ohms. In order to determine whether or not current may flow through your water heater’s elements, a multimeter must be used to detect electrical current and voltage. Two metal prongs are joined to the body of the multimeter via wires, and the multimeter has a plastic body measuring 2 in x 4 in (5.1 cm x 10.2 cm). You should be able to see a dial on the body of the multimeter that regulates the voltage at which the gadget is running. Adjust the ohms setting on the dial to the lowest value. Diverse models may have a variety of lowest settings
- 1 Set the ohms of resistance setting on your multimeter to the lowest possible value. A multimeter is an instrument that is used to measure electrical current and voltage, which will show whether or not current may flow through the elements of your water heater. Multimeters feature a plastic body that measures 2 in x 4 in (5.1 cm x 10.2 cm) and two metal prongs that are connected to the body of the multimeter by wires. You should be able to see a dial on the body of the multimeter that determines how many volts the gadget is working at. Adjust the ohms setting on the dial to the lowest possible value. Diverse models may have a range of lowest settings.
- 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 against the element screws. Placing the multimeter’s body on the ground at the foot of the water heater is recommended. 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.
- 4 Check the resistance reading on the multimeter to see how many ohms it is. In both digital and analog multimeters, there should be a dial or a digital panel that depicts the amount of resistance being measured. A well functioning element will provide resistance readings between 10 and 30 ohms on a micrometer, indicating that the element is functioning properly. Alternatively, if the needle does not move (or if the digital display displays “0”), the water heater element is not functioning properly and must be replaced
- 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.
Inquire about something There are 200 characters remaining. Include your email address so that you may be notified when this question has been resolved. SubmitAdvertisement
Things You’ll Need
- Small bowl (optional)
- Needle-nose pliers (optional)
- Philips head screwdriver
- Non-contact voltage detector
- 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
Your suggestion has been received and will be considered. Advertisement
Did this article help you?
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.
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
Of course, there are a variety of additional factors that might contribute to a shortage of hot water. Before you begin testing the elements, double-check that the circuit breaker is not tripped and that it is in the on position. Press the reset button on the high-temperature cutoff, which is positioned slightly above the top thermostat, at the same time. Although resetting either the circuit breaker or the high-temperature cutoff may remedy the problem, the fact that they were tripped in the first place may suggest that there is an electrical fault with the system in the first place.
Assuming that the heating components are working properly, the thermostats or cutoff switch may be defective.
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
- Professionally complete your home improvement projects! Become a subscriber to our mailing list! It’s important to do things right the first time. Three-pointed strategy
- 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.
How To Test A Water Heater Element (A Homeowner’s Guide)
When it comes to your house, you want to ensure that everything is in perfect working order at all times. Having access to hot water in our homes has become a need in our daily lives, from taking a morning shower to washing your child’s favorite throw blanket. Things, on the other hand, can go wrong at any time. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your faucets are only spewing out lukewarm water, or that your shower isn’t melting the flesh off your body as it used to. Increasing the temperature of the room will frequently solve this problem.
With the use of a multimeter instrument, you can determine whether or not they need to be replaced.
They are easily accessible, so if your water heater is not working properly, grab a multimeter and continue reading to learn how to test the water heater element!
How to test the water element
It’s important to maintain the condition of your home at all times when you own a house. From our daily shower to the washing of your child’s favorite blanket, having hot water in our homes has become a need in our lives. But things do go awry from time to time. The water from your faucets may be no hotter than lukewarm, and your shower may not be melting the flesh from your body as it once did. Increasing the temperature of the room will frequently resolve this problem. A damaged heating element in your water heater may be the cause of this failure if this does not solve the problem.
Electric current flowing through metal is tested with this little instrument. As long as you have a multimeter, you should be able to figure out how to test the water heater element if your water isn’t performing properly.
Accessing the elements
To begin testing your water heater element, you will first need to switch off the circuit breaker that supplies electricity to the water heater. No electrical current should go through the heater in order to maintain safety standards. Your house’s electric breaker is often a metal box that is linked to a wall in the basement or laundry area of your home. If the breaker you require is not labeled ‘water heater,’ it will control the whole room in which the heater is located; be careful to turn it off before continuing.
- Remove the metal plate that is located towards the bottom of the water heater next.
- Once the cover is removed, you will be able to see the thermostat and heating elements of the water heater.
- In certain cases, a layer of cellulose or fiberglass insulation is installed behind the metal cover of a water heater.
- These are simply removed with the use of tabs that release the lid.
- This may be accomplished by touching the tip of the voltage detector to the wires that lead into the thermostat.
- If this is not the case, the power has been switched off, and you can proceed.
- They are often in the shape of a huge plastic pen with a metal prong at the top of it.
- You should only be able to see the base ends of two metal components because the elements are sometimes several inches deep inside the water heater.
- Some heaters, depending on the size of your home, may just have a single element to distinguish between them.
Using the multimeter
In order to use the multimeter to test your water heater element, you must first set the multimeter to the lowest ohms resistance level possible. On the tool, this is normally accomplished by the use of a dial; the lowest setting may differ depending on the product. Each element will be equipped with two electrical wires that will connect to screws that will hold the element in place. Remove one wire from the metal element by unraveling the loose end of the wire. You may then take the tip of one prong and insert it into the middle of one of the heater element screws after you have completed this step.
- It should be snug.
- Regardless of whether the multimeter tool is digital or analog, the resistance is indicated by a dial or panel.
- If the needle does not move, or if the number 0 is displayed, the heater element is damaged and must be replaced immediately.
- Once you’ve identified the faulty element, you may either replace it yourself or contact the manufacturer of your water heater.
- After that, you may place the plastic cover back on top of the thermostat and begin reinstalling any insulation and the metal panel in their original locations.
Simply re-energize the circuit breakers to restore electricity; depending on the brand of your water heater, it may take a few minutes for the water to heat back up again.
What if I don’t have a multimeter?
When it comes to testing a water heater element, it is generally not recommended to do so without the use of a multimeter instrument. If you don’t already have one, they are commonly accessible online and at local hardware stores, and they are pretty simple to operate after they have been turned up and configured. However, contacting the water heater’s manufacturer or hiring a professional to come out and test the elements for you would incur an additional expense that is significantly more than acquiring the gear on your own.
When it comes to inspecting and testing your water heater element, the procedure is not overly difficult. To avoid any injury, you must take the time to ensure that the electricity to the heater and the room in which it is located is turned off. You will test the elements and identify any defects with the use of a multimeter instrument. If you discover that both wires are in good condition but that you are still experiencing water problems, it may be time to call in the experts!
Test & Replace a Bad Water Heating Element: DIY Guide
When you discover that you have no hot water in your house, it may be really annoying. Despite the fact that hot water is a crucial component of our everyday life, we sometimes take for granted that it will always be available. In the event that a water heater’s heating element or thermostat fails, the most likely reason is a faulty heating element or thermostat. So, what is the best way to test a faulty heating element? Turn off the water heater’s electricity and take off the covers over the heating components before continuing.
Continuity refers to the fact that there is no interruption in the flow of electricity between two connecting points.
Let us first explain how the heating components function, as well as some other possible causes of your lack of hot water, as well as how water heaters are designed to work.
How Dual Heating Elements Work
When it comes to electric water heaters, there are normally two heating elements: the bottom heating element and the higher heating element. Each heating element is equipped with a thermostat, which regulates the temperature of the heating element. When the water heater is sluggish to heat up or runs out of hot water more quickly than normal, the bottom element is almost often the cause of the problem. If, on the other hand, the water heater is not producing any hot water, the fault is most likely with the higher element.
The reason for this is that the thermostat linked to the top element also regulates electricity to the lower thermostat and heating element on the lower end of the heating system.
How to test water heater elements with a multimeter and a continuity tester will be covered in the remainder of this article. In addition, we’ll walk you through the process of replacing the defective ones step by step.
Troubleshooting the Water Heater
It is common for an electric water heater to have two heating elements: one at the bottom of the heater and another at the top. There is a thermostat attached to each heating element, which regulates the temperature of each heating element. When the water heater is sluggish to heat up or runs out of hot water more quickly than normal, the bottom element is almost always to blame. In contrast, if the water heater is not producing any hot water, it is most likely the top element that is malfunctioning.
The reason for this is that the thermostat linked to the top element also regulates electricity to the lower thermostat and heating element on the lower end of the heating chain.
The remainder of this post will cover how to test water heater components with a multimeter and a continuity tester.
- A heating element that has failed
- A thermostat that is not working properly
- A short circuit in the electrical wire circuit
It is necessary to inspect both parts of the heater if the circuit breaker is constantly tripped. Electrical connections that are loose or broken can also cause a breaker to trip; in this case, search for burned or melted wires at the circuit breaker or the electrical connections at the top of the water heater. Resetting the water heater is an alternative approach. How to go about it is as follows:
- It is necessary to examine both parts of the heater if the circuit breaker is continually tripped. Electrical connections that are loose or defective can also cause a breaker to trip
- In this case, search for burnt or melted wires at the circuit breaker or at the electrical connections at the top of the water heater. Resetting the water heater is an other option to consider. Follow these steps to accomplish your goals:
It is possible that the thermostat in either the top or lower element is malfunctioning if the reset button trips and won’t return to its original position.
How an Electric Water Heater Works
Electric water heaters are deceptively easy appliances to operate. A conventional electric heater control circuit consists of two heating elements, an upper thermostat, a lower thermostat, wires, and a high-limit switch with a reset button. Other components include an upper thermostat and a lower thermostat. The thermostats, to which each element is attached, are in charge of controlling the two components. Depending on the kind of water heater, the temperature of thethermostats can be adjusted by the user manually.
- And, of course, the higher the temperature is set, the more electricity is consumed by the system.
- Running both elements at the same time may void any warranty that may have been provided by the water heater manufacturer.
- If the components are not entirely submerged in water, they are at risk of catching fire.
- The higher thermostat, when the top of the tank reaches a certain temperature, shuts down the upper element and sends power to the lower thermostat, which in turn switches on the bottom element.
- The lower element regulates the temperature of the tank by cycling on and off at regular intervals throughout the day and night.
- Cold water quickly fills the bottom of the tank when hot water is pulled from the tank through the dip tube.
- It is only when it reaches the top third that the bottom element is turned off and the upper element is activated.
- Modern water heaters will automatically switch to standby mode after the temperature of the water has been reached.
This is done to preserve electricity. Modern water heaters only need to be used for roughly 2 hours every day on average. Keep in mind that water heaters use more power during the winter months since the components must heat for a longer period of time in order to reach the desired temperature.
How to Test Water Heater Elements
Electric water heaters are deceptively easy appliances to use and maintain. A conventional electric heater control circuit consists of two heating elements, an upper thermostat, a lower thermostat, wires, and a high-limit switch with a reset button. Other components include a lower thermostat and an upper thermostat. The thermostats, to which each element is attached, govern the operation of the two components. Depending on the kind of water heater, the temperature of thethermostats can be adjusted manually.
- Lastly and most importantly, the higher the temperature is set, the more power is consumed.
- It is not recommended to use both elements at the same time since it would violate the water heater’s warranty.
- If the components are not entirely submerged in water, they are at risk of catching on fire.
- The higher thermostat, when the top of the tank reaches a certain temperature, shuts off the upper element and sends power to the lower thermostat, which in turn activates the bottom element.
- It turns on and off at regular intervals throughout the day and night to keep the tank’s temperature stable.
- Cold water quickly fills the bottom of the tank when hot water is taken via the dip tube.
- It is only when it reaches the top third that the bottom element is turned off and the higher element is turned on.
- Water heaters that are current in design will enter standby mode after the temperature of the water has been reached.
- Modern water heaters are only used for roughly 2 hours per day on average, according to industry statistics.
- A non-contact voltage tester, a screwdriver, a multimeter, and a continuity tester are all useful tools.
Step 1: Disconnect the electricity from the circuit breaker. It is positioned within the main electrical panel, near the circuit breaker. Electric water heaters are commonly equipped with a double breaker rated at 30 amps. See if there is a breaker labeled “Water Heater.” If your circuit breakers are not correctly labeled, you may need to hire an electrician to properly label the circuit breakers for you. The top and lower side panels of the water heater should be opened in step two. Two panels can be installed on the side of a normal 40-gallon or larger water heater tank to provide additional protection from the elements.
- Remove the screws that are holding the panels in place and lay them away in a secure location until the job is finished.
- It is dependent on the age of the water heater that the insulating material used varies from one water heater to another.
- Dealing with foam can be difficult, thus it will almost certainly be essential to reduce its thickness.
- You will see a plastic cover over the thermostat and heating element after the insulation has been removed.
- Remove the plastic covering in order to reveal the thermostats and heating components beneath it.
- This step is required for safety reasons in order to establish that there is no electricity to the heating components (if you turned off the wrong breaker).
- If the tester flashes frequently, as if it were an alarm, this indicates that voltage is present.
- Step 6: Disconnect the element wiresCheck to verify if any of the wires are charred or melted before proceeding forward.
- When a burnt or melted wire is discovered, the component should be replaced.
Step 7: Verify that the elements are connected to one another. To check for continuity, you may use either a continuity tester or a multimeter. Both of these equipment are inexpensive. There are three major methods in which you may make use of a continuity tester:
- Connect the alligator clip to one of the element screws and the probe to the other screw using the alligator clip. A malfunctioning element is indicated by a tester that does not light up, buzzes, or reacts just minimally. Touch each screw to the bare metal section of the water heater, following the same process as before. Touch each screw to the metal base of the element, following the same process as before.
If the elements fail to pass all three tests, they are deemed defective and must be replaced with new ones. As opposed to the continuity tester, a multimeter is more difficult to use. It consists of two wire leads with metal probes attached to them, one of which is red and the other black. The first step is to turn the dial on the multimeter to Rx1k (resistance times 1000 ohms). Follow the instructions above to complete all three tests. The tool should detect about 16 ohms for a 3500-watt element when testing both element screws, as stated in test 1, 12-13 ohms for a 4500-watt element, and 10-11 ohms for a 5500-watt element when testing both element screws.
It is necessary to replace the element if you repeat tests 2 and 3 and notice that the multimeter needle moves.
How to Replace Water Heater Elements
It is far simpler to replace a heating element than it is to test one. Check to ensure that the replacement has the same voltage as the original. When it comes to wattage, it might either be the same or lower than before. The lower-wattage element tends to survive longer, but it also produces significantly less heat. You’ll require the following tools: You’ll need to empty the water heater before you can replace the heating components. Please refer to our article, Water Heater Maintenance Tips – Gas and Electric Tank Water Heaters, for a detailed step-by-step instruction to draining your water heater.
Some YouTube videos demonstrate how to change the heating element without having to empty the water heater.
Draining and cleaning the water heater is another something you should perform once a year to remove sediment from the water heater’s internal tank.
Take advantage of this chance to do a comprehensive service on your water heating system.
To loosen the heating element, crank it in a counter-clockwise manner with the heating element wrench until it becomes loose.
Make certain that the previous seal has been thoroughly removed.
Examine the sort of heating element that is installed in your water heater.
To determine the heating element you have, take the old heating element to a home improvement store for comparison.
Inspect and tighten the new seal that comes with the replacement heating element with the heating element wrench to ensure that it is properly sealed.
Make sure that all of the wires are properly connected and that they are snugly secured with the screwdriver.
It is advised that both heating components be replaced at the same time, even if one of them is still in good operating condition.
Step 4: Refill the water heater with fresh water.
The faucet should be closed once the water has been drawn through it.
Step 5: Tighten the panel covers in place.
If the thermostat is exposed to cool air, it has the potential to interfere with the temperature readings on the display screen.
Step 6: Reconnect the electricity to the system.
Do not switch on the electricity until the tank is completely filled with water.
It will take roughly one hour to recover.
Before beginning any job, you should contact with a competent expert and verify that all necessary permits have been obtained.
As an affiliate, HomeInspectionInsider.com participates in a variety of affiliate programs with other websites. Hubert Miles receives a commission for recommending visitors and commerce to these businesses.