At first glance, an electric water heater may look similar to its gas-powered counterpart. Both of them use a storage tank and tank jacket that are both made of steel. In order to prevent heat from escaping, there is also an insulation feature between the steel jacket and the tank itself. Aside from the fact that electric heaters are powered by electricity, another thing that differentiates them from gas heaters is that they heat water from the top and the bottom of the tank.
Hot water heater issues with electric heaters are not very common, since they are known for being quite reliable. However, this does not mean that the occasional trouble does not occur. Hot water heater difficulties in cold weather are particularly bothersome since this is the time that you need a steady supply of hot water. Fortunately, most hot water heater problems in electric heaters can be remedied using simple troubleshooting and home repairs.
Hot Water Heater Troubles: No Hot Water
One of the most common hot water heater issues is that there is simply no hot water coming out. This problem is often caused by faulty elements in the water heater, particularly a tripped circuit breaker or a defective thermostat. Another possible cause of the problem is that the upper heating element of the heater has stopped functioning.
Before you perform any troubleshooting for electric heaters, it’s important that you turn off the power first to avoid any accidents or injury. The first thing you will want to do is to reset the circuit breaker if it has indeed been tripped. If this is not the problem, then reset the thermostat and the upper heater. If these methods fail to solve the problem, then you may have to replace your thermostat or upper heater.
Insufficient Hot Water
Perhaps your electric heater is producing hot water but it is simply not enough. First of all, make sure you check your heater’s capacity. It could be that your water heater is simply too small for your hot water needs. Once you have confirmed that your electric water heater is really producing inadequate hot water, then it’s time to look at some possible causes.
One of the most common reasons behind this problem is faulty connection in the plumbing. Try turning off the water supply to the water heater and then turn on a faucet connected to the heater. If there is still water coming out then there is a crossed connection in the plumbing that needs to be addressed. Defective upper and lower heating elements are also a common cause. You can figure out which one is faulty by observing the condition of the hot water. If lukewarm water constantly comes out then the upper element needs repair or replacing. However, if hot water comes out in short bursts, then you should look into the lower heating element instead.
A leaking tank is another problem that water heater owners can find themselves suddenly dealing with. There are several possible causes behind a leaking tank, such as corrosion, condensation, faulty plumbing connection or defective T&P relief valve.
Naturally, the first thing you need to do is to indentify the problem. To check if the T&P valve is causing the problem, you can try flushing the valve and clearing it of debris. If it is still leaking afterwards, then you might want to replace it. Pipe connections are also a common cause of water leak. In this case, you can remedy the problem yourself by tightening the connection with a wrench. You can also perform the tightening yourself if the leaks are caused by loose bolts in the upper or lower heating elements. When using the wrench to tighten water heater components, make sure you do not exert too much pressure as over-tightening can also cause problems.
Unfortunately, if water leaking is caused by a corroded tank, then you will need to replace the entire electric water heater.
Rust-colored water is indicative of two possible problems—either the interior of the tank is corroded or water heater’s anode rod needs to be replaced. In most cases, the problems comes from a faulty anode rod.
The sacrificial anode rod is located inside your water heater tank and prevents the tank’s interior from corroding. It is called “sacrificial” because it sacrifices itself in a way. Since it is more reactive than the tank’s steel material, it lets itself corrode so that the tank’s steel remain rust-free. Anode rods are generally made from aluminum or magnesium. If you are planning to replace your water heater’s anode rod, choose one made of magnesium since this material does a better job of preventing corrosion, which explains why it is also more expensive than aluminum rods.