The ohm key is typically written in green and identified with an omega sign on the tester. Thermostat - This is a thermometer- and temperature-control device. Any other reading indicates a shorted element and you need to replace it. Heat-out pipe -Suspended toward the top of the tank's interior, the heat-out pipe allows the hot water to exit the water heater. I would also do a voltage check to make sure you are getting proper voltage at the hot water heater and each element as well. Watch out: turning on electrical power to an electric water heater if the heater's elements are not under-water, that is if there is air in the water heater cylinder or tank will usually result in an immediate burn-up and desctruction of the water heater elements. Easy quick tutorial video on how to test a hot water heater element using a multi-meter. How Often Should One Change the Heating Elements in a Water Heater? Any visible damage is a strong indicator that the element has burned out and will need to be replaced. If your heater keeps making a popping or knocking noise, similar to that made by a popcorn machine, it could fail. Hot Water Heater Element Burned Out If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. How to Check an Electric Baseboard Element for Resistance & Continuity, How to Change the Coil in the Hot Water Heater, How to Adjust the Mixing Valve for a Single Handle Faucet in the Shower, Troubleshooting an Overheating Electric Hot Water Heater, Water Heater Timer: How to Test Water Heater Element, Grover Electric and Plumbing Supply: How to Solve water Heater Problems, How to Check the Continuity on a Water Heater Element, How to Check Heating Elements in Hot Water Heaters. Other things it could be would be the lower thermostat hatch was off and the insulation missing, and/or the spring that holds the lower thermostat against the tank was loose. You will notice a relief valve near the top of the water heater, you can flip the handle up to open it. Some electric water heaters have a separate thermostat for each element. Some units are wired to plug into a wall socket, … Test for a short circuit. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas. The serial number contains the date that the water heater was manufactured. Removing one wire from each element is important to keep from getting a “False” good reading when one of the two elements is actually bad. All the tests that you will perform will be done with the power turned off. Set the scale to the lowest readings, usually “RX1K” or “RX1.”. The element thus overheats and burns out. Check each screw on both elements. Unplug the dryer when checking the heating element. Touch a probe on the multitester to each screw on the element. Drain the water from the water heater. If the second element fails, you’ll be left with only cold water. Water heater elements burn out for one main reason. The problem here is a burned out or bad heating element, or a bad connection. How to check the electric water heater and find out why it is not producing hot water: 1 – FIRST, turn off the circuit breaker to the electric hot water heater. You can see from the burned and melted plastic that there was a problem with the lower heating element on this unit. Locate the water valve at the bottom of the water heater. Drain the water from the water heater. If your water heater emits an electrical burning smell, this indicates that something electrical is starting to overload. This power is described as wattage or watts. Access the element by pulling out the dryer and removing the back cover. Any reading within +/- 20 percent of those readings is good. Some electric water heaters have a separate thermostat for each element. His work has appeared in “Family Handyman” magazine, “Popular Science,” "Popular Mechanics," “Handy” and other publications. A high resistance short to ground will keep the element from working properly, yet will not trip the circuit breaker the way a direct short would. How to Test a Water Heater Element With a Multimeter. Attach a garden hose to the emptying valve and turn the valve using a wrench. Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jerry Walch has been writing articles for the DIY market since 1974. This is as good a time as any to flush the tank to get rid of scale and rust. Low flow in your spa or hot tub is most commonly associated with a dirty spa filter. 3 – Be sure the terminal where the power wires attach onto is not melted or broken, if so remove and replace. A faulty element, one that has become open, will display a reading of infinite resistance which is indicated by a "O.L." If there is no apparent damage, you can use a multi-meter to test the heating element for continuity – a continuous electrical path present in the part: Replacing The Heating Element. Hot water heaters generally run on a 240 volt current, which can cause painful electrical shocks or worse. Like a minute or two with a 4500 watt element. When a layer of sediment forms, the heating element has to work harder to provide you with hot water (which can cost you more money in energy bills). Because of this, you should keep a check on the water heater element quite often. Most units are hard wired directly into the home’s circuitry, so turn the breaker for the hot water heater to “OFF” at the home’s main electrical panel. About once per year, sediments should be professionally removed from a water heater tank to prevent this problem. Find the age by looking for the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker on the upper portion of the water heater. You can also search online for a new heating element. Touch one lead to one of the terminals on one of the elements and the other lead to the metal bracket on the water heater. Walch spent 40 years working in the electrical trades and holds an Associate of Applied Science in applied electrical engineering technology from Alvin Junior College. All water heater electrical elements are rated by the amount of power they can emit. Some units are wired to plug into a wall socket, and power is shut off simply by unplugging them. This forces the burner to run longer to heat water, increasing the heat inside the tank. Remove the two wires connected to the water heater element and push them aside. The best place to find the wattage and voltage information is on the label that is attached to the side. Water heater elements burn out for one main reason. When an electric hot water heater’s elements short out or burn through, cool water is the result. Since the heat cannot transfer quickly enough to the water, the element overheats and burns out. If the electric water heater produces the same old hot water temperature, but the quantity seems drastically reduced, we suspect that the bottom water heater element has burned out. More often than not, the problem is … Edited 1 times. Set the multitester to measure ohms, or resistance. If your budget permits, buy an auto-ranging DMM; all you have to do with an auto-ranging meter is select the type of reading you want to take — voltage, resistance or current — and the meter then selects the right metering scale for you. Broken heating elements Check each screw on both elements in the same manner. Possibility # 3 (Leaker): In the commercial water heater industry, there’s a reason we call a failed water heater a “leaker.”When that water heater is leaking water from the bottom of the tank of a standard atmospheric water heater, it’s a sure sign you’ve got a leaker—meaning your water heater is about to fail completely, and SOON. The elements burn out in a very short time. He is a certified Master Naturalist, regularly monitors stream water quality and is the editor of freshare.net, a site exploring the Ozarks outdoors. When a hot water heater quits producing hot water, the problem may be a faulty thermal cutout, thermostat or heater element. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. The wattage on hot water heater elements can range from 1500 to 5500 watts. The wattage of your element is printed on the plastic block between the two screws where the wires were attached. Only the water in the top of the tank is being heated. What Causes an Element to Stop Working in a Water Heater? On a gas water heater, this can create burn marks or hot spots that can damage the tank. If not, the element is burned out and needs to be replaced. Heat-out pipe -Suspended toward the top of the tank's interior, the heat-out pipe allows the hot water to exit the water heater. The heating elements in tank-style hot water heaters work around the clock to keep your water at just the right temperature for showering, doing laundry and washing dishes. Korpella's work has appeared in a variety of publications. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. If the motor collects too much dust or loses lubrication, it can overheat and fuse the wires in its casing. I feel something else caused the element to actually burn in two but im not dure of what it is. Any ohm reading or slight movement of the multitester’s needle indicates an element that has shorted out. If there isn't an obvious date, the serial number usually contains that information and a call to the manufacturer can help you decipher it. or infinity reading indicates good element. Like; Save; ... You can probably determine the age of the water heater from the manufacturers plate. Remove the rectangular-shaped cover plate running up the front of the heater to get access the hot water heater's thermostats, thermal overloads, and the upper and lower water heating elements. I would flush the system and replace the Element with the proper application, rather then a one size fits all. Place one of the meter's test probes on the metal tank and place the other meter probe first on one terminal screw and then the other terminal screw of each heater element. Locate the water valve at the bottom of the water heater. Agree with this being waaaay outside the scope of a home inspection. Hot water heaters are an important home appliance that heat water for use in your sinks, dishwasher, washing machine, and shower. The built up sediment interferes with the transfer of heat to the water. Turning on the faucets for a relaxing shower only to find tepid or icy water makes for a frustrating experience. The heating element terminal ends are raised, round, black objects with two silver screws, with one wire attached under each screw. The actual resistance of a good heater element depends on the element's wattage rating which can be found stamped on the element or on the heater's specification plate. The element will corrode and break apart possibly over time. Fortunately, a few quick electrical tests reveal which element you must replace in order to restore hot water to your home. Only electric water heaters rely on heating elements to warm up the water in the tank. How to Change the Power to the Other End of a Baseboard Heater. An "O.L." Wattage is determined by voltage so you want to match the voltage and wattage for your new elements. If the fan for your electric furnace stops working entirely, you may need to have a burnt-out motor replaced. What Does It Mean If Your Hot Water Heater Keeps Tripping the Reset? Even if the upper one is still working, it will heat water only at the top of the tank but will eventually run out fast. If the electric water heater produces the same old hot water temperature, but the quantity seems drastically reduced, we suspect that the bottom water heater element has burned out. there is a high limit thermostat that can be replaced but I dont know … The blower motor runs the fan that sends air through the heating elements and then into the ventilation system. If it does have to be replaced, drain the tank, unscrew it from the water heater chassis and screw in a replacement. Any needle movement or reading indicates an element that has shorted out. If, however, the tank has rusted through and is leaking, it is replacement time. Over time, sediment from water builds up at the bottom of the heating tank, insulating water from the burner. How to Troubleshoot a Dryer's Thermal Cutoff Switch. If it is the element that is farthest away from the thermostat, the thermostat may not be satisfied and that is why the other heater is so hot. Smelly Egg Odors. If either of the heating elements are damaged, you will want to replace the damaged heating element as soon as possible. Purchase a multiteter in the electrical department of a home center. The instrument is inexpensive and it measures voltage, amperage, and checks batteries in addition to measuring resistance. Set the body of the multimeter … I replaced the heating element with a new one around 30 dollars but the dishwasher will not heat the water or dry dishes after replacing it. Touch one probe to the element screw and the other to the metal frame of the element (but not to the other screw). should determine where the leak originates, for if it is from around an element or pipe fitting it can normally be repaired quite easily. 2500 watt elements are too small for the average water heater. If the water in your home doesn’t get any hotter than a lukewarm temperature, try turning up the heat.If that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s possible that 1 of the heating elements in the water heater is malfunctioning or broken. Re: water heater element broke off in tank. Only the water in the top of the tank is being heated. A damaged water heater element doesn’t heat the water properly and you may end up with luke warm or cold water coming out of your tap. A typical value for a 220 VAC hot water heater would be an element rating of 3500 watts. I do however discuss with the customer the problem of burned out heating elements and faulty thermostats, point out to them where these component reside and inform them of the possibility of having to replace them at some future date and I even tell them the components can be purchased at most hardware stores … If your water heater is electric, the element will come into direct contact with the water, which means items in the water could be causing the issue. being displayed using a digital meter, or by the needle not moving off the infinity sign (∞) on the left hand side of the scale of an analog meter. Lack of cooling fluid (water) around the element. Turn off the circuit breaker supplying power to the hot water heater. Cold water enters and remains at the bottom of the water heater. Eventually, all heating elements (like light bulbs) will burn out. Testing hot water heater elements is an easy project that even a beginner can master in a few minutes. Author: hj (AZ) Three years, that's fast! If the overheating happens again with the insulation etc. If hot water is running for a short time before it gets cold, the problem is with the bottom heating element. But it won’t look the way a … How Often Should One Change the Heating Elements in a Water Heater? Well, Lots of good ideas here. Write down the make and model of your oven, and take that information to your local appliance store and purchase a new heating element. Not for OEM elements. Sediments such as lime coat the heating element. Generally the other heating element will not be doing any heating … Attach a garden hose to the emptying valve and turn the valve using a wrench. Typically, the lower element goes first, but that’s not always the case. First try "low watt density" double loop elments and if they still burn out, convert to State "Sand Hog", or similar "lifetime" elements. Typical wattage ratings are 1000, 1250, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, and 3500 watts, with resistances of 55.7, 44.6, 37.1, 27.8, 22.3, 18.6, or 15.9 ohms. If you turn on the tap and smell that rotten egg stench, it’s because your water … How To Flush It: In fact, the lower one would have to have been burned out for some time or else the upper one would not have gotten enough use to burn out. Thermostat - This is a thermometer- and temperature-control device. 2. Water Heater Smells Like: Electrical Burning. Robert Korpella has been writing professionally since 2000. The most obvious one is if the water heater element is damaged. Water heater element testing is a very simple process. The most common electrical problem found in a water heater is caused by a burned out element. More often than not, the problem is a burned out water heater element. Roughly 120 or 240 volts. Turn off the power to the electric hot water heater. InspectAPedia: How to Test for a Bad Electric Water Heater Heating Element, Waterheatertimer.org: How to Test Water Heater Element, Bradford White.com: Residential and Light Duty Commercial Electric Water Heaters Service Manual, How to Check the Continuity on a Water Heater Element, Test Procedure for an Electric Water Heater Element, How to Check an Electric Baseboard Element for Resistance & Continuity. Hold the multimeter prongs to the element screws to test for flow. Turn off the power to the electric hot water heater. Clip the alligator clip to one of the element screws and touch the tester … Make sure the unit’s power is off before attempting any resistance tests. LOW FLOW. What Does It Mean If Your Hot Water Heater Keeps Tripping the Reset? You will notice a relief valve near the top of the water heater, you can flip the handle up to open it. If … A gas-powered unit has a burner at its base. I would call the manufacturer of the water heater and ask them. Displayed on the elements packaging is a number followed by the word "watts". But if you see this condition on an electric water heater whose history is unknown, do not assume that this is a current problem. You may have to register before … A dry element can burn out quite quickly! The elements burn out in a very short time. in place, than the lower thermostat's contacts are likely burned. Overheated Electrical Contacts. If your heater keeps making a popping or knocking noise, similar to that made by a popcorn machine, it could fail. Check the heating element wire for continuity. Older elements may burn out due to age or, more often, sediment build up from water conditions encrust the element blades acting as insulation and preventing the heat from being transferred to the water. On an electric water heater, sediment buildup can cause the heating element to burn out. The two biggest ways I see this happening is by turning on the power with an empty tank (devoid of water). Touch one probe to a screw on the element and the other probe to bare metal on the water heater. When a hot water heater quits producing hot water, the problem may be a faulty thermal cutout, thermostat or heater element. Measure the resistance of each of the water heater's elements by placing the black test probe on the terminal screw from which you removed the wire and the red test probe on the other terminal screw. When you drained it to replace the element, you probably noticed all of the brownish water draining out. If you will purchase a new multimeter for this project, buy a digital multimeter because even the most inexpensive DMM (digital multimeter) will be more accurate and easier to use than any analog meter. Before replacing a water heater element, you should test it for continuity and for a short circuit. Over time, sediment from water builds up at the bottom of the heating tank, insulating water from the burner. Naturally, sediment and other particles collect in the bottom of hot water heaters. Elements do have some resistance, so a reading of 10-16 ohms is normal, with higher ohm readings for 3,500 watt elements and lower readings for 5,500 watt elements. If you get no reading, or a maximum reading, the element is bad. You should also test each element for a short, which is especially important if the breaker trips repeatedly. Sometimes, your water will slowly start to cool down and this could be because the element has burned out. This forces the burner to run longer to heat water, increasing the heat inside the tank. Remove one of the two wires from each of the heating elements by loosening one of the terminal screws and slipping the wire off. Cold water enters and remains at the bottom of the water heater. 2 – Check that the wires providing power to the electric water heater are intact and secure. To check is there a problem with the heating element (s), turn on the hot water tap. 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