Are you having problems with your electric water heater? Is it not heating water as it should? If so, this can be a significant source of frustration. After all, you depend on your electric water heater to produce hot water for you on a daily basis. Even a single day without hot water can be a significant problem.

There are a number of reasons why your electric water heater might not be producing enough hot water. Perhaps there was something wrong with the circuit breaker. Maybe there is a problem with the heating element. There could also be a problem with one of your thermostats. It is important to figure out what is wrong with your hot water heater so you can address it as quickly as possible.

You may have already spent a significant amount of time looking at your hot water heater, trying to figure out why it is not working. If you need a systematic approach to take a closer look at your electric hot water heater, take a look at the results of our research below. See if you can figure out what is wrong with your hot water heater!

So, are you ready to dive in? If so, take a look at what you need to do to fix your hot water heater below.

Always Put Safety First

Before you do anything to your hot water heater, remember that an electric hot water heater is a very high voltage appliance. It is incredibly dangerous to work on your hot water heater if the power is on.

Therefore, before you go anywhere near the electrical components of your electric hot water heater, make sure you remove all power to it. To do that, you need to go to the circuit breaker box and turn off the appropriate switch.

Furthermore, you should also test all the wires in your hot water heater with a non-contact voltage tester to make sure the power has been disconnected before you touch the wires. That way, you can reduce the chances of suffering a serious injury as you work on your hot water heater.

Materials Needed To Fix Your Electric Hot Water Heater

If you would like to figure out what is wrong with your hot water heater, you need to make sure you have the right materials.

There are several pieces of equipment you need to have. These include:

  • First, you need to locate your hot water heater. It is usually located in a storage closet or in the garage.
  • In addition, you need to make sure you have your manual as well. Your manual is going to tell you where the parts are located and what you need to do to fix them. 
  • You should have a multimeter with you as well that you can use to test the voltage of each of the individual components.
  • You should also have a flashlight so you can see behind your hot water heater.
  • There is a chance there may be some water spilling from your hot water heater. Therefore, you should have plenty of towels you can use to clean up the mess. 
  • Finally, you should also have a basic toolbox with you if you need to take apart the hot water heater.

After you have collected all of these materials, you can move to your hot water heater and start working on it.

Put the Fire Back in Your Hot Water Heater in 5 Steps

If you are looking for a way to put the fire back in your hot water heater, there are a few steps you need to follow. These include:

#1 Check the Warranty

If you are going to start working on your hot water heater, the first thing you need to do is check the warranty. Hot water heaters lifespan is about 10 to 20 years. If your hot water heater is still relatively new, there is a chance it might still be under warranty. 

This is important because if you have to replace any of the parts, you may be able to get them fixed for free. Usually, the heater’s warranty is available online. You may also have a copy of the warranty from when the hot water heater was originally installed in your home.

If you have any questions or concerns about the warranty, you should reach out to the manufacturer. Make sure you are clear about how long the warranty lasts. This could save you a significant amount of money. This is particularly helpful if you have to replace the entire hot water heater. 

#2 Check the Breaker Box

The next thing you need to do is check the breaker box one more time. Of course, you need to disconnect power to the hot water heater before you start working on it. Hopefully, you have already done so.

When you go to the circuit breaker box, there should be labels on each of the switches telling you what switch goes with which area of your home. Make sure you turn off the power to your electric hot water heater before you start working on it. This can reduce your chances of suffering an injury. 

Step #3 Take Apart the Hot Water Heater

Now, you are ready to start working on your hot water heater. The first thing you should do is remove the access panel for the upper heating element of your hot water heater. You will probably need a basic screwdriver to do so.

After this, you need to remove the installation and the plastic safety guard. When you do this, you will expose wires underneath. You need to make sure you protect yourself accordingly.

For example, you may want to wear a pair of goggles in case there are sparks that fly. Or, you may want to put on some rubber gloves that can insulate you against the wires.

A man checking the inside of a water heater
Use rubber gloves when working with wires

When you remove the internal components of your hot water heater, make sure you put them in a location you will remember. You are going to need to replace these parts when you are finished fixing your hot water heater.

#4 Reset the Hot Water Heater and Turn On the Breaker

When you remove the insulation in the plastic guard, you should see a red button. This red button is used to reset your hot water heater. You should press the red button, hold it down for a few seconds, and then release it.

If you do not hear any noises, do not be alarmed. Remember that you turned off the power to your hot water heater, so you are probably not going to hear anything.

Next, you need to turn on the breaker. Go back to your breaker box, turn the power to your hot water heater on once again, and give it a few minutes to heat up.

After this, you should test your hot water heater to see if it is working. If your hot water heater is working again, then you have solved the problem. If your hot water heater is still not behaving appropriately, then you need to turn off the breaker again and check some other components.

#5 Test the Thermostat and the Heating Element

If the hot water heater is still not working, you need to check the thermostat and the heating element. The thermostat is responsible for telling the hot water heater how hot the water is. If the water is not hot enough, the thermostat should have a low reading, causing the hot water heater to turn on.

If your thermostat is not working appropriately, your hot water heater may think the water is hot when it is actually cold. Therefore, you should use a multimeter to check the thermostat. Make sure there is still plenty of power flowing to the thermostat. Make sure the thermostat is set to the right temperature as well. If you do not get a lot of resistance surrounding the thermostat, then you may need to replace it.

A man testing the water heater's thermostat with a multimeter tool
Test the thermostat and the heating element with a multimeter tool

In addition, you need to test the heating element. The heating element is responsible for generating heat for the hot water. The heating element also works using electricity, so you need to test the heating element to make sure there’s plenty of power flowing. If the heating element does not have a lot of resistance, then this is probably the culprit. You will need to replace the heating element if you would like your hot water heater to work appropriately.

It is possible there are some internal wires that may be broken on your hot water heater as well. This is probably not something you will want to mess with on your own unless you are an electrician. On the other hand, if you smell smoke or see corrosion surrounding the internal components, then this is probably the reason why your hot water heater is not working. You may need to call an electrician to take a look at these internal components to fix your hot water heater for you. 

Fix Your Broken Electric Hot Water Heater

These are a few of the most important steps you need to follow if you are looking for a way to fix your electric hot water heater. Even though it can be frustrating if your hot water heater is not behaving appropriately, there are always ways to fix the issue. Remember to unplug the hot water heater and turn off the circuit breaker before you start working with it. That way, you do not have to worry about electrocuting yourself. 

Finally, if you ever feel uncomfortable as you are working on your hot water heater, you should reach out to a professional who can help you. That way, you can figure out what is wrong with your hot water heater while also protecting yourself. You do not necessarily have to replace your hot water heater right away. There may be a way to get it working again.