How to Test a Water Heater Element
You should budget an additional $500 to cover the expense of replacing an old water heater. Purchasing new piping (at an average cost of $8-$10 per linear foot) is necessary if your existing water heater pipe is broken or not compatible with the new system. Ask your plumbing contractor in Alpharetta if you need to get any permits for a new water heater before you proceed. Fletch Barney is the conclusion of your hunt for a plumbing specialist. Plumbers in Alpharetta know that we are one of the most dependable companies in the city.
Call us at 770-333-3031 if you want to talk about your project with a professional.
- If you wish to replace an old water heater, you should budget an additional $500 toward the total cost. Purchasing new piping will be necessary if your existing water heater pipe is broken or is not compatible with the new system ($8-$10 per linear foot). Ask your plumbing contractor in Alpharetta whether you need to obtain any permits for a new water heater. Fletch Barney is the place to go if you’re looking for a plumbing specialist. We have earned a reputation as one of the most dependable plumbing companies in the Alpharetta area. When it comes to water heater repair in Alpharetta or sewage line repair in Alpharetta, we’ve got you covered. Call us at 770-333-3031 if you would like to speak with a professional about your project.
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
A malfunctioning heating element is one of the most common causes of a water heater that isn’t generating hot water, and it is one of numerous probable causes. Unfortunately, testing the heating element is one of the most straightforward diagnostic tasks you can perform on your own computer or mobile device. This method eliminates the need to drain the tank or interfere with any gas, water, or electrical lines. Additionally, you may be interested in the following information: Which button should I press to turn on the water heater?
- 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
The fact that testing the heater element entails dealing with electricity means that you must first shut down your water heater to guarantee that you are operating in a safe environment. To accomplish this, you must first turn off the circuit breaker that supplies electricity to the water heater. Circuit breakers are placed in your home’s central breaker box, which is often found in the garage, basement, or beneath a stairwell. It is a 1-foot by 2-foot metal box with a breaker on each side. The electrician who wired your property should have clearly designated the breaker that serves your water heater, which should be located within the breaker box.
If the breaker isn’t labeled, you may either cut off the electricity to your entire house with the main breaker (which is normally placed at the top of the box) or turn off all of the double breakers, which are breakers that are linked together with another breaker.
Step 2. Remove the Metal Covers
On the side of your water heater, there should be one or two metal plate covers to protect it from the elements. They are secured in place by two or more screws with Phillips heads, which are commonly found on these covers. They house the thermostat and heating element. These screws can be removed using a screwdriver or a power drill equipped with the proper bit.
Step 3. Remove the Insulation and Plastic Covers
On the side of your water heater, you should find one or two metal plate covers. They are kept in place by two or more screws with Phillips heads, which are often used to secure the thermostat and heating element. Screwdriver or power drill with the proper bit can be used to remove these screws.
Step 4. Locate the Heating Element
The thermostat and heating element should be visible at this point in the process. The thermostat is typically rectangular in shape, with multiple electrical wires running through it and connecting to screws on either side of it. It’s situated just above the heating element, as the name implies. The heating element itself is contained within the tank. The visible piece is the approximately 1-inch square base (or “end point”), which is held together by two screws that are connected to the electrical lines.
Additional Related Articles:
- 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.
You should replace your heating element if the reading is less than this (i.e, 0 or 1) since it indicates that your heating element is malfunctioning. 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.
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
The majority of the time, replacing one or both of the heating elements will address the problem if your electric hot water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water more quickly than it used to, or not delivering any hot water at all. Rebuilding or replacing a water heater element is simple, and new elements are affordable ($8 to $20) and easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers. How to test the heating elements, remove one if it’s defective, and replace it with a new one will be demonstrated.
The cost of repair may be prohibitive if your heater is reaching its end of life.
Video: How to Test Your Water Heater Element
- 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 longer to heat, running out of hot water quicker than it used to, or not delivering any hot water at all. Water heater repairs are simple, and replacement elements are affordable ($8 to $20) and easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers. We’ll demonstrate how to test the heating elements, remove a defective one, and replace it with a new one. It’s important to remember that water heaters typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. If your heater is reaching the end of its useful life, replacing it may be a better option than repairing it. Learn how to adjust your water heater by visiting this page.
- If your electric hot water heater is sluggish to heat, runs out of hot water more quickly than it used to, or doesn’t produce any hot water at all, there’s a 90 percent probability that just replacing one or both of the heating elements will cure the problem. Water heater repairs are basic, and replacement components are affordable ($8 to $20) and easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers. We’ll teach you how to test the heating elements, remove one if it’s faulty, and replace it with a new one. Just keep in mind that water heaters have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. It may be more cost-effective to replace your heater rather than repair it if your heater is getting old. Learn how to adjust your water heater in this article.
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
- Please keep in mind that you will need a continuity tester ($5 to $10) for this stage.
- Disconnect the wires from the terminal screws using a wire cutter. Attach the alligator clamp to one of the element screws using a hex key. With the tester probe, make contact with the other screw.
- Note: If the tester does not illuminate, the element should be replaced.
Test for a Short Circuit
- The alligator clip should be attached to one of the element screws. Touch the tester probe to the mounting bracket for the element
- Repeat the process on the other screw.
- It is important to note that if the tester light illuminates either time, there is a short. Replace the element with a new one
The Secret of the Red Button
Occasionally, both elements will pass the test, but you will still be unable to receive hot water. Try pressing the “high-temperature cutoff” button, which is situated right above the upper thermostat, to see if that helps. It may temporarily cure the problem, but if the problem recurs, the heating components should be checked. Step number five.
Remove the Bad Element
- The elements may pass the test but you will still be unable to heat the water. Push the “high-temperature cutoff” button, which is situated directly above the higher thermostat, to see if that helps reduce the temperature. Check your heating components if the problem persists even after you’ve tried everything else. Five-point plan:
- 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.
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 wiring 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:
- Circuit breakers should be used to turn off electricity to the water heater. Remove the upper element’s top cover by lifting it up. This is positioned on the top side of the water heater tank
- It is a cylinder-shaped piece of metal. To reset the top thermostat, press the red reset button situated above it. Replace the cover panel and re-energize the circuit breaker if necessary.
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
You can use a non-contact voltage tester or a multimeter to assess whether or not the heating elements have failed in your vehicle. When working with a multimeter, you must understand how to interpret the results. Tools You’ll need the following supplies:
- A non-contact voltage tester, a screwdriver, a multimeter, and a continuity tester are all useful tools.
A non-contact voltage tester, a screwdriver, a multimeter, and a continuity tester are all necessary tools.
- 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 which 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.
5 Ways On How to Tell if a Hot Water Heater Element is Bad
You are here: Home»Blog»5 Ways to Determine whether a Hot Water Heater Element is Faulty 621Views A hot water heater contributes to the cleanliness of our dishes and the pleasantness of our showers. Therefore, when something goes wrong with it or one of its components, it may be quite frustrating to deal with it. So, is it truly the heater that’s the issue, and what’s the best approach to determine whether or not a hot water heater element is faulty? Please continue to read this essay because I will provide all of the solutions.
Common Issues with Hot Water Heaters
If the problem is not with the boiler, but with the power, there is a good possibility that it is with the power source. As a result, homeowners should investigate what is going on with their circuit breaker. To restore correct operation to the boiler, they only need to reset the breaker and the boiler should begin to operate normally once more. The cables are the next item that homeowners should look at closely. They should be safe and unaffected by anything outside of their control. Another crucial item for homeowners to verify is whether or not there is any electricity coming from the heater itself.
They should first switch off the circuit breaker that feeds energy to the heater, and then remove the covers, thermostats, insulation, and protective cover from the heater.
If the tester indicates that there is electricity to the heater, the problem is most likely with the heating components.
The water from the water heater is leaking
If the problem is not with the boiler, but with the electricity, there is a good possibility that it is with the electrical system. In this case, homeowners should investigate what is happening with the breaker. To restore correct operation to the boiler, they only need to reset the breaker and the boiler should be operational again. The wiring are the next item that homeowners should check. They should be safe and unaffected by anything outside of themselves. Another key item for homeowners to look for is whether or not there is any electricity to the heater itself.
They should first switch off the circuit breaker that delivers energy to the heater, and then remove the covers, thermostats, insulation, and protective cover from the unit.
If the tester indicates that the heater has power, the problem is most likely with the elements.
The water heater isn’t heating water
There’s a significant likelihood that the heating components are the source of the problem if the electricity is adequate yet no water is being heated by the boiler. Every heater contains two heating elements: an upper heating element and a lower heating element. If there isn’t any hot water in the house, there is a chance that both elements are in poor condition. If, on the other hand, the temperature of the water changes throughout the day, or if the hot water isn’t as hot as it used to be, the problem is most likely with one of the elements in the system.
So, if you’re experiencing this type of problem, keep reading to find out more about the easiest approach to determine whether or not a hot water heater element is broken.
The Best Way to Check If a Hot Water Heater Element Is Bad
What you’ll need is the following:
1. Buy a multimeter
Homeowners may purchase a multimeter online or at most home improvement stores. It’s affordable, and they can use it to monitor voltage, resistance, and current, among other things. A multitester is a device that has a display, a knob that allows the device to read a variety of different things, and two probes. Although the gadget appears to be complicated, you shouldn’t be concerned since the instructions and internet resources will provide you with all of the information you need to know about operating it.
It is recommended that homeowners use the knob to measure resistance or ohms and set the scale to its smallest values.
2. Turn off the power
One of the most crucial steps in any testing procedure is shutting off all power sources. When the hot water heater’s voltage is too high, it might produce a dangerous electrical shock. In order to avoid more complications, it’s critical to disconnect everything from the boiler and its electrical outlets before proceeding. Additionally, because most hot water heaters are connected to a circuit, homeowners should be sure to turn off the breaker for the boiler before turning on the water heater.
3. Preparing the water heater element for the test
The power is turned off, which is perhaps the most essential phase in the testing sequence. In some cases, a severe electrical shock might result from the voltage of the hot water heater. In order to avoid more complications, it’s critical to disconnect everything from the boiler and its electrical connections before proceeding. Additionally, because most hot water heaters are connected to a circuit, homeowners should be sure to turn off the breaker for the boiler before turning on the hot water heater.
4.Testing the water heater element
It is critical to thoroughly inspect every part of the heating element in order to conduct a thorough test. Due to the fact that the bottom element is more susceptible to damage, homeowners should inspect it first. After that, they should repeat the whole process for the upper element of the structure. The screws should be the first item that homeowners should check. They should attach one probe to one screw and the other probe to another screw, and then wait for the findings to appear on the display screen.
The resistance, on the other hand, will vary depending on the wattage of the heating element.
Those who are unsure about the wattage of their unit’s elements can find out by looking at the gap between two screws, which is exactly where the wires used to reside.
It is necessary to place one probe on the metal and another probe on a screw on the element.
There is no doubt that any reading or movement of the needle on the multimeter indicates the presence of an open circuit. The same procedure should be used when working with the metal frame of the component. If there is any movement or reading, this indicates that the element has shorted out.
5. Checking the thermostats
In the event that both heating components are in good working order, the final step is to inspect the thermostats. A multimeter will also prove to be an excellent instrument for this stage. If both thermostats are malfunctioning, or if electricity is only available on one side, they must be replaced. Nowadays, many hot water heaters are equipped with a safety thermostat as well. This gadget, too, has the potential to create problems, so it’s necessary to check it out as well.
Lastly, if both heating components are in excellent working order, the thermostats must be checked. A multimeter will also prove to be an excellent instrument for this task. The thermostats must be changed if they are both malfunctioning or if there is only electricity on one side of the thermostats. In addition to a safety thermostat, many hot water heaters now come equipped with one. Also, this item has the potential to cause problems, so it’s necessary to check it out.
- If both heating components are in excellent working order, the final step is to inspect the thermostats. A multimeter would also come in handy for this phase. If both thermostats are faulty, or if electricity is only available on one side, they must be replaced. Nowadays, many hot water heaters are also equipped with a safety thermostat. This gadget, too, has the potential to cause problems, so it’s necessary to test it as well.
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.
Have you noticed a significant reduction in the temperature of the water delivered by your water heater? If so, you are not alone. A constant supply of hot water is required in every home to complete a variety of household tasks. But when your water heater produces lukewarm water that is insufficient for the reasons for which it was designed, it may be annoying to say the least. There are a variety of issues that might impair the efficiency of your water heater’s operation, but one of the most common is a malfunctioning element.
As a result, understanding how to inspect and replace a water heater element is essential.
- Hand gloves, a screwdriver, safety goggles, and a digital multimeter are all required.
Causes of Failure of Water Heater Element
There might be several factors contributing to your water heater element not functioning properly.
a). Accumulation of Mineral
As a result of the numerous procedures that they go through in order to provide hot water, water heater elements have a limited operating life. The deteriorated state of these elements is exacerbated if there are mineral deposits present in the water. The minerals are solidified as a result of the ongoing process. Lower elements may get encircled by mineral deposits in some instances, which may finally lead the element to fail. Turning down your water heater and flushing your water heater once a year is an excellent preventative action you may implement.
Check out our earlier post to find out how to cleanse a water heater effectively. If you are able to accomplish this, the sediments will be eliminated and the life of the components will be extended significantly.
b). Trapped Air Pockets
All water heater elements must be operated with their heads submerged in water at all times. If the heat created by an element is not transmitted to the water, it might burn through the copper of the element. A bleed line on the water is required once or twice a year to remove trapped air and sediments from the tank. If this is not done, the trapped air, referred to as “Air Pockets,” will cause the upper element to burn since it is not immersed in water. This has the potential to cause the water heater to fail.
c). Malfunctioning Thermostat
The thermostat’s job is to notify the elements when to heat the water at different temperatures depending on the temperature setting. When the temperature rises over a preset threshold, the high limit switch on the thermostat is activated, and the power is turned off as a result. A faulty thermostat will be unable to regulate the amount of heat supplied to the water heater element, resulting in the element eventually catching fire.
d). Power Surge
A abrupt rise in voltage, such as that induced by a power surge or lightning, can also cause an element to catch fire and burn. Each element has a certain voltage rating, and any voltage that is higher than the appropriate voltage will cause the element to burn.
e). Breakage of Heating Element
When the heating element inside the tank of an electric water heater malfunctions, there may be a loss of hot water. Perhaps the element will catch fire, resulting in the water slowly cooling down. If, on the other hand, there is simply cold water, this indicates that the second element has failed. Aside from these three possibilities, a tripped circuit or a blown fuse might also cause the heating element to trip. It is also expected that the fuse box would be checked in this respect.
f). Bad Wire Connection
Electricity is delivered to the elements by high gauge cables. In the event that a wire falls off a terminal as a consequence of a faulty connection, an element may cease to function. Due to the inadequate connection, it is possible that other issues such as arcing will arise as well. You should pay close attention to anything that has the potential to harm your water heater element and take precautions to avoid it if possible.
Steps on How to Test Water Heater Element
The following are the methods to be followed when testing for the water element:
Step 1: Disconnect from the power source
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
Depending on how old your water heater is, a layer of cellulose or fiberglass insulation will be installed behind the metal cover. Disconnect the insulation and place it to one side. While removing the insulation, make use of your safety gloves and goggles.
Check to check if the thermostat is protected by a plastic cover. Pulling off the tab on the thermostat plastic cover will also allow you to remove it. However, because some thermostats do not come with a detachable plastic cover, doing this operation is entirely optional.
Step 4: Confirm that the power is off
If your water heater is more than ten years old, it will have an additional layer of cellulose or fiberglass insulation behind the metal cover. Disconnect the insulation and place it to one side for the time being. While removing the insulation, wear your protective gloves and goggles. Determine whether or not a plastic cover is present on the thermostat. The plastic cover for the thermostat may also be removed by pulling off a tab. However, because some thermostats do not come with a detachable plastic cover, this is an optional step.
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.
You should also double-check the reading for the second water heater element.
Step 8: Reattach the disconnected parts
One of the multimeter probes should be placed on a screw that is affixed to the element’s face. (See illustration.) The loose end of the metal element can be unraveled in order to accomplish this task. No terminals are present on the water heater element; therefore, you will not be concerned with determining which terminal to test first. Make certain, however, that you are just checking the element itself and not any of the other electrical components that are connected to it. Connect the prongs of the multimeter to the tip of the element screw using a nut and washer.
This indicates a malfunctioning water element, which should be replaced if the resistance is extremely low, such as 1, or does not read at all.
If you are unfamiliar with how to operate a digital multimeter, here is a video that will walk you through the essential steps. You should also double-check the reading on the second water heater element. Occasionally, both pieces are defective and must be replaced together.
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.
Water heater element replacement is a straightforward procedure. How to do this is demonstrated in the video.
- 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.
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InspectAPedia does not allow any form of conflict of interest. The sponsors, goods, and services described on this website are not affiliated with us in any way. Testing an electric water heater heating element: This article discusses how to test an electric water heater heating element and what readings to anticipate if you are using an ohmmeter to do so. A guide to replacing a defective heating element in an electric hot water heater is provided in this article, which covers the measures to take while checking the heating elements.
The pages on this website will address the vast majority of your queries concerning electrical water heaters, as well as many other issues related to the inspection and repair of building plumbing systems.
For this topic, we also have anARTICLE INDEX available, or you may check the top or bottom of the page.
How to Test Electric Water Heater Heating Elements
Note: Once you have determined which heating element is faulty, you should also refer to REPLACEMENT OF ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENT. Because the electric water heater may be unable to function owing to a loss of electrical power to the device or a faulty high-temperature cutoff switch, you should also review the test procedures at the bottom of this page. CUTOFF TEST FOR ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS AT HIGH TEMPERATURESThe electric water heater drawing (left), which illustrates the sequencing technique for electric water heater elements, is courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates and is used with permission.
- Electric water heaters contain two heating elements – thick metal loops that become hot when electricity goes through them.
- A dip tube is used to supply cold water to the bottom of the tank when it is filled with hot water.
- When there is a significant demand for hot water, the higher heating element functions as a “booster” to provide more heat.
- As we said before, if there is some hot water available but it is restricted in quantity or temperature, it is possible that one of the heating components has failed and the other has not.
- However, while the bottom element is capable of heating the entire tank, it is not capable of heating the water to the same high temperature as if both elements were in operation at the same time.
- If the electric water heater continues to generate hot water at the same temperature as before, but the quantity produced appears to be significantly reduced, we think that the bottom water heater element has burned out.
- Cold water enters the water heater and collects at the bottom of the tank.
- A faulty bottom water heater element results in a short hot shower.
See HOW TO USE A DIGITAL MULTIMETER (DMM) for more information. For further information on how to safely use electrical test equipment, read SAFE USE OF DMMS AND VOMS and VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIPMENT.
Steps in Testing an Electric Water Heater Heating Element – Good Method
When I switch on the hot water in the house, the water does not get hot – Claude 11/29/12
Even when the hot water in the house is turned on, the water does not become warm – Claude 11/29/12
- You should have done this earlier if you followed the steps above. Turn off the electricity to the water heater. Power should be turned off at the water heater circuit at the main electrical panel. Heater water should be lukewarm or cooler than the rest of the house. If the water heater is hot, run hot water throughout the building (without turning off the electrical power to the water heater) until the water is lukewarm or cooler. Removing the electrical wires from the heating element terminals is a good idea. (This is true whether the top or lower heating element is being tested.) To check for current flow, do the following: Use a voltage-ohmmeter, digital multimeter, or Ohmmeter or multimeter configured to read “resistance” or “ohms” in the following ways: Link one alligator clip or one probe of the VOM to each terminal on the water heater element, or use a VOM probe to connect them. One probe makes contact with one terminal, while the second probe makes contact with the other terminal. If the Ohmmeter needle does not move (or if no reading is displayed on the DMM), this indicates that the electric water heater heating element is faulty and must be repaired or replaced immediately. if the ohmmeter needle moves, or if you receive an Ohm value (other than infinity), then the heating element is in good working order, and you are ready to proceed to testing the other heating element on the heater. Briefly stated, if there is “continuity” through the heating element, it is functioning correctly. If there is no continuity (i.e., no electrical current can flow), the element is said to be faulty.
Testing an Electric Water Heating Element for a Short Circuit – Crude MethodOHM Table for Water Heater Elements
Although we do not do this test on a regular basis, we have included it here because it appears in several diagnostic methods for electric water heaters. OHMS charts for water heater elements are available on the internet. The chart on the left (courtesy of A.O. Smith) describes the real ohm reading you’d anticipate when testing an original OEM heater element of the wattage displayed. Even if you don’t have that level of information, there is a simple test you can run to determine whether or not the heating element in an electric water heater is in excellent operating order:
- In most cases, we do not do this test
- Nevertheless, certain diagnostic methods for electric water heaters include it, therefore we have included it here for completeness of information. OHMS charts for water heater elements are available on the internet. The chart on the left (courtesy of A.O. Smith) describes the real ohm reading you’d anticipate when testing an original OEM heater element with the wattage specified. Without going into great detail, there is a straightforward test you can run to determine whether or not the heating element in an electric water heater is in proper operating order:
In addition, the Residential Gas and Electric Water Heater Handbookprovided by A.O. Smith and linked-to atREFERENCES has further water heater element testing guidelines.
Causes of Heating Element Failure on Electric Water Heaters
Water heater components can fail due to a variety of factors, including age and usage. If your building’s water source is hard water (rich in mineral content), scale buildup on the elements can hasten their mortality. For more information on how to remove scale from a water heater, see WATER HEATER NOISE DIAGNOSIS, CURE.
Reader Q A – also see the FAQs series linked-to below
John Are you checking the water heater element with:- all power to the heater turned off (so you don’t get electrocuted)and- all cables attached to the heating element removed from each other? If it doesn’t work, let’s try something else. If you continue to experience infinite resistance or zero resistance, it is likely that the heating element is blown out. When I try to use my multiple on ohms x 1k, it only works on the highest scale, and I’m reading continuity through the element. Was there a possibility that the components were being read via the water due of the high scale and by element was bad?
- Briefly stated, if there is “continuity” through the heating element, it is functioning correctly.
- Thank you for your inquiry.
- It should be replaced.
- When testing the terminal of an element and the body of the element, what is an acceptable resistance reading?
- It’s possible that we might begin by clarifying the question.
- When doing an insulation resistance test on a water heater circuit, there are two concerns to take into consideration.
- “Best grade thermo stant” is a phrase that I am not familiar with.
- Wishing you the best of luck on your test.
- Replace the element in your electric water heater by continuing to read.
Alternatively, choose a topic from the closely related articles listed below, or browse the entireARTICLE INDEX. For further information, visit the ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENT TEST FAQs- questions and answers originally provided on this page. Alternatively, consider the following:
- The DMM DIGITAL MULTIMETER and How to Use It
- The replacement of an electric water heater element. Tests on the elements of electric water heaters
- ELECTRIC WATER HEATER REPAIR GUIDE-DO IT YOURSELF. CURE FOR WATER HEATER NOISE: Remove scale from the water heater that is making noise.
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ASSESSMENT OF THE ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENTatInspect An online encyclopedia of building environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, and issue preventive information is available at Apedia.com. Alternatively, have a look at this.
INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES:ARTICLE INDEX to WATER HEATERS
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