It can be very frustrating to turn on the faucet, only to find out you have no hot water. Before calling a repairman, there are some common problems you can investigate on your own. We have compiled a list of tips to help you resolve any issues you are having with your electric hot water heater.
Check the Power Source
The easiest and most obvious place to start is with your power source. You will want to check the breaker to make sure it has not tripped or become weak over time. There is also a reset button on the heating elements that can trip as well. If it happens to be either one of these, it’s probable you have a bigger problem on your hands. Most likely, the element has grounded and is creating an electrical short.
You may also check the supply wires for any damage. These wires are located in the upper access panel and normally protected by foam and insulation. You should shut off the power to the hot water heater before handling the wiring.
Check the Upper Element
If you have no hot water at all, you will need to check the upper element. It is very important to shut off the power to the appliance before attempting this step. Carefully remove the insulation, using gloves and goggles is recommended as some of this material may contain fiberglass.
Using a voltage meter, check the wires attached to the element and to the thermostat to see if electricity is present. Next, loosen the two screws on the heating element and remove the wires. Set the resistance on your meter to 1,000, placing probes on screws. Depending on your appliance, a 3,500-watt element should read 16 ohms; a 4,500-watt element should read 12 – 13 ohms; a 5,500- watt element should read 10 -11 ohms. If the element does not register on the voltage meter it will need to be replaced.
Check the Thermostat
Normally, you will find your hot water heater has two elements and two thermostats. Start by turning the upper element to its highest temperature setting. Check the #1 and #2 terminals with a hot water heater tester to make sure the contacts are active. If the tester does not react, the thermostat is not working and will need to be replaced.
Anytime you are dealing with electrical appliances, use extreme caution. You will need to have knowledge of how to use a multimeter to complete the steps mentioned in this article.