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Is Your Electric Water Heater on the Blink? Some Reasons for the Malfunction

Is Your Electric Water Heater on the Blink? Some Reasons for the MalfunctionAn electric water heater has distinct advantages over its gas counterparts, including being more efficient, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have problems. Unlike gas-fueled water heaters, an electric water heater has an upper and lower heating element that heats your water. A gas unit uses a single gas burner at the bottom of the tank to keep water hot.

Common Problems with Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters do have their problems despite their simplistic design. One of the most common is the possibility of little or no hot water.

If you run out of hot water quickly during a shower, you probably have a bad lower heating element or thermostat. If you have a constant supply of lukewarm water during your shower, you likely have a bad upper heating element or thermostat.

To determine if you have a bad heating element, check to make sure each element is getting power with a voltage meter. If both elements are getting power but you still have issues with hot water duration or temperature, one of the elements needs to be replaced.

If both heating elements check out fine, you probably have a bad thermostat. Again, check to make sure the upper and lower thermostats are getting power. If the upper thermostat is working fine, check the lower one and replace if necessary.

If you’re not getting any hot water at all, your thermostats and heating elements probably aren’t getting any power. Check your circuit breaker and reset it if necessary. If the unit is still not getting power, you may have a blown fuse that handles the water heater circuit, and it needs to be replaced.

Another problem with electric water heaters can be water that is too hot or too cool. This is usually the result of a thermostat that is set too high or too low. Check both thermostats and make sure they are set to a temperature between 110 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably around 120 for energy savings and safety from scalding.

If you’re not comfortable handling your electric water heater repairs, contact our experts at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning, also known as Mr. Cool here in the Fresno area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about electric water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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