A Simple Electric Water Heater Repair Guide

A Simple Electric Water Heater Repair Guide
February 7, 2013 Lorelie
water heater repair

Water Heater Repair - Your Guide to Simple Repair

Almost everybody loves taking hot showers regardless of where you live.  In fact, even if you live in the middle east where it is scorching hot during day time, you still need to have a water heater available because it is mighty chilly in the evening there.  This is actually the case for many geographical locations where the climate may be deemed hot, but during rainy seasons or during the wee hours of the morning, the air temperature can really drop down making taking a bath with cold water a bit of a torture.

If you have a water heater at home, then surely you love using it when the temperature outdoors is cold.  However, there are times that your water heater can break down which means you cannot use your water heating unit to take a shower.  Sometimes, these break downs require only some type of maintenance, but there are times that some type of repair is required.  The list below shows a simple water heater repair guide, provided that your unit was installed properly and has been working properly before any problem developed.

Issue: Water is not Hot

If this is the problem that you encounter, the initial thing you should check for is whether the water heating units is getting any electricity.  First, open the thermostat panel plate or cover and check if the high limit switch has been tripped.  The high limit switch serves as a circuit breaker and trips when the tank gets too hot.  If it has been tripped, reset it and check if the water becomes hot this time.  If this does not work, try to check if you have a circuit breaker installed for the electrical of your water heating unit and check if it tripped and reset it.

If both circuit breakers are not the problem, then the problem may lie with the heating element.  Check the heating element if it is receiving any power and if so, the heating element should get hot.  However, if it doesn’t, then the heating element will need to be replaced.  On the other hand, if the upper heating element is not getting any power, then the upper thermostat must be replaced.

Issue: Water is too Hot

A possible reason would be if the thermostats are not pushed tightly next to the tank.

Another reason is maybe one of the thermostats.  Confirm if there is power at the topmost heating element.  If there is power present, then there is a defect on the top thermostat.  If there is power present on the lower heating element, then there is a defect on the lower thermostat.

Issue: Water Temperature is too Low or the Hot Water is not Sufficient Enough

When the topmost part of the tank is hot, the top thermostat takes away the power from the top heating element and transfers the power to the lower thermostat and heating element.  In case the lower thermostat is not working or defective, then the lower part of the tank will not be heated and the hot water supply will be significantly lessened.

Verify if there is power present at the top thermostat terminals (this is where the power is sent to the lower thermostat and heating element).  If there is no power at the top thermostat terminals, then they should be changed.  If there is power present, verify if there is power at the lower heating element.  If there is no power present at the lower heating element, then it should be changed.  If there is power present at the lower heating element, then it should get hot.  If it does not, change it.  Another likely possibility might be a busted dip tube.  Verify if the dip tube is indeed busted and change it if needed.

Issue: Smelly

There are many kinds of bacteria that can come in contact with the magnesium anode rod and produce an odor resembling that of rotten eggs.  Simply clean the tank with the use of chlorine bleach or you can also change the anode rod into aluminum – this usually solves the issue of smelly, rotten egg odor.

Issue: Temperature Pressure Relief valve or TPR is leaking

The temperature relief valve (TPR) is active if the temperature or the pressure becomes too high.

In case the inlet is directly fed from the main with no TPR valves or check valves in between them, then once the water heater heats up, it expands and just flows back to the main.  But if there is an obstruction such as a pressure-reducing valve or check valve with a broken bypass, then the increased water volume has nowhere else to go, thus increasing the pressure radically.  By putting an expansion tank in the line at the inlet, the increased water volume will have someplace else to go and thus avoiding the radical increase in pressure.

Issue: There is a Banging or Popping Noise

A banging or popping noise coming from the heating elements may be caused by scale buildup.  This can be solved by removing the heating elements, and then you can opt to clean or change them.

Issue: Leaking Tank

This is actually a common problem with both gas-fired water heaters and electric water heaters.  If the leak seems minor and does not seem to be there at times, then it is probably just condensation trickling at the base of the unit.  However, if there seems to be a puddle of water that doesn’t go away, then highly likely your water heating unit is leaking as this is the first sign of the presence of leaks.

To repair your leaking water heater, first check where the leak is coming from.  If it is hard to identify, try to check the drain valve if the leak is coming from there.  If it is, then tighten the drain valve properly.  If the problem is not coming from the drain valve, try checking the temperature pressure relief valve (TPR).  The TPR basically protects the unit from excessive pressure buildup making it prone to leaks due to the thermal expansion of the plumbing.  The leak may involve valve fittings, gaskets, and welds.

The anode rod may also be the reason for the leak.  Since anode rods are sacrificial components as they attract corrosion unto themselves instead of the tank, they often dissolve after a long period of time.  Now, if there are no anode rods to attract corrosion, then the tank may have gotten some sort of corrosion and have weakened.  If the tank is corroded and leaking, the only solution would be to replace your water heating unit.

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