InspectAPedia®

Photo of electric water heater in a closet (C) Daniel FriedmanGuide to Electric Hot Water Heaters / Cylinders- Inspection, Diagnosis, & Repair Home Page

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Electric water heater repairs:

Here we explain how to install, troubleshoot, & repair electric water heaters. We describe the types of water heaters, the parts that make up an electric water heater, and here we provider a checklist for inspecting or troubleshooting electric water heaters.

We discuss: how to inspect, test, adjust, install or repair an electric water heater, How to find & identify the parts & controls on an electric water heater, How to test and repair an electric hot water heater, Test procedure for electric water heater high limit cutoff thermostat switch, Test procedures for electric water heater heating elements, How to replace the heating element on an electric water heater, Guide to inspection of electric water heaters, No Hot water? how to get more hot water flow, quantity, performance from your water heater.

This article also provides links to detailed water heater diagnosis and repair articles found free at this website.



Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

Inspection, Diagnostic, & Repair Guide to Electric Hot Water Heaters

How do we Identify an Electric Water Heater & its Parts?

Electric water heater schematic (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

This series of articles describes how to inspect, operate, diagnose, and repair electric hot water heaters. The articles at this website will answer most questions about electrical water heaters as well as many other building plumbing system inspection or defect topics.

This page contains links to in-depth articles on inspecting, testing, and repairing problems residential hot water heaters of all types, including their parts, controls, and alternative sources for hot water as well as tips for improving hot water temperature, hot water pressure, and hot water quantity.

The sketch at left shows the basic components of an electric water heater and is provided courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates. It's easy to identify an electric water heater:

if you can find your water heater tank at all, take a look at what pipes and wires are connected to it. If you do not see any connection to a chimney, and if you do not see any oil or gas burner, your hot water tank is going to be one of these:

But watch out: sometimes an electric water heater is installed as an additional or backup hot water source, so you'll also want to see if you have other hot water heating equipment installed, such as a TANKLESS COIL for HOT WATER

Electric Water Heater Inspection Checklist

Leaks at a hot water heater (C) Daniel Friedman

Water heater anode inspection and repair -
see ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS

Drains: Water heater drain valve leaks: Check for leaks at the water heater drain valve. Most water heater manufacturers recommend that their water tank be drained periodically.

This process will help remove sludge and debris or mineral deposits that may have accumulated at the bottom of the water heater tank.

Removing this debris can extend the life of the hot water tank, especially where electric and gas fired water heaters are involved. But since few people remember to open and drain the tank it may be that the drain valve does not open easily, or worse, it won't close.

For details also see HOW TO DRAIN A HOT WATER HEATER TANK

Heating Elements: how to test and repair a bad electric water heater heating element

see ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENT TESTS to determine if your water heater has a bad element, and

if so,
see ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENT REPLACEMENT

Insulation: Water heater insulation: look for insulation that has been improperly added to the water tank - it may be unsafe.

See INSULATE HOT WATER TANK?

Leaks: Water heater leaks: Look for evidence of leaks in the hot water tank, or mechanical damage, or improper installation.

For example most water heaters are intended to be installed in a vertical position. Installing a hot water tank horizontally or in a hole in a crawl space is likely to cause early failure of the heater, violate the manufacturer's guidelines, and may be dangerous. In our photo at above left an oil-fired water heater and an indirect-fired water heater are installed in tandem.

That puddle on the floor needs investigation.

See WATER HEATER LEAK REPAIR

Mobile Homes: Water heater in mobile home: common defects - see MOBILE HOME WATER HEATER DEFECTS

Noises: Water heater clanking noises: check the electric hot water tank for lime, mineral, or silt deposits and build-up on the tank bottom and on the heating electrodes.

Water heater hissing noises: on an electric water heater a hissing sound may be noticed when the heater is operating. This sound may be due to mineral scale or lime build-up on the heating electrodes. Remove, inspect, and clean the electrodes when this sound is observed.

See WATER HEATER NOISE DIAGNOSIS, CURE for details.

Water heater odor sources, causes, diagnosis, cure:

Odors or smells from or near the water heater, including sulphur or rotten egg odors (possibly dangerous), particularly if the heater has been left shut off and out of use for two weeks or more. Details are at HYDROGEN SULFIDE GAS.

Smells: Odors in hot water, particularly a sulphur smell may be due to a bacterial contamination in the hot water tank or due to a failing hot water heating tank sacrificial anode.


See ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS.

Also see ODORS IN WATER. 

Also CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS discusses Chinese drywall odors, sulphur smells, and corrosive outgassing hazards in buildings.

Major costs to remove this product, repair or replace electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC components may be involved, and there may be immediate safety hazards due to damaged smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in buildings where Chinese drywall outgassing has caused damage.

Pipes & Valves: Water heater piping & valves: check the piping and control valves connected to the water heater for leaks, support, and for proper location of shutoff valves. An improperly installed shutoff valve on a water heater can be very dangerous, risking an explosion.

Usually the "hot water tank shutoff valve" is installed only on the cold water pipe coming into the water tank. There should be no shutoff valve installed on the hot water line leaving the water tank.

Relief Valve: Water heater temperature/pressure relief valve: Check the pressure and temperature relief valve on your water heater: look for evidence of corrosion, leaks, improper installation, etc. If the water heater relief valve is dripping or leaking, check for

A missing, modified, blocked, or leaky pressure relief valve is extremely dangerous and can lead to a catastrophic BLEVE boiling liquid vapor explosion that can cause severe damage or even fatalities at a building. For details about water heater relief valves,

please see TESTING the WATER HEATER TP RELIEF VALVE and

also see RELIEF VALVES - TP VALVES for heating equipment in general

Scale: Water heater scale, clanking noises, or reduced hot water quantity or temperature:

see WATER HEATER NOISE DIAGNOSIS, CURE for details about removing scale from a water heater. Water heater scale forming on electric water heater elements can cause water heater element failure, water heater noises, or reduced water heater output.

Temperature: Water heater temperature settings: Check the settings of the water heater temperature:

See TEMPERATURE of HOT WATER is TOO LOW On an electric water heater, temperature settings are usually made on a control hidden behind the upper and/or lower removable access panel covers that give access to the upper and lower heating element.

On a single element electric water heater, if the heating element has burned out there will be no hot water at all. On a dual heating element electric water heater, too little quantity of hot water can be traced to a burned-out lower element, while plenty of "hot" water that is never very hot can be traced to a burned-out upper water heater element.

See ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENT TESTS

...


Continue reading at ELECTRIC SHOWER HEATERS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see ELECTRIC WATER HEATER CONTROLS

Or see these

Electric Water Heater Articles

Suggested citation for this web page

ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to ARTICLE INDEX to WATER HEATERS

Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman