Troubleshooting Electric Hot Water Tanks


No Hot Water Produced

  • Check the circuit breaker or fuse box to make sure that power is running through the tank. Also make sure the tank is plugged in. Remove the cover plate on the upper thermostat and look at the high limit switch button. This is similar to an internal circuit breaker which will need to be reset if it has been tripped. Electric hot water tanks are designed to begin their heating cycle with the upper heating element attached to the upper thermostat. If the tank has no hot water in it, the upper heating element should turn itself on. It makes no noise though, so you'll have to verify this with a voltage meter. If there is electricity running through the thermostat then it means the heating element to which it is attached is the source of the problem and must be replaced. If there is no electricity registered then it means the thermostat is the issue.

Insufficient Supply of Hot Water

  • Check the thermostat to make sure that the hot water tank is set to a sufficient temperature. There will be two thermostats depending on the type of hot water tank, one placed with the upper heating element and one placed with the lower. Uniform heating of the water in the tank is reliant upon the consistent transfer of electricity between the two heating elements. The tank usually has two separate thermostats which are synced to respond when the water their sensors are immersed in reaches certain temperature thresholds. When not enough hot water is being produced, it means one of the thermostats isn't working properly. You will need a voltage tester to find out. While the tank is running, use the voltage tester to find out if an electric current is flowing through either the top or bottom thermostat. If no electricity is found, it means on of the thermostats is broken. Test again later until you find electricity running through one of them, this is the functioning thermostat. The other is broken and needs to be replaced.

Tank is Making Odd Noises

  • If your tank is making a high pitched whine then it's possible there's an internal obstruction which is preventing the normal flow of water. Given that these tanks are pressurized this can be dangerous. They can rupture violently. Turn off the intake valve flow, put a bucket under the waste spigot, and release the pressure immediately. Call a serviceman to look at it as soon as possible. If the sound is more of a bang or rumble, the tank has built up a layer of sediment and mineral deposits which are causing the water to begin to boil. The tank should be flushed out. To do this unplug the tank, turn off the intake valve, connect a garden hose to the waste spigot, and drain out the tank. Keep draining out water until the hose runs clear.

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