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How to Troubleshoot an Electric Water Heater: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jan 17, 2024

Welcome to another installment of our Water Heater 101 series! Today, we’re diving into the world of electric water heaters with a practical guide on troubleshooting. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just looking to understand your home appliances better, this guide is for you.

Turning Off The Electric Water Heater

The first and most crucial step in troubleshooting your electric water heater is to ensure your safety by turning off the power. Locate your circuit breaker box, find the breaker labeled “Hot Water Heater,” “HWT,” or “Tank,” and flip it to the off position. Safety first!

Remove The Access Panel Of The Electric Water Heater:

Next, remove the access panels on your water heater to reveal the heating elements and thermostats. Carefully take off the insulation and the plastic cover protecting these components.

Safety Check:

Before proceeding, it’s vital to confirm that the power is indeed off. Use a volt stick, available at any hardware store, to check for the presence of electricity. If the stick lights up, power is present; if not, you’re safe to continue.

Upper Element Removal and Testing:

Now, focus on the upper part of the water heater, where you’ll find the upper thermostat and element. Remove the two wires attached to the upper element. To test the element, use a voltmeter. Touch one probe to one screw of the element and the other to the opposite screw. A lack of resistance indicates a faulty element that needs replacing, while a resistance reading means it’s functioning correctly. Repeat this process for the lower element.

Grounded Element Testing:

For grounded element testing, set your voltmeter to ohms. Touch one probe to a screw terminal of the element and ground the other probe on a steel part of the water heater. No resistance means the element is not grounded, which is good. If you detect resistance, the element is grounded and needs replacement.

4 Things To Remember When Troubleshooting An Electric Water Heater:

In summary, troubleshooting an electric water heater involves several key steps:

  1. Turn off the breaker to the water heater.
  2. Remove the access covers.
  3. Test the elements for open circuits or grounding.
  4. Test the upper and lower thermostats for proper function.

Check Out Our YouTube Video For More Assistance!

Remember, if you’re ever in doubt or uncomfortable performing these steps, it’s always best to consult with a professional. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks in our Water Heater 101 series!

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