How to Test Water Heater Element- Tankless Heater Element

Is the temperature of your water heater supplying you with water formally below what you expect? To take care of various household chores, almost every home needs hot water.

When your water heater produces lukewarm water, it might be frustrating that the water cannot serve its intended purpose. Element test is one of the critical tasks, whether it’s for water or any other liquid. Here we provided a guide about tankless water heater elements after testing and experimentation.

There can be several factors affecting how well your water heater works. However, a faulty element is usually the most common. Though professional home electricians can troubleshoot the problem and fix it, hiring one will cost you in the range of $75 – $250.

Therefore it is essential to know how to check the water heater elements with the help of an ohm scale chart and replace faulty ones.

The purpose of this article is to show you how to use a digital multimeter to test water elements on your own without any professional knowledge of electrical works. On the other hand, if you ask how to test a heating element with a multimeter, the answer is the same as given below.

Watch this complete vidoe to know about Water Heater Element and Installation

Tools Requirement

Before you start the water heater elements voltage test at home, you should have the following tools handy:

  • Hand gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Digital multimeter

These are some essential tools for testing a water heater element. Make sure that you have these all before starting a test.

Factors That Cause Water Heater Elements to Fail

The following are the possible reasons why the water heater element has stopped working:

Mineral accumulations, the constant process they go through to give out the hot water, ensure a shorter working life for water heater elements. Mineral deposits in the water can cause these elements to dissolve quickly. During this continuous process, mineral crystallization occurs.

Sometimes, the lower elements can get wrapped in mineral sediments, which might eventually cause the elements to fail. By turning off your water heater every year and flushing your water heater, you can minimize your water heater’s damage risk.

The elements will last longer by removing the sediment and extending their life.

Stuck Air Pockets

To use an electric water heater, its elements must be immersed in water. Copper can burn if the heat generated by an element isn’t transferred into the water.

To stop some air and sediment build up in the tank, it is essential to bleed a line once or twice a year. In the absence of the water, the trapped air will cause the elevated element to burn since it is not immersed in water. The water heater may also fail due to this.

Malfunctioning Thermostat

This thermostat allows the water to be heated when the temperature of the waterfalls between certain levels.

As soon as the temperature exceeds normal, the thermostat tripped the high limit switch, and the power was shut down.

A malfunctioning thermostat will cause the water heater element to burn due to heat supplied by a malfunctioning thermostat.

Power Surge

It is also possible to get burned if a sudden voltage rise is caused by lightning or a power surge is present. Various voltages are required for each element, and some will burn if the voltage goes above the requirement.

A Broken Heating Element

It is possible that the hot water inside an electric water heater can be lost if the heating element inside breaks. Perhaps, the element will burn down after an extended period, and the water will cool slowly.

But if the only thing there is cold water, the second element must have broken. Apart from these three situations, failing to fix a circuit or an out-of-service fuse could lead to the heating element cutting off. Checking the fuse box may also be required in this regard.

Bad Wire Connection

The electrical elements are supplied with electricity by heavy gauge wires. In any case, where a wire slips off of a terminal due to a bad connection, an element might stop working. The poor connection can also cause additional problems, such as arcs.

Whenever possible, you should take care not to get into anything that might damage your water heater element, and make sure to steer clear of it.

How to Check Water Heater Element Step by Step Guide 

How to test water heater elements have the following steps.

Step: 1 Disconnect From the Power Source

Having that information is crucial to testing the water element. A water heater should locate the circuit breaker in the central electric panel connected to your water heater at the top right side.

Metal boxes attached to the wall are commonly used to house it. So, it’s the first and essential step for testing the water heater element.

There are usually printed on the plug-in breaker the name of the gadget it powers. I switched off the one marked “water heater” and identified it. The best thing to do is turn off the entire power source if you’re unsure which breaker works with your water heater.

Step: 2 Open the Metal Box Cover

The panels of your water heater on the side are held in place with screws. Flip the metal cover for the box open to see the panels.

The size of most thermal panels varies from a single panel to multiple panels. Take a Philips head screwdriver and remove the screws from the metal plate. Make sure that they don’t fall into other spaces within your home.

Step: 3 Remove The Insulation

Depending on the age of your water heater, cellulose or fiberglass insulation will be under the metal cover underneath. Keep the insulation aside after disengaging using the insulation.

While removing the insulation, you should wear goggles and gloves. If there is a plastic cover on the thermostat, check for it.

It is an optional procedure to remove the thermostat plastic cover and your thermostat by pulling out the tab. But, some thermostats may not have removable plastic covers.

Step: 4 Make Sure The Power Is Off

If you are unsure about the disconnect, ensure that the power has been turned off. The wire connecting the element and thermostat must be placed close to a noncontact voltage detector.

This indicates that the water heater is still connected to the electrical supply by detecting beeping sounds or flashing lights from the voltage detector. Make sure that all power is turned off before continuing with the work.

Step: 5 Locate the Endpoint of the Elements in the Open Panel

The number of elements a water heater has is generally based on the size of your home. Despite being in the open panel of the water heater, you can’t see the elements themselves.

There’s nothing hidden about the endpoints of the elements. Each element measures about an inch long and is attached to a plastic plate with screws.

Step: 6 Take a Look at Your Water Heater’s Element Reading

You can measure the resistance of the water heaters at the bottom, also called resistance times 1000. There is an inscribed wattage, ohms, and voltage on the base of the water heater tank.

Your temperature on a multimeter will read 16 if you have a 3,500-watt heater, while a 4,500-watt heater will register between 12 – 13. You will get between 10 and 11 readings when you have a 5,500-watt heater. This reading impacts greatly on water heater element tester.

Also, check the water heater element ohms chart given below:

Step: 7 Read the Water Heater Element with A Digital Multimeter

A multimeter probe should be attached to either a screw or two attached to the face of the element. To repair it, you’ll need to unravel the loose parts of the metal element. Since the water heater element does not have any terminal, it should not matter which one to test first.

It’s essential to ensure that you only test the elements and not the other electrical parts connected to the elements. You will need to connect the multimeter’s prongs to the tip of the element screw.

Compare the readings with the ones above and verify if they match them on the multimeter. Suppose the resistance is so low that it simply doesn’t appear. In that case, this implies that the water element is malfunctioning and that you should replace it.

Would you please make sure the second water heater element reading is satisfactory as well? There are cases where both elements are malfunctioning and will need replacement. Water heater element voltage test is another way to determine water heater element.

Step: 8 Reattach the Separated Parts

Replace the exposed panel covering the water heater with plastic and the wire to the radiator’s bottom. Insulate the thermostat with plastic, and cover the exposed wire. Install the loosened screws again and tighten the replace wire.

You will have to wait three to five minutes for the water to heat up if you replace a faulty element. Replace the insulation, and then switch the circuit breaker on.

Note: Also watch this complete vidoe for Water Heater Element

What You Need to Know About Replacing the Heating Element in your Electric Water Heater

It is pretty easy to replace a water heater element. You can check out the video on how to do that. It may also help you with how to test an electric water heater.

How Do You Check To See If A Water Heater Element Is Bad?

It is effortless to understand and know if your water heater element is bad. Take a probe and touch on each part of the screw on the element. If there is no reading on a millimeter or maximum reading, your water heater element is terrible, which needs to be fixed. If there are 10-16 ohms of resistance, then it’s normal. And if the reading is more than this amount, you must understand that there is a problem that needs to be fixed in the water heater element. 

For more information check our latest blogs here.

Final Summary

You should troubleshoot a failure in this essential home appliance with the knowledge you gained from testing the water heater element. Above is a complete guide about test water heater elements.

The following procedures are necessary for all of your work about Test water heater elements:

  • Make sure the power is off
  • To access the element, remove the metal cover
  • Remove the insulation
  • Using a multimeter, read the water resistance
  • If the element is damaged, replace it
  • Reattach the separated parts

Please post a question in the comment section below if you have one that we did not tackle in this guide on testing the water heater element.

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