If your water heater has started giving you trouble, don’t panic. In general, water heaters are very simple appliances. So, unless you’re looking at a new installation or complete replacement of the water heater that you are currently using, it’s very likely that your issue is a minor one. Before we talk about electric water heater troubleshooting, though, it’s important for us to remind you that electric water heaters typically only last, on average, about 13 years. So, if you suspect that your heater may have outlived its useful life, skip these troubleshooting suggestions, and give us a call. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle.
A Word on Electric Water Heater Safety
Regardless of the appliance you are working on, electricity is always a potential safety hazard. There are no exceptions. So, if you plan to troubleshoot your electric water heater without the help of a licensed professional, please use common sense and follow all electrical safety guidelines. We also advise keeping children away from your work area.
Common Signs Electric Water Heater Problems
Even before you lose the hot water supply in your home, there may be warning signs that something is amiss with your water heater. Here are some common examples:
- When you first turn on your hot water, the water is a rusty color.
- You’ve noticed sand or some other type of sediment in the water.
- You’re hearing loud cracks, pops, and other strange noises coming from the tank.
Generally speaking, any odd behavior from your water heater is a good reason to give the entire appliance a second look. One pretty serious sign, though, is a leak (of any magnitude). Tiny leaks in your tank are a strong indication that the tank has begun to rust through, which can quickly lead to the entire tank rupturing and flooding your home.
If you’ve noticed a leak in your water heater, don’t try to troubleshoot the problem yourself. It would be much smarter to give us a call as soon as possible.
Troubleshooting Your Electric Water Heater
In many cases, issues with an electric water heater can be resolved with a very simple solution. The most obvious of which is, of course, to check your breaker box. You would be surprised how many homeowners overlook this step. If the breaker has been tripped, simply reset it and your water heater should begin working fine. If the breaker trips again and continues to do so, however, this is a sign that your water heater thermostat is malfunctioning. If this is the case, we recommend contacting your preferred plumber, as well as the manufacturer, in case the appliance is still under warranty.
If the loss of hot water has been sudden and unexpected, and your breaker box is fine, then you may want to try using the reset button. When your thermostat detects that your water is hot enough, it trips the upper limit switch. If you reset that switch and the heater begins working just fine again, then you can assume it was a fluke.
If the same happens again, you may have a loose wire or a short in the heating element that is heating the water when it shouldn’t be. This is also a good reason to call your plumber.
Finally, it’s also good to know that even minimal contact between water and the electrical panel will trip your water heater’s switch. If this has happened, you may be faced with a total water heater replacement.
If you’ve tried simple water heater troubleshooting and have found that the appliance is still giving you problems, contact your team at Tritan Plumbing right away. We’ll inspect your electric water heater and make recommendations for your best course of action.