Easy Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
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Use the electric water heater troubleshooting guide to find the
causes why an electric unit fails, produce less or no hot water. The
troubleshooting guide helps you find the answers about heating
elements, thermostats and more.
Electric water heater troubleshooting article will cover
and causes that are specific for electric units only, while problems
such as corrosion, leaking,
are common on both
and gas units,
are described in this troubleshooting
In this guide it will be assumed that the unit has been properly
sized, installed professionally, per codes and manufacturer
Note: If your water heater doesn't work, needs repair, service, replacement or professional installation always contact a licensed plumber.
How to troubleshoot an electric water heater - No hot water
- The thermostat is broken or out of calibration - replace
- Inspect the fuse, and check the voltage of the heating elements and
thermostats and see if there is a short circuit, especially after the
lighting or power outage.
- If the water is leaking around the heating element, tighten
the element or replace the gasket.
- If there is a loose wiring connection, tighten it.
- Clean the connection that has the build-up accumulation
during the oxidation.
Not enough hot water and slow hot water recovery
- If the thermostat is set too low, increase the setting, but be
careful of the scalding temperatures. The recommended temperature is
120-125 F for warm water or 140 F for bathroom and kitchen applications.
- Replace the lower thermostat or heating element if you find them
faulty. When checking the heating elements, see are they covered with
the lime scale and sediment build-up. Clean the deposits to increase
the performance and efficiency.
- Tighten the loose wiring and fix if the ground is poor.
- If the piping line is too long and exposed to the cold weather, make sure to insulate them.
- If the dip
tube is broken, replace it. Hot water is diluted by the cold
water too early.
- If your hot water faucet, drain or any other connection
leaks, fix it.
- If the thermostat is not flush with the heater's body make
the adjustment so it is perfectly in contact.
Water is too hot and the operating costs are high
The following steps in the electric water heater troubleshooting
will bring the energy consumption down and save you on energy bills.
- The thermostat is set too high. Lower the setting to 140 F
or to avoid scalding temperature, around 120 F.
- The thermostat is faulty or out of calibration. Make sure
that this element is in contact with and flush to a tank.
- Thermostat and heating elements are not covered with the
- The TPR
valve should be operational, if not installed a new one.
- Grounded element (short circuit to the ground) will cause the
heating element to be in constant operation, which will activate the
ECO in the thermostat or overheat the water.
The heating element and thermostat failure
- If there is a wrong wiring connection at the heater's terminal, correct it according to the manufacturer instructions.
- Check the fuse, thermostat and heating elements for the voltage.
They might get burnt during the extreme weather conditions, lighting
and during the power outage.
- Correct the loose wiring and short circuit.
- Dry firing is the common cause of the heating element
failure. The elements should always be fully submerged in water.
Sometimes the sediment
build-up around the heating element will cause the sizzling noise
air-pockets will result in the dry fired element.
When talking about the electric water heater troubleshooting you
will notice that there is often a number of different causes for one
problem and the same symptoms for different problems. This is why you
should troubleshoot the electric water heater by taking into account
all the symptoms and causes and consult the unit's manual and codes.
Or, contact a licensed plumber to help you repair the water heater.
When replacing the faulty elements try to buy the genuine parts and
match the characteristics. If the inspection and maintenance are done
periodically and per manufacturer's instructions, you will reduce the
danger of heater's failure and problems with the water heating.