Troubleshooting and Repairing Electric Water Heaters


Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting: The Basics

  • When I say “water heater," I am referring to a 30-gallon electric water heater, but the same principles described below will apply to a 60 or 90-gallon water heater.
  • The unit is powered with 240 volts and contains two heating elements and two thermostats.
  • Of the two heating elements, only one is used at a time. One is located at the bottom and the other at the top, and when the bottom reaches the set temperature, the heating element shuts off and the top one kicks on. This cycle repeats.
  • If you are getting hot water for only a couple of minutes, then you may need to adjust the temperature on the thermostats. However, make sure that you secure the power to the water heater before you take off the access panels to the thermostats.

I will be going over some basic trouble-shooting for broken electric water heaters here: not gas, not tankless, but electric. If you need information on the other types, I am sure you can find an article elsewhere, but as for now I am going to cover everything that you need to know about electric water heaters.

Video How-To

How to Replace a Water Heater Hose

Before you go and try to replace a water heater hose, you better have some general plumbing knowledge. If you do not follow the correct steps, you could flood your house in a matter of minutes.

  1. So the first thing that you need to do before you start loosening connections is to turn off the water that is going into the water heater.
  2. After you turn it off, run a test by turning on a few faucets on the hot water side only to make sure there is no water coming out of them.
  3. Now you can begin replacing the part. Begin by removing the leaky hose. Some hoses can be disconnected with a pair of pliers or a wrench, just make sure that you have the right type of hose connections to make this work. Sometimes the hoses are connected by solder: If so, you will have to cut the pipe and detach the hose. If you have soldered fittings, the new hose can be connected by using either a compression fitting or soldering the new hose back on. If you have no experience soldering copper piping, don’t try it, leave it to the pros.
  4. Once you have your hose connected, you can reopen the inlet water valve (hot side) to the heater, just make sure that you have a faucet valve that is open somewhere in the house to relieve some of the pressure.

Resetting the Reset Button

Checking the Heating Elements and Thermostat

Although there are a lot of articles on the web that explain how you can check the heating elements, I have only read one or two that tell you how to do it correctly: the others are all crap.

  1. Before you start undoing access panels and all of that, check the breaker box and make sure there isn’t a tripped breaker. If the breaker is good let’s move to the next step.
  2. You'll need to have a multi-meter in hand, and it has to be able to check ohms or continuity.
  3. Make sure that there is sufficient power going into the water heater; you should have two wires going into the unit that have 120 volts each. If you are not getting a full 240 volts, then there is a problem with the breaker, and it may need to be replaced. (I will not be going over this in this article, it’s a whole other can of worms). If you are not experienced in working with electrical, do not even bother, it’s too dangerous, get a professional or somebody with experience to help you. Okay, if you've got 240 volts to the water heater, we are good there, so let’s get to testing the heating elements and thermostat.
  4. Take off the access panels, which are usually secured by a couple of hex-headed screws. Look for the thermostat first and remove any insulation that may be blocking it. Look for a little red button: if it is off, that means that the thermostat is tripped. Pushing the button back in will fix this problem in most cases, but if it just pops back out when you turn the power back on, then the thermostat needs to be replaced.
  5. Now to test the thermostat and the water heater element, you need to turn the power off!
  6. Remove one of the wires from the thermostat. You can remove all of them if you want, but it is only necessary to remove one. Set your multi-meter to ohms, then take one of the probes on your meter and stick it on the first screw, the one without the wire connected. Holding that there, with the other probe go and test each screw and each connection.
  7. If your meter is reading .1, that means that the circuit is open: this is good, this means that your thermostat or element is good. If your meter is reading something like .003, it will eventually drop to 0, which means that the circuit is closed, which means that you will have to replace the thermostat or the element. Below is a picture of me testing a thermostat.
  8. If the thermostat is bad, just replace it. You already have the power off, so just hook up the new one exactly how the old one was hooked up and set the temperature accordingly. If the heating element is bad, then replacing that is a bit different, I will explain how to do this below.

Here, I am testing a thermostat. Now can anybody tell me if this one is bad or good?
Here, I am testing a thermostat. Now can anybody tell me if this one is bad or good?

Replacing a Water Heater Element

So you should have already tested the element as I said to do in the paragraph above. Once you confirm that the element is bad, let’s get to work.

  1. Shut off the power to the water heater and turn off its water.
  2. Lots of people recommend draining the water heater before changing out the element, and this can be done by hooking a garden hose up to the drain valve and siphoning the end of the hose to create a vacuum. Then you wait 30 minutes to an hour for it to drain. You might also check to make sure it is drained completely by opening up some hot water valves throughout the house. You can do all this, or you can listen to me and save yourself an hour and skip the draining: Just grab a few towels and lay them around the water heater. When you are pulling the element out, some water will come out, but it is not pressurized, so if you swap the elements out quickly, you will barely get any water on the floor or carpet (that’s what the towels are for, more than enough to soak up the little bit of water that will come out).
  3. Unhook the couple of wires on the old element. You will need the appropriate size lug wrench to loosen the element. Have the new heating element on hand: these elements come with a rubber o-ring on them so you will not need to use any Teflon tape.
  4. Unscrew the old element and pull it out (if you didn't drain, some water is going to be pouring out so make the swap quick), then tighten down on the new element. Hook up the wires as they were before. Put back any insulation you may have removed and put the access panel back into place.
  5. Turn the breaker on to the water heater and turn on the water and you are done.

Tank Element Replacement

How Do I Know When I Need to Replace My Water Heater?

Is your water heater leaking?

The first sign of your water heater going bad is when it starts to leak water, usually from the bottom of the unit. The leak usually starts as a pinhole and gets worse over time. This is just normal wear and tear, a common problem for water heaters that are anywhere from 10 to 15 years old.

The easiest way to tell if your water heater is leaking is that you will probably start to see some rust marks or water stains coming down from the unit.

Now it may be that you simply have a leaky hose. If so, then you will just need to replace the hose itself.

Is your water heater not heating?

If the unit is acting up and not heating right, then there is either a problem with one of the breakers, one of the heating elements, or one of the thermometers that are behind the unit's panel. Those are the main parts that are inside, and it is common that they fail every once in awhile. You'll find solutions below.

Where and what kind of water heater should I buy?

If you do need to replace the unit, there are many places that you can go (especially online) to find cheap water heaters. Before you buy a new unit, determine how much water you use. If you have a big house or use a washing machine and dishwasher, and if you often have two showers running at the same time, you will probably need a 50 gallon plus water heater.

Please leave any comments in the section below.

Comments 166 comments

TonyB 5 months ago

If this were my site, I'd turn off the comments. lots of really dumb comments from these "Experts".

Bob 6 months ago

Have an AO Smith 50 gallon hot water heater , replaced both thermostats and elements and checked voltage 240 volts and amperage was 19 but still not heating water after several hours . Any answers ?

Sal 6 months ago

There was no water in the tank when i turned it on and it spit out fire, now the water heater is no working at all and i still have power, what could be the problem and solution

Corey 8 months ago

How do i replace the User interface display on my AOS/Whirlpool Heat pump water heater?

alanbanish 11 months ago

ome electrical is going haywire, first problem was a dim light in the fridge, a few days later noticed fridge wasn't cooling anymore, change to a different plug with with a heavy duty extension cord, now its working fine, second problem, water heater stopped working, after tripping all breakers multiple times, suddenly water heater began working again, worked fpr 2 days, now its no longer working again, no breakers have tripped, could a rodent chewing on wires cause something like this to happen? my water heater is 5 years old, and pryor to this Ive never had any issues with it at all, the only prior electrical issue was two kitchen 110 volt outlets stopped working, overhead light continued to work, no breakers tripped, and the outlets don't have the little reset button, thanks for any help

Cara 14 months ago

Water h oozing smelly liquid from top couplings smells like a leaking battery and the circuit breaker tripped

Tim g 15 months ago

I have a 50 gallon Rheem hot water tank that is not getting electric to the elements the electric is on and coming in the top of the top element panel but not making it past the reset button I push the reset button I heard it click but still no power is going through

Binegars 16 months ago

Had an electric hot water heater catch fire without tripping the breaker.

We replaced the whole unit and it is doing the same thing. What could be our problem? Unit is a whirlpool 30 gal. Only 1 month old.

Puzzled - Resolved 2 years ago

Problem was NOT the water heater. A check valve in the submersible pump line was draining the water heater faster than the element could heat it, then kicking back on refilling the water heater with cold water. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

Puzzled 2 years ago

I have a 20 gal apartment water heater 1500 W 120 V that reads 120 V across the element terminals, and using an ammeter that goes around the wire measure 12 A on both the white and black wires (both sides of the element). The tank is clean inside (no limestone) and yet the water is not getting hot. We have replaced both the element, and the thermostat, and still the water does not get hot. This seems to defy logic. Does anyone have any idea what I could check next?

caerleongold profile image

caerleongold 2 years ago

Hi Aubrey,

You might find this blog post useful:

I was having a whole bunch of trouble with my own water heater (we call it a hot water cylinder where I come from). However, I was able to determine from that linked blog post that I needed to drain my heater fully ... doing so and then refilling seemed to fix the problem.

Let me know how you get on,

Aubrey 2 years ago

replaced t/stat and element but no water from hot tap any idea of what could be the cause

Lonnie 2 years ago

Could you tell me why my hot water won't work when it's on by its self but if I turn on a cold faucet in another sink or the tub then water will flow out of the faucet.

steve 2 years ago

what is the amperage draw if it is 240 volt with 4500 watt element

bob 2 years ago

I replaced thermostat and elements have power to elements but its not heating the water....any answers?

David from Malta 2 years ago

I have just bought a 50 litre electric water heater.The installation has been correctly done, however I noticed that the water stored in the tank doesn't hold hot from morning till late evening as other heaters I had did before. Could you please explain what's wrong with it. Could it be its insulating stuff not thick enough or defective or is it something to do with its electrical system? Thanks.

Mikey101a 2 years ago

I have a soot problem with my hot water coming from my electric water heater. I have flushed the tank out several times on several occasions just to have the soot return after the water gets hot again in my tank through all faucets and showers. How can I fix this ongoing issue once and for all?

DawnShu 2 years ago

Hi. We lost complete power yesterday due to the very cold weather. It was off for 5 hrs. During that time we had no water while it was off and when it came back on. We now have cold water in the kitchen sink and bathtub but no water running out of the hot water faucet at all. We also have neither hot nor cold water running in the bathroom sink. We took off the panels and checked the red breaker button. It hadn't tripped but we pushed it in just in case. Nothing. Could the lines be frozen since the house got down to 49º inside? I don't know what to do and cannot afford a plumber. Any help would be greatly appreciated. By the way it is an electric water heater manufactured 2007

Bea 2 years ago

I have an electric water heater. The issue is the 2 hot water faucets are spitting air everyonce in a while. I was not sure if this was due to the water heater or not. I have checked for leaks inside and out and have not found any.

Thank you

George 2 years ago

My sister says when she is filling up her bathtub she can get an electrical shock by touching the water. It is just a tingling of electricity, rather than a real shock. She is only touching the water and not any pipes. She has an electric hot water heater. What could cause this to happen?

Joe 2 years ago

I have no water upstairs and no hot water downstairs. I followed some of the lines that were easily accessible and the downstairs cold comes right off the main. No water whatsoever comes out of the faucets downstairs when opening the hot valves. I cracked the drain on the hot water heater because there are no leaks anywhere that I oculd see. Hardly any water came out of the drain. This can't be good... Does this mean the heater is so clogged it's done for?

Justin 2 years ago

I have a new water heater.. Both elements are good.. Setting @ 130 degrees... I have 120 on each leg... Water is luke warm only.. When i turn on the hot water in the bathroom i can feel bursts of cold water in it... Just bought this house and replaced the water heater... You can feel warm/hot water feeding back into the cold water supply at the heater.. Electric.. Any ideas?

Jayeffel 3 years ago

I think in the third sentence under changing the heating elements you mean syphoning, not ciphering.

ben 3 years ago

I have a new whirlpool 40 gallon water heater. The water seemed fine but somewhat cooler than our old one for about 2-3 weeks then noticed the water temperature fluxuating rapidly. I adjusted the temperature warmer, replaced the upper and lower thermostats, but it still takes a long time to get hot water to all the faucets then fluxuates every couple minutes from warm to cool to very hot or vice versa. I'm baffled any ideas?

chela 3 years ago

i have speed-o- matic water tank keeps burnnig elements power stays on all time

karlitto 3 years ago

Just bought a house and turned on valve to the water heater, I could hear the water flowing in. I turn on the breaker and there is no noise or indication that the water heater is working. It was winterized. Is there something I need to do to get it to work. Am I wrong in thinking there should be a noise when it is switched on so you can tell it is working.

tams 3 years ago

we had power surges, now our electric water heater is not working. We tried to find a reset button or something. Replaced the circuit box to the whole house. What can we do?!?!

water htg expert 3 years ago

This site is a great place to get wrong ing o. Remember when a part goes bad there is usually a reason. If a water heater goes for twice it's warranty then you have done well. Dumping money and time into is a waist. Replace it and enjoy hot water.

Billfox45 3 years ago

I installed a 90 gallon electric water heater 6.5 yrs. ago. Yesterday, I noticed streaks of water coming from the top of the water heater and mainly from the screws that fasten the top crown. It is not a great amount of water, but it is a good trickle. Please don't tell me it is defective...any ideas????

candace 3 years ago

I have a 30 gallon electric water heater. i have been getting great hot water about a week ago my hot water was gone my upper element was bad so i changed it. still no hot water i replaced the lower element as well and both thermostats. its like my tank heats up for 1 shower and then runs cold. i have to shut the breaker and then heat the reset button on my hot water heater for it to heat back up. i adjusted the tempature on my top thermostat but it still does the same please help.

noah786 3 years ago

hi, my hot water is getting scalding hot then goes cold. I pressed the reset buttton and turned the temp down on hwh. This worked for about 1 day then water got over hot again, 150 deg, and hwh shut off. I reset hwh and now water is 150 deg. What should I do.

Don 3 years ago

when draining a tank you say to cipher the end of the hose to create a vacuum. If decipher is to de code, then cipher means to code. how do I code the end of a hose? also you forgot to instruct folks to turn off the power to the tank when you close the water valve to the tank.

john 3 years ago

i put in 2 new elements and still dont have hot water

NancyT 3 years ago

My water heater is two years old new house etc water is draining from the pressure release valve Is this normal should I do something.

jlb3873 3 years ago

The reset button on my water heater won't reset. When you push it in it just comes right back out. It won't stay in at all. I have no hot water. The tank only has one heating element and we replaced that first. Does that mean we need to replace the thermostat or could that mean something else?

wez 3 years ago

Recently replaced an 80 gal electric water heater. The water presure on the hot side is restricted. If I have the shower on up stairs and turn the hot water on down stairs it stops the hot water flow the the upstairs shower. Have any ideas what's going on.

cleo 4 years ago

we replaced bottom element had hot water for a while now none again what could be the problem it was trippig the red button before we changed it and it is doing it again

rjs 4 years ago

I was working on a elec water heater that appeared to be working fine according to my multi-meter. Replaced top therm and element any way because the owner said they had no hot water. The water heater did not have a shut-off valve on the water supply so every time I had to shut the water off to the whole house. Every thing ohmed out and I even had 17 amps on each leg. Today I showed up and they had gotten some one to install a shut-off valve at the tank. I made sure the tank was full and turned on the breaker. Everything still checked out fine until I went to turn off the shut-off valve. That was when I heard the water flow to the tank get cut off and then the element started making a cooking sound, It was heating the water!!!! Opened the valve back up and I heard water starting to go into the tank, no water should have moved passed that valve. After all no one was running water in the house. I did that 3 or 4 times and decided there must be a water leak in the house on the hot water side. After speaking to the people in the house one of the grand-daughters told me the floor in the bathroom has been warm to her bare feet. BOOM, there it was, a leak in the concrete foundation. The water was moving so fast thru the water heater it never had a chance to heat up. I told them the smartest thing I could come up with, keep the breaker turned off and the valve closed and call a real plumber. Some one that does not do this for a living will only make a bad situation worse, and take maybe more than a week. As where a real plumber can do it in a day or two. I knew better than to say I will do it.

:( 4 years ago

i have an electric hot water heater and the hot water pressure valve keeps popping what do i need to do to fix it

Curious? 4 years ago

I have two bathrooms in my house. Only one shower gets hot water, but both bathrooms get hot water in the sink? What could the problem be?

Azzy 4 years ago

recently moved in to a property which has an electrical boiler. we used to have some instance the trip switch going off. as well less warm water due to continues use of the shower. according to the above details let me know if the heating elemnt would have been gone off due to over heating with out insufficient water in the tank.

Angie 4 years ago

Our hot water heater is located in a bedroom closet and I am scared to death that one day it will explode and cause a huge mess. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? Will it always leak a little before exploding or will it just explode with no warning? Should I buy one of those water detector things? What is the best way for me to prevent a hot water heater explosion? Thanks!

Amanda 4 years ago

I have a 60 gal elect hot water heater... Both t-stats, both elements and all wires have been changed and it was still popping the circuit breaker so that has been changed as well and it stays on but now the t-stats don't change from upper to lower and OHMS seem to be sufficient please help getting frustrated

shirleyjd1 4 years ago

Had a horrible leak at the shut off water value that flood under my moblie home i turn off main curcit breaker so no one would get electrocuted and got it fixed turned on the breakers again- now i have no hot water just cold can you tell me why-thanks

scott e jansen 4 years ago

I've got an 30 gal water heater that works very well, my problem is some times it leaks, it can go for a month sometimes 2 with out a leak, and then sometimes it will leak for days. the amount is very small and the point of the leak must be some where at the bottom but is not visible. What I have done to stop the leak is to release some of the water in the tank, again the leak will reappear but next day or next month its a crap shoot. can you help?

beginner 4 years ago

Thanks for the information that only one element heats at a time,pulling my hair out was starting to hurt!

Adam 4 years ago

My hot water heater is making a "chirp" noise every couple of minutes. I have checked for leaks but i see no signs of water. My hot water is still working great as well. Any ideas???

Richard Blazie 4 years ago

I have a new electric water heater (50 gal). When the system is operating it first trips the red reset button. I reset the button and after a period of time the circuit breaker pops as well as the red reset. I assume the probe is faulty but I do not understand why the circuit breaker would also pop? Can you provide an answer?

Rev. Ronald C. Moss 4 years ago

I have a dual element elec. water heater that the thermostat button keeps tripping, but not immediately after it's reset. I only trips after a lot of hot water is used like taking a shower, or running the clothes or dish washers. Lately the water temp. started getting scalding hot without having the thermostat setting changed, whereas previously the hot water would need little cool water added to be comfortable. Now I barely turn on the hot, and turn the cold wide open, it is almost unbareably hot. What causes this? I bought new elements about a year ago but never installed them because at the time the water didn't get too hot and after changing the temp. setting higher it solved the problem, except once before that the temp. went sky high with out adjusting, but settled down on it's own. Now it is high temp agaain with the stat kicking of only when a fair amount of hot water is used. the temperature setting does respond to adjustment but not to the extreme it's done on it's own.

Time Bandit 4 years ago

To clarify for some people out there. The upper element goes on first then the thermostat switches power to bottom when the set temp is reached. Both heater elements are never on at the same time.

Chris K 4 years ago

One thing to add is that when you pull out an element without draining the tank. It is best to turn off any faucets using hot water to allow vacuum to be created within the tank. This is like holding a bottle of water upside down with the lid off the bottle will suck air in to allow the heavier liquid out. If you punch a hole in the overturn bottle the liquid will dump out more quickly.

Robert 4 years ago

hello i had all my water lines replaced and my water tank worked before the job was done and now after the new water lines are installed no hot water can you help me thanks Robert

Blaquwraithe 4 years ago

watts divided by volts =amps

4500/240 =18.75 amps

volts divided by ohms = amps

240v / 18 ohms = 13.3 amps

Amps, Volts, Watts, Ohms

ohm ... watt amp volts?


can never remember the difference between watts and amps so I am making this page so that when I forget I can just read it again. (No Lie ;o)

Watts = Volts x Amps

Watts is a unit of power having the dimensions (energy per unit time):

M L2 / T2 divided by T = M L 2 / T 3

Note: A kilowatt-hour is a 1000 watts times one hour = an energy unit.

Volt is a unit of force (F=ma):

ML / T2

So that Amps have the dimensions:

L / T

Now, this is a velocity? What is going on here? This begs some explanation.

I was unable to find an explanation on the web after two hours of searching. There are too many documents on the web with the same "overview" type information. So I did what I usually do & figured it out myself.

The true "dimension" of amperage is, of course, 1 / T , i.e. "x" number of electrons pass through a wire in so many seconds. The extra L we need to make power (ML2T -3) is the length of the wire which is left out of the calculation because it is held "constant" for the pupose of teaching. So if you screw in a 100 watt bulb the little filament in the bulb is a constant as is the length of your household wiring. Now if you increase the length of the filament ( - + - ) you increase the wattage of the bulb (like screwing in another 100 watter) ... but ... if you put two filaments together ( = ) you get less resistance instead of more wattage. And less resistance means lower wattage.

The complete equation for watts is:

Watts = Volts x Amps x k(one unit length of wire)

If you have a current running in some wire, it has some length ... get it? ... but since this is true in any case whatsoever, why put it in the equation? So, if I double this "any" length, does the power consumption go up to double? Yes, even if there is no light bulb on it ... but the amps and volts remain the same? Yes, the voltage will remain the same ... if you're talking about the power company. They will ramp up their power output to match demand. If too many people put too much "extra lengths" in the circuit ... and they can't ramp up ... you get a "brown out" which is, lowered voltage.

Note 6/27/02:

There is a mistake here in what follows (pointed out by "Wimms" on my D-Board in June 2002). I can't remember what I was thinking at the time but there is no drain on the system if it adds another "branch". There will be an extra drain on the system if it extends its length to a place where energy is being tapped. It would lose energy to an unused branch only do to leakage which is minor and not a logical part of the problem. Also, I don't know if maintaining an alternating current voltage consumes energy which would make the error correct again for the wrong reason. I will find out when I get back from vacation.). Certainly, a direct current would not, as would be the case with a simple unused battery (which just leaks away).


If the power company adds a line to its system (say, to a new subdivision) they must increase their power output to maintain the 115 volt standard even if no one is yet in the subdivision using power ... because ... the extra wiring is resistance of and unto itself, i.e. it gets "hot", like ... warm. The power company's system is a big electric heater even in its "wait state", i.e. waiting for some customer to use it.

If everyone flushes the toilet at the same time, the water pressure goes down ... unless the water utility "pushes" it harder. They can't reasonably do this (they would need a variable height water tower), but the electric company can.

So when you turn on your lamp (add a length of wire), the voltage goes down but the power company puts it right back up to 115V, see?.

So the real, true, actual formula for watts is in fact:

Watts = Amps x Volts x Length

provided that we alter the variable length measurement to reflect a "constant crossection", i.e. a .1 mm filament 2 cm long = 1/8 inch filament very much shorter. But nobody cares about these things except the professionals and people like me who demand that "dimensions cancel out" on both sides of an equation. ;o)

Ohms = Volts / Amps

Ohm is a measure of resistance to electrical conduction.

It is also the way in which prisoners in medieval dungeons resisted their captors. What they did was to find the resonant frequency of their dungeon and hum it. When one guy got tired of humming another prisoner picked it up. The jailers couldn't tell where it was coming from so they were subjected to this constant drone "Ohmmmmm ... ohmmmm ... ohmmmm ...". That's why

Blaquwraithe 4 years ago

This is a 4500 watt 230 volt screw type high density element.

This is the most common residential element.

4500/230 =19.5 amps

4500/240 =18.75 amps

230v/20amps =11 ohms

ohms = volts divided by amps) ... so a 4400 Watt @ 220v=

Blaquwraithe 4 years ago

I = V / R (Current = Voltage Divided by Resistance)

230volts / 13 ohms = 17.69 amps

230v X 18 Amps = 4,140 Watts


230v / 18 ohms = 12.77 amps

230v X 13 amps = 2990 Watts.

I think you can see how accurate the 13-18 ohms method gets. not very!

Eric 4 years ago

I have just replaced both elements. how long does it take for a 30 gal. water heater to heat back up?

Tara1226 4 years ago

This morning I woke up to my electricity off. When I powered it on, I noticed that my water heater breaker was in the off possition. When I turned it back on, I heard the sound of steam coming from the top of the heater....then POP! There was a spark at the top of the heater! The breaker for the heater turned back off. There is a small puddle of water by one of the pipes where the spark came from. I don't know anything about water heaters, so I just left it alone. Now, 3 hours later, I have hot water!(keep in mind that the breaker is in the off possition!) Also, my daughter told me that there wasn't any hot water last night. Im assuming the water heater went out, hours before the electricity went out. My questions are, 1. How can I possibly have hot water with the breaker off? 2. Is it possible that the pressure is building up (I'm fearing an explosion) 3. Do I need to pay a pro to come out and replace it or is it easy to install ourselves?

Debbie 4 years ago

What temperature should hot water heater be set on? I got both eelements be set on I got them turned up all the wau

Constance 4 years ago

I have the same problem as Kim..we changed our bottom element and now it doesn't have power but the the top one does. Greatly appreciate any help you can give.

Bluenoser2 4 years ago


To measure the amperage, don't you need one of those meters with probes that clamp around the wiring? I'm guessing that most home handy people aren't so equipped.

Blaquewraithe 4 years ago

Stacking?? and dip tubes.

The hot water in a water heater tends to form layers with differing temperatures. When short uses occur frequently the heater can turn on and off and cause the water at the top of the heater to keep getting hotter and hotter each time. It’s called “stacking”. It’s because hot water, like hot air, rises. It can get hot enough to cause the temperature / pressure safety valve to open and release hot water from the heater, even with the thermostat setting on low.

Blaquewraithe 4 years ago

L Burke,1st off checking to ground is not a diagnostic technique you can trust for anything but safety! Of course you will show continuity to ground if a bad elements sitting in water! Checking to ground is only good to see if you will be shocked! Its not a diagnostic technique that tells you anything but that! since you will need to drain the water to really if the readings due to an actual short or its due to being immersed in water! Sure ,MAYBE IF you know what a good elements ohms reading is, you MIGHT get lucky if the waters reading isn't close enough to fool you using such methodology which is in no way accepted protocol for a sytematic diagnostic , My point which went over your head apparently , is, You dont need to ohm out a suspected element if it has voltage!! Simply check for amperage!! if it has voltage! This is foolproof as opposed to your "should be,might be, hope it is, Voltage with any amperage is much easier, faster and far more accurate! so you can monkey around ohming out an open element that reads continuity due to the water inside the tank completing the circuit! Why use a questionable method that takes longer? simply see if you have voltage! and if so simply check for an amp draw! thats real world not magazine mechanic diagnostics, I have 34 years and an Associates degree in Electo Mechanical Technologies

dave 4 years ago

Installed a new speedflow unvented under sink electric water heater 2 months ago and the water smells like steriliser flluid, drained it down and flushed it through but still smells really strong, is this normal?

Lburk 4 years ago

BLAQUEWRAITH You are incorrect insofar as you cannot ohm an element with water in the tank. I teach plumbing for a living, and I have only 35 years in the trade for a little background.

If an element is good it will ohm out to about 13 to 16 ohms. If an element is bad, in other words if it was dry fired and burned apart you will get either a “000 or an OL” on your meter (depending upon the brand or type of meter) because there is no resistance. You may get the same reading if there is an internal open in the element. You can always run a test to ground as well to see if you have a short to ground. You see the heating element itself, the same stuff you see on an electric space heater, but much more of it as in a 100 feet tightly wrapped, is covered in an electrical insulating material and the it is covered with a Chromalloy alloy sheathing.

Your point of testing with an AMP meter is correct though as long as you are testing just the element to see if it is bad. No AMP's, the element is no good. Some try to ohm out at the lead-in but this is testing everything and you'll show an AMP draw if one element is good and it's energized. But keep in mind you will have to switch each element on individually in order to test them. They run non-simultaneously, one element at a time, which brings me to the point that the original author of this hub is mistaken on.

The first element to come on in an electric water heater is the upper. The reason for this is to prevent what is called “stacking” which means all of the heat will rise, and the bottom element would never shut off. Therefore, the top is heated first, once the top is heated, that element kicks off then the bottom kicks on to heat the bottom of the tank, and then maintain the heat unless the hot heater is depleted or it has sat so long that the top has cooled below set point which means the process starts all over.

Why does the bottom element stay on? Because that's where the cold water comes into the tank, at the bottom, if you don’t use all of the hot water in the tank - only the bottom element is needed to maintain a tank of hot water.

Not meaning to pick on anyone here just trying to make things right.

Don 4 years ago

last week a plumber put an expansion valve on our electric water heater. It then stopped heating the water. If I reset the thermostat, it produces hot water ONCE, then cold water again. I'm resetting it several times a day.

matt 4 years ago

low volume of hot water. i have checked voltage at thermostats and ohms at elements everthing seem ok i replaced lower thermostat everthing worked fine for about a day then hot water runs out quick again. can anyone help.

jackie 4 years ago

drained and refilled our electric hot water heater the water is not heating at all. it was heating properly before the drain. anyone know what could be wrong here?

harleyrider222 4 years ago

hi, electricity is my friend.. if the element is bad, there would be 0 ohms, or infinate ohms across the elements terminals

georgie 4 years ago

I replaced my heating element yesterday. The water heater worked fine but when we got up this morning it wasn't working. The thermostat has no reset button I also changed the circuit breaker in case it was a bad breaker. Could I need a new thermostat?

EC 4 years ago

I have a 40gal electric heater. When using the water i can only get hot to luke warm water for 2 or 3 minutes. Do i need to replace the whole thing?

Patrick 4 years ago

I just installed a 40gal electric heater. It worked fine for two days and then got a spark from the top of the water heater. What could possibly cause this problem. Is the thermostat set too high (125)

wanda 4 years ago

my hot water heater wont turn to off will gas still leak out. it's stuck on pilot

KD 4 years ago

If the 2nd stage is out, you will have hot water , it just runs out fast.

If you're 1st stage is bad, there is no 2nd stage as 1st is from 1st being satisfied.

but the voltage/amperage diagnostic is real world.

susan 4 years ago

thank you i found you information very handy and the picture was great,simple short and easy explanations.

nikki 4 years ago

I have a whirlpool hot water heater and the water will get hot for maybe 5 seconds and go right back to cold i need help please

Clint 4 years ago

If everything is working correctly and you run out of hot water quickly, check the dip tube in the hot water heater. If you take the strainer off the faucet and there is "stuff" in it you most likely have a broken dip tube.

Barbara Burns 4 years ago

We have replaced water heater elements before. I know there is a difference when one goes out; the bottom element is much harder to replace. In the past there has been a difference on how the hot water reacts. If the element on the top goes out does it mean that we have just less hot water? If the element goes out on the bottom, what are the symtoms and what are the symtoms if the top element goes out? Thanks, barb

BLAQUEWRAITH profile image

BLAQUEWRAITH 4 years ago

Boy has this guy got it all backwards!

1st off. you cant ohm the elements with water in the tank!

the meter will read the water as continuity!!

Sure drain the water out and then ohm it and if its "OPEN"








Rob 4 years ago

Looks like handmanpro has disappeared.......better call a plumber.

Kurt nelson 4 years ago

The hot water heater went out after a power outage from a wind storm. The breaker is fine and didn't trip and I hit the reset button on the hot water. But still no luck heating water. Any ideas?

edgar 4 years ago

is water suppose to be coming out of the thearmostat

Deb 4 years ago

It has been 3 years since a response from handymanpro.

Jim 4 years ago

I have a room access to the electric water heater which is placed inside of closet. Is it ok if this room is assigned as a bedroom?

Melissa 4 years ago

My electric heater is less than a year old and I replaced both elements a month ago and seemed fine. Now all of the sudden I only have enough hot water for one shower agai? What is causing my element to go out?

Michael 4 years ago

I recently bought a new water heater and the water still doesn't heat up.. what could be the problem its brand new just bought... the flame is on but water still hasn't heated up.. what could cause the problem or what should i fix?

Kim 4 years ago

Water heater was leaking. We replaced the top element where it appeared the leak was coming from. The rubber gasket was shot. We drained the top of the heater to do so and now the water is brown and not much hot water. It has been 5 hours

Kyndal 4 years ago

I replaced my heating element and I still have no hot water, what is the problem?

dewey morison 4 years ago

can I run my 120 volt heater laying it on it,s side

Anna 4 years ago

An 80 gal whirlpool electric w/h had the thermostats and both elements replaced. Getting proper power, but still not getting any hit water. What are some reasons there is still no hot water?

tammy 4 years ago

hello please can someone help me?

my electric shower has cut off while i was using it

but the water is still coming out pretty fast i dont know

wat is going on thankyou..

terrell 4 years ago

How can I tell when my hot water heater is full of water?

tmeirowsky 4 years ago

I have a 3 year old 50-gallon hot water heater that has worked great until three days ago. We get hot water, but only a small fraction of water comes out. I drained the hot water heater to see if this would help, but it did not. Help, please.

Michele 4 years ago

Help, I have had 2 brand new water heaters installed and neither one will heat up. They keep bringing me new haters and say "this one should work" The breaker is not triped so I dont think that is an issue any other suggestions?

Angelo 4 years ago

Have a 12 year old electric water heater which started making a noise about two weeks ago. Water temp is fine and no leaks. Noise is a steady clicking noise which seems to occur when water heater is heating. At first sounded like a dripping noise but again no water leaking and noise was too steady to be water dripping. Any ideas?

ted karol 4 years ago

My 220 breaker that feeds the water heater has one leg getting warmer than the other leg. The heater I am told is relativley new.

Fred 4 years ago

New 40 gallon water heater doesn't provide sufficient heated water. Reset button isn't out and isn't lit either. Going to start troubleshooting tomorrow but why isn't/wasn't the breaker light on?

Greg 4 years ago

I have a 30 gallon heater. I am getting 120v at both wires going into my elements at both elements at the same time. I am getting, no hot water. All of the wires appear to be in good shape. The elements were replace last year. Should I start from the beginning and check to see if my circuits are open or closed or do you think its an element issue.

Thanks for the help.

Barry 4 years ago

I just installed a new water heater, all hose connections are fine and do not leak. I connected the electrical wires (in this case it was black to black -ground, white to red - power) and connected the brass ground to the green screw as required. After four hours of operation, We heard a loud snap, and the wire nut melted on the white/red connection. The breaker did not

trip. I did shut off the breaker but cannot find anything else wrong. Any helpful hints or things I need to look at. The breaker is fine.

Jon Payant 4 years ago

A good element measures between 14 and 20 ohms. A broken one measures nothing, because being broken the circuit in open. The best way to measure it is to remove the wires. By the way, a closed circuit is good, an open circuit is bad. It's a loop, closed is good, you cut a connection, it's open.

Radiance Heating and Plumbing, Inc 4 years ago

John Martin - thank you so much for posting your problem and solution. I too had the power run through the (good) element and fool me into thinking I had 120 on both legs. Mine runs through a disconnect with fuses, and the fuse blew on one side. Your post gave me the clue to figure it out.

DRammelkamp 5 years ago

My water heater will not produce hot water.I called a plumber and he changed out the thermostat and heating element on the water heater.I still don't have hot water.He said it could be electrical i find it hard to believe because i am an electrician and checked the circuits.I even went as far as to ohm out the thermostat and element he installed.What can be the problem.

marriedalazyman 5 years ago

Last Friday, I woke up with no hot water. I immediately went to the breaker box, and sure enough, the breaker was tripped. I tested the elements and found the problem to be with the bottom element. Well, that stopped the breaker from tripping, but now I only have lukewarm water. Both elements, as well as the top two wires going into the top thermostat are getting adequate voltage. Any ideas as to what the problem is?

L Burk 5 years ago

I have been a plumber for 35 years and now do nothing but train plumbers. That said. I do have a question. What is a "Water Heater Hose?" A hose is made of a poly or rubber material. By code the only hose ever to be used on a water heater is to drain it. Are you by chance referring to the flexible copper or braided stainless steel connectors? If you are, then please address this properly as the information you are putting out is very misleading and could be dangerous to the public.

kitty 5 years ago

we have not had any problems with our water heater until tonight when we turned the hot water on it was extremely hot, what could be wrong with it?

joe 5 years ago

just a few days ago, it seemed that we where not getting the same amount of hot water for our showers. so, i pulled the access panels and tested the t-stats and elements. top and bottom t-stats and upper element tested good. the bottom element didn't appear good. turned power back on for showers and noticed a wire going from bottom t-stat to bottom element smoking and red hot and making a poping noise. is the bottom t-stat or element bad? or what is going on? please help, thanks.

Josh 5 years ago

0 or zero Ohms on means that you have perfect continuity or a closed circuit (. A reading of 1 Ohms means no continuity, element bad. A reading of zero or near zero ohms usually means that continuity is good, electricity can flow. This article seems confused on which direction the ohms scale works. 1=open circuit, electricity can't flow. 0=closed circuit, electricity can flow.

THAVENS 5 years ago

My electric water heater is at most a few years old. Just recently the reset button started tripping. When re-set, the water is crazy hot for a while. Within a few hours it trips again. What is the first step in trouble shooting?

Water Heater Leaking Newark 5 years ago

nice work keep it up..

Plumbing connection offers affordable solutions for drain cleaning, Fremont water heater, Oakland plumber, Newark plumber, Union City plumber, Fremont plumber, water heater leaking. We also are providing Plumbing services in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Carla,

Newark Plumber  5 years ago

good post, you have shared great information to users.

Plumbing connection offers affordable solutions for drain cleaning, Fremont water heater, Oakland plumber, Newark plumber, Union City plumber, Fremont plumber, water heater leaking. We also are providing Plumbing services in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Carla, 5 years ago

My tub faucet it leaking bad. Can I turn the valve to cut the water flow to the heater at night so I don't have to listen to the water all night and save power from constantly loosing heated water out the faucet. My concern is I've heard the heater will burn up unless I flip the breaker as well. Is this true?

Debbie 5 years ago

Our water heater is not getting hot, just warm for maybe 4 inches of water in the tub then it is cold. We replaced both thermostats this weekend and both elements on Monday. We have checked the main breaker and tested all wires going to the unit, but it still is not getting hot. Does the upper or lower thermostat suppose to be set higher than the other one?

RayAustin 5 years ago

We just bought a house, the hot water heater is 6 years old. On the advice of a friend, I move the device outside, connected a garden hose to the cold water side, removed the drain value, turned on the hose and washed tons of calcium chunks out of the drain hole. I used a piece of copper wire to ‘stir’ the calcium. Bits of the old heating element washed out. I’m trying to get the old element out. It is a 5000 watt element, and I can’t pull it out. It is distorted from over heating. Do you have any tricks? A $10 element amd my free labor beats having to buy a new hot water heater.

Rick 5 years ago

My new Hotpoint 37.5 gal water heater shows power going to both upper and lower elements but not heating water at all. I replaced upper element as i thought maybe tank had not been completely full when powered up and still no hot water. Recommended breaker is 20 amp with 12AWG wire. At a loss here as to what problem is.

stephen 5 years ago

excellent advise

alwin101 5 years ago

i wanna know if my plumber accidentally switched on the water heater without water inside the tank and spoiled the heating element.

Whose fault is it ? My plumber or the manufacturer's

kim 5 years ago

Ok we just replaced the bottom heating element and now there is no power we tested the upper element and there is power to that one how do we fix this thanks


henry 5 years ago

i have an old electric water heater[ more that 15 yrs]--did not use it much--is in a cabin--now renting it--in the past the heater was always on to help prevent freezing in winter --but now my bill is 300 bucks a month-i now it is getting more use but that seems way out of line--do bad elements cause this--thanks for your reply-hh

Retro1920 5 years ago

Hi, I have a question. The water heater is not working and the red reset button is not up. How can I make it go up so I can push it down to reset it? Thanka!

Russell 5 years ago

All great information. I was especially glad to have an answer regarding the plastic inserts that come with the heaters hot/cold connections. My only other question would be how long does it take to ruin an element? I only ask because a relative of mine was helping me with replacing my water heater, and when it came time to fill the water heater up, he accidentally turned the water heater itself on. Now we have a water heater that's full, wired, and definitely receiving power to both elements, but it just won't heat the water. The only problem I can think of is we burnt up both elements. Is this possible? How long would it take to ruin an element in an empty water heater?

Cal Hargett 5 years ago

Hot water duration is diminishing quickly. Thermostat red button has not tripped. Relief valve/pipe seems hot and there is a trickle going into nearby sump from the relief pipe. Bradford White 50 gal...Most likely a thermostat?

Is there only one on this unit? Thanks for this great Hub.

Leon 5 years ago

Only had one element working and decided to replace the broken lower element one as well as the thermostat, to the lower unit. Still no hot water and the testing meter is telling me we are getting power to the unit and continuity to the elements.

Joshua Florence 5 years ago

i recently rented a house and when i go down to turn the power on the hot water heater started smoking from the top and i immediately cut the power to it. what was causing it to smoke???

wanda brockway 5 years ago

I smelt smoke in my apartment one day. I went to my walk in closet. The waterheater was smoking. The closet was filled with smoke. I turned the breaker off and called maintenance. When the maintenance man came the upper element of the waterheater was fired. What was the cause of the element catching on fire.

butch devault 5 years ago

my heater was making a loot of noise but still heating,I cleacned the lower element and no more noise but doesent seem to have a lot of hot water???

James 5 years ago

The red reset button on our water heater keeps tripping. It will work for about a day and then trip again. Does this mean the thermostat needs to be replaced?

Corey 5 years ago

Thank you so much for the information on pulling the element w/o draining the heater. It worked perfect, I bet I only lost about a pint of water. It saved me a good 45min to 1 hour because the heater is in the basement with no place to drain.

Cyrina 5 years ago

This morning the alarm on the water heater went off. We turn on the hot water in two faucets and also the washer and that made the alarm turn off. Now I hear water constantly running in the heater without it stopping. Wondering if that is normal and I may not have noticed before. Also what would cause the alarm to go off and do I need to have the water heater checked out by a professional. Thanks in advance for your response.

DanielTilley 5 years ago

When turinging on my Electric Boiler my Hot Water Breaker keeps tripping out (intermittently does not happen every time). When I turn the breaker back on and then turn on the hot ater everything is fine. Has anyone come across the is problem before? Is there any easy fix?

Sam 5 years ago

Why does the cold water line going into my electric water heater always feel warm?

Charlie 6 years ago

hi all. turnd on hot water timer switch and popd the fuss, never happened b4. reset and no hot water since then. figured it was the element so tested and replaced lower 1(read 0),top element reads fine. turnd on, still no hot water. found ur awesome article, tested evrything, reset switch wont push in so replaced thermostat. tested evrything, lower element brand new, reads o. cud the lower element have ben destroyd in the process of finding the problem? how will i no its actually working w/o waiting 4 the obvious, hot water? THANK 4 UR GR8 HUB

Jackie 6 years ago

Why when I turn the kitchen hot water tap on does it trips the electric supply out, this does not happen when I turn the bathroon hot water tap on

David 6 years ago

I have a similar promblem I hear water running in my electric hot water heater.The hot water is fine, it is just that it keeps running.I cut the hot water when not in use. It stills runs what might my problem be? I also hear sound in the bathroom on the hot side of the tub facet and in the ultility room where the washer sound like it is running but in all of this there is still no water anywhere. Outside there is no water. What can my problem be?

linda 6 years ago

will it hurt an electric water heater to store it without water in it?

robert 6 years ago

u said lower turns on first is that a typo i thought the upper thermostat almost always is on first?

Calvin 6 years ago

I replace the upper heating element and the water is still cold want else can be the problem.

Ron 6 years ago

My upper element works. My lower element does not.

I have a suspected faulty upper thermostat (ts). Checked the incoming voltage to the two hot wires. Yep, 239 volts. Checked the next two lower terminals on the upper ts. Yep, 239 volts! Checked the voltage across the top element. Yep, 239 volts! So far, so good. Now the problem. There is a black wire feeding down from the upper thermostat to supply power to the lower thermostat. There is no voltage being input to the lower thermostat. The upper ts black wire terminal = no voltage! And, of course, there is no voltage on the lower heating element. (The lower element has continuity when checked with the ohm meter with electricity shut off, so it is probably good.)

I suspect that the upper ts is faulty and is not supplying any current to fire up the lower ts. Is there any other check that I can do to prove that the upper ts is faulty and is not supplying any current to the lower incoming black wire to the lower ts? Or should I just replace the upper ts and hope for the best?


Ron 6 years ago

when I push the red button in, it doesent snap or anything, it just comes back out. Does this mean that it is no good also?

JDiBona 6 years ago

Excellent explanation concerning water heaters, especially testing and replacing of thermostats and elements, thanks.

patnles 6 years ago

My 30 gal electric water heater is brand new and very noisy. Sediment should not be the issue, so have not drained it yet. It heats fine. Still trying to stop a tiny leak at the line that carries hot water out. No air escaping is apparent when hot water faucet is turned on. There must be a defect in one of the new elements, or perhaps junk in the bottom from the manufacturing process.

BJRowlison 6 years ago

Handyman Pro,

Thanks for your post. My lowboy eletric water heater gives about 5 minutes of hot water some times. I can only do a continuity test with my multiple meter. It's a DC meter. The lower element appears burned out, no continuity. The upper appears good. Can I get a good check of the thermostats by just looking a continuity?

Angie 6 years ago

I had a leak at main water supply faucet going into the camper.The water coming out of the main faucet was hot.Very hot.The hot water heater was making a strange noise like it was almost empty.I fixed the leak and turned the water back on and the hot water heater is fine now.My question is why was the outside water line leaking hot water?Do I need to be concerned about the hot water heater exploding or something?

chris 6 years ago

my water was off we cut it back on do i got to reset my water heater top and bottom and if so how do i do it

sally 6 years ago

i have no hot water coming out of the taps and all the valves are on and i have cold water any ideas on what is going on?

cap 6 years ago

We just replaced both elements and thermostats and now we need toknow how long does it take for the water heater to heat up the cold water? And do we keep the cold water valve open(continous flow of cold water) are do we turn it off?

MattManTech 6 years ago

I have a 50 gal water heater 2 elements, the red breaker on the tank was tripped. I replace the 2 element and the top control and breaker. There is timmer box in between the breaker box and the hot water heater. Any help would be great

John Martin 6 years ago

So, I figured out my problem. The breaker tripped, but only half of it tripped (two breakers tied together). This was allowing me to read 125 volts everywhere, until I unplugged one side of the elements(and broke the circuit). Then only one of my power lines was reading 125 volts, the other read nothing. Went out, manually tripped the breaker all the way, and reset it.

Now everything is working again.

John Martin 6 years ago

I've got one for you, unlike all of the other questions that you originally answered in your original post, yet people still keep asking...

Electric water heater. 55 gallon dual heating elements.

I have 125 volts going to each side of each element. Testing by putting one lead on screw terminal and second lead on ground. There is power everywhere, so that is good right? If there is power going to the elements, that means they should be heating up right? Still no water so...On to the next potential problem.

I turn off power so I can test continuity. I disconnect wires from each element, then I test continuity of the element. I get full continuity, meaning the multimeter steadily beeps a solid tone at me. In theory the elements should be good then right?

I still have no hot water. I test by turning on the faucet in the bathroom right next to the water heater. I then grab the water outlet on the heater and it is ice cold, even after running for 1+ minutes.

I really don't want to call a repair man, cause I know he is going to test the exact same things I am testing, and come to the same conclusion, only he is going to charge me for it. Any idea what could be going on? It's a pretty simple system, I don't understand why its not working.

Marshall 6 years ago

Dual element electric tanks heat the top first and than the bottom. Your article stated the opposite and I am sure it is just a typo.

Recently I have encountered very limited hot water from a two year old 50 gallon tank. 10 min shower depletes hot water. Forget about filling the spa tub anymore. No sediment in the bottom, elements read 12 ohms each and both indicate 15 - 16 amps during operation, also no voltage drop across the T-Stat contacts. I suspect a faulty lower T-Stat, (Thermal Calibration issue). I have cycled both T-Stat controls from min to max and then back to 130 degrees each as originally set from the factory. I hate to throw money away by replacing both stats. What's your best solution determination, top or bottom stat?

Jakob 6 years ago

I was replacing heating element and breaker was marked wrong so electricity was still on. When I tried to unscrew the element, fire shot out. I tested the wires and no power is present. Flipped the breaker and still no power. What can the problem be?

bless 6 years ago

my electric water heater is 4yrs old.No hot water ,when checked the circuit breaker,it was off,put it back on,after some time only to find it back off.Every thing was working fine until 3days ago.So now no hot water at all.Please please advise.

Mike 7 years ago

Just came home from vacation and found my water heater circuit breaker tripped. The heater is only 2 years old. I can't reset the breaker. Could it be a faulty circuit breaker or my element.

gene 7 years ago

i am wondering if dirty water is coming hot of hot water faucet only does this mean i need to replace whole electric tank or just flush out old and check for heating element and/or thermostat

Adam 7 years ago

All the power that is needed is being sent to the water heater just no hot water. Checked everything needed with OHM meter. Whats wrong.

jackie 7 years ago

My water heater isn't filling back up. It filled back up after my shower this morning and then this evening water was lukewarm and tank is not refilling. Any ideas?

jeremy 7 years ago

bought house 3 years ago. realtor claimed that all appliances brand new (including electric water heater). 2 months ago rusty water running down exterior. today went to basement and smelled what could only be the heater. killed breakers and shut off valves. will be checking thermostats, and elements tonight after work.

Derek 7 years ago

Just out of curiousity, I have replaced my lower element 5 times over the past 3 years. Last week we didn't have any hot water and found out the thermostats were bad, replaced with new ones. Today we noticed that we only had about 5 minutes of hot water. Tested the elements and once again the bottom element is bad. Any clue why this one would be going bad so often?

mike 7 years ago

I replaced the top thermostat today on my water heater... wow 2 days of taking a cold shower.... I waited 30 minutes and I got more then HOT WATER... the water was super hot... i turned down the temp... and didn't think much about it.... Its 3am my time and while on the computer a few minutes ago I heard a noise like the sprinklers going off I ran to the water heater and water was shooting out of both values to the right of it Steam pressure hot water all over the floor.... I went to the garage and flipped the breaker and went to the side of the house and closed the incoming water and placed 7 towels down to pick up the water...... At this point is my water heater too far gone to fix......? I spent $16 today on the new thermostat. Looking into getting the Titan tankless but for around $250 plus install an elect and a plumber... Tks..... Question.... It seems like the water heater didn't shut off it just kept on filling up...... this happened like 4 hours after i switch out the thermostat.... Weird...... Just imagine if i was sleeping......

Leroy 7 years ago

My bottom element was eaten by lime, 5 yr. old water heater, replace both elements and cleaned out the lime in the bottom of the tank with a vacuum cleaner. When i turned the power back on had power to the top element (not enough to heat water) and no power to the bottom element, the only wiring done was on the elements.

angie 7 years ago

ours is leaking from the panel on the side of water heater. we popped the panel and there is water in there.there is a silver hexagon thing it looks like that is where the water is coming from what do we do? we have turned of the power to the water heater.

Handyman Pro profile image

Handyman Pro 7 years ago from Saint Petersburg, Florida Author

shminister, if the thermostat is still tripping then the only solution that I can think of would be either a bad t-stat or faulty wiring somewhere in the system. If everything is brand new it should work (in theory). If it were me and I know that everything is new and still not working, I would rip out all of the wiring and rewire the whole heater making sure that there are no lose connections anywhere.

Jen, turn off the power to the water heater and check the temperature setting on the thermostat, you must take the cover off to access the thermostat and please make sure that the power is off the temp can usually be adjusted with a small flat head screwdriver. This is will solve the problem in most cases as I get lots of trouble calls about this, if that is not it you could have a bad heating element.

Shawn - remember only one heating element will work at a time, so it could be the bottom had kicked on shutting the top element off. Turn the t-stat all the way down on the bottom, and then the top one should kick on, if that doesn't work you may have had it wired wrong. Be sure that you are getting a full 220-240 volts to the water heater also, 120 is not enough to power most models in my experience.

Shawn 7 years ago

I've changed the thermostat and the upper heating element on my water heater and now I can't get any power to the unit. The breaker is on and I tested it to make sure it's working and it has power going to the heater, but when I test the thermostat, it's dead. Help please! Thanks.

jen 7 years ago

We just got a new 50 g electric water heater. We can take about 1 shower (if we are lucky) and then we have cold water. What is wrong? How do we fix it?

shminister 7 years ago

On a 30 Gallon Hot Water Heater, I have replaced both themostats and both elements but during a shower the thermostat still trips trips. What could it be?

Dame Scribe profile image

Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

Great hub! thank you for sharing this information! :) How about that depressuring it? I have no idea on that one.

Handyman Pro profile image

Handyman Pro 7 years ago from Saint Petersburg, Florida Author

Tim, sorry it has taken me so long to respond, I have been away for a minute. As far as your question goes, for electric water heaters, the thermostat controls when the water heaters shuts on and off. If you are getting hot water the element(s) are fine. Elements work until they rupture or blow, which is what happens when they turn on without water around them. If you replaced the thermostat then it should be good, the question is how many thermostats are on your water heater, and is the wiring hooked up properly...

tim askew 7 years ago

The heater won't cut off and the water is continuing to get very hot. I have replaced the thermostat. Do I need to change the element also?

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