6 Common Water Heater Element Problems

A man works on a water heater.

In an electric water heater, the water heater element is the part that will actually heat the water up. There are many different problems that can affect the elements in your heater. It's important to discover the cause of these problems so that you can fix them as quickly as possible.

Fixing a water heater isn't even that difficult, just so long as you have all of the right tools and materials available. When working on the water heater you need to ensure that the power is turned off. Working on the element when it's live is dangerous.

1. Broken Element

Quite often the reason you won't be able to get any hot water is because of a broken hot water heater element. This is a common problem and can be diagnosed by dismantling your boiler and using a multimeter to check the resistance of the element.

Heating elements can break over time because they continuously heat up and cool down. Cracks can appear over time, which will stop the element from working properly.

2. Power Turned off

If you're not getting any hot water from your electric hot water heater then you should check that the power is first switched on. Check that nothing has tripped the circuit breakers, as this could cause the electric heater to stop functioning properly.

3. Thermostat

The thermostat is the control which sets the temperature of the element inside your hot water heater. If the thermostat becomes damaged or stops working correctly, this will cause problems with your hot water heater. It will either make your heater continuously hot or make it so that no hot water is produced.

Check that the thermostat is set at the right temperature. If it's set at the wrong temperature, the water will not be hot enough.

4. Reset Button

There is a reset button which is located on the inside of most water heaters. If anything trips the heater, you should check the reset switch. If the switch has popped out, pressing it in again may cure the problem. If the reset button keeps tripping, this could be because of thermostat problems. Get your hot water heater checked over by a professional as soon as possible.

5. Water Gets Cold Quickly

If you notice that your hot water tank seems to run out of water very quickly, it could be due to a broken drip tube. The incoming water is fed through a pipe and passed to the bottom of the tank. If this has broken, the cold water will mix with the hot water in your tank.

6. Leaking Tank

All metal heating tanks will leak eventually. It's just a matter of time until the water manages to win the battle and eat through the tank. If you catch the leaks early, it may be possible to patch and repair the tank rather than having to completely replace it.