It is a pretty common event when you have a significant drop in the temperature with your water heater. Agree that lukewarm water is something irritating, and it cannot satisfy your basic needs. Yet, no need to panic, but first understand what is wrong exactly. Today, lukewarm water can be caused by several factors. However, the most common one is the faulty water heater element. By finding a contractor, you can organize troubleshooting, and fix the problem. Or, you can always perform several steps alone.

This guide will explain how to test water heater element with no trouble.

Approaching Your Water Heater Element Test

First of all, you need to possess certain tools if you avoid finding a contractor. For instance, you will need hand gloves, safety goggles, a screwdriver, and, of course, a digital multimeter. Secondly, you need to ensure that the problem with the drop in water temperature is dependent on the faulty element. The issues can be the following:

1. Mineral Buildup

One of the most popular problems with water heaters might be an accumulation of minerals. The water heater elements can be faulty because of mineral deposits in the water. If not maintained and cleaned, the water will only solidify the minerals, so that you may need to replace a unit. What to do? Turn off your water heater, and organize flushing. Make sure that your flushing works and not only swirls. There are lots of instructions online on how to approach the flushing, however, by finding a contractor, you can get rid of hustle and bustle.

2. Air Pockets Traps

Another potential reason for faulty elements might be linked to trapped air pockets. As for the functionality of such units, their elements should be always immersed in water. Then, heat generated by water heater elements burns through the copper if it is not transferred to the actual water. Therefore, you may need to extract trapped air and occasional sediments in the tank. If not done, the elements will burn.

3. Faulty Thermostat

You should know that the thermostat is like a boss to the elements because it dictates how they should heat the water taking into consideration different temperatures. If the temperature goes above the normal range, the higher limits will switch on the thermostat to be triggered, and the power will be shut down. It will lead to a malfunctioning thermostat and burnt water heater elements. Even if your refrigerator temperature is not appropriate, the same might get affected by it.

4. Power Surge

Water heater elements can be also burnt because of a sudden rise in voltage which may occur during the lightning or power surge. Note, each and every element comes with a particular voltage rating, and if above the range, they can be burnt.

5. Breakage of Elements

Then, you might come across that heating elements may simply break. If you see that you receive only cold water, it means that one or several elements are no longer functioning. You may need to check the fuse box or proceed with finding a contractor to organize a hot water heater element test.

6. Poor Wire Connection

Last but not least, the problem might be in the events when a wire slips off a terminal because of a poor connection.

As you may see there are lots of potential issues which can damage the water heater element. Now, let’s speak of the instructions to test hot water heater element.

Water Heater Element Voltage Test

Please follow the next steps very carefully. If you are not tech-savvy or are afraid of dealing with technology, finding a contractor is the best and safest idea.

  • Disconnect your unit from the power source

No testing should be ongoing with the unit ON. Normally, electricians mark breakers with the gadget name they power. So, if applicable, identify where the one which connects your water heater system is, and switch it off. If you do not have such marks, just ensure to power off the whole power source.

  • Open the metal box cover

The box will open when the metal cover is flipped open. The panels are fastened in place on the side of your water heater with screws. Depending on their size, most water heaters come with one or two panels. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the metal plate. Make sure the screws don’t fall off.

  • Detach the insulation

Depending on its age, your water heater will have a layer of cellulose or fibreglass insulation behind the metal cover. Disconnect the insulation and store it separately. While removing the insulation, use your safety gloves and goggles. Check to see whether the thermostat has a plastic cover. Remove the thermostat plastic cover by pulling off the tab. However, because some thermostats do not come with a detachable plastic cover, this is an optional process.

  • Double-check whether your power is off

Ensure the power is off, and place a non-contact voltage detector close to the wire of the element and the thermostat.

  • Allocate the endpoint of the elements

Now, you have to put the endpoint of the elements in the open panel. On most occasions, the element is around 1 inch long, and it’s tied to a plastic plate with the aid of screws.

  • Note the readings of the elements

Set the multimeter to the lower. If the unit is 3500-watt, the multimeter will read 16Ω, while 4,500-watt will read between 12 – 13Ω. For units with a 5,500-watt element, you will need to get a golden mean which is between 10-11Ω.

  • Use a multimeter for readings

Place the multimeter on a screw to the element face. Check the appeared readings. If the resistance is low, like 1Ω, it simply indicates that the water element is faulty, and you should replace it.

  • Adjust the disconnected parts

Finally, after testing, you have to adjust back the wire to the surface of the element. Do not forget to cover the panel, and use plastic to cover your thermostat. Tighten the replace wire and reinstall the designated screws.

That’s it. By finding a contractor, you again will be deprived of such steps that might seem complex. Otherwise, you will be hinted at replacement or possible repairs with or without your warranty.

Dominic Wong

Dominic Wong, holding a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, has 20 years of experience in the home appliance sector. He joined our website as a freelancer in 20119, sharing his deep understanding of appliance functionality, energy efficiency, and consumer trends. Previously, Dominic worked in appliance design and testing. His background also includes roles in product development and consumer research. An advocate for sustainable technology, he enjoys mountain biking and experimenting with smart home gadgets in his spare time.

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