How to Troubleshoot and Repair an Electric Water Heater

Ways to troubleshot electric water heater

Have you ever experienced such a moment when you want to have a warm shower after getting away from a long exhausting day, and the water heater isn't working? 

Water heaters have been a basic need for every people these days. Issues with your electric water heaters can create a whole lot of fuss. Internal system problems can result in non-functional water heaters. Different defects in the internal part of the electric water heaters can create a huge mess. 

High water pressure, failed heating proportions, and lack of maintenance can be reasons behind the issues in your water heaters. It can be a tough job to repair an electric heater on your own. 

So, let's get into some of the basic knowledge regarding electric heaters that might be helpful for you to cope with the problems in the future.

Working principle of Electric Water Heater

The heat transferring process which uses the energy source to heat the level of water from its initial temperature is the process of "Water Heating." 

An electric heater works just the same as a gas heater. The cold water brought through the dip tube gets heated using the electric heating elements inside the water heater.

The only difference in the electric heater is that the water is heated by plugging into the power supply. 

The tank is fitted with the heating factors controlled by the thermostat. The thermostat works to set a specific temperature so that the water doesn't get heated above the estimated level. The water tank is covered with some insulating materials like glass wool. 

The overall assembly is enclosed in the metal casing that can be hung on the wall or anywhere if required. The sacrificial anode protects the tank from corrosion, which sacrifices itself and helps extend the tank's lifespan.  

After all, the heated water gets raised in the tank and moves throughout the house with the source of the heat-out pipe.

Problems and Solutions to Troubleshoot/Repair the Electric Water Heater

Knowing the overall working structure can help troubleshoot the problems that may arise in the future. Each and every problem regarding the electric water heaters might not be able to get listed, but here are some of the common problems that can occur frequently. 

Warning ⚠

Electric heaters and similar devices using the power plug to function can be extremely dangerous in some cases. Please be warned and don't try to fix it by yourself until and unless you are a professional or someone with knowledge regarding it. 

If you are not well known for what you are doing or have doubts, it's better to stay away from the device and seek professional help. It could lead to enormous damage and can harm your own life. 

Always remember to follow the precautions before doing anything you are unknown about.

Problems in the Electric Water Heater 

1. Overheating or Water Temperature Problems

One of the most common problems regarding the electric water heater is water temperature. The issues of no hot water to boiling water can arise in such cases.

Even for the small checkup of the device, start by turning off the power supply. There might be various reasons leading to water temperature problems, including faulty heating elements. A thermostat is the primary water heating element that can significantly cause water temperature problems.

Failed water heating elements and the electric connection between them can impact the whole function of the water heater.

Ways to fix the water temperature problems

  • Cut off the power supply at first
  • Replace any blown fuse or reset the tripped circuit breaker 
  • Check if the power is being well supplied to the thermostat
  • Test the heating element, replace it if it's faulty
  • If the problem is still there after replacing the thermostat, replace your water heater. 


2. Water Discoloration or odor

Discoloration or rust-colored water can result from the failed sacrificial anode rod or corrosion inside a glass-linked tank. The water discoloration or the odor can be a major issue in electric water heaters. 

A strange odor or smell can result from bacteria built up in the water tank. The decaying sacrificial anode in the water tank can also be the reason for the strange smell of the water.

Ways to fix Water Discoloration or odor

  • Flush the water heater at first
  • Treat the water heater with the solution of the 2 pints of 3% hydrogen peroxide with the 40 gallons of water.
  • Replace the faulty anode with the zinc-alloy anode
  • Replace the heater with the plastic-lined one if needed. 


3. Excessive Noise 

Sometimes an electric water heater can create excessive noise out of nowhere. It can get resulted because of different issues. 

A low pitch noise probably means boiling water caused by overheating because of the sediment build-up. At the same time, the high-pitched noise can result from built-up scales in the water heating elements.

Ways to fix the Excessive Noise 

  • Flush the water at first
  • Clean up all the build-up scales from water heating elements 
  • Install the low watt density heating elements 
  • Use heating elements with a larger surface area for better heat transfer efficiency.


4. Problems regarding reheating of tanks

If your water tanks take way too long to get reheated, there might be some issues in the internal part of the electric water heater. Faulty electric heating elements like thermostats can cause this problem.

The thermostat might have been set to very low pressure, resulting in the output of the low heat pressure.

Ways to fix Problems regarding reheating of tanks

  • Check your device and look if the water heating capacity of your device is enough to service the whole home
  • Cleaning some parts of the electric water heater can also help to solve the problem
  • Repair the faulty water heating element or replace it if needed


5. Water Leaks 

Among all the issues in water heaters, how can we forget about one of the significant issues, leaking water problems?

Water leaks are the most common problem in plumbing-related devices. The water leaks can be caused by faulty temperature and pressure (T&P) in relief valves, overheating, or the loose heating elements bolts.

Ways to fix the Water Leaks 

  • To check up the T&P valve, open and flush it clear of debris, if it's still leaking simply repair or replace it.
  • To reduce the excessive pressure, lower the thermostat setting
  • Check if there are any loose pipe connections and tighten them as required
  • Also, check the heating element bolts and tighten them if  required
  • At last, check the storage tanks if it's leaking, repair them with new sets of O-rings or replace the corrosion.


Thanks for reading till the end! I hope your problem regarding the electric water heater and its solution were listed above. However, it's better to seek help from the experienced plumber and technician around you to fix these problems.