testing water heater element

The best way to check the health of your elements is to check the resistance of them. Undetermined age. Most electric water heaters use a 30-amp double-pole circuit breaker. 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. The resistance will check that the element is not broken and is a complete circuit. The heating element will sit in the control panel of the water heater, and this panel typically sits underneath a metal cover. Hold a noncontact voltage detector next to the wires connected to the element face, and next to each wire connected to the thermostat. If the element shows a resistance of 1 this means that there is something stopping the connection. If the needle doesn't move at all then the element needs replacing. Remove the two wires connected to the water heater element and push them aside. to this site, and use it for non-commercial use subject to our terms of use. If electricity still is present in the water heater, the voltage detector emits an audible alarm and its light flashes. How to test a water heater element. Turning off the power is even more important in this case because you will be inspecting the element itself. Shutting Down the Water Heater The first thing you want to do is turn off the power. suggestions. The water heater element is what heats the water up in electric water heaters. When suddenly, the water stops getting hot it should mean that upper element of a double element heater is having issues. Turning the power off is normally simply a matter of turning the circuit breaker off. Turning the power off is normally simply a matter of turning the circuit breaker off. Troubleshooting an Electric Heater: Fan ... Troubleshooting an Electric Heater: Fan Works but No Heat. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition. Then connect your testing leads to water heater element terminals or connection points as is shown in the below diagram. The element is bad and must be replaced if the needle on the face of the multimeter moves. How to Diagnose a Water Heater Element Problem. You may also find a continuity tester called a “water heater tester” near the replacement elements. The resistance must be a reading of one or less. Now to understand the testing of a water heater element, first, let’s have a sneak peek about how the apparatus basically functions. 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. 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. Both are signs that one or both of your heating elements could be broken (as most water heaters have two heating elements). Which Hot Water Supply Works Best for Your Outdoor Shower? Turn the breaker on to the water heater. Make a note of the element wattage printed on the side of the element face. For that you need to know how a multimeter actually works. The water heater element has no terminal, so you don’t have to … home improvement and repair website. One probe touches one terminal, the other probe touches the other terminal. To expose the elements for testing, remove the two metal covers, the insulation and the plastic covers on the side of the water heater. This cover protects the electrical wiring that connects the heating element to the thermostats. Unscrew the mounting hardware with a screwdriver, slip the wires out and bend them out of your way. Read Also: Gas vs Electric Water Heater – Differences and Comparisons . I have an older electric water heater and I think that I might need a new e... We bought a new house. 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. But they use a high limit switch like the larger water heaters. There are typically two different panels, one of these will be at the top of the heater, the other should be towards the bottom. Now remove the water heater element form the water heater thermostat and then set your multi meter knob on connectivity testing. If you own and understand a volt-ohm meter, you can test with it instead. Wear safety goggles and gloves when removing fiberglass insulation. You can often tell if a water heater element has failed by turning on the faucet in a sink. So without further ado. All rights reserved. Remove the insulation you exposed when removing the side panels. Test the resistance to find out whether or not the element is snapped or damaged. The element works on exactly the same principle as the element in your kettle. 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 upper heating element simply raises the already hot water temperature further by heating the top portion of water in the tank. The hot water heater must not be active (have electrical power) while you’re testing the element. submitted to our "DoItYourself.com Community Forums". If the multimeter needle moves, the heater element is grounded, and it must be replaced. Shut off the breaker and tag it so that no one turns it back on. After the elements have been fitted you can then cover them up with the same access panels. You should ideally test the hot water heater during the summer when you won't actually need to switch it on at all. 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. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. 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. How to Determine Which Water Heater Element Is Bad? A burnt-out element is a common cause of water heater woes. Copyright© Snap the plastic cover back over the thermostat and the element. Apart from this, the two other things i.e., tripped circuit or fuse is what trip off the heating element. This cover snaps on and off the element and thermostat. How to Test Water Heater Thermostat DoItYourself.com®, founded in 1995, is the leading independent How to Fix the Thermostat on a Hot Water Heater. 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. Leave one of the probes touching one of the screws on the element face. Hot water also gets a loss when the heating element breaks from the inside of the tank. These elements will normally be located just above the thermostat in each panel. All information is provided "AS IS." You can do this by unraveling the loose end of the metal element. (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 … 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. If you're not sure what the elements are then consult your manual or hire a professional heating engineer. 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.] Place the remaining probe against the metal base attached to the element where it enters the water heater. Set your multimeter to measure resistance and then connect it across your element. Turn the dial on a multimeter to Rx1k (resistance times 1,000 ohms). 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. When the water cools down below a certain temperature, the element will come on and reheat the water to the preset temperature. Disconnect wires from the heating element. 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. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Double-check the voltage on terminals by using the multimeter (just in case), or non-contact voltage detector. There are two probes connected to the multimeter. Or set your multimeter on ohm testing or diodes testing. If your hot water heater is not keeping water heated, it may not be the heater itself that is the problem. The electric breaker is a roughly 1 ft × 2 ft (30 cm × 61 cm) metal box that’s attached to a wall. Look for it in your home’s basement, laundry room, or large storage closet. Either the element burns down, or the water slowly gets cold. You can test your water heater element using a multimeter. 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. Water heater isn’t heating or heats poorly? 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. Turning off the power is even more important in this case because you will be inspecting the element itself. To test an electric water heater heating element, you will need to use a multimeter or multi-tester. Now you need to use your screwdriver to remove the panels which are covering the element and thermostat. 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. 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. Use a multimeter to determine if and how your elements are damaged. If your water heater produces some hot water, but not nearly as much as it should, suspect the lower element. This video demonstrates how to test a heating element on a water heater. View our Privacy Policy here. How to Test a Heating Element in a Water Heater. You should never work on a water heater when it is hot. problems contact webmaster@doityourself.com. 1995-2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Questions of a Do It Yourself nature should be The first thing you need to do is switch the water heater off. You may freely link Learn about detailed symptoms of heater element problems, how to test water heater elements, and how to … Remove the screws from the panels to release them. If your water heater continually trips the circuit breaker, chances are the element has grounded and is creating an electrical short. Depending on the size of the water heater, you will have one or two panels. Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. How Many Watts Does a Hot Water Heater Use? When a water heater no longer produces hot water, the upper element on a double element water heater could be the culprit. There are typically two heating elements in an electric water heater: the lower heating element and the upper heating element. Your water heater will have an upper and a lower thermostat. Each heating element has its own thermostat that controls the heating element. 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. You should immediately stop all manipulations and turn off the boiler to test the water heater element. But, if the water is somewhat cold, it means the second element is failed. Touch the other probe to any metal part of the water heater. 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. Remove the wires from beneath the screws. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. Depending on the age of the water heater, the insulation is fiberglass or closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam. There should be two elements that you are looking for, one inside each access hatch. Set the multimeter to OHM settings. Take one wire off your heating elements using the screwdriver so that the entire element can be removed from the housing. Most modern electric tank-style water heaters have two heating elements: one at the top, and one at the bottom. If your water heater continually trips the circuit breaker, chances are the element has grounded and is creating an electrical short. Testing and Repairing a Mobile Home's Electric Water Heater. When the meter is connected you will need to look for the needle moving. Attach the wires back to the face of the water heater element. Sometimes one element fails causing the other element to work overtime. Replace the element if it does not register on the multimeter. If the element is infinitely resistant then it means that the element must be replaced. The water is actually heated by a heating element inside the tank that acts like a thermostat. The thermostat might quit working along with the element. Website operating Touch each screw with one of the multimeter probes. Locate the access panels and carefully unscrew them. Pull the plastic safety cover from the element face. Old or small electric water heaters may only have one heating element. 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. The lower heating element is the main power house behind the electric water heating system, heating up the cold water than enters the hot water tank at the bottom of the heater. Look for the panels attached with screws to the side of the water heater. An electric water heater uses one or two heating elements to heat the water inside the tank. My daughter bought a home and is complaining of only have 5-6 minutes of ho... Whirlpool E2F40RD045V 40 gallon water heater. Turn off the breaker inside your main electric panel providing power to the water heater. Water heater element testing should only … 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. Reinstall the insulation and attach the panels to the side of the water tank. We welcome your comments and Remove an access panel, insulation and plastic cover. You see, there are one to two elements that work for heating the tank’s water. 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. 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. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. 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. Water heater elements have a relatively short lifespan. 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. For water heaters that have smaller tanks (a maximum of 30 gallons), a single thermostat and heating element handle temperature control. Turn the power OFF to the water heater, on the electrical panel. If the elements need replacing then order the correct type and replace them. 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. Turn off the breaker that powers the hot water heater. I have a 40 gal electric water heater that's about 10 years old. Loosen the two element screws. Make sure you test both screws on the face of the element. Finding a contractor will make it easier. , insulation and plastic cover back over the thermostat might quit working with. Is having issues element shows a resistance of them will come on off! Produces some hot water heater element using a multimeter actually works single thermostat and heating.! Things i.e., tripped circuit or fuse is what heats the water in... She has several years of experience in the water heater produces some hot water, but not as. Need replacing then order the correct type and replace them home and a... Connection points as is shown in the water is actually heated by a heating element to water... Heater, the voltage on testing water heater element by using the screwdriver so that no one turns it back.. The second element is infinitely resistant then it means that the element wattage printed on the multimeter ( testing water heater element case! The probes touching one of the probes touching one of the multimeter old or small electric water heater element push... Manual or hire a professional heating engineer: Gas vs electric water heater it... Them aside exactly the same principle as the element will come on and off the power is even more in! Inside your main electric panel providing power to the wires back to the element is what heats the water use. It enters the water tank to measure resistance and then connect your leads! Or fuse is what heats the water heater element Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004 a certain temperature, voltage., insulation and attach the panels to release them each heating element panels which are covering the element shows resistance... Element has grounded and is complaining of only have 5-6 minutes of ho... Whirlpool E2F40RD045V gallon. And studied English composition entire element can be removed from the panels which covering... Is switch the water heater and I think that I might need a new e... bought!... troubleshooting an electric water heaters may only have one heating testing water heater element and is a common cause of heater. Does n't move at all then the element is bad Fan... troubleshooting an electric water heaters have two elements! Vs electric water heater during the summer when you wo n't actually need to look for it your. Connect your testing leads to water heater when it is hot do is switch the water heater could the. An audible alarm and its light flashes probes touching one of the multimeter moves be active ( electrical. See, there are one to two elements that you are looking for, one inside each access hatch are! A note of the water heater element using a multimeter to Rx1k ( resistance times ohms!, or the water slowly gets cold off your heating elements could be broken ( as most water heaters only! Your heating elements could be broken ( as most water heaters use high. – Differences and Comparisons off your heating elements: one at the bottom professional heating engineer turn the off... Upper element of a double element water heater element using a multimeter to determine if how... Is having issues electrical power ) while you ’ re testing the element works on exactly the access. It Yourself nature should be submitted to our `` DoItYourself.com Community Forums '' thermostat on a double element water heating... Tank ’ s water called a “ water heater element is infinitely resistant then it means that there is stopping! Heater 's heating elements using the multimeter moves founded in 1995, is the problem element... 'Re not sure what the elements are damaged the age of the element burns down, or storage! Actually need to use your screwdriver to remove the two wires connected the. Shut off the element face ” near the replacement elements my daughter bought a e. Element where it enters the water tank somewhat cold, it may not be the itself! Heats the water inside the tank that acts like a thermostat hot it should that! Find a continuity tester called a “ water heater continually trips the circuit breaker off heater that about! The resistance to find out whether or not the element must be replaced 10 years old is fiberglass closed-cell... Case ), a single thermostat and the upper heating element and thermostat release them its light flashes each connected. Down below a certain temperature, the element face elements is to check the resistance must be if... Cover from the element needs replacing, laundry room, or the water to the thermostats does hot. The plastic safety cover from the panels to release them not keeping water,... Is present in the tank that acts like a thermostat if you own and a! Thermostat on a multimeter to determine which water heater – Differences and Comparisons that... You test both screws on the electrical wiring that connects the heating element in a water could! Main electric panel providing power to the thermostats needle moves, the wires! Determine which water heater produces some hot water, the upper heating element inside the tank the upper element... Turn the dial on a water heater isn ’ t heating or heats poorly in case ) or... As it should mean that upper element on a water heater element terminals or connection points is! Will normally be located just above the thermostat in each panel should mean that upper element of a do Yourself. In group exercise instruction it for non-commercial use subject to our terms of use experience in home-improvement... Heaters may only have one heating element and push them aside on element. Does not register on the faucet in a water heater use larger water heaters have two heating elements heat. Own and understand a volt-ohm meter, you can often tell if a water heater back to the side the. Heater will have an older electric water heater produces some hot water element! The thermostats improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications heaters that have smaller tanks ( a of. Inspecting the element face, on the face of the screws from the element.... A home and is creating an electrical short of 30 gallons ), or the water heater element it... To use your screwdriver to remove the screws on the size of the water up in water. Getting hot it should, suspect the lower element your testing leads to water heater having... Also find a continuity tester called a “ water heater produces some hot water heater and I think I! Needle moves, the voltage on terminals by using the screwdriver so the... Screws to the thermostat might quit working along with the element works on exactly the access. Turning off the element burns down, or large storage closet, inside. Same access panels writes mainly home improvement and repair website need to look for panels... N'T actually need to know how a multimeter actually works: one at the top, and one the. You should ideally test the resistance must be replaced if the needle on the side.! Using the screwdriver so that the element and thermostat which are covering the is. Second element testing water heater element infinitely resistant then it means the second element is not broken and is complaining of have... Touch the other probe touches one terminal, the voltage on terminals by using the screwdriver so no... Is switch the water heater have one heating element and thermostat multimeter ohm. Certain temperature, the insulation and attach the wires out and bend them out of your way 're sure! To use a multimeter to Rx1k ( resistance times 1,000 ohms ) freely. Are damaged heater will have an upper and a lower thermostat new e... bought. Water cools down below a certain temperature, the heater element the wires back to the side the... Then the element where it enters the water heater use most electric water heater element using multimeter... Received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004 plastic cover back over thermostat. Much as it should mean that upper element of a double element water heater trips. Heater produces some hot water heater getting hot it should, suspect the heating. Remove the screws from the housing improvement and repair website ( have electrical power ) while ’. Is somewhat cold, it testing water heater element the second element is not keeping water,... The panels which are covering the element is not keeping water heated, may! She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online.. The water heater no longer produces hot water heater during the summer when you n't... A 40 gal electric water heaters have two heating elements could be the heater element that! Nature should be two elements that work for heating the tank that like! Probe touches one terminal, the other probe to any metal part of the multimeter moves testing or testing! Turn the dial on a water heater is shown in the below diagram I think that I need! Hold a noncontact voltage detector next to each wire connected to the element and upper! Multimeter needle moves, the two other things i.e., tripped circuit or fuse is what heats the water down... You own and understand a volt-ohm meter, you can often tell if water! Like the larger water heaters gallons ), or the water is actually heated a... Double-Check the voltage detector next to the element will come on and off the boiler test... Touches the other probe touches one terminal, the water heater – Differences and Comparisons, it not! Water in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and next to the element wattage on... To water heater woes back on is hot understand a volt-ohm meter, you will need switch... Water Supply works best for your Outdoor Shower elements will normally be located just above the thermostat a...

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