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:
- 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
- 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:
- 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
- And Set the other thermostat to the same temperature as the first
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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Test Continuity for a Burned-Out Element
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- 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, Troubleshoot & Repair an Electric Water Heater Thermostat: DIY Guide
Every year in the United States, around 1.5 million water heaters are replaced. That’s a significant amount of money. However, not all water heater issues are severe enough to warrant the purchase of a new heater. Some electric water heater thermostat problems might be resolved by doing a DIY repair at home. And that is exactly what this tutorial is all about. Let’s have a look at how to test and repair an electric water heaterthermostat now, shall we? Before we go any further, what exactly is the purpose of an electric water heater thermostat, and how does it function?
What Is The Purpose of an Electric Water Heater Thermostat?
We wash our clothes, do the dishes, and take a nice shower every day. However, the amount of hot water we consume for these tasks is not the same. Furthermore, the thermostat is essential since it regulates the temperature of the electric heater. An electric water heater is, at its most basic level, a piece of electrical equipment that consists of three components: a heating element, a thermostat, and a switch. Electric water heaters are used to heat water for various purposes. As a result, the thermostat functions as a switch that is actuated when the temperature of the water changes.
- When it senses a drop in water temperature, it will activate the elements, causing them to generate heat.
- So, how does it determine if the water is cold or hot to drink?
- Furthermore, there is no insulator at the point where the tank meets the thermostat.
- Having stated that, when electricity is introduced into the device, the heating element becomes extremely hot and begins to convert the power into heat.
This then transforms your cold water into hot water, at a temperature of around 120°F. Finally, the high limit switch keeps the hot water from becoming scorching hot while it is running.
How Does An Electric Water Heater Thermostat Work?
Electric water heaters are classified into two categories:
- In addition to the single element water heater, there is also a twin element water heater.
The single element type is comprised of a single element thermostat as well as a single element heating element. Tanks are often lower in size since only a single thermostat is required to regulate the temperature. Two thermostats and two heating elements are found in the dual element water heater, on the other hand. The majority of water heaters are dual-element water heaters, which is what we’ll be focusing on throughout the remainder of this article. A single element heater, on the other hand, may be checked and changed in the same manner.
- The thermostats for electric water heaters generate heat in the tank by enabling energy to flow into the elements of the water heater.
- The top thermostat, which is also the principal thermostat, regulates the heating element in the top part of the unit, as well as having a high limit switch.
- Keep in mind that the high limit switch, which is placed in the same region as the higher thermostat, includes a reset button that activates when the water temperature becomes too warm (over 170F).
- A 240-volt power supply is used to heat the water, which is subsequently heated by the higher heating element.
- The problem is that only the water in the upper part of the tub becomes heated, while the water in the lower half is either chilly or lukewarm at best.
- As the bottom heating element gets 240 V, it warms the water in the bottom region to the temperature that has been specified before the process is completed and turned off.
Problems with Electric Water Heaters
Sometimes, when your heating elements or water heater thermostats fail, you will notice a difference in the performance of your device. If the upper element or thermostat in your water heater breaks, the water heater may be unable to provide hot water. And whether it’s the bottom element or the thermostat that’s defective, you’ll find that you’re running out of hot water quite soon as well. These, on the other hand, might be a result of the cold weather or pipes that are not properly insulated.
However, it is possible that this is due to the thermostat being set too high or the changing of the seasons.
A defective electric water heater may also take an excessive amount of time to reheat the water in your water heater. Other issues might arise as a result of improper tank maintenance or excessive water pressure at home.
How to Test an Electric Hot Water Heater Thermostat and Fix it: Step by Step Guide
We’re going to test both the thermostats and the heating components in our unit to be certain that we’re not dealing with a false alarm. It’s important to note that if your elements are open and grounded, the algorithm may produce a misleading result, which is why we’re also evaluating them. It is necessary to have a Flathead and Philips screwdriver, as well as a digital multimeter, in order to carry out the test described in this section. Let’s get this party started.
Step 1: Turn the power source off
Locate the water heater breaker panel on your circuit breaker panel and switch off the water heater or the hot water supply.
Step 2: Remove the outer access panels
With a flathead screwdriver or 1/4-inch nut driver, pry up the top and lower thermostat access panels on the unit’s left and right sides.
Step 3: Remove the insulation
You have two options for removing the insulation: either entirely remove it or fold it over the thermostat. As well as removing the plastic safety barrier that was covering the thermostat and heating element, Also, use tape to hold the insulator in place as you work on this step, and be careful not to yank the wiring out as you work.
Step 4: Check the high limit switch button
Check to see whether the red high limit reset button has been triggered by accident. If it has, you should push it. The red switch button may trip on occasion if the heating components fail, if the connections on the thermostat have fused closed, or if the thermostat is not calibrated properly.
Step 5: Disconnect the wires
Using your Philips screwdriver, disconnect the wires that are entering each terminal on your computer.
Step 6: Turn the temperature setting to the highest
Make sure that the temperature on the top thermostat is set to its maximum level, and that the scale on your multimeter is set to RX1.
Step 7: Check the thermostat and heating element with a multimeter
Set the resistance of your analog or digital meter to the lowest possible value, which should be 200 ohms. You should hear a click sound at this point. Then attach the black probe to the screw terminal on the left side of the screw terminal. In addition, connect the second red probe to the other terminal, which is still on the left side of the board. Then, using your reading, check to see if the thermostat is still operational. As long as the meter shows zero or a reading that is very near to zero, your thermostat is in proper operating order.
Step 8: Repeat the process for the right side
Place an ohm meter or an analog meter at the lowest possible resistance, which should be 200 ohms. An audible click sound should be heard. Afterwards, connect the black probe to the screw terminal on the left side. Add another red probe to another terminal that’s still on the left-hand side of the workstation. Then, using your reading, check to see if the thermostat is still operational. In this case, your thermostat is operating properly if the meter displays a reading of zero or a value extremely near to it.
Step 9: Take the meter reading on the lower thermostat
After confirming that the upper thermostat is in proper operating order, repeat the process to ensure that the lower thermostat is in proper working order. Take note that there are only two connections on the bottom thermostat, which is a little number.
Check to ensure that the reading is zero before continuing. Assuming that the thermostats are in good working order, you may check the heating components to make sure they are working properly. However, if one or more of the thermostats needs to be replaced, continue reading.
How to Replace A Faulty Thermostat on an Electric Water Heater
It is rather simple to replace a malfunctioning thermostat. Furthermore, purchasing a new one is inexpensive. As a result, even if the problem is with a single thermostat, we’re going to replace both of the thermostats. Prior to doing so, you’ll need to make sure that all of your thermostats are from the same brand. If you are unable to obtain this product, another one from a reputable brand would suffice. You’ll need a few tools.
- A flathead screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver, a digital multimeter or a voltmeter, and a replacement thermostat are all necessary tools.
Now it’s time to get started.
Step 1: Turn off the power supply to the heater
You don’t want to be working with the electricity turned on. So go to the circuit breaker panel and turn off the electricity to the water heater that is currently attached to it.
Step 2: Remove the outer access panel and insulation
Electric water heaters feature access panels on the outside that protect the thermostat and heating components. Remove the insulating pad and plastic covering by unscrewing the nut, taking care not to contact the wires in the process.
Step 3: Take out the Thermostat
Take a photo of the wiring before you remove the malfunctioning old thermostat so that you can remember which wire goes into which terminal while you’re attaching the new thermostat. Alternatively, you can label the wire. Using your multimeter, you should also check to see if it is turned off. Then, using a Philips screwdriver, remove the screw terminals and separate the wire from the terminals. After that, you may peel the thermostat away from its attachment clamps and bracket. However, proceed with caution so as not to harm the clips.
Step 4: Install the new thermostat
After you’ve successfully removed the broken thermostat from the water heater, you’ll need to fix the new thermostat installed in the water heater. Position it appropriately so that it rests comfortably on the surface of the storage tank, and attach the appropriate clips by referring to the image you captured in the preceding step. In addition, connect the circuit wires to their corresponding screw terminals and tighten the screws on the terminals. In addition, it may be a good idea to examine the heating components, clean them, and replace them.
Step 5: Set the temperature of your new thermostat
When you’re certain that the wires are correctly connected and you’re through setting up your thermostat, use your flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature to the ideal setting for you. The optimal temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 6: Replace every other thing you took out
Having completed your setup, it is now time to reinstall your insulators as well as the chamber access panel. After that, reconnect the power supply by turning on the water heater breaker on the circuit breaker panel to the water heater.
Step 7: Cycle test your electric water heater
If you want to test if your water heater heated your water sufficiently, you may turn on the hot water faucet for two hours and observe if the heater did a good job. Troubleshooting Other Water Heater Issues and How to Resolve Them Leaks of water: The majority of the time, faulty valves and plumbing connections are to blame for water leaks in the home. However, corrosion in the water heater tank or loose components in the water heater tank might be the source of the problem. If your tank has rusted beyond repair, you will have no choice except to replace it.
- Noises coming from the tank: If your tank is making noises such as rumbling, popping, or high-pitched sounds, it might be due to boiling water.
- Things’s a simple matter of putting it back together.
- If it does not function, the tank should be replaced.
- It’s also possible that the corrosion is occurring in your pipes.
- If the water flowing through your home smells like rotten eggs, it’s possible that bacteria has accumulated in your hot water tank over time.
It is possible that you may need to replace the anode rod in order to correct this. You, on the other hand, cannot achieve this on your own. In addition, hire the services of a skilled plumber to help you.
You should now be aware of the measures to take in order to simply test and replace your faulty water heater thermostat. Working with electricity, on the other hand, may be quite dangerous, therefore take steps to ensure that the power supply to your water heater is always turned off. Another thing to keep in mind is that silt that accumulates at the bottom of water heater tanks is the most significant factor in lowering the performance of water heaters over time. It might also lead to the overheating of your heater.
Other options include installing a sediment filter and/or a water softener in your water supply.
How to Troubleshoot Electric Water Heater Problems
In a house full of people, if you’ve ever been the last to shower, you’ll know what’s in store for you before you ever step into the bath: bone-chilling, teeth-chattering ice cold water. If you’re having water troubles, even when there aren’t a lot of people in the house, it’s time to take a closer look at your electric water heater. Symptoms of an electric water heater malfunction might include low water temperature, leaks, discoloration, odor, and noise, amongst other things. An illustrated procedure to guide you through the process of troubleshooting your water heater problems is provided below.
Before you start: turn off the power
In a house full of people, if you’ve ever been the last to shower, you’ll know what’s in store for you before you ever step into the bath: bone-chilling, teeth-chatteringly cold water. You should spend some time assessing your electric water heater if you are experiencing water troubles even when the house is not full of people. Symptoms of an electric water heater malfunction might include low water temperature, leaks, discoloration, odor, and noise, amongst other problems. An illustrated procedure to guide you through the process of troubleshooting your water heater issues is provided below.
Water temperature problems
Many different sorts of electric water heater difficulties might result in problems with the temperature of the water. The symptoms might range from a lack of hot water to insufficient hot water to water that is too hot. Having no hot water can be caused by a number of factors, including a shortage of electricity, a malfunctioning electric thermostat, or a malfunctioning top electric heating element. To begin, rule out any potential power issues. To begin, reset any tripped circuit breakers and replace any blown fuses that have been discovered.
- Replace the element if it is found to be defective after it has been tested.
- It is possible that the problem is caused by an inadequately sized water heater, crossed hot and cold connections, or a broken heating element or thermostat when the water does not heat up sufficiently.
- To rule out a crossed connection, switch off the water supply and turn on a hot water faucet; if water continues to flow, the problem is most likely a crossed connection.
- Finally, if all of the elements are operational, check the higher thermostat first, followed by the lower thermostat, and replace if either of them is not operational.
Most of the time, when water is running too hot, it is because the thermostat has been set too high. Check to see that the upper and lower thermostats are set between 110 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit on both the higher and lower levels.
Several factors contribute to water leaks, including a malfunctioning temperature and pressure relief valve (T P), high pressure, overheating, a jammed valve, a leak coming from an above or nearby plumbing connection, loose heating element bolts, a damaged gasket, or a leaky water storage tank. Check the T P valve by placing a bucket beneath the above pipe, opening the valve and flushing it clean; if it is still leaking, fix or replace it. Lowering the thermostat setting will therefore be necessary to alleviate excessive pressure or heat.
After that, inspect the heating element bolts and tighten them as necessary.
Finally, determine whether or not the storage tank is leaking.
Keep a supply of spare o-rings from a reputable provider such as Apple Rubber on available in case you need to replace an o-ring.
Discoloration or odor
Corrosion inside a glass-lined tank or a malfunctioning sacrificial anode rod can both result in rust-colored water being produced. If the anode rod is deteriorating, a magnesium anode rod should be used to replace it. A decaying sacrificial anode rod can also leak hydrogen, resulting in a rotten egg-like odor from the rotting rod. To remedy this situation, first flush the water heater with a hose. Then, for two hours, soak the tank and pipes in a solution made of two pints of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to 40 gallons of water for two hours.
If the odor persists, try replacing the heater with one that has been lined with plastic sheeting.
A deep, rumbling sound may suggest boiling water, which is produced by overheating as a result of sediment accumulation. This can be resolved by flushing the water heater. When scales accumulate on electrical heating components, a high-pitched, whining noise can be heard in the background. First, cleanse the water heater to get rid of the problem. After that, flush out the scale from the water heater tank and heating components. Finally, use low-wattage heating components with a bigger surface area to improve the efficiency of heat transmission.
Refinance your home
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Electric Water Heater Repair
Who was it that drained all of the hot water?! An electric water heater repair guide that explains how an electric water heater works, what frequently goes wrong with them, how to spot an electric water heater problem, and what components and tools you will need to fix them is available online. An electric water heater thermostat is discussed, as well as how to test and replace a heating element, how to test and replace a high-limit cutoff, how to empty an electric water heater tank, how to test and replace a relief valve, and how to replace an electric water heater drain valve.
It also relates to the repair of heating elements and the repair of electric service panels.
How Does an Electric Water Heater Work?
The parts of a common electric water heater are shown here. A water heater is a device that heats water and then stores it for later use once it has been heated. A household water heater generally heats water to a temperature ranging between 120°F and 140°F, depending on the model. A hot-water faucet is opened, and hot water flows from the tank’s top toward the faucet while cold water enters the tank to replenish the hot water that has been lost. In an electric water heater, the thermostat detects a dip in the temperature of the water and activates the heating elements by completing an electrical circuit to them.
- When the temperature of the water in the tank reaches the desired level, the thermostats turn off the energy to the heating components in the tank.
- Fix-It Suggestion Many residences are situated in places where hard water is available.
- Slowing this process down can be accomplished by softening the hard water and reducing the temperature to 130°F or less.
- Simply drain off 2 or 3 liters of water from the tank and let it to replenish itself with fresh water.
What Can Go Wrong with an Electric Water Heater?
In part due to the fact that electric water heaters operate in a straightforward manner, few things may go wrong with them, and the remedies are very simple to find out. The failure of heating components and thermostats. It is possible that the high-temperature cutoff will trip. It is possible that the pressure release valve will fail. Sediment might collect in the tank over time.
How Can I Identify an Electric Water Heater Problem?
- As a preliminary step, try pushing the high-temperature cutoff reset button
- Next examine the thermostats and replace them if they are not working properly (see below). Check the heating element(s) and replace them if they are defective (see section below)
- If there is not enough hot water, the thermostat settings should be adjusted. Reset, test, and replace thermostats and heating components as needed if they become malfunctioning
- The thermostat settings should be adjusted and the water should not be excessively hot. Thethermostator high-limit cutoff should be tested and replaced (see section below).
Fix-It Suggestion What temperature is considered “too hot” for your water heater? Dishwashers in conventional homes generally require a temperature setting of around 120°F, while energy-efficient ones pre-heat incoming water to save energy use. In homes equipped with an energy-efficient model or those lacking a dishwasher, the temperature is commonly set at roughly 110°F.
- The pressure relief valve should be checked if the heater is leaking, and if the leak persists, the valve should be replaced (see below). Make sure the heating element gasket is securely fastened with the mounting bolts and replace it if necessary. If the tank is rusty, the water heater should be replaced. If your electric water heater is making a lot of noise, empty and flush it (see below). Damaged or scale-encrusted parts should be replaced. Drain and flush the hot water tank if the water is contaminated. If the drain valve is leaking, it should be tightened or replaced (see below). Please keep in mind that draining the tank on a regular basis will help to extend the life of your electric water heater. If you have hard water in your house, check the anode rod once a year (see below) and replace it if it is damaged.
What Do I Need for Electric Water Heater Repair?
Local hardware and plumbing supply businesses can provide you with replacement components if necessary. The following are the tools that you will require to repair an electric water heater:
What Are the Steps to Electric Water Heater Repair?
Caution! When an electric water heater is turned on, it generates 240 volts, which can cause a lethal shock. Always turn off the power to the heater at the electrical service panel before starting any work, and double-check that the power has been turned off before proceeding.
Make sure everyone else in the house is aware of the dangers of restoring electricity too soon. If you have any doubts about whether or not the electricity has been switched off, you should seek expert help.
Troubleshoot an electric water heater thermostat:
- Caution! 240-volt appliances like electric water heaters have the potential to cause death. Prior to commencing any work, be sure that all power to the heater has been turned off at the electrical service panel. Double-check that all power has been turned off. Maintain communication with other members of your household to avoid restoring electricity too soon. Seek expert advice if you are in any question about whether or not the electricity has been switched off.
Test and replace an electric water heater heating element:
- Disconnect the electric water heater’s access panel from the unit. Disconnect one of the element wires and set a multimeter to RX1000 on the other element wire (resistance times 1,000). Touch one probe to an element mounting bolt and the other to each element terminal screw one at a time, starting with the first element. If the tester indicates anything other than infinity (opencircuit), the element should be replaced. If required, set the multimeter to RX1 and contact the probes to the terminal screw terminals. If there is any resistance reading at all (closed circuit), the element is in good working order. If it isn’t, get a new one. Both the top and lower components are subjected to the identical testing procedures. Draining the heater is the first step towards removing the element. Disconnect the remaining element wire from the rest of the wires. Using a screwdriver, remove the mounting bolts that are keeping the element in place. Remove the heating element and replace it with a new one that has the same model, shape, and rating as the old one. Make careful to replace any gaskets that were used during the installation process.
Test and replace an electric water heater high-limit cutoff:
- Disconnect the heater’s power supply at the electrical service panel and put a sign alerting people not to switch it on. Remove the upper access panel and press the reset button to restart the computer. After reinstalling the access panel, turn the power back on. If the water is hot, it is likely that the reset was the issue. If this is not the case, you will need to switch off the power again and reopen the access panel. Make use of a multimeter to check the continuity of the cutoff terminals. If a part is defective, it should be replaced with an exact replacement part.
Drain an electric water heater tank:
- Switch off the electricity at the electrical service panel and place a sign advising people not to turn it back on
- Close the cold-water supply valve and turn on a hot-water faucet someplace in the home (this will get the draining process along faster)
- Connect a garden hose to the drain valve and run it outside the house to collect the water. Allow all of the water to flow out of the drain valve by opening it. Closing the drain valve securely while simultaneously opening the cold-water supply valve will allow for proper tank refilling. Additionally, turn on a nearby hot-water faucet. It is safe to close the faucet when there is a continuous stream of water coming from it
- Otherwise, the tank would overflow
- Once the tank is completely filled, switch the electrical power back on.
Test and replace an electric water heater relief valve:
- Fill a tiny cup with water by lifting the spring lever on the valve. See whether there’s any sediment in the cup. If no water surges forth, or if water continues to leak after the valve has been opened, the valve should be replaced. Switch off the electricity at the electrical service panel and place a sign reminding people not to turn it back on again. Close the cold-water supply valve to avoid wasting water. Drain a few of litres of water from the tank’s reservoir
- If a discharge pipe is being utilized, unscrew it and remove it. Make use of a pipe wrench to loosen the relief valve before carefully removing it by hand
- To screw in the replacement valve, wrap pipe tape across its threads before hand-screwing it into the tank. Using a pipe wrench, tighten it down. Incorporate the discharge pipe (if applicable) into the valve output. Repair and re-energize the water heater and the electrical system.
Replace an electric water heater drain valve:
- Switch off the electricity at the electrical service panel and place a sign advising people not to turn it back on
- Turn off the cold-water supply valve and thoroughly empty the water heater (as described above). Using a pipe wrench, remove the drain valve from its mounting. Replace the drain valve with an identical item, then tape the end of the pipe with pipe tape to seal it. Replenish the tank and turn on the electricity
Fix-It Suggestion Are you in need of new parts? Remember to bring the old water heater parts, as well as the heater brand and model number, with you when you go shopping for replacements. It may save you the trouble of making a journey.
Common Water Heater Problems (AND WHAT TO CHECK)
Please keep in mind that this content may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, we may gain a small profit on purchases made via our links. Tank-type water heaters, on the other hand, are rather straightforward items. While all of their components are vital, there are just a handful of them when compared to the number of components in other appliances. The majority of repairs may be done on your own without spending a lot of money. However, if the problem is with the water tank itself, a new water heater is typically the only option.
There are categories for both electric and gas water heaters to make it easier for you to find what you need.
As is always the case, if you are not totally confident in your ability to do the repairs yourself, you should seek the assistance of a professional plumber.
Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
(Click here to get to the section about GAS water heater issues.) (Click on image to expand)
Water Leaking From the Top
One of several possibilities exists when you suspect you have a leak at the top of your electric water heater. It is possible that the cold inlet or hot outlet pipes are loose, that the T P valve has broken, or that the inlet valve is leaking. All of these issues are simply resolved. For further information, read Water Heater Leaking from the Top of the Water Heater.
Water Leaking From the Bottom
Normal condensation, a leaky electric heating element gasket, or a tiny quantity of water being ejected via the overflow pipe because the T P valve is opening to relieve excess pressure in the tank are all possible causes of an electric water heater leaking from the bottom. It’s possible that the water heater’s actual tank is leaking, in which case the only solution is to replace the water heater. For further information, read Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom for a detailed explanation.
No Hot Water
The water in an electric water heater is heated by two heating elements that are connected together (in most cases). There are several possible causes for absolutely no hot water, but the most likely is that the circuit breaker has tripped. Check the breaker box first. If that is not the case, it is possible that the heating components have failed and need to be replaced. It’s also possible that there’s a problem with the limit/reset switch on the thermostat. It may have tripped because the water was far too hot, or it could have just failed and required replacement.
Not Enough Hot Water
Most likely, there is a problem with the thermostat, which is resulting in insufficient hot water. Depending on the heating element, it may be as simple as changing the thermostat to the required water temperature for that particular heating element. A layer of insulation and an access panel on the side of the tank often conceal the thermostat in electric types of the tank. In contrast to gas versions, an electric thermostat is pre-programmed at the manufacturer and is not designed to be adjusted, but it may be essential to do so on occasion.
There are a variety of other reasons why you may not have enough hot water, including a malfunctioning thermostat or element, loose wiring, or a water heater tank that is too small for your needs. For further information, see “What size water heater do I require?”
Water is Too Hot
Once again, this is most likely connected to the thermostat(s), which are set to an excessively high temperature. Simply get access to the thermostat and make the necessary adjustments. During the shift from the cold to the warm seasons, this may also be required. Please see this page for our recommended temperature setting. If you are unable to get the water temperature down to a satisfactory level, you may need to replace the thermostat, or there may be a wiring problem (recommended to call a pro if the later).
Water Takes Too Long to Reheat
One of the disadvantages of electric water heaters is that they are inefficient. Recovery time (the amount of time it takes to reheat the full supply of water) on an electric model is approximately twice as long as it is on a comparable gas type. The amount of time it takes to heat water might vary significantly across different kinds of water heater. In most cases, newer is preferable. Accordingly, if it is taking longer than normal for the hot water to recover, there may be a problem with the heating elements (including sediment build-up on them) or the thermostat, and these components may need to be changed.
However, we recommend that you conduct some study on thetankless vs tank water heatercomparison before making a decision.
Low Hot Water Pressure
The majority of people who complain about poor hotwater pressure live in older homes with 1/2-inch diameter galvanized pipe that enters and exits the water heater. The only way to overcome the automatic limitation of water pressure is to install new 3/4-inch plumbing, which enables for more water to flow through it. Water pressure problems can be caused by a variety of factors including sediment, calcium deposits, and corrosion in your plumbing or sink aerators.
Water Heater is Making Strange Noises
Popping, hissing, slamming, knocking, or other weird noises coming from your water heater are most likely caused by scale buildup on your heating elements or an excessive amount of sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank. Among the other sources of noise include a leak someplace, too much pressure inside the tank, and loud pipes as a result of the tank’s natural expanding and compressing. When your water heater makes noise, there’s usually nothing to worry about, but it should always be checked out for your own peace of mind.
Dirty or Rusty Colored Water
Popping, hissing, pounding, knocking, or other weird noises coming from your water heater are most likely caused by scale buildup on your heating elements or an excessive amount of sediment buildup at the bottom of your tank.
A leak someplace, excessive pressure inside the tank, or loud pipes as a result of natural expanding and contracting are all possible reasons of noise. Although it is generally unnecessary to investigate whether your water heater is producing noise, doing so for peace of mind is always a good idea.
Smelly Hot Water
Bacteria in the hot water tank is the most common cause of odorous or stinky hot water. Homes that utilize well water as their primary water supply are more prone to their water emitting a foul odor than other types of homes. Periodic cleaning of the water heater may temporarily alleviate the sulfur or rotten egg smell from your hot water, but to permanently eliminate the sulfur or rotten egg smell from your hot water, you will most likely need to replace the anode rod. Better better, try using a powered anode rod, which will eliminate the odor while also extending the life of the rod.
To learn more about how to troubleshoot an electric water heater in greater depth, please watch the video below:
Gas Water Heater Troubleshooting
(Click on image to expand)
Water Leaking From the Top
The image may be seen in more detail by clicking here.
Water Leaking From the Bottom
There are several possible causes of water leaking from the bottom of a gas water heater, including moisture (try raising the thermostat), a leaky or loosedrain valve, or the T P valve draining some water through the overflow line as a result of overpressurization in the tank. The replacement of the water heater is required if the corrosion in the water heater tank is the cause of the water leak. Additional information may be found at Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom.
No Hot Water
The very first thing you should check is whether or not you have gas flow and whether or not your pilot light is turned on. If this is the case, the problem might be with the thermocouple, which is not accurately recognizing that the pilot light is on and, as a result, is not igniting the gas. It is possible that the thermocouple will need to be changed (or simply cleaned). For water heaters that utilize electronic ignition, check your circuit breaker box to determine whether the circuit breaker has been tripped.
More information may be found here.
Not Enough Hot Water
Not having enough hot water or running out of hot water too soon can be caused by a number of factors, including not having the thermostat set at a high enough temperature (especially in the winter months), a malfunctioning thermostat, or a broken or damaged dip tube, which allows the incoming cold water to mix with the hot water on top of the water heater. It’s possible that you’re not getting enough hot water simply because your water heater tank is too small for your requirements. Despite the fact that you may have a 40-gallon tank, only around 28-30 gallons of useful hot water may be available at any given moment.
Water is Too Hot
The most likely explanation is that you have the thermostat set too high. This is especially prevalent during the transition from the colder Winter months to the warmer Spring and Summer months, when people forget to lower the thermostat after boosting it to accommodate for the colder Winter temperatures.
A malfunctioning thermostat that requires replacement is a less common scenario. Do you have issues with the installation of your water heater? Then this post is written specifically for you.
Water Takes Too Long to Reheat
The thermostat may be set too low, the burner orifice may be too dirty or blocked and require cleaning, the gas pressure may be too low, or the vent flue may be too dirty and require cleaning. If your gas water heater appears to be recovering too slowly, the thermostat may be set too low. For many, the problem is merely a result of having a water heater tank that is too small for their family’s requirements, and the tank is never given an opportunity to fully recover.
Low Hot Water Pressure
If you live in an older home, there’s a strong possibility that you have galvanized plumbing with a 1/2-inch diameter throughout your home. This has a significant impact on the amount of hot water that may pass through your home’s plumbing system. The only method, however, to acquire considerably higher hot water pressure than you now have is to upgrade to the newer 3/4-inch plumbing that is commonly seen in modern homes. Certainly not a simple undertaking. You may be able to modestly boost water pressure by clearing out sink aerators or shower heads that tend to become clogged over time, but this will need some effort.
Pilot Will Not Light
A number of factors might be at play when the pilot light on a water heater won’t light despite your efforts to get it to do so. A blocked or damaged pilot light aperture or tube, a thermocouple that is loose or broken, air in the gas line, or a malfunctioning gas valve are all possibilities.
Pilot Will Not Stay Lit
A pilot light that fails to light on a regular basis is just as inconvenient as a pilot light that fails to light at all. Often, thermocouple replacement is required, but there are other possibilities if your pilot light continues to illuminate. Other possibilities include a faulty gas valve or a partially clogged vent, both of which can result in downdrafts that extinguish the pilot light when they occur.
Burner Does Not Stay Lit
A burner that occasionally goes out or generates an unusually high or low flame, or even a whistling sound, is most often caused by unclean or blocked burner orifices, which are common in older homes. A malfunctioning thermocouple or a clogged vent, similar to the situation with the pilot light, might possibly be the source of the problem.
Water Heater is Making Strange Noises
The same as with an electric water heater, hissing, popping, knocking, or pounding noises can occasionally be detected. Typically, this is caused by sediment buildup in the tank’s bottom, expanding/contracting piping that scrapes against wood framing within the walls, or dirty/clogged portions through which the gas is forced to pass.
Rusty Colored Water
It is common for corrosion to occur on the anode rod or within the water tank itself. While changing the anode rod is not a difficult or expensive task, if the tank begins to exhibit indications of corrosion, the situation becomes more serious. When this happens, it’s just a matter of time before a leak occurs, at which point a replacement water heater will be necessary.
Smelly Hot Water
This is most likely due to a buildup of germs within the tank. Simply raising the temperature to around 140 degrees should be sufficient to kill off the germs, but a thorough cleaning of the tank with chlorine bleach may be required.
If the stench returns, it is probable that the anode rod has reached the end of its useful life and will need to be replaced. A more precise answer could be what you’re searching for, though.
- Manuals for Rheem water heaters, A.O. Smith water heater manuals, and other brands.