Troubleshooting Electric Hot Water Heaters

Troubleshooting your electric water heater does not have to be difficult or dangerous. There are a number of common water heater problems like a malfunctioning heating element, bad thermostat, problem with the relief valve, drain valve is clogged and the unit may be leaking hot water. There are times when your heater may be producing very little hot water. Most people don’t realize this that there are a few items that will malfunction over the years a heater is used. You may have to opt for a replacement but before you do that you can attempt to fix them using the tips below.

Caution: Water and electricity do not mix. You should wear gloves, rubber shoes and turn off the electricity anytime you’re working with an electric heater.

You’re getting no hot water

This is the most common problem that people experience and often times the problem is not that difficult to fix. The first thing you ought to do when you’re not getting any hot water is to check the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker has tripped simply turn it back on. The next culprit can be the thermostat limit switch or even the element. To check the element use a tester to touch the points of the element. If you see that there is current flowing to it but it’s not lighting this will need to be replaced.

You’re not getting enough hot water

Many hot water heaters experience a problem with their thermostat. Often times it is a loose wire that is turning the thermostat off. The other possibility is the dip tube.

The water takes long to reheat

This could be as simple as simply turning the thermostat higher. However, if this does not solve the problem then it’s the heating element. Look inside your heater and see if the elements are glowing red hot, if they are not despite the electricity flowing and the temperature turned all the way up then the elements will have to be replaced.

The other cause for this problem is sediment buildup usually at the bottom of your tank. To solve this problem simply turn on the flushing valve located on top of your heater. Let all the water run through for around 10 seconds and then turn the valve back on. This should solve the problem.

The water is too hot

The most common reason for this problem is that the thermostat is probably set too high by mistake. The other problem can be a malfunctioning thermostat which will need to be replaced. However, before you replace the thermostat check if it’s seated properly. Tighten the screws and then check if there are gaps in it. If this does not solve the problem then opt for a change.

Bad odor in the water

This is mostly caused when bacteria builds up in the tank. You will think that a hot water heating system shouldn’t experience a buildup of bacteria because heat is supposed to kill bacteria but in fact this is not really the case. The easiest way to solve this problem is to flush the tank and then replace the anode rod with that of a different metal. Replacing the anode is very easy and just requires that you reach to the top of your tank and open up its covering lid, then unscrew the anode. An anode costs around $20 and should solve the problem in 90% of the cases. If you still experience bad odor then the heating unit will need to be replaced.

Many of the hot water issues we face can easily be rectified with a bit of knowledge. However, electric hot water systems are a bit dangerous and so you should be protected at all times. If there is something you do not understand then you shouldn’t attempt to touch or fix it in any way. When you’re stuck or think you cannot do something it is best to call in a professional to handle the repairs for you. It does not cost as much, plus a professional with years of experience will also diagnose and troubleshoot other potential problems saving you from future hassle and additional money to be spent on repairs.

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Mark has over 20 years of experience in the plumbing industry. He is a professional plumber with special expertise when it comes to hot water systems and repairs. He is the best plumber and hot water heater mechanic in sydney region and he has succefully repaired more than 1500 various complicated hot water heater issues for both commercial and residentioal customers.