Electric water heaters are quite similar to gas heaters in that they both comprise of an insulated storage tank with a steel jacket, being insulated between the tank jacket and the storage tank in order to decrease the loss of heat from the heated water.
An electric heater contains an electric heating element in its lower and upper parts extending into the tank.
Therefore, when electric heaters produce no or little heat, it is due to a damaged heating element which is quite cheap and easy to replace.
Other issues may be caused by high water temperature in the home, improper settings, or inadequate water heater maintenance.
Electric Water Heaters: Look at the Warranty
There are limited warranties on both commercial and residential water heaters.
Take note of the information and contact the manufacturer if the heating element is faulty or the tank has leaks.
With voltages around 240-volt, electric heaters are dangerous appliances to do any work on them with the power on.
Before you check any of the heater’s electrical components, you’ll need to shut off the power from the heater’s circuit
Use a non-contact tester to confirm that all the wires connecting to the heater have no power.
No Hot Water
When hot water is not produced by a water heater, it may either not be connected to power, or have a trip limit switch, or even one or multiple faulty elements.
The first thing to do is check the circuit breaker of the water heater in the breaker box and ensure it has not tripped. If it has, switch it off and back on again.
If not, and the breaker is still on, you will need to reset the limit of maximum temperature on the water heater:
- Shut the water heater by disconnecting the breaker at the circuit.
- Take out the upper heating element cover panel located on the heater.
- Remove the safety guard and insulation carefully so as not to touch the electrical components.
- The red button situated above the upper thermostat is for the maximum temperature cutoff reset. Press it.
- Reposition the insulation, safety guard, and access panel which was previously removed.
- Turn on the circuit breaker to the water heater.
- If the problem persists, check each of the heating elements and replace them, if needed.
Electric Water Heaters: Insufficient Hot Water
If the water is not enough, then it could be that your demand is too high for your particular unit.
Ensure that the water heater capacity is able to meet your demand.
75 percent of the heater capacity should be for hot water. For instance, a heater of 40 gallons is ideal for a 30-gallon demand.
If the demand is far higher than the capacity of the heater, try these solutions first.
- Reduce the time of showers
- Fix showerheads with low flow rate
- Use the dishwasher and laundry machines at different times in a day
Also, if your heater unit is of adequate size or produces lower hot water all of a sudden, there may be a fault on one or both of the heating elements.
A damaged upper heating element will result in a steady supply of lukewarm water. Hot water running quickly through your shower indicates a faulty lower heating element.
Excessively Hot Water Temperature
It can be almost equally frustrating to have excessive hot water as insufficient hot water.
If this is the case, then one or both of the thermostats may have a very high setting.
You should check the settings of the thermostat.
- Switch off the water heater from the breaker box.
- Take out the insulation, access panel, and plastic safety guard from each of the heating elements.
- Ensure not to touch any electrical terminals or wires.
- Use a non-contact tester to check that there is no power in the wires.
- Check both thermostats to confirm the heat settings which should both be set to the same temperature.
- 115-125 degrees is the recommended heat setting.
- Use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature setting as desired.
- Reposition the insulation, access panel, and plastic safety guard previously removed for both elements.
- Turn the circuit breaker back on.
Electric Water Heaters: Leaks
Besides leaking plumbing connections and valves, water leaks can also indicate problems with the tank.
Significant damage can be caused by tank leaks, so it should be fixed immediately.
Tank corrosion or loose heating elements could be responsible for leaks in your heater.
Check both elements for any signs of looseness and use an element wrench to tighten where needed.
If a tank is corroded, it has to be replaced as it cannot be repaired. Disconnect the power and supply of water to the heater and completely drain out the tank to stop the leaks.
Bad Odor or Rust-Colored Water
If the water that runs through your faucet is brown, yellow, or even reddish, it could be that your tank or pipes have begun to corrode internally.
The anode rod within the tank may require replacement, and this normally should be done by a skilled plumber.
If you can hear noises like a popping or low-rumbling sound, or perhaps a high-pitched whine, these sounds may be coming from boiling water within your water heater.
Excessive sediment buildup beneath the tank can cause overheating and boiling of the water.
The first thing to do is drain the tank to remove the sediments. If that still does not help, you may require a complete tank replacement.