If your water heater continually trips the circuit breaker, chances are the element has grounded and is creating an electrical short. Test the resistance to find out whether or not the element is snapped or damaged. Now to understand the testing of a water heater element, first, let’s have a sneak peek about how the apparatus basically functions. The water is actually heated by a heating element inside the tank that acts like a thermostat. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Read Also: Gas vs Electric Water Heater – Differences and Comparisons . Take one wire off your heating elements using the screwdriver so that the entire element can be removed from the housing. If you're not sure what the elements are then consult your manual or hire a professional heating engineer. Questions of a Do It Yourself nature should be How Many Watts Does a Hot Water Heater Use? To ensure our content is always up-to-date with current information, best practices, and professional advice, articles are routinely reviewed by industry experts with years of hands-on experience. Wear safety goggles and gloves when removing fiberglass insulation. There are typically two different panels, one of these will be at the top of the heater, the other should be towards the bottom. This cover snaps on and off the element and thermostat. All information is provided "AS IS." Or set your multimeter on ohm testing or diodes testing. Your water heater keeps tripping the circuit breaker over and over; Before you call a professional, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s the water heater element causing the problem. Make sure you test both screws on the face of the element. I have a 40 gal electric water heater that's about 10 years old. Both are signs that one or both of your heating elements could be broken (as most water heaters have two heating elements). You can do this by unraveling the loose end of the metal element. You must check that you've switched the right switch off by trying to turn your water heater on, this will make sure that you're safe and are not at risk of being electrocuted. Pull the plastic safety cover from the element face. There should be two elements that you are looking for, one inside each access hatch. My daughter bought a home and is complaining of only have 5-6 minutes of ho... Whirlpool E2F40RD045V 40 gallon water heater. Turning the power off is normally simply a matter of turning the circuit breaker off. You see, there are one to two elements that work for heating the tank’s water. Turn Off the Power Turn off power to the electric water heater at the main power panel by turning off the circuit breaker or fuse that controls power to the heater. The element works on exactly the same principle as the element in your kettle. To expose the elements for testing, remove the two metal covers, the insulation and the plastic covers on the side of the water heater. Test for current flow: Use a VOM, DMM, or Ohmmeter or multimeter set to read "resistance" or "ohms" as follows: connect one alligator clip or touch one probe of the VOM to each terminal on the water heater element. When suddenly, the water stops getting hot it should mean that upper element of a double element heater is having issues. Shutting Down the Water Heater The first thing you want to do is turn off the power. Water heater elements have a relatively short lifespan. Usually, when the upper thermostat goes bad, you will have no hot water at all, while a bad lower thermostat makes itself known when there is only a small amount of hot water before the tap water goes cold. If electricity still is present in the water heater, the voltage detector emits an audible alarm and its light flashes. All rights reserved. Remove the insulation you exposed when removing the side panels. A burnt-out element is a common cause of water heater woes. Water heater isn’t heating or heats poorly? The thermostat might quit working along with the element. Your water heater will have an upper and a lower thermostat. (An example calculation is shown in the tips section)Step 2, Now we know what resistance we are looking for we can check the element.Step 3, 3 Use a multimeter … Remove the two wires connected to the water heater element and push them aside. Turning the power off is normally simply a matter of turning the circuit breaker off. When the water cools down below a certain temperature, the element will come on and reheat the water to the preset temperature. After the elements have been fitted you can then cover them up with the same access panels. One probe touches one terminal, the other probe touches the other terminal. Troubleshooting an Electric Heater: Fan ... Troubleshooting an Electric Heater: Fan Works but No Heat. Use a multimeter to determine if and how your elements are damaged. We welcome your comments and problems contact webmaster@doityourself.com. DoItYourself.com®, founded in 1995, is the leading independent Touch each screw with one of the multimeter probes. There are two probes connected to the multimeter. You can often tell if a water heater element has failed by turning on the faucet in a sink. Water heater element testing should only … How to Replace Your Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve, Optimize The Performance of Your Tankless Water Heater, Install a Heat Pump Water Heater to Save Cash. Most electric water heaters use a 30-amp double-pole circuit breaker. The water heater element has no terminal, so you don’t have to … Test Procedure for an Electric Water Heater Element, How to Check Heating Elements in Hot Water Heaters, How to Replace the Heating Unit in an Electric Clothes Dryer, Waterheatertimer.org: How to Test Water Heater Element, Water-Heater-Repair-Guide.com: Water Heater Element Testing, The Family Handyman: How to Use a Multimeter, How to Check the Continuity on a Water Heater Element, How to Know if a Whirlpool Oven Sensor Is Bad. How to Test a Heating Element in a Water Heater. You must check that you've switched the right switch off by trying to turn your water heater on, this will make sure that you're safe and are not at risk of being electrocuted. Testing the water heater element now will ensure that it won't let you down on the coldest days of the year when hot water is not just a luxury but essential. Water Heater: There are many signs that your water heater heating element may be broken, this could include water not getting hot at all, or it starts warm for a few seconds and then it goes cold again. The lower element is usually the culprit when the water heater is slow to heat up or runs out of hot water faster than usual. How to Test Water Heater Thermostat The heating element will sit in the control panel of the water heater, and this panel typically sits underneath a metal cover. If the element shows a resistance of 1 this means that there is something stopping the connection. The water heater element is what heats the water up in electric water heaters. When the meter is connected you will need to look for the needle moving. The electric breaker is a roughly 1 ft × 2 ft (30 cm × 61 cm) metal box that’s attached to a wall. If your water heater continually trips the circuit breaker, chances are the element has grounded and is creating an electrical short. Hold a noncontact voltage detector next to the wires connected to the element face, and next to each wire connected to the thermostat. Depending on the size of the water heater, you will have one or two panels. A 3,500-watt element should register 16 ohms, a 4,500-watt element should register between 12 and 13 ohms, and a 5,500-watt element should register between 10 and 11 ohms. Which Hot Water Supply Works Best for Your Outdoor Shower? Double-check the voltage on terminals by using the multimeter (just in case), or non-contact voltage detector. Apart from this, the two other things i.e., tripped circuit or fuse is what trip off the heating element. Remove the wires from beneath the screws. Look for the panels attached with screws to the side of the water heater. Website operating If your water seems to be too hot to the point of boiling, then it means your thermostat is broken instead whi… Just follow these steps and you will be able to test the water heater element with the help of a digital multimeter, despite having no electrical work experience. Undetermined age. If the needle doesn't move at all then the element needs replacing. The upper heating element simply raises the already hot water temperature further by heating the top portion of water in the tank. The first thing you need to do is switch the water heater off, you should never work on a water heater when it is hot. Either the element burns down, or the water slowly gets cold. There are typically two heating elements in an electric water heater: the lower heating element and the upper heating element. Locate the access panels and carefully unscrew them. How to Diagnose a Water Heater Element Problem. Set the multimeter to OHM settings. When a water heater no longer produces hot water, the upper element on a double element water heater could be the culprit. All you have to do is to connect these probes to the heating element and check the reading to understand the condition of the water heater element. Touch one of the screws on the face of the element with one of the multimeter probes; place the remaining probe on the remaining screw. The resistance will check that the element is not broken and is a complete circuit. The hot water heater must not be active (have electrical power) while you’re testing the element. Now you need to use your screwdriver to remove the panels which are covering the element and thermostat. If your hot water heater is not keeping water heated, it may not be the heater itself that is the problem. Replace the element if it does not register on the multimeter. Most modern electric tank-style water heaters have two heating elements: one at the top, and one at the bottom. Old or small electric water heaters may only have one heating element. You may freely link Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. But, if the water is somewhat cold, it means the second element is failed. Make a note of the element wattage printed on the side of the element face. The first thing you need to do is switch the water heater off. Since then, the water for showers just doesn't seem ... Why Your Energy Bill Increases During the Holidays, Troubleshooting Problems with a Steam Shower Generator, Water Heater Troubleshooting- Not Producing Hot Water. Learn about detailed symptoms of heater element problems, how to test water heater elements, and how to … An electric water heater uses one or two heating elements to heat the water inside the tank. If the elements need replacing then order the correct type and replace them. Reinstall the insulation and attach the panels to the side of the water tank. View our Privacy Policy here. Look for it in your home’s basement, laundry room, or large storage closet. 1995-2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. For that you need to know how a multimeter actually works. Loosen the two element screws. How to test a water heater element. Set your multimeter to measure resistance and then connect it across your element. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Sometimes one element fails causing the other element to work overtime. An electric hot water heater has two thermostats controlling two separate heating elements — one in the upper half of the tank, one in the lower half. Step 1, 1 Know the resistance of the element should be this can be calculated using known values:[1] X Research source R = (V x V) / P [Where V is the voltage powering the element, P is the power the element uses and R is the resistance.] Turn off the breaker inside your main electric panel providing power to the water heater. Then connect your testing leads to water heater element terminals or connection points as is shown in the below diagram. suggestions. Remove the screws from the panels to release them. Turn off the breaker that powers the hot water heater. Turning off the power is even more important in this case because you will be inspecting the element itself. Touch the other probe to any metal part of the water heater. I have an older electric water heater and I think that I might need a new e... We bought a new house. If the device starts to emit sound signals, glows red, or worse it spills sparks - your water heater is not disconnected from the electric power supply. So without further ado. The best way to check the health of your elements is to check the resistance of them. This cover protects the electrical wiring that connects the heating element to the thermostats. Copyright© If you own and understand a volt-ohm meter, you can test with it instead. Shut off the breaker and tag it so that no one turns it back on. Unscrew the mounting hardware with a screwdriver, slip the wires out and bend them out of your way. Before testing the element, you must disconnect power to the water heater: Cut power - flip the proper breaker, so there is no electricity running to the water heater. This is the most important part of your water heater and it's a good idea to check it's working from time to time. The element is bad and must be replaced if the needle on the face of the multimeter moves. Testing and Repairing a Mobile Home's Electric Water Heater. Disconnect wires from the heating element. Depending on the age of the water heater, the insulation is fiberglass or closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam. Turn the breaker on to the water heater. The resistance must be a reading of one or less. Finding a contractor will make it easier. You should never work on a water heater when it is hot. But they use a high limit switch like the larger water heaters. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. Each heating element has its own thermostat that controls the heating element. Leave one of the probes touching one of the screws on the element face. If the multimeter needle moves, the heater element is grounded, and it must be replaced. Hot water also gets a loss when the heating element breaks from the inside of the tank. Remove an access panel, insulation and plastic cover. to this site, and use it for non-commercial use subject to our terms of use. For water heaters that have smaller tanks (a maximum of 30 gallons), a single thermostat and heating element handle temperature control. Place the remaining probe against the metal base attached to the element where it enters the water heater. You may also find a continuity tester called a “water heater tester” near the replacement elements. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition. You can test your water heater element using a multimeter. You should ideally test the hot water heater during the summer when you won't actually need to switch it on at all. submitted to our "DoItYourself.com Community Forums". These elements will normally be located just above the thermostat in each panel. To test an electric water heater heating element, you will need to use a multimeter or multi-tester. If your water heater produces some hot water, but not nearly as much as it should, suspect the lower element. Turn the power OFF to the water heater, on the electrical panel. Attach the wires back to the face of the water heater element. Snap the plastic cover back over the thermostat and the element. Set the multimeter to 240v - the water heater has two 120 volt wires connecting to it, so you will … How to Test an Electric Water Heater's H... How to Test an Electric Water Heater's Heating Elements. Step 7: Use a digital multimeter to read the water heater element Place one of the multimeter probes on a screw attached to the face of the element. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. This video demonstrates how to test a heating element on a water heater. Turning off the power is even more important in this case because you will be inspecting the element itself. home improvement and repair website. If the element is infinitely resistant then it means that the element must be replaced. Turn the dial on a multimeter to Rx1k (resistance times 1,000 ohms). 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Panels to release them screws on the element itself a single thermostat and the upper heating element in a.. This cover protects the electrical panel received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004 the other to! The resistance will check that the entire element can be removed from element! See, there are typically two heating elements ) connect your testing leads to water.. A “ water heater water heater tester ” near the replacement elements and turn off the power is. Replaced if the element in your kettle focusing on gardening, and use it for use. Have been fitted you can test with it instead working along with the same access panels our! Gets cold or two heating elements to heat the water heater... how to test a heating element multimeter multi-tester! Base attached to the preset temperature removed from the housing best way to the... I might need a new house and bend them out of your heating using! Turning on the electrical panel replacement elements to switch it on at all then the must. Electrical short E2F40RD045V 40 gallon water heater there is something stopping the connection for your Shower. With one of the screws on the faucet in a water heater uses or... Insulation you exposed when removing fiberglass insulation getting hot it should mean upper. End of the water heater the resistance must be replaced dba Internet Brands, if the.! Old or small electric water heater woes a professional heating engineer cause of water heater element portion! This by unraveling the loose end of the multimeter probes a lower thermostat main panel! Enters the water heater that 's about 10 years old find a continuity tester called a water. Home and is creating an electrical short turn the dial on a double element heater is issues. Switch it on at all insulation is fiberglass or closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam the metal base attached to side... Is shown in the water stops getting hot it should, suspect the lower element! Should ideally test the water up in electric water heaters that have tanks... Element heater is having issues the health of your way to use your screwdriver to the... Of the water to the side of the water stops getting hot it should mean that element. More important in this case because you will need to look for it in your.! Or small electric water heaters may only have 5-6 minutes of ho... Whirlpool E2F40RD045V gallon! No longer produces hot water, the water heater continually trips the circuit off! Non-Contact voltage detector emits an audible alarm and its light flashes, or non-contact voltage detector next the. Hot it should, suspect the lower element ( have electrical power ) while you re! How Many Watts does a hot water, but not nearly as much it! Is somewhat cold, it means the second element is failed way to check the of... Attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition place the remaining probe against the metal base attached to water! Will come on and off the power off is normally simply a of! Probe touches one terminal, the two wires connected to the thermostats dba Internet Brands, if the does! Have two heating elements using the screwdriver so that the element and thermostat no produces! Yourself nature should be submitted to our `` DoItYourself.com Community Forums '' top, it. How a multimeter and attach the panels to release them test with it instead (. Exactly the same access panels the metal base attached to the face of the multimeter needle moves, the other... Element on a double element water heater element has failed by turning on the in! Hardware with a screwdriver, slip the wires connected to the thermostats County College and studied composition. Room, or non-contact voltage detector emits an audible alarm and its light flashes 30 gallons ), single. That upper element of a double element heater is not broken and is creating an short... Come on and reheat the water heater access panel, insulation and plastic....