Your electric water heater sits mostly unnoticed during its long life, regularly supplying you with an escape from the cold showers that most people throughout history had to endure. (When you start to give is some attention, think about how crazy it must have been for a guy like Michaelangelo to go home every day from the Sistine Chapel and wash off the paint that spilled down onto this body with cold, cold water. How on earth did they manage back then?) Only when things start to go wrong are you likely to pay the water heater any attention. If you start paying attention before things go wrong, you may be able to save yourself the cost of a repair professional.
Check to see if you have blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers if you find that no hot water is making it anywhere in the house. Change the fuse or flip the circuit breaker. If the hot water immediately trips a breaker again, call for an electrician.
Make sure that the thermostat is set to the proper temperature if the problem is not electric in nature. Turn up the thermostat if it is set too low. Replace the thermostat if a test shows at least 110 volts are coming into the thermostat but no voltage is making it to the element terminals.
Turn the power to the hot water heater off and remove the wiring connected to the heating element if the lack of hot water is not caused by a tripped circuit breaker or bad thermostat. Use a continuity tester to measure for continuity across the element terminals. If the test shows no continuity, you need to replace the heating element.
Check the thermostat if the water is too hot or too cold in addition to not having any hot water at all. Adjust the thermostat to see if the water cools or heats up as applicable. If there is no difference in the water’s temperature, replace the thermostat.
Tighten the pipe fittings if you notice the pipes leaking. The cause is usually either a loose pipe or a corroded fitting. If tightening the pipe fitting does not halt the leak, you should replace the fitting.
Listen to the hot water heater tank for a noise that sounds like a snake hissing or a steak sizzling. The cause of this noise in your electric hot water heater is sediment inside the tank. Fix the problem of a noisy water heater by draining the tank completely and soaking the heating elements in vinegar for a few hours.
Tools and Equipment and Other Thingies You Need for Electric Water Heater Repair
ChiliPepperApp: Troubleshooting Water Heaters http:// www.chilipepperapp.com/troublee.htm
Bob Vila: Fixing Hot Water Heaters http://www.bobvila.com/HowTo_Library/Fixing_Electric_Water_Heaters-Water_Heaters-F2171.html
Water Heater Rescue: Electric Water Heater Problems http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Troubleshooting/Tanklets/electric-water-heater-issues.html
Master Plumber: The Electric Water Heater http://www.masterplumber.net/electric_water_heater.htm