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Water heater thermostat evidence of failure (C) Daniel FriedmanElectric Hot Water Heater Diagnosis & Repair FAQs
Questions & Answers on How to diagnose & fix an electric water cylinder or water heater

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Electric water heater diagnosis & repair questions & answers:

Questions & answers about how to troubleshoot and fix an electric water heater, calorifier, geyser that is not working properly or that's not heating water at all. We address problems with electcric water heating elements, controls, thermostats, wiring, temperature control, noises, and de-scaling.

In this article series we explain how to test and repair an electric hot water heater that is not heating at all or is not producing enough hot water. We start with simple basic checks and then move to testing and replacing bad controls or bad water heater elements. 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.



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Questions & Answers Explain How to Repair an Electric Water Heater / Calorifier / Geyser

Electric water heater thermostat and electrode access panels (C) Daniel Friedman

These questions & answers were posted originally at ELECTRIC WATER HEATER REPAIR GUIDE - home

Question: no hot water after draining and working on the water heater

(Dec 6, 2015) kevin said:

I had to drain my electric water heater so that I could install a pan underneath it. I did NOT turn the power off however as I dont currently know which breaker belongs to it. But now that I've refilled the tank it is not heating the water. Did I ruined the heatinge element by not turning the power off?

(Dec 21, 2015) Anonymous said:

I replace both elements to hot water heater and water is still almost just warm - any help?

(Dec 21, 2015) Deak said: help family cant take another cold shower tonight

(Jan 7, 2016) C said: New electric tank not getting hot at all.

(Feb 7, 2016) Joy said:
Replaced upper and lower elements. If top element got wet and melted some of the black plastic when power was supplied could that cause sensor fail light to come on?

Reply: things to check if you have no hot water from an electric calorifier geyser cylinder water heater

Yes, Kevin. Turning on an electric geyser or water heater before it is completely filled with water and all air has been removed risks a nearly instantaneous burn-up of the heating elements.

Anonymous: if you turned on the water heater before it was completely filled you may have destroyed the upper heating element.

Derek: if you have no hot water,

Check for power at the elements and for a failed element.

Watch out for fatal electric shock hazards. Never work on electrical equipment before turning off the electrical power to it.

Then see HOT WATER PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS

C: If the water heater has power but is not heating water I suspect someone turned it on before it was filled with water: that will immediately destroy the heating elements. They can be tested and if faulty, replaced.

Joy I'm not sure what sensor fail light you are discussing. But if an element shorted it is or was unsafe.

Question: dead hot water heater after an electric power surge

We had a power surge last night .My hot water heater wont come on. I checked the breaker and reset it. I tried the reset button . Still wont come on .Any suggestions please - Penny Thompson 7/26/12

Reply:

A power surge can damage an electrical panel, circuit breaker, fuse, or an electronic control, possibly in equipment in the home. I'd start by making sure that the water heater is receiving electrical power, then try pressing the reset switch on the control. If you have power and the switch won't reset, it's time to call a service technician.

Question: no hot water after bumping the water heater - fuse keeps blowing

Oct 23, 2015) Bobbi said:
Hi, I was cleaning with a gernie and did around hot water system and now the fuse keeps blowing. Would I have caused this? And how can I work out what's going on? I have changed the fuse wire and I'm on off peak. Should I wait to see if it warms up tonight or will it keep blowing and should I turn off power before pulling out the fuse to check it?

Reply:

Sorry I don't know what a "gernie" is - if you bumped wiring and caused a short or if you wet wiring or wet an electrical control that also caused a short that might cause the fuse of an electric water heater to blow. Leave the system off pending repair - to be safe; I'd turn it off at the fuse or breaker panel.

Check for loose, damaged electrical wire connections at the heating elements & controls

Question: no hot water from electric water heater with good elements

Water heater reset swtich (C) Daniel Friedman(Jan 11, 2016) Anthony said:
I have installed not one but two brand new 40 gallon single element hot water heater, I have 240 going straight to them, tested several times with voltmeter still no hot water, but have 240 at the heating element, and yes I waited till they were filled up before I turn them on. Just can't figure out why I have no hot water.

(Feb 1, 2016) Herv said:
Brought brand new heater and is doing the very same thing the old one did and that's nothing. The water is not hot at all. I had several experts look into this and they are baffled. On this particular heater the reset button stays flush. I checked for leaks in the house and everything. If there was a leak; shouldn't it still get some type of hot water?

(Feb 1, 2016) Herv said:
By the way, the reset button is fine. The new heater has another type reset button. I can't live like this in the winter months. I have to microwave water to survive. Help me figure!

(Feb 2, 2016) not right said:
My hot water heater Stopped heatingAnd I check the power Getting full power to the top Heating element Gets full power The lower heating element And bleed through To the ground Does that mean the lower heating element is out

(Feb 19, 2016) vickie said:
when the hot water tanks seems to reach its water temperature it blows a circuit breaker. Why?

(Apr 6, 2016) Malcolm said:
Reset button won't stay pushed in on electric hot water heater

Reply:

Not-Right: check the circuit breaker brand, ampacity, and compare that to the water heater's requirements.

Your electrician will look for a shorted or burned out heating element, thermostat, or wiring

Malcolm:

If you try pressing an overheat-sensor reset button right after the switch has tripped, it won't re-set; the system needs to cool down.

If you waited for the heater to cool down and the reset button still won't stay in, then the switch has failed and needs replacement, or there is a short or other failure.

If the reset button on your electric water heater's control won't stay re-set try waiting for the unit to cool down. This is a temperature-operated switch. If after 15-20 minutes you still can't reset the switch I suspect a shorted heating element of a failed switch control.

All readers who've lost hot water and don't see an obvious cause, see HOT WATER PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS

Question: wiring water heater thermostats

I have an old 6 wire upper water heater 'stat. The newer upper 'stats are 5 wire. (I' talking wire lugs) How do I re-wire the newer 5 wire models? - Jim 9/7/12

Reply:

Jim, take a look at wiring details at ELECTRIC WATER HEATER ELEMENT REPLACEMENT - the replacement units I've seen include very clear wiring schematics right on the package.

Question: water heater made an exploding sound

I have a new (about 1yr old) whirlpool electric water heater (80G). I have a renter who says the water heater made an exploding sound. water is from a well. pressure is about 40PSI. the pressure relief valve shows no water leakage, but the pan has about 1/2 in of water in it. whirlpool said to check the temperature setting and upper and lower plugs for water leakage.. but that's about it. maybe temp control valves are defective. anyone ever heard of this? I will drain the pan and un-bypass the unit and leave it operational. i will set the thermostat to a lower setting to see if it is still coming out hot. anyone ever had this problem. just about everyone i talk to is stumped. - bill Huttle 9/11/2012

(Nov 28, 2015) Mark Johnson said:
We have well water so we have to replace elements every couple of years. We now have a dual element AOSmith water heater that just burns out the top element. We replaced both this week and have had to replace the top one twice since then. When taken out it is covered in calcium deposits and burned thru . The bottom has nothing stuck to it and looks new. I have cleaned the tank thoroughly . Any suggestions? We have also replaced both thermostats.

Reply: scale problems at water heaters can cause popping sounds, noise, rumbling

Bill

Watch out, an exploding water heater can cause injury or death as well as property damage. Search InspectApedia for BLEVE.

It seems to me you'd want to start by checking all system otnand cold water pressures, proper plumbing installation, and most critically the pressure/temperature relief valve.

Sometimes, water heating inside a water heater, particularly one with scale deposits, can make crackling, rumbling sounds that might sound to some like an "explosion"

See WATER HEATER SCALE DE-LIMING PROCEDURE

Mark:

The element having more on time is failing first.

I would install a water softener

Question: lower water heater element failed - I can't get the old one out

Help. My lower water heater element went out and I went to replace it. I followed all the instructions, and proceeded to remove it. The element is not coming out because it seems misshapen at the end and is too large to fit through the hole. I have no idea how it got inserted in the first place, the irregular shape must have happened inside the heater. Its from 2002 and a Bradford white model _ Tammy Friedman 10/21/2012

Reply:

Tammy,

I've seen this problem, and it's annoying, agree. In fact, working carefully we've been able to get a deformed electric heating element out through its mounting hole by bending, even cutting one end of the element itself, but the trick is to work carefully to avoid dropping trash or broken debris into the bottom of the heater tank; if you do so it won't be a catastrophe, but the risk is debris clogging of water piping, faucet strainers, etc.

Question: water heater circuit breaker keeps tripping: diagnosis & repair - Pushmatic Breaker

The circuit breaker keeps tripping on my electric hot water heater. The heating elements are new (we initially thought they were the problem), theres negligible corrosion and the anode rod is ok. There's no evidence of electrical shorts. Once the heater cools a bit the breaker can be re-set, but trips again within 15 minutes. I have both thermostats set to only 102 degrees but the problem persists. I suspect faulty thermostat(s) causing the element(s) to overheat. Can you shed some light on this? Thanks! - Jeremy 3/16/2013

(Sept 28, 2015) Debbie said:
Our GE electric water heater is less than five years old. Recently it has tripped the breaker twice. We reset it and it immediately turned on to heat the water. On Saturday I noticed the water was extremely hot. Then on Sunday, yesterday, it tripped the breaker again and it does not work to reset it. Is this likely a thermostat problem or ?

Reply:

Jeremy,

What is the brand of circuit breaker?
Have you tried switching to a different or new 240V breaker in the panel - just temporarily - to see if that makes a difference. If it does not then there is surely an overcurrent - a short circuit, wiring mistake, shorted heating electrode, or short in the thermostatic control. - DF

Reader follow-up:

The circuit breaker takes longer to trip the lower I set the water temperature, which makes sense because higher water temperature settings require more current. But no matter what it does eventually trip. Closer inspection of the 240V breaker did reveal burnt contacts; I will replace the breaker and re-evaluate the water heater's performance. Much obliged, Dan!

Reply:

Jeremy

not quite. Higher water temperature settings do NOT require higher current flow rate. The curring flow rate is about the same, but the duration - how long current flows - is what varies when you set the temperature higher. So if there is a defective component the defect may not show up until the circuit has been on longer - allowing more time, for example, for a defective connection or component to heat up.

If the breaker had burnt contacts the implication is that the heater is drawing excessive current AND possibly that the breaker is not tripping when it should. Aluminum wiring could be at fault, or a bad breaker such as FPE or Zinsco brands or even another brand.

Reader follow-up:

This is an old 40A 2-pole Pushmatic breaker switch; the contact is burnt on the side where power enters the breaker, not the wiring connection that leads to the water heater. I will need to investigate the wiring to the breaker box if this occurs again with a new breaker.

Reply:

Jeremy,

Thank you for the important follow-up. Over at PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS you'll read that some of these have been a recurrent problem; I would not replace in-kind. I'd change out the panel if you're having that trouble. A breaker that does not trip or reset properly is unsafe.

What we don't know in this case is whether the burnt-up Pushmatic breaker occurred just because of internal flaws in the circuit breaker, or if in fact the breaker was being subjected to protracted overcurrent conditions (say because of problems at the electric water heater).

Also watch out for aluminum electrical wiring - it is common (and legal) for an electric water heater to be powered by a multi-strand aluminum wire, but if the connections were not made with exquisite care (and maybe even regardless) overheating and burn-ups can also occur at the aluminum wiring connections - risking a fire and loss.

Statistically, because an aluminum-wired water heater circuit has many fewer connections than say a string of aluminum-wired electrical receptacles, the heater circuit risk is less. But subjected to overcurrent and heating from problems at an electric water heater itself could increase the risk of a circuit or breaker failure showing up as well. See ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS.

Send us some sharp photos of the equipment if you can, and keep us posted - what yo learn will help others.

Daniel

Reader Question: what do I do if after replacing the water heater heating elements I still get no hot water?

I put in both heating elements and the upper thermostat and still cant get hot water what's should i do next - Earl Baker 2/19/2013

i have replaced both elements @ thermostats @ the reset switch but the reset switch
keeps tripping, this is on a electric water heater what else could it be? - Pat 2/20/2013

@Pat---I got same problem. Changed out everything and still trips red reset. Did you figure it out? - Bill 3/16/2013

(Sept 14, 2015) jmbonino@comcast.net said:
I just had a new electric hot water heater installed and turned the thermostat up to about halfway and my water is still not getting real hot?

(Oct 22, 2015) Claire said:
Hi, I have a large electric boiler, on Monday a plumber changed both elements for me. Since then I have cold water trickling out of the hot water tap when I turn it on. No hot. The pipes are hot to the touch but no hot water coming out of the tap and the pressure is dire. Is there anything I can do myself to fix the problem or should I call the plumber back out? Thank you for any advice :)

(Apr 23, 2016) jeannin thermostat said:
I replaced my heating elements last year. Woke up yesterday to no hot water. I replaced the thermostat and still no hot water. Can anyone give me a suggestion for me to try. I only replaced top thermostat should I replace bottom as well?

Reply: if hot water is not hot enough here's what to check

Jeannin: Has anyone tested the upper and lower heating elements to determine if they are working or not?

Pat and Bill,

The good news, if there is any, is that with electric water heaters the total number of parts to check out and diagnose is small enough that there's no reason not to expect success.

If you have replaced what sounds like ALL of the parts involved: heating elements and thermostatic controllers, then I have to guess that when the heater still is not working the problem will most likely be traced to one of the following, listed in my guess at order of probability:

Watch out:: Danger of death by electrocution. If you are not trained for safe electrical work hire an expert who is.

1. bad power to the heater - test for voltage at the wires coming in to the heater first; if nothing there go to the panel. If you have power at the panel but not at the heater, there's an open wire in the circuit

2. improper wiring connection during the repairs

3. installed defective or wrong parts. Check the heating elements for continuity and resistance as we discuss in these articles. Check the controller or thermostat - it should be allowing current to flow on a temperature drop and call for heat. Sometimes the thermostat high limit needs to be reset or replaced.

JM

Electric water heaters - at least the larger units - typically have two heating elements - an upper and a lower element. Each has its own thermostat that can be set to a hotter temperature.

WATCH OUT for scalding hazards.

Reader Question: overheating on electric water heater - water heater too hot, water too hot

I changed the element on my fathers boiler it only has a single top element
The old one was set to max so that's how I set the replacement
However I notice the metal cap was very hot and a day later it popped the reset with the brown wire not burnt but glazed like its been very hot
I have put it down to about 75% and reset it is this ok or still too hot? - Warbeast 10/22/12

(Nov 22, 2015) Anonymous & Taoinie said:
I recently moved into a new house and the electric water heater is too hot too touch and water from the tap is scalding. I can't find the thermostat and it is chewing through our electricity. I contacted the landlord, he said he sent someone to look at it and they said it was fine. But it definitely is not normal. Do you know how i can repair this.

Reply:

War, I'm not sure where the problem lies on your heater, but I'd start by being sure that the replacement element has the same wattage element as the original one. If you installed a mis-matched electric water heater element it may indeed be overheating.

Anonymous & Taoinie:

the heating element thermostat or thermostats (two of them if there are two heating elements) are usually behind a removable cover and above or close to the heating element mounting point.

Watch out: turn off power before looking into the water heater or its wiring as there is a risk of death from electrocution.

Taoinie,

Point out to your landlord that a scalding burn hazard is a serious hazard for occupants and a liability for the property owner. That condition should be fixed now.

The location of electric water heater thermostats is illustrated in ELECTRIC WATER HEATER REPAIR GUIDE.

Watch out, there is live electrical voltage behind those panels, you could be shocked or killed.

Reader Question: water heater output water is just too hot

2 days ago we began getting extremely hot water from our water heater. Our thermostat is still set very low so we are surprised and confused. There is also a slight metallic smell in the water and slight odd taste. Can you help us determine what's going on. - Becky NOrthrop 10/2/12

Reply:

Becky,

Most likely the thermostatic control on your water heater has failed and needs replacement.

See ELECTRIC WATER HEATER HIGH TEMP CUTOFF TEST for details.

Watch out: failure to replace a bad thermostat and overheating hot water is dangerous and risks scalding burns or worse, a BLEVE - explosion.

Reader Question: the reset button keeps popping out on our electric water heater control

When I reset the upper t-stat with red button fire jumps from wires on t-stat= water heater is a state select water heater.- Richard Cox 2/6/12

(Nov 27, 2015) dee said: Reset switch doesn't click when pressed

Reply:

Richard, it sounds as if there is a short in the wiring, the element, or the control.

Reader follow-up:

Also, there was evidence that a short had occurred in lower element region as there were burn marks on or near cover or where there was an electrical malfunction, both elements have been replaced, and still no hot water, both elements appeared to be normal when removed.

Dee:

If the reset button does not "click in" when pressed then either

- it was not tripped and your problem is elsewhere
or
- electrical power to the equipment is OFF
or
- the switch is defective

Reader Question: why does hot water come out of our cold water spigot?

27 April 2015 Nick said:

Can a defective hot water heater make the cold water faucet hot?

Reply:

Nick,

"a defective hot water heater" is a bit of a broad term for me to give a narrow yes or now answer to your question. IN general terms, a water heater won't suddenly make cold water supply turn hot.

There are circumstances in which hot water may come out of a cold supply faucet even though the pipes are properly connected (hot to hot supply, cold to cold supply). Those include

1. Routing of cold water piping close to hot water piping, or close to another heat source (boiler room ceiling for example) combined with a period of dis-use of the water system can cause water resting in the cold water piping to become warm. This situation is easily diagnosed by observing that water comes out of the cold water tap warm or even hot but as more cold water is run the water becomes and remains cool or cold.

2. By convection, in some building piping systems hot water can rise out of the hot water tank into cold water piping and even upwards in building cold water piping to the fixtures. This is most often due to the loss of all or part of the dip tube in the water heater. The dip tube both delivers incoming cold water (in the water heater tank) to the bottom of the tank and it also prevents hot water (from the top of the tank) from rising by convection into the building piping.

Question: water heater stopped working after main circuit breaker tripped

(May 17, 2015) David said:
My electric water heater worked fine until the main breaker to the house went out. After replacing it, all electric appliances, etc. work fine, except the water heater. I have emptied and cleaned the tank, replaced both heating elements and both thermostats. All wires to and within it are hot, conveying electricity. Why won't the elements heat up? Thank you.

Reply:

If you have replaced all of the parts to the heater and it won't heat water and if you have confirmed that power is provided to the heater, then I suspect mis-wiring or a defective part among those replaced.

Start by checking that the thermostat overheat relay is not tripped.

Question: does an electrical fire affect accuracy of water or hot water use meter?

(June 9, 2015) pickle said:
my hot water heater when last time guy clean filter reset red button work

(July 12, 2015) Anonymous said:
An electrical fire tripped the circuit breaker in my apartment does that affect the transmitter/meter in the unit to give and inaccurater reading of the meter

Reply:

Possibly, yes, Anon, if a water meter transmitter was exposed to fire it may have been damaged. But most likely I'd think it would either work or not - a binary choice.

Question: leak at hot water piping

(Sept 19, 2015) tony said:
I have a 2012 Lexington mobile home double wide with a bradford water heater with a pin hole in the hot water outlet pipe. I still have hot water , but when i taped up the leak, the leak seemed to be at the pipe joint seal. What should I try next?

Reply:

It sounds as if the leak repair was not successful; water leaking under the tape is appearing (perhaps) at the next pipe joint. Wipe everything dry and watch closely; typically taping a leaky water pipe is not a reliable repair nor a durable one.

Question: burned wires at the control on an electric water heater or geyser or calorifier or hot water cylinder

(Oct 7, 2015) cliff said:
I found a wire burnt . From element to thermostat . Hot water heater not working . Does any one know what may b wrong . Thank you

(Feb 7, 2016) bmosier54 said:
I have a whirlpool electric smart hot water heater. When the elements were bad they were replaced. There was a unknown leak, when power was restored still had no hot water. Looked at top element black plastic was melted some, and 3 flashes said sensor failure. Can the element be the problem for that or sensor is really bad?

Reply:

Check for

Question: leaks at water heater heating element

(Dec 16, 2015) James Johnston said:
I changed my heating elements on my water heater now it leaks around the element what can I do

Reply:

James

If a modest attempt at further-tightening the heating element does not stop the leak completely then

You'll need to

turn off the heater and let it cool
drain it
remove the leaky element
inspect the threads on the tank and element for damage; if they are not damaged, re-install the element using a non-hardening pipe sealant.

Question: can't find water heater power switch

(Feb 17, 2016) MrB said:
I don't have a breaker in my box for my water water. I tripped all the breakers (there's about twenty 20A and four 15A breakers) , I'm still getting power to my electric water heater. House was built in 2005. What else can I try? I probably need to change my heating elements (no hot water).

Reply:

Turn off your main circuit breaker or fuse.

If you turn off the main switch in your panel and the heater still has power then it has been powered through a separate box or panel or sub-panel, usually taking power off of the main switch.

Follow the wires back from the heater; it should be switched by a local panel close to the water heater or calorifier.

In an emergency you can turn off the main electrical power to the house then check using a neon tester, DMM or VOM to be sure power is off to the heater but the system is still unsafe if you cannot find the local shutoff for the appliance.

Reader follow-up:

(Feb 17, 2016) MrB said:

I've been in this house for 3 years now and there's the main panel (no main switch), then there's a small box outside that has a breaker for the septic pump and a 240 to control the pool equipment. Even with everything off (tripped) on both boxes, I'm still getting power to the water heater. When I took the frame off of the main panel I saw where the power was coming into the house, and everything lined into the 20A and few 15A breakers. I was hoping to see an indication of where the water heater was getting power, but I didn't. I even tried tripping the breakers for the two AC units wondering if it's jumped off of those. Nothing. I'm thoroughly confused.

Ok, my main ended up being located outside. I changed out the upper and lower thermostats the first day (still didn't have hot water) and the heating elements today (they tested good though) and I still have no hot water. I have a 65 gallon electric water heater. I filled it up with faucets running to purge the air out of the tank, 6 hours later still no hot water. What else should I check ?

Limit switches were replaced too with the thermostats.

(Feb 20, 2016) MrB said:
Another question, my reset button is flush with the body of the limit switch (on both the old and new), is this correct. I try pushing it in, but it remains flush. I guess if pops out so it isn't flush when it trips. Is this so?

Moderator reply:

If the reset button is flush it's probably in its "on" state, that is, the system has not turned off on safety - when that happens the button pops up.

Your electrician will check for

- working circuit breaker to the appliance
- power to the heating elements
- proper resistance across the elements to indicate they're working, not shorted
- the function of the heating thermostatic controls
- that the reset button (that's flush or "on") and control is indeed passing current to the elements

Reader follow-up: bad circuit breaker

(Feb 20, 2016) MrB said:
Had a friend come and take a look at it, come to find out I have a bad 30A breaker (wires melted). I'll get that replaced in the morning.

Moderator reply:

B

I would much like to know the brand of the circuit breaker, to see photos of it (use our page bottom CONTACT link), and also to know if your heater is wired with copper or aluminum.

Watch out: IMO it is really dangerous for someone to wire up any electrical circuit or appliance without providing an easily-found and properly labelled main switch.

When a main panel has no main switch the "rule of 6" suggests that we need a nearby separate main switch for it. Your wiring system may bring power into the house at a point where there are several "mains" that can be switched off, one for the panel you describe.

Take a look at where power comes to the building outside.
Find the electric meter.
Notice where a cable from the meter enters the building.
Look inside at that same area for main switches.

If you remain stuck I'm sorry to say it's time to call an electrician.

(Feb 17, 2016) MrB said:
I'm going to upload some pictures to a 3rd party service. Maybe this is a sub-panel coming in from the main power company panel?? I don't know. I'll probably have to call them to get permission to cut the seal and see if I can cut power, I'm guessing that's how that works.

Moderator reply to photos by email:

Looks like a large GE panel with no main. There must be a main nearby. Perhaps if you follow that wire back towards where you see the electric meter outside you'll find the missing main switches for other features like the water heater.

Feb 17, 2016) MrB said:
I'm guessing the main is in the panel underneath the digital readout from the power company, could that be the case? If so, their seal is preventing me from opening that bottom panel on the outside.

Moderator reply:

There must be a main or a small group of mains to enable a homeowner or occupant to cut all power

Question: white water after installing a new water heater

(Mar 12, 2016) Wanda Loadholt said:
With a newly installed electric water heater, is it normal for my water to have an white appearance?

Reply:

Run some water into a tall clear glass and watch it. If the white disappears you may be seeing very fine air bubbles - a condition that should stop on its own.

Question: 5 seconds of hot water

(Mar 19, 2016) Ruby White said:
My electric has hot water for maybe 5 seconds, then it gets cold. I changed the upper and lower elements, and still have the same problem.what should i do now?

Reply:

Ruby

5 seconds of hot water sounds very strange. If only an upper element were working you'd still have gallons of hot water before running out, while if only a lower element were working you'd at least have a larger volume of warm water.

Only if yours is a demand-type (tankless) water heater could I explain what's going on.

Question: dried foam looking stuff at top of A O Smith water heater

(Apr 6, 2016) R paglia said:
I have dried foam looking stuff on the pipe on top of my ao water heater. What does that mean?

Reply:

R Paglia

I can't say as I don't know what you're looking at: if it's crystalline -looking and fragile and located at a point where there could be a small water leak, that's probably what it is: mineral salts left behind from a leak.

Question: OK to disconnect lower heating element?

(Apr 18, 2016) Ozcar said:
can I disconnect wires on Lower heating element has an overnight repair to prevent breaker from tripping?

Reply:

Yes Ozcar,

with this warning:

Watch out: the short circuit that is causing the element to trip could be in wiring, a control, or at the heating element itself.

With power off to the heater, disconnect the wires and cap them off and WATCH OUT as someone touching live wires is likely to cause a bad shock or death. Eliminating the lower heating element will mean that you will have less total hot water quantity.

Question: suction noise and no hot water after installing new gesyer

(May 14, 2016) David said:

Installed new electric hot water heater and when we turned the water on there was a suction noise and no hot water will come out of faucets. What could be the problem?

Reply:

David I don't know, but from your brief question it sounds as if no one turned on water and re-filled the tank and then ran water until air was removed from the system. All of those steps should be done before turning on an electric water heater - otherwise the heater elements will burn up in a flash.

That creates a new sucking noise as money continues to leave your wallet.

Question: single-element water heater not working

(May 16, 2016) John jones said:
My hot water heater only has one heating element I have replaced the element and the temp control box and steal don't have hot water

Reply:

Check that there is actually electrical power to the components.

Test that the new heating element is good.

Check that the thermostat has not tripped.

Question: beeping water heater after replacing fuses

(June 4, 2016) Teresa brown said:
Just replaced fuses in hot water heater breaker box- when turned breaker box on a high pitch beep beep noise sounded and after that it worked. My dad said the box didn't have the technology to make a noise to let you know it worked. Please simply answer does it or not. He is 88 and not technology savvy. This is important for me to be respected in intelligence. Thank you

Reply:

Teresa, I'm sorry but we can't know what technology is in your water heater or circuit circuit breaker with so little information. In general I agree with your dad, but then, we don't know what heater is installed, in what country, of what brand, model, age.

First take a look at the installation and operation manual for your water heater as surely that will tell you how the controls work and what signals might be provided.

If you don't have the manual for your water heater, check the heater's brand, model, and serial number and you can almost always find a free, downloadable instruction manual from the manufacturer's website. If you have trouble doing that, use the page bottom CONTACT link to send us a photo of your heater and its labeling and we'll see if we can help.

Watch out: If the breaker trips again I'd leave the heater off and ask for repair help from an experienced plumber or electrician as continually turning it back on could risk a fire or shock.

Question: water not hot enough in cold weather

(June 7, 2016) Jason said:
During hot weather (30 degrees Celsius) the water from my hot water cylinder is very hot - but in winter (-4 Celsius)I need to turn the tap nearly to full to get a warm shower

Reply:

Find and insulate un-insulated hot water piping; that may help.

Still if the incoming water temperature in winter is significantly lower than during hot weather, you may indeed have to set the heater's temperature up; that's because the incoming water is so cold that it cools down the reservoir of hot water in the heater more quickly.

Question: bottom water heater elements keep corroding rapdily

2016/06/18 David Kettleburgh said:

We bought a house two years ago. All electrics replaced about two years before that. Hot water is heated electrically. Was OK for first 18 months after we bought house but suddenly bottom elements in hot tank have been corroding and shorting electrics. They only last five or six weeks - latest one fitted on 13 May and went today! They have been fitted by different plumbers, with good reputations. What is likely cause and cure please? Thanks!

Reply:

I don't know, David, but I would check for

- a bad sacrificial anode in the water heater
- errors in electrical wiring, shorts, stray currents
- wrong heater element wattage being installed
- defective heater thermostat that's not shutting off the heating elements
- corrosivity index of the water supply

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