Electric Hot Water Heater Problems

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Let’s face it…you probably take your electric hot water heater for granted.

Like so many other homeowners today, you’ve come to expect an instantaneous supply of hot water on demand.

Many people realize how much they rely on their electric hot water heater only when something goes wrong.

Suddenly the seemingly bottomless well of hot water dries up.

Troubleshooting electric hot water heater problems can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Some of the components most likely to cause problems are faulty thermostats, heating elements, TPR valves and dip tubes. Sediment buildup within the tank or on one of the heating elements is another common electric hot water heater problem.

If the water output of your heater is too hot or not hot enough, the problem most likely lies with a defective thermostat or heating element. First check the thermostat to see if it has tripped. Thermostats have high limit switches built into them which are designed to trip if the water gets too hot or another problem occurs.

If you’ve tried resetting the thermostat and the water in your heater still isn’t at the desired temperature, check the voltage going into the heating element. If power is entering the heating element but the element is not getting hot, then the heating element needs to be replaced. If power isn’t making it to the heating element, then the thermostat is broken and needs to be replaced.

Nowadays, most electric hot water heaters are designed with two thermostat-heating element pairs, one at the top of the tank and one at the bottom…don’t forget to check both.

The dip tube deposits cold water at the bottom of the tank allowing hot water to rise to the top of the tank. A broken dip tube can cause the water temperature within the tank to increase beyond what is desired. If the water is too hot, check for a broken dip tube and replace it if necessary.

The TPR relief valve is designed to relieve pressure in the tank caused by expanding water molecules. If the TPR valve is calcified or blocked or otherwise not functioning properly, pressure in the tank will increase dramatically and the valve will off let water. Installing an expansion valve will give the increased volume someplace to go and prevent operation of the relief valve.