There are 2 ways to know if you have a bad electric water heater. One is that the water heater will stop producing hot water. The other is the water heater will leak water. If the water heater stops heating you may have a power/bad component issue. If the water heater leaks, you may have a faulty water heater structure or a leaking valve/pipe.
ELECTRIC WATER HEATER LEAKING WATER: If your electric water heater IS leaking water, turn off the circuit breaker and find where the water leak is coming from. If you find a loose valve, bottom drain valve, or top release valve loose, tighten it and that may have been the cause of the water heater leak. If the leak is coming from the bottom of the water heater, the structure of your water heater may have degraded or rusted over the years and may have a structural water leak. If this is the case your water heater will need to be replaced. If your electric water heater is NOT leaking water but NOT producing hot water, see below.
ELECTRIC WATER HEATER NOT HEATING WATER: If your water heater has stopped heating, meaning you get NO hot water anywhere in your house, first check the water heater circuit breaker. If the breaker has tripped, then simply turning it back on will get power back to the water heater. If the breaker has tripped, you need to find out why it has tripped. If the circuit breaker has not tripped and the electric water heater is NOT producing hot water, you need to have a look at the water heater itself.
Note: Usually when an electric water heater stops producing hot water, a heating element in the hot water heater has gone bad. This is the most common reason for an electric water heater to stop producing hot water. At times you may notice the hot water is not as hot as normal or it fluctuates in temperature during a long shower. This may be because one of the two heating elements in your electric water heater has gone bad.
How to check the electric water heater and find out why it is not producing hot water:
1 – FIRST, turn off the circuit breaker to the electric hot water heater.
2 – Check that the wires providing power to the electric water heater are intact and secure.
3 – Be sure the terminal where the power wires attach onto is not melted or broken, if so remove and replace.
4 – Remove the 2 small access panels on the side of your electric hot water heater with a screwdriver.
5 – Use a multi-meter to check to see if the heating elements are in working order. If one or both of the heating elements are bad, remove and replace.
NOTE: If you need to replace a heating element or other faulty internal part, the water heater needs to be fully drained before removing any internal parts. Remember to turn the water supply to the water heater off when attempting to drain the water heater or the water heater will fill with water while it is draining.
6 – If the heating elements are good, you need to test the thermostats with a multi-meter.
7 – If the thermostats have power to only one side, it is an open circuit and needs replaced.
8 – Be sure to check the water heater safety thermostat too if your water heater has one.
9 – Replace bad parts, put access panels back on, close drain valve, completely refill the water heater with water, turn breaker back on, and test the electric water heater.
NOTE: Do not attempt this unless you are confident you can do it safely. If in doubt, call a water heater repair technician.
If you do need to replace internal parts on your electric water heater, you need to drain it first, here is how:
1 – Turn off the breaker to the electric water heater.
2 – Turn off the water supply to the hot water heater.
3 – Attach a drain hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater.
4 – Open the drain valve on your water heater and let the water drain out.
5 – Use caution as the water may still be hot. The water coming out will not be mixed with cold water. Use caution to avoid getting burned.
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