Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis - Water heater diagnosis and repairs - the fixElectric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis – It is truly very frustrating when you want to take a shower and there is a problem with the hot water heating system. You want to call a plumber for the fix but there are some easy fixes you can check yourself if you are a DIYer.

If you own an electric water heater element problem then this guide will help you solve your water heater problem. Diagnosis and repair of your electric water heater will require some basic mechanical and electrical competency so if you are not comfortable with the basics then the best thing you can do is to call a plumber to help you fix the water heater and get the hot water heater working properly.

Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis

There is also a difference between diagnosing and repairing the water heater. Diagnosing a water heater element problem will require basic water heater troubleshooting skills and repair will require parts and basic knowledge of installing the new part. Here are the basics you need to check to diagnose and repair your electric water heater:

  • First, you need to check the breaker for the water heater. Make sure the breaker did not trip. In most breaker panels where the breaker is tripped it will show a red indicator next to the breaker.

Breaker Trips | Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis and Repair

If the breaker is tripped for the water heater then try to reset the breaker. If the breaker trips after resetting you have an electrical problem. You will need a multimeter that will read voltage and Ohms. Then you need to open the panel where the heating elements and thermostat are located. First, check to make sure there is no voltage going to the heating elements or the thermostat.

The wires coming into the water heater from the breaker panel are where you need to check the voltage. Using the multimeter set to volts check the voltage. You should get zero volts. If you get zero volts then proceed to the next check. If you get voltage the breaker is not tripped and the breaker panel is probably labeled wrong and you need to call a professional.

  • Once you have confirmed there is no voltage going to the water heater (because of the tripped breaker you need to disconnect the wiring going to the water heater originating from the breaker panel.

This is the main electrical connection to the water so it is very important you make sure the voltage reading is zero. Make sure you test each wire from one wire to the other and each wire to the ground. The ground screw should be a green-colored screw next to the wiring connections. Usually, the connection method is done by wire nuts with the ground connected by a green-colored screw. but other methods could be used to make the connection. Disconnect the wiring connection.

  • Then find the heating elements - you should have two one at the top of the water heater and one near the bottom of the water heater - Take a photo of the wiring or make a drawing of it so you will know how to rewire it when you are finished.

Ohms and the Elements | Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis and Repair

Once the wires are disconnected turn your multimeter to Ohms. Ohm the connections by placing one lead on one connection and the other lead on the other connection. You should get somewhere between 10 Ohms to 24 Ohms depending on the wattage and voltage rating for the heating element. If you get a “0” zero reading on the Ohm meter the element is bad  If you get infinity on the meter - the meter doesn’t respond - then the element is bad and needs to be replaced.

  • repair and diagnosis of electrical issuesIf you find a bad heating element then you need to drain the water heater. Turn off the main water supply to the water heater before opening the drain valve on the bottom of the water heater. Then you will a special tool that most hardware stores carry specifically for this purpose along with a new water heater element.

Replacing the Element | Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis and Repair

It is important that the new water heater element is matched according to the wattage and voltage for it to work properly. The hardware store should advise you of a proper replacement. Once you have replaced the bad element with the new replacement element restore all wiring to normal. Close the drain valve and turn the water source for the water back to the on position.


Restore the breaker to the normal position. You will have to wait until the water heater heats the water so you can take a shower or wash dishes but you made the fix and now it is only a matter of time before you have hot water again. Then everyone will be happy. Good luck!

Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis

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Electric Water Heater Elements Diagnosis and Repair