How to Check Hot Water Heater Element: Must Know!

Debarghya Roy

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Regularly checking the hot water heater element is important for ensuring the efficient functioning of your water heater.
  • 2. The first step in checking the hot water heater element is to turn off the power supply to the heater.
  • 3. Use a multimeter to test the resistance of the element. A reading of zero or infinite resistance indicates a faulty element that needs to be replaced.
  • 4. If the resistance reading is within the acceptable range, the element is functioning properly.
  • 5. It is recommended to check both the upper and lower elements of the water heater to ensure both are working correctly.
  • 6. If you find a faulty element, it is important to replace it promptly to avoid further damage to the water heater.
  • 7. Regular maintenance and checking of the hot water heater element can help extend the lifespan of your water heater and save on energy costs.

Hot water heaters provide us with hot water for various purposes. But, sometimes the heating element malfunctions and the hot water stops. We’ll explore how to check the element to see if it is working or needs replacing.

  1. Test with a multimeter. Turn off the power to the heater. Unplug it or switch the circuit breaker. Find the access panel and remove it. You’ll see two elements – one at the top and one at the bottom. Set the multimeter to resistance. Touch one probe to each terminal of the element. If the multimeter reads anything other than zero or infinity, then the element is fine. Zero or infinity readings mean the element is faulty.
  2. Another way to check for a bad element is visual. After turning off the power and removing the access panel, inspect each element. Look for corrosion, rust, cracks, or breaks in the metal covering. Signs like these indicate the element needs replacing.
  3. Test both the upper and lower thermostats plus their elements. This ensures both elements are functioning correctly and identifies potential issues.

Checking the element is essential for its efficiency and longevity. Follow these steps and take safety precautions. Consult a professional if needed. Maintaining your hot water heater is key for optimal performance and long life.

Precautions and Safety Measures when checking a hot water heater element

Safety should be the utmost priority when checking a hot water heater element! Follow these steps for a safe inspection:

  1. Turn off the power
  2. Disconnect the wires
  3. Drain the tank
  4. Use proper tools and equipment
  5. Avoid contact with water

Power off the heater, and unplug the wires to prevent any electrical accidents. Draining the tank makes sure no water stays inside and causes damage. Make sure your tools and gear are appropriate for the job. And be careful to not make any contact with the water – it can be incredibly dangerous.

Plus, wear protection like gloves and goggles, read the manufacturer’s instructions and keep kids and pets away from the work area. Now you can safely check your hot water heater element without any worries or risks!

Tools Required To To Check Hot Water Heater Element

To check your hot water heater element, you’ll need the right tools – a contact voltage detector, a digital multimeter, and an element wrench.

These tools are key for finding out if your element needs fixing or replacing. The voltage detector will identify any live electrical connections, the multimeter will measure resistance and voltage, and the element wrench will help you remove and install the element without damaging it.

Having these tools handy can help you save time and money. Plus, regularly checking your element with these tools will ensure it’s working well and prevent expensive repairs.

Remember – when dealing with electricity, always turn off the power supply and follow safety precautions. These tools can help you do this safely and efficiently.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Check a Hot Water Heater Element

  1. Turn off the power at the electrical panel before beginning any work on the hot water heater element. This will guarantee safety throughout the inspection process.
  2. Locate the access panel on the water heater and remove it to expose the heating elements. This panel is usually made of metal or plastic and can be removed by unscrewing a few screws.
  3. Be careful when handling electrical wires. Carefully disconnect the wires from the heating element terminals with a screwdriver. Remember which wires go where for proper reinstallation.
  4. To check if the element is functioning properly, use a multimeter set to resistance or continuity mode. Touch one probe to each terminal and check that the reading is within the acceptable range of ohms.
  5. Draining the tank before testing or replacing the element is essential. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and empty the tank completely.
  6. Many newer models of hot water heaters have built-in self-diagnostic systems to alert potential issues with the heating elements or thermostat. Checking the voltage of the element is like giving it a free shock therapy session!

Troubleshooting and Common Issues of Water Heater Element

Hot water heater issues can be a real pain. If you’re getting too little hot water, or strange noises, it’s time to troubleshoot! Here are some common issues and their solutions:

  1. Not enough hot water? Check the thermostat. Increase the temperature setting and wait to see if the water heats up. If it doesn’t, you may need to replace the thermostat or heating element.
  2. No hot water at all? Check if there’s power. Make sure the circuit breaker is on. If there’s power but no hot water, it could mean a malfunctioning heating element or reset button.
  3. Strange noises? Could be sediment buildup in the tank. Flush out the tank to remove it.
  4. Water leaks? Inspect the unit for leakage. It could be due to loose connections, faulty valves, or high pressure in the tank.

For complex problems, don’t attempt it without help! A qualified technician can be a major help.

To illustrate, last winter I had no hot water! After researching, I found out the heating element had burned out. I shut off the power, drained the tank, and replaced the faulty component. Problem solved! Troubleshooting and addressing typical hot water heater problems is key for daily comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I check the hot water heater element?

To check the hot water heater element, you can follow these steps: 1. Turn off the power to the heater from the electrical panel. 2. Remove the metal or plastic cover on the water heater. 3. Use a multimeter set to the ohms setting and touch the probes to the element terminals. 4. If the multimeter reads infinite resistance, the element is likely bad and needs to be replaced. 5. If the multimeter reads a specific resistance, the element is working properly.

2. Can I check the hot water heater element using a YouTube tutorial?

Yes, you can search for “how to check hot water heater element” on YouTube to find step-by-step video tutorials that demonstrate the process visually.

3. What tools do I need to check the hot water heater element with a multimeter?

To check the hot water heater element using a multimeter, you’ll need the following tools: – A digital multimeter – A multimeter-specific voltage detector – An element wrench (if required to remove the element) – Screwdrivers (if needed to remove the access panel)

4. How do I test if the hot water heater element is bad?

To test if the hot water heater element is bad, you can use a multimeter. Set the multimeter to the ohms setting and check the resistance of the element. If the multimeter reads infinite resistance, it indicates a bad element that needs to be replaced.

5. What should I do if I discover a bad hot water heater element?

If you discover a bad hot water heater element, you should replace it with a new one. Make sure to turn off the power to the heater before starting the replacement process. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional assistance if needed.

6. Can a faulty hot water heater element be repaired, or does it need complete replacement?

A faulty hot water heater element cannot be repaired and requires complete replacement. It is recommended to install a new element to ensure the water heater functions properly. Consult a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct replacement procedure.


To finish, inspecting the hot water heater element is key to keeping the efficiency of your water heater. By consistently checking and testing the elements, you can make sure your water heater is running smoothly and avoid potential problems. First off, switch off the power to the water heater at the electrical panel.

This will keep you secure during the inspection. Then, remove the cover of the water heater and spot the heating elements. Utilize a digital multimeter set to continuity or resistance mode, and test each element for proper functioning.

A figure of zero or nearly zero ohms suggests that the element is fine. If one or both elements are not working correctly, replacing them may be necessary. Before doing so, remember to empty the tank entirely and disconnect the wires from the elements.

Use an element wrench to take out the faulty elements and change them with new ones. Apart from testing and exchanging faulty elements, there are a few other pieces of advice for preserving your water heater:

  1. Frequently cleaning out sediment from the tank can help boost its efficiency and prolong its life.
  2. Insulating your water heater tank with fiberglass insulation can aid in reducing heat loss and save energy.

Lastly, consider adjusting the temperature on your water heater thermostat to a lower setting. This not only saves energy but also decreases the risk of scalding accidents. By following these tips and regularly examining your hot water heater element, you can make sure your water heater is functioning properly and efficiently. Don’t forget to always prioritize safety when doing any maintenance work on your water heater.

About the author

Debarghya Roy: A heating systems author, Passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability, Sharing insights and empowering readers through informative blog articles.