How to Test water heater element: The most common cause for an occasional burner not lighting is the element. It is the part of the burner that heats the water and turns it into steam within the tank. If you are cooking a meal that requires a lot of hot water such as canning fruit or washing clothes, then one of the elements could be defective and have blown. This will leave you with only half of your burners working.
The water heater should work continuously, day and night. Other terms for this are “full capacity,” “operating properly,” or “in service.” Testing the element immediately means that you’ll have to wait for a technician to come out if your water heater needs repairs. If your heater isn’t operating correctly, the element will not work at all. This can happen if there is a broken wire, burned-out ignitor, loose or broken gas line, or any number of other problems. Testing a water heater element is fairly easy and inexpensive to do.
It is important to test the water heater element when it is suspected that the element has failed. This is because, when a water heater element fails, it may cause scalding or a burn due to water being turned on in an already hot tank. Testing the element will eliminate this risk. Testing the element can also detect leaks from the heating system. A visual inspection of the element may not reveal signs of leaking, as many leaks are not easily visible without equipment.
Tools required to test water heater element
Tools used to test elements such as meter, temperature device, clip-on digital thermometer, electric heat detector, and voltmeter. A reliable water heater is essential in any home. Knowing how to test your water heater can ensure that you have a hot shower when you want one. By following simple steps and using the right tools, you can determine if your water heater needs to be replaced or repaired. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A reliable electric meter or barometrical device to measure the current flowing through the element, which will indicate if it’s working properly.
- Clip-on digital thermometer
- Safety Goggles
- Hand Gloves
Water Heater Element Failure Reasons
Failure due to accumulations of minerals
A water heater element failure is typically the result of accumulations of minerals, lime, or rust on the heating elements. If this happens while someone is using the shower, it can cause a hot water supply and/or a leak in the roof or wall of the house. As the water heats up, it dissolves the calomel and a white precipitate forms on the element. The temperature at which this occurs is affected by water pressure and flow rate, and usually takes place at 160°F or above.
Over time, deposits can build up on the inside of the element and cause premature lamp failure. These deposits are electrically conductive and can short out nearby circuits if they become too large. The best way to determine if your element needs replacing is to test it. To maintain the efficiency of your water heater, you need to flush it every year. To test if the water heater has minerals accumulated, you need to flush your water heater. Here you can check how to flush a water heater.
Failure due to malfunctioning of Thermostat
The water heater element may fail, creating a risk of burns. The thermostat opens the valve to the element allowing hot water to circulate and heat up as appropriate. A faulty element could fail due to a worn out or damaged thermostat, allowing some water to bypass the element resulting in scalding water when someone comes home.
Take precautions if you notice steam or other unusual odors coming from your water heater. Make sure children do not play around the vent area of your water heater as they may touch or pull on the wires and break them which will result in electric shock or death.
Failure due to heating element breakage
The water heater element is a device that controls the temperature of the hot water supplied to fixtures. The element has a tank of heating elements, a wire mesh that holds the elements in place, and a heating element made up of carbon or other ignitable material wrapped in insulation. The most common type of failure is due to a breakage in the element resulting in leakage of carbon monoxide into the living areas. The element should be tested to determine if it can be repaired or should be replaced.
Due to the breakage of the water heater element you will get less hot water. You should also take a look at the fuse if it is fine or not. A water heater element may break when overheated. This can happen if the element is exposed to hot radiators or a plumbing fixture with excess water nearby, such as a dishwasher. If your water heater has symptoms such as bubbling or knocking sounds coming from it when using hot water, or a smoking odor coming from the room where the water heater is located, then your element has probably failed and needs to be replaced.
Failure due to trapped air pockets
The failure of most water heater elements is due to a trapped pocket of air. The elements are made up of aligned metal strips that conduct heat and melt at different rates. When the pilot light goes out, the temperature within the element drops dramatically. When it cools enough, some of the metal melts and flows into areas where the air is trapped in small pockets. This leaves behind a short circuit that causes arcing between the exposed wires in a tube called the radiating system. At high drain pressures, this can cause the element to fail catastrophically.
Over time, temperature and pressure can cause the gas to eventually leak out of the element and cause it to fail. For most homeowners, repairing this type of failure is really easy. First, remove the old element and clean the inside of the tank using a trumpet cleaner or similar instrument. Next, spray in some dielectric grease (available at most hardware stores) and then install the new element with the clips provided. This should solve most issues with gas lines and appliances that use them in their operation.
Failure due to surge in power supply
The most common cause of water heater malfunction is failure due to a surge in the power supply. The water heater element can be tested by using an ohmmeter with the leads placed across the stalled parallel-connected primary side of the element. A high resistance reading indicates that the element needs replacement. A failed element will most likely cause the heating portion of the water system to stop working. This will result in a freeze/boil mode as well as very cold water drawing from the cold water supply line. Most failures are caused by power line surges or lightning strikes.
There are also other hazards such as fire and electric shock that need to be considered. If you suspect your element has failed due to a power surge, shut off the power supply to the water heater immediately. If there is no power, there is no risk of fire or electric shock from the element.
Symptoms of a failed water heater element may include:
- Water that is either automatically turned off or comes on again after it has already been off for a period of time; Light burn spots on the faucet.
- Scorched, smoking odor coming from the faucet.
There are several ways to check if you have a failed element. The easiest method is to switch off the breaker or fuse that powers your water heater and see if this solves your issue. You can also try testing your element using an ohmmeter.
Failure due to wrong wire connections
A water heater element that has failed due to a wrong wire connection can be a fire hazard if not repaired. The cause of the failure must be determined by testing each element for ohms with an ohmmeter while checking for continuity with your meter. The exact cause will depend on how many elements have failed as well as other factors.
Please check and make sure the element is intact and the wiring is correct or the loose wire connection is repaired. If the problem persists, please call our customer service number for assistance.
How to test water heater element
Here’s how to test the element in a water heater:
- Turn off the power to your house at the breaker box.
- Make sure there’s no power running to any of the water lines leading into the water heater.
- Unplug the water heater.
- Touch both wires coming from the element to a known good ground, such as from an iron pipe or a piece of metal on the wall. If there’s voltage running between those two wires, then your element has some sort of short or is inoperable and needs to be replaced.
Note: Never touch the heating coils inside a traditional gas- or electric-fed water heater.