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Electric Water Heater

Follow the electric water heater troubleshooting guide below to solve your hot
water heater problems.
If you don't feel confident to repair your electric water heater yourself this
guide can give you a good idea of what's wrong with your water heater before
the repairman arrives.

This guide is electric water heater specific. For problems common to both gas
and electric water heaters go to hot water heater troubleshooting.
If this is your first attempt at electric water heater repair you will need to
know how to use a multimeter and follow all safety rules when working with
Never open access panels with the power on. Always check the water heater
power to be sure its off. Never trust a circuit breaker label.
Always check a multimeter on an outlet that you know is working before
checking a water heater.
This water heater troubleshooting guide is for tank type residential electric
water heaters.
Follow the links at the bottom of the page for help testing and replacing water
heater parts.

No Hot Water
1. Check the circuit breaker/fuse box.
2. Check water heater power.
3. Check water heater reset button/limit switch.
4.Check upper thermostat.
5.Check upper element.

Not Enough Hot Water
1. Temperature set to low.
2. Check elements.
3. Check thermostats.
4. Check for loose wiring.
5. Water heater undersized.
6. Check water heater dip/fill tube.

Water Is To Hot
1. Adjust water heater temperature.
2. Thermostat must fit tight against the tank.
3. Check for grounded element.
4. Check thermostat function

Slow Hot Water Recovery
1. Adjust temperature.
2. Check thermostats.
3. Check elements.
4. Check wire connections.
5. Sediment build up on elements.

Water Heater Is Noisy
1. Heat trap nipples.
2. Sediment build up on water heater elements.

Relief Valve Sporadically Releasing Large
Amounts Of Water
1. Water to hot - See above.

Electric Water Heater Breaker Tripping
1. Wire shorted in system
2. Grounded element.
3. Water leaking around element.
4. Grounded thermostat/limit.
5. Undersized breaker.
6. Breaker weak.

Water heater Leaking
1. Check all orifices on the water heater for leaks including the water heater
If the tank itself is leaking the water heater must be replaced.

Below you'll find testing and repair guides to compliment this electric water
heater repair guide. More guides coming soon.
Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting Repair
Water Heater Reset Button - How to test, reset or replace the limit/reset
Test Water Heater Thermostat -How to test a thermostat with the power off
or on.
Electric Water Heater Thermostat - How to replace a water heater
Water Heater Element Testing - How to test an element.
Water Heater Element Replacement - How to replace an element.
Water Heater Temperature - How to check and adjust the temperature.
Water Heater Relief Valve - How to check and replace the relief valve.
Flush Hot Water Heater - How to flush sediment from your water heater.
Cleaning Hot Water Heater - Clean your water heater without chemicals.
Water Heater Reset Button

Limit, reset and water heater thermostat information.
A water heater reset button, usually red, is located in the center of the limit
switch just above the water heater thermostat.

The water heater limit switch is a safety device that will shut the power down
to the water heater if something malfunctions and the water gets to
hot. If this happens the limit switch can be reset by pushing the reset button
in after the water cools down.

This is a pic. of a water heater thermostat, limit switch and reset button.
This thermostat is made for a duel element 240 volt storage water heater.

I have separated the thermostat and limit switch in this picture so you can
see one from the other.
As you can see the limit and reset had been mounted on top of the

The four terminals on this limit switch are numbered one through four.
Power enters the terminals 1&3 at the top and is transferred to terminals 2&4
on the bottom.
If the limit has tripped there will not be any power on terminals two and four.

You can check a water heater limit switch a multimeter.
Turn the power off to the water heater. Set your multimeter to rx1. Put one
probe on terminal 1 and one probe on terminal 2. On an analog meter the
needle should sweep all the way over to zero. If it does the limit is not
If the limit is tripped follow the links below to find out why it had tripped.
After you have made repairs or solved the problem push the reset button in
to reset the limit switch.

What would cause a water heater reset button
to trip
Extremely hot water will cause a water heater limit switch to trip. If this is the
case you could have a grounded element. This will cause the
element to continue to heat. Water heater element testing.
You may need to test water heater thermostat to be sure its working
If the element and thermostat check out ok the limit switch is probably just
weak. In this case replace the thermostat/limit switch.
electric water heater thermostat replacement
Test Water Heater Thermostat
Looking for test water heater thermostat information? Hot water
heater thermostats can be tested with the power on or off.
The guide below is is for testing a water heater thermostat with
the power off. You'll need to know how to use a multimeter.
If you're comfortable testing a water heater thermostat with the power
on you can go to hot water heater thermostat for instructions.

Testing upper thermostat

Turn the water heater power off.
Remove the access panels, insulation
and plastic safety covers.
Use your multimeter to be sure that
the power is off.
Turn the upper thermostat temperature
control to the maximum temperature setting.

Set your multimeter on RX1.
Place one meter probe on the bottom
left terminal (#2).
Place the other meter probe on the
terminal screw #1 just above the #2
terminal (see pic).
On an analog multimeter the needle should sweep all the way over to zero.
If you don't get a reading replace the thermostat.
If the thermostat reads good and you do not have any warm water
at all you'll need to check the upper element. You can go to the
water heater element testing page for help.
If you have a single element water heater this is the only test you'll need to

Turn the upper thermostat temperature
to the lowest setting.You should hear it
click off ( you must have above 90 degree water in the tank).
The upper thermostat should now be
sending power to the lower thermostat
(if the power were on).
For this test place one probe on terminal #1 (see pic).
Place the other probe on the bottom right terminal screw(#4).
The multimeter needle should sweep all the way over to zero.
If you don't get a reading, replace the thermostat.

Test water heater thermostat (lower)

As you can see the lower thermostat
only has two terminals.
One wire coming in from the upper thermostat and one wire going out to the
lower element.
To check this thermostat set the temperature to maximum. The upper
thermostat must be clicked off.
To test this water heater thermostat, place a meter probe on each of the
terminal screws.
The meter needle should sweep over to zero.

With the thermostat clicked off you should not get a reading.
Electric Water Heater Thermostat
Replace your electric water heater thermostat using the step by step guide
Almost all residential water heater thermostats are interchangeable. However, a
single element water heater thermostats will not work on a double element water

Replacing an Electric Water Heater Thermostat

Turn the water heater power off. Remove the access
panel, insulation and the plastic safety cover.
Use your multimeter to make sure that the power
is off.
The pic on the left is of the top thermostat on a
duel element residential water heater.

The hot water heater thermostat is held tight against the tank with a bracket
made of spring steel.
To remove the thermostat, pry one side of the bracket out with a screwdriver
just far enough to release the thermostat.
Twist the thermostat to the side so the bracket can't pop back into place(see
pic). Now pry the other side of the bracket out and pull the thermostat out.

This is a pic of the water heater
thermostat bracket after the thermostat has been removed.
If either side of the bracket is pried out
to far it will not hold the thermostat tight against the tank (very important).
If this happens take a screwdriver and
push the clip up against the tank then release it. This may spring it back
enough to hold the thermostat.
To replace the bracket remove the two element wires. Pry the lock clips
up (bottom of the pic) with a screwdriver and pull the bracket off.
Hold the new bracket straight and push it in as far as it will go. The lock
clips will hold it in place.

Slide the new water heater thermostat
into place. It should lay tight against
the tank.

Use the wiring diagram you made earlier and
wire up the new water heater thermostat.

The lower electric water heater thermostat is
replaced the same way.
If you're replacing an electric water heater thermostat on a single element
water heater follow the same steps. Be sure to buy a thermostat for a
single element water heater.
Replace the plastic safety cover,insulation and the access cover.
Turn the power on
Top thermostats are also called upper or primary thermostats.
Bottom thermostats are also called lower or secondary thermostats.
Water Heater Element Testing
With the water heater element testing guide below you will need an
inexpensive multimeter and a screwdriver.
Testing an elements is a simple and safe procedure. Just follow the steps and
safety guidelines below.

How to check an element
Turn the water heater breaker (power) off. If you are not sure
which breaker controls the power, shut off all double breakers.

You could have a damaged/burned wire behind the access panel that could be
touched accidentally, so, be sure that the power is off.

Remove the access panels, the insulation and the plastic safety cover. The
safety cover snaps on and off, just give it a tug, it should pop off.

Be careful not to touch any wires.

This is a picture of the upper
element, thermostat and limit
The two wires at the very top
(above the red reset button) are
each 120 volt lines coming
from the breaker.
Always check the power coming into the before water heater element testing.
Breakers can be mislabeled.

Check your water heater for power

Water heaters operate on 240 volts. You will need to set your multimeter on
240 volts ac. or greater so as not to damage your meter.

Check the meter on an outlet in your house that you know is working.
Place one probe of the meter on one of the lines above the reset
button (see pic).

Place the tip of the other probe on the water heater tank. Scratch
the tank with the end of the probe to be sure you are making good
contact. (this will give you a ground).
You should not get a reading (the needle should not move).
Check the other line the same way, one probe on the line, the other probe on
the tank.
If you get a reading on either line the wrong breaker has been turned off.
Find the right breaker and be sure the power is off before going to the next

Set the dial on the multimeter
to RX1K (see pic).
Touch the two meter probes
The needle should sweep all the
way across the face of the meter.
This tells you that the meter is
working properly.
When you are water heater elements testing, always be sure your meter is

Remove one of the wires
from the water heater element.
It does not matter which wire
is removed.
Place the meter probes on
each element screw (see pic).
If the needle on the meter does not move, the water heater
element is bad and should be replaced.
If the needle moves all the way across the face, the element should be good.
This test is ninety nine percent acurate.
The one time this test is wrong, is when the element has shorted
out and fused or welded itself together.

Water heater element testing a grounded

If your water is getting
extremely hot and/or the reset
button is popping out you may
have a grounded element.
To check for a grounded
element, set your multimeter
dial to RX1K.
Be sure the water heater power is off.
Place one meter probe on one of the element screws. Place the
other probe on the water heater tank or the element base (see pic).
The meter needle should not move.
Check both element screws for ground. If you get a reading
(needle moves) on either one, replace the element.
Water Heater Element
Water heater element replacement or replacing hot water heater
element is a job most homeowners can do.
On this page you'll find a step by step guide with pictures of how to
change a water heater element.
In this water heater replacement guide we'll replace a screw type
element. All of the steps are the same for a flange type element.
For water heater element replacement you'll need:
1. multimeter - to check power
2. garden hose - to drain water heater
3. screwdriver
4. water heater element wrench - for screw type elements

Water heater element wrench

This water heater element tool
will fit most domestic water
heater elements that screw
into the tank.
This element tool is just a
large socket with holes in one
end to insert a screwdriver or
something similar to use as leverage.
Replacing hot water heater element without this tool is not recommended.

Water heater element replacement

Turn the water heater breaker off.
Remove the top access panel, insulation, and plastic safety cover.

The plastic safety cover should snap off. Be careful not to touch any wires.
If the water heater breaker has been mislabeled the wires will still be hot.
The pic above is of the upper element, thermostat and limit.

Check water heater power

The two wires above the red reset
button are each 120 volts.
Check these wires to be sure that the
power has been turned off.
Test your multimeter on a wall
outlet that you know is working.
Place one probe on one of the terminal screw (see pic). Place the other probe
on the tank. Scratch the tank with the end of the probe to get a good ground.
You should not get a reading (no power).If you do the wrong breaker has
been cut off.
Check the other wire the same way. If you have no power your ready for the
next step.
Important - If you place both probes on the top two screws and the breaker
is on you will read 220/240 volts. If you do not get a reading their could still
be 120 volts on the system. If one side of the breaker has failed or a wire has
burned into somewhere you will not get a reading unless one probe is
grounded to the tank.
Both probes on both terminals will read 220/240 volts, it will not read
110/120 volts.

Drain your water heater

Turn the water supply off at your
water heater (its located on the cold
water line near the water heater).
Remove the aerator from the
kitchen faucet and open the hot
side of the faucet.
Removing the aerator will keep it from clogging when the water
heater tank is refilled.
Opening the hot side of the faucet will allow air into the tank so it
can drain. It will also allow air to be pushed out when the tank is
drain water heater

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve (see pic). Run the hose
outside to a point lower than the water heater.
Open the drain valve, check the hose to make sure its draining
properly. It takes 20-30 minutes to drain a water heater.
Related pages

drain water heater
flush hot water heater
cleaning hot water heater

Upper and lower elements are
both replaced the same way.
Remove the two wires from
the element.

Place the water heater element
wrench on the old element (see pic).
Hold the wrench tight against
the element and turn to the left.
If you can't turn it, use a
longer leverage tool.
If you have a flange element remove the four bolts and pull the
element straight out. Reinstall the same way. Be sure to use the
new rubber gasket.

Unscrew the element and pull
it straight out.

Install new water heater element

Slide the new element into the
Screw the element in with your
hand until the rubber gasket
touches the metal tank.
Tighten the element with the water
heater element wrench.

Install the two element wires on
the new element.

Turn the drain valve off and and remove the garden hose.
Open the water supply valve and fill the tank. Let the kitchen
faucet run until all the air is out of the line. Replace the aerator.
Open the hot side of all the faucets in the house to remove
any air that may be trapped.
Check the new elements closely. If they are not leaking you are
ready to replace the plastic safety covers, insulation and access
Turn the power on. You should have a full tank of hot water in
about an hour.

Water heater element replacement FAQ
Can I open the water heater relief valve to drain the tank?
Yes you can but its not recommended. The relief valve handle
is spring loaded, if it snaps shut it could damage the valve.
Why do you recommend opening the kitchen faucet instead
of the faucet nearest the water heater?
When you drain and fill an older water heater there will be a lot
of calcium deposits, rust and sediment flowing through the water
line. If a faucet stem becomes clogged the kitchen faucet is the
easiest to work on.
Water Heater Temperature
In the guide below will find water heater temperature recommendations,
plus, how to check and adjust your temperature on both gas and electric
residential storage water heaters.
If you are having temperature problems such as water to hot or cold,
not enough hot water etc. click here for more help.
Water heater manufactures recommend setting your water heater
temperature at 120 degrees to help prevent scalding and to save energy.
Scalding is a real concern if you have small children or elderly in your

What Temperature Should Your Hot Water Be
You may be surprised to know that while the EPA (Environmental Protection
Agency) recommends setting your water heater at 120 degrees. OSHA
(Occupational Safety & Health Administration) recommends setting your
water heater thermostat at 140 degrees under certain circumstances. If you
would like to read more about OSHA's recommendations go to osha.
gov/dts/osta/otm/legionnaires/faq.html and scroll down the page.
If your hot water has an unpleasant odor, it is usually caused by some
bacteria. Raising the temperature above 140 degrees will help.

If you have an older dishwasher that doesn't preheat the water,
recommended water heater temperature is 140 degrees. This is to ensure
clean sanitary dishes.

Basically you'll need to adjust the temperature to suit your needs or your

I know a gentleman that lives alone and keeps his water heater set at 110
degrees and only allows it to heat one hour a day.

How To Check Your Hot Water Heater
Allow your water heater to set an hour unused before checking the

You can use a candy or cooking thermometer to check your water heater
temperature. Go to the faucet nearest the water heater. Run the hot water for
one full minute ( this will heat the water pipes and give you a more accurate
reading ). Fill a coffee cup from the faucet and read the thermometer.

About water heater settings
Because heat rises (yes, even in water) the water in the top of a water heater
can be much hotter than the water in the bottom. This is especially true of a
gas water heater where the thermostat and burner are located at the bottom
of the tank.

Water heater settings or temperature settings are not exact
temperatures. The degree settings on a thermostat are approximate.

Gas water heater Adjustment

If you have a gas water heater
you are in luck as far as adjusting
the temperature.

There's nothing to remove or replace.Simply turn the dial located
on the front of the gas control

The warm setting will be in the
90 to 110 degree range.

The hot setting will average 140
to 150 degrees.

Electric Water Heater Adjustment

Turn off the water heater breaker.
Remove both access panels (upper
and lower) if you have a double
element water heater.
For single element water heaters
remove the lower panel.

Pull the insulation to the side
or remove it so you can see the
Remove the plastic cover if
it doesn't have an access hole
for the adjustment screw.

The thermostat adjusting screw
is located at the bottom of the
thermostat, just above the element.
As you can see you'll need a
small flat blade screwdriver.
Replace the plastic cover(if you removed it). Place the insulation
back over the thermostat and element. Replace the access panels
and turn the power back on.
Water Heater Relief Valve
Are you looking for information on water heater relief valve? On this
page you'll learn what a hot water heater relief valve is, how to check it, how
to replace it and what you should do if its opening on its own.
Shop for relief valves below

TPR Valve
Temperature and pressure relief valve.
Also known as- t&p valve (temperature and pressure) valve
and tpr valve (temperature pressure relief) valve.

Water heater pressure relief valves
are safety devices designed to relieve
pressure from a water heater in case
of extreme temperature/pressure rise.
Water expands as it is heated.
If a water heater thermostat
malfunctions and continues to heat
water non stop the tank would eventually explode if it didn't have a
relief valve to relieve the pressure.
Watch a water heater explosion when the pressure relief valve fails.

Why is water slowly leaking out of the relief
valve discharge (drain) line?
The pressure relief valve itself may be the problem, especially if its
an older valve.
Relief valves will release water slowly if their is to much pressure in the tank.
This happens on closed water systems ( check valve somewhere in the
First replace your relief valve if it is an older one. If the new valve is allowing
water to leak out you may need to install an expansion tank on the cold water
inlet line near your water heater.
Expansion tanks are designed to absorb the pressure from your water heater.
The water pressure regulator valve may be at fault.

Why is my relief valve sporadically releasing
large amounts of water?
This happens when the valve is opened because of high temperatures.
Replace faulty thermostat.

How to check a tpr valve

1. To check for a leaking valve feel
the drain line with your hand to see if
its hot (see pic). The drain line may
be warm near the valve, this is normal.
If the line is hot the relief valve is opening.

2. Raise the test lever on the
relief valve (see pic).
You should hear water discharging
out the relief valve drain line.
If you do then your valve is working
If you do not hear a discharge or
your test lever won't raise (don't force it) replace the relief valve
as soon as possible.
Check your water heater relief valve at least once or twice a year
to be sure its working properly.

How to replace a water heater relief valve
Electric water heater - turn the water heater breaker off.
Gas water heater - set the temperature knob to its lowest setting.
Turn the control knob to the pilot setting.
Turn the water supply off at the water heater.
Open the nearest hot water faucet to relieve the pressure on the tank.
If the pressure relief valve is mounted on the side of the tank you'll have to
drain the tank until the water level is below the valve.
If the relief valve is mounted on top of the tank your ready to start.

Remove the drain line that's
attached to the relief valve.
Cut the line and unscrew it
from the relief valve.

You can remove the relief valve
with an adjustable wrench. Tap the
end of the wrench with a hammer
to loosen the valve.

Remove the old relief valve.

Use telfon tape or pipe dope
and install the new relief valve.
Reinstall the valve drain line.
If your drain line is cpvc pipe
be sure to use cpvc glue to
couple the line together.
Allow the glue to dry 2 hours
before testing the new relief
Refill the water heater. Leave the hot water faucet open until all the air is out
of the line.
Check for leaks.
Electric water heater - turn the power on.
Gas water heater - set the control knob to the on position.
Turn the temperature control knob to the normal setting.
If your looking for water heater relief valve for sale, check your
old valve for btu, pressure and temperature rating.
Flush Hot Water Heater
Are you looking for flush hot water heater help? The step by step guide below
will show you how to drain and flush your tank.
If your trying to drain an older water heater the drain valve may clog.
If this happens, the best thing to do is replace the valve with a ball valve.
Instructions are lower down this page.

How to drain the tank

Electric units -Turn the power off.
Gas units - Set the control knob to the pilot position.
Shut the water supply off to your
water heater.
Remove the aerator from the kitchen faucet and turn on the hot water side.
This will allow air into the tank so it can drain. Removing the aerator will keep
it from getting clogged when the water is turned back on.
Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and drain the tank.
When your tank is empty you can remove your drain valve and install
a ball valve or you can try a flush with your regular drain valve.
To flush hot water heater- turn the water supply on and off several
times, each time allowing the heater to drain until its empty.
You'll only want to add 3 to 5 gallons each time. Do this until the water
runs clear.
When you're finished, close the drain valve and refill the tank.
Let the hot side of the kitchen faucet run until all the air is out of the
line. Replace the aerator.
Turn the power on (electric unit).
Turn the control knob back to the on position (gas unit).
If you have a problem getting the tank to drain, go to
drain water heater for help.
Ok, your finished with the hot water heater flush. If you would like to
clean your water heater while you have it empty it will only take a few
minutes. Go to cleaning hot water heater
Flush hot water heater with a ball valve

This is a brass 3/4 in. ball valve.
You can buy plastic ball valves but after they get a little age on on them, they
are hard to turn and the handles will eventually break.

Looking through the center of this ball valve you can see how large the
opening is.
There is nothing in a water heater tank that will clog this valve.

Besides the ball valve you will need two 3/4 in. nipples.
The nipple in the pic is a dielectric nipple. It's coated with plastic both inside
and on the ends.
These nipples will not rust. The ends are flat which makes them ideal for
attaching a drain hose.

Prepare the ball valve to be installed.
Using Teflon tape or pipe dope screw the nipples into the ball valve ( see pic).
Apply tape or pipe dope to the end you'll be screwing into the water heater.
You will want the valve handle to open away from the tank when you open it.

Remove the drain valve and install
the ball valve.

After your finished with the water heater flush and/or cleaning its best to
reinstall a regular drain valve.
If you do leave the ball valve on
Take the handle off and put a
cap on the end.
A child can turn these valves
on and get burned.
If your drain valve clogged while you were trying to drain your tank you can
install a ball valve with a full tank of water.
Follow the link below and install the ball valve instead of a new valve as the
page suggest.
Water heater drain valve
Now is a good time to clean your water heater while you have it
empty. Its an easy job and will increase the life of your heater.
When you see what comes out of it you'll be glad you did.
Cleaning A Hot Water Heater
Why is cleaning a hot water heater a good idea? The bottom of your
tank is a catch all for sediment, calcium deposits bacteria and rust.

Cleaning will increase the life of the water heater tank.

If you have a gas water heater cleaning will help with the rumbling
noise you hear when the burner is on.

Reduce the risk of water pipes getting clogged with debris from the tank.

Your water will be cleaner and safer to use.
What you will need
garden hose
long brush (see below) $2.00
teflon tape $1.00
3/4 inch X 6 inch nipple $1.00
pair of pliers or a pipe wrench

How to Clean a Water Heater
First you'll need to drain the tank. Go to drain a water heater if you need

After you've drained the tank, remove the drain valve.
If your drain valve is made of plastic, its best to replace
it with a brass valve.

You'll need a long narrow brush like the one in the picture.
Look near the floor mops at wal-mart or your local hardware

This brush is designed to clean refrigeator condenser coils.
Works great on water heaters to.

The bottom of the tank is just below the drain valve opening.

Insert the brush into the opening.

Scrub the bottom of the tank side to side and front to back.

The idea is to loosen all the rust calcium deposits and sediment you

When you're finished scrubbing, screw the 3/4 inch nipple into the
drain opening. Attach the garden hose to the nipple.

I recommend using a nipple in place of your drain valve because
drain valves have a small opening and will clog up when you are
trying to flush debris from the tank.

Attach a garden hose to the nipple. Turn on the water supply to your
water heater. Let it run 15 to 20 seconds and turn it off.
Let all the water drain out of the tank, add more water and drain again.
Repeat this process until your tank is clean(the water runs clear.
When you are finished flushing the tank, remove the nipple and
reinstall the drain valve.
You can make your own flush valve assembly and throw away your
drain valve. Here's how.

I used a ball valve and a bucket when I cleaned this water heater
so you could see what came out.

Notice how black the water is.

This water heater was drained and flushed before it was cleaned with a brush.

This is the best chemical free way of cleaning a hot water heater.
How to Check Water
Heater Power
Checking your water heater power is the first thing you should do if you have
an electric hot water heater problem.
Electricity can kill you. If you are not confident in your ability to work with
voltage please call a professional.
Most residential electric water heaters use 240 volts. Their are single element
water heaters that operate on 120 volts and single element water heaters
that operate on 240 volts. Check the label on your water heater for the
voltage rating.
Breakers are usually labeled, however, they can be labeled wrong. It's best to
shut off all breakers before removing the access panels.
Common mistakes
Shutting off wrong breaker - Shut off all breakers until you are sure which
one powers the water heater.

Using a multimeter that does not work - Always test a meter on an outlet
that you know is working.
Removing assess panels and insulation with the power on Exposed
wiring is just under the insulation.

Power off check

Shut the power off to the water heater. Remove the upper (top) access panel,
the plastic safety cover and the insulation.
Power enters the thermostat just above the reset button. In this picture you
can see that they are numbered 1 and 3.
Each wire is 120 volts when the power is on. Set your meter at 120 volts or
Place one probe on one of the terminals and the other probe on the water
heater tank (scratch the tank with the probe to get a good ground) and check
your meter for a reading.You should have 0 volts.
If you have voltage, the wrong breaker has been turned off.

Check the other terminal the same way.
You should not have power on ether terminal. If you do the wrong breaker
has been shut off.

If you have 0 volts on both sides, the power is off.
Check water heater power for 240 volts

Turn the power back on. Set your multimeter at or above 240 volts AC. Touch
each terminal, #1 and #3, with the meter probes.

You should have a reading of 240 volts. If your meter reads no power, there
could still be 120 volts
on one of the terminals so don't touch anything.

Re-check each terminal just like you did above only this time the power is on.
Each terminal should
read 120 volts. If you have lost power on ether side, the problem could be the
breaker, or where the wiring connects to the water heater, usually at the top
of the tank.

Side Note
If a 240 volt connection has only 120 volts applied to it, it will read 0 volts on
your meter because it has no ground. That is why you must check each side
using the tank as a ground.
Water heater power reading may vary 115 to 120 volts and 230 to 240 volts.
Point Of Use Water Heater
A point of use water heater can not only save energy and water but also
aggravation. No more waiting for the water to get hot so you can wash your
Point of use water heaters are ideal for remote sinks, work shops, campers,
out door kitchens, kitchenettes, anywhere you need hot water fast.
They can be installed independently or inline with your existing water heater.
Related links
2.5 gallon under sink water heater
6 gallon small water heaters
About point of use water heaters
They are also known as under sink or inline water heaters. Most units are
electric to eliminate the need for venting.
They come in tankless or storage (tank). The smaller storage water heaters
can be mounted under the sink, hung on the wall or sit on the floor.
The smaller tankless water heaters can be mounted under the sink also.
A larger unit can supply a shower or two to three sinks depending on your

Electric Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are rated as gallons per minute (gpm). Smaller units
come with low flow aerators to install on the faucet.
The gallon per minute is based on 70 degree incoming or ground water
temperature and 120 degree hot water temperature.
If you live in an area with cold winters and have an incoming water
temperature of 40 degrees the gallons per minute will be reduced
Two gallons per minute should do fine for hand washing. Anything more than
that, figure how much hot water you'll need and buy a unit that will supply
that amount plus a little more.
Small tankless water heaters will come with a flow restriction device, some
units also include a low flow aerator for your faucet.
Their are 120 volt systems on the market but their capabilities are minimal.
A 240 volt system has enough power to give you hot water without slowing it
to a trickle.
Before you purchase a tankless water heater be sure that your breaker box
can handle the extra load.
If you live in an area with hard water you should also install an inline water
Small Electric Water Heater (Storage)
Most small storage waters heaters are rated as gallons per hour (gph) at a 90
degree rise.
If a water heater thermostat is sat at 140 degrees and the incoming water
temperature is 50 degrees the water heater could heat this water to 140
degrees and give you x gph.
Of course if the incoming water temperature is 70 degrees instead of 40
degrees you will have more than the rated gph.
Some water heaters are rated as recovery time. Recovery time is the time it
would take to heat a tank of water if it has been deleted of hot water.
The heating element wattage and tank size will determine the recovery rate.
Most small compact water heaters will have an element range from 1200 to
1500 watts.
The smallest tank point of use water heater is 2.5 gallons. This water heater
would be large enough for a hand washing sink.
You should get 60 to 70 percent of the water heater's capacity in usable hot
water. A 2.5 gallon water heater would produce about 1.7 gallons of hot
A small electric water heater should be flushed out once a year and the anode
rod check/replaced every 3-5 years.

Installing a Storage Point of Use Water Heater
When installing a small capacity water heater use flexible supply lines or flex
lines as they are called. This will make installation easy and the unit will be
easy to remove for cleaning.
Most small water heaters will have a 1/2 inch nipple to connect to. A standard
shut off valve under the sink is 3/8 inch. You would need a flex line 1/2 inch X
3/8 inch (stainless steel is best).
The water heater nipple size will increase with capacity size. Buy a flex line to
match your water heater and the shut off valve.
To installed a small water heater under a remote sink in your house you
would remove the old supply line from the hot side shut-off valve. Screw the
new flex line on to the shut-off valve and connect it to the cold side of the
new water heater.
Next you would attach a flex line from the hot water outlet on the small water
heater to the hot side of the faucet.
If you plan to install a unit somewhere other than under the sink add a nipple
onto the plumbing pipe and connect the water heater with flex lines.
Be sure to fill the tank and run the water until all the air is out of the tank
before you plug the unit up. Energizing the tank without water or air in the
tank will damage the heating element
A point of use water heater will come with installation instruction.These water
heaters are simple to install.
Water Heater Noise Problems
Water heater noise is common and can be annoying if its installed
in or near your living space.
Noisy water heaters are described as humming, singing, screaming
rumpling, crackling, popping, ticking, tapping, hissing, sizzling,
knocking, pounding, and hammering.
Some unusual descriptions I've heard are - sounds like a cat screaming,
finger nails on tin, chair dragging across the floor, bacon frying and
some I can't repeat.
If water heater noise is keeping you up at night, or has you worried,
read on to see what steps to take.
An electric water heater noise you may hear is humming.The heating
element has a looped tube. If the space between the tube is vertical
to the tank it may cause a humming noise.
This sometime occurs after the elements have been replaced and
on a new water heater.
It will not cause damage to the element or the tank. However, if you
want to stop the humming, tighten the element one eighth to one
quarter turn.
Gas water heater rumbling is caused by excess sediment in the tank.
Calcium or lime deposits, rust, and other debris build up over time.
Water becomes trapped under these deposits and makes a popping
or cracking sound when its heated. As the amount of sediment builds
up in the tank you will began to hear a rumbling sound. As the amount
of sediment builds so does the noise increase.

Rumbling is normal in a water heater that has not been flushed or
cleaned on a regular basis. It will not blow up. It is annoying if it
is located inside your home.

To solve this problem the tank needs to be flushed and cleaned or
treated with a deliming solution.

Electric water heater elements will make a cracking, sizzling, popping
hissing or sizzling sound when they become covered with sediment.
An element can be removed and cleaned with a wire brush or vinegar
if the noise is disturbing. May reduce element life over time but
will not cause any other problems.

Most water heaters have steel tanks. Steel expands and contracts
when its heated or cooled. This can cause popping or cracking.

Plumbing pipe can be also expand and contracts creating noise.
This happens when water under pressure is forced through or
around an object.

Most common problem is a shut off valve not open fully. This
could be the shut off valve at the water heater or under a sink.
Open valve completely.
Heat traps can cause a ticking or tapping sound. Heat traps are
built into the nipples on top of the water heater where the plumbing
connects to the tank.
The ticking is normal. Heat traps are not necessary. Remove and
replace with standard die-electric nipples.

Plumbing can also have a ticking or tapping sound when its cooling
off. This is also normal.

Water Hammer - Knocking/Pounding
If it sounds like someone is beating on your wall with a hammer, you
have what is called "water hammer".
Water hammer is not a water heater noise. It is caused by water rushing
through the pipes and being shut off quickly. The water stops abruptly
and tries to push back up the pipe. This causes the pipe to bang the

Water hammer should be fixed as soon as possible. Its not likely to damage
the walls but will burst the pipe and cause a flood.

The most common causes are dishwashers and washing machines with
automatic valves that shut the water off fast. Shutting any faucet off fast
can cause water hammer. Toilet valves can cause water hammer.
Determine where the problem is and install a "Water Hammer Arrestor"
between the appliance or faucet and the water pipe.
Water hammer arrestors can be had specifically for washing machines,
under sinks or to fit any size water pipe.
Water Heater Sizing Guide

If you search the net, you will find several different water heater
sizing guides. That's because there is not a one size fits all sizing

Sizing a water heater to fit your needs is not hard to do. You do not
want to heat a lot of water that you don't need.
On the other hand you need to be sure that you have enough hot water
for you and your family.
One simple equation is to figure ten gallons for every family member
starting at thirty gallons.
30 gallon - three people.
40 gallon - four people.
50 gallon - five people.

The above is a general rule. A family of five or six can survive very well
with a thirty gallon water heater if they space out their needs.

A family of two may be disappointed with a thirty gallon tank if they
tried to take long showers back to back.
The chart below will give you a general idea of how much hot
water you would use for a given activity.

Average gallons of hot water per use:
hand dishwashing------------6
Automatic Dishwasher-------15
Shower or Bath--------------20
Clothes Washer--------------30
Using the chart above as a guide, estimate how many gallons of
hot water will you need during a peak hour.

Add anything that you may use hot water for that's not on the list that you
would want to use during the peak hour.

Now that you know the maximum hot water usage per hour that you need
for your home, you'll need to purchase a water heater that will cover
your needs.

New storage or tank type water heaters have an energy guide label.
Look at the top left corner of the label and you will see the "first hour rating."
This is how much hot water the heater will produce in one hour starting
with a full tank of hot water (see pic below).

Use this label when water heater sizing.

This label is on a 40 gal. electric water heater.
As you can see the first hour rating is 40 gal.
First hour ratings are depending on heat source, size of heat source and
Other 40 gal. electric water heaters may have a higher or lower first hour
rating than the one in the pic.
You'll want a water heaters "first hour rating" to match your peak hour usage
from the chart.
I'm sure you noticed after looking at the chart that its possible to space out
your hot water needs and save on your energy bill by purchasing a smaller
capacity water heater. After all, it cost much more to heat 50 gallons of water
than 30 gallons.
Water heater sizing is not an exact science. Always allow yourself a little lead
way.Its better to have a little extra hot water than not enough.