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Electric Water Heater: Signs Of Bad Heating Elements & A Few Simple Repairs

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An electric water heater does not use a burner to heat your water like gas water heaters. Electric water heaters use heating elements, which are thin metal shafts that heat your water. Sadly, heating elements can burn out, even though these shafts should last for years. The following guide should help you fix the problem and teach you a few symptoms related to bad heating elements.

Signs Of Bad Heating Elements

Most electric water heaters contain two separate heating elements. One of them is at the bottom and the other is on top. The one that usually fails is the bottom one, as that heating element does most of the heating. The following are a few symptoms associated with bad heating elements:

  • Lack of sufficient hot water, which can be due to both heating elements going bad.
  • You notice that the water in your home stays lukewarm. This usually means the heating element on top went bad.
  • The water gets hot, but it does not last. This is usually associated with a faulty bottom heating element. 

You can talk to your water heater specialist about your suspicions to see if she or he can confirm them. 

A Small and Easy Fix

The problem could be that your heating elements gave out on you, but the issue could also be simpler than that. Follow the steps below:

  1. Turn off the water heater.
  2. Remove the panel, insulator, and thermostat to reach the elements. 
  3. Press the small button right above the elements, which should reset them.
  4. Reconnect everything, and turn your water heater. Check to see if this solved your problem.

Replacing The Heating Elements

You can also just attempt to replace your heating elements by following the steps below:

  1. Purchase new heating elements in your local hardware store that match your water heater perfectly.
  2. Turn off the water heater.
  3. Remove the panel, insulator, and thermostat from your water heater.
  4. Carefully dislodge the heating elements, and replace them with your new ones.
  5. Reconnect the components you removed, and turn your water heater back on to test it. That is all there is to it.

Remember that you can talk to your water heating service and repair specialist about any problem that you may have, especially if you feel uncomfortable performing any of the aforementioned steps. But, as you can see, taking care of problems with your water heating elements could be a walk in the park with the right guide.


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