• Electric Hot Water Heater Repair


    When the water heater fails, things can come to a standstill in your home – no showers, no laundry, the dishwasher doesn’t work, etc. The good news is that the most common water heater problems can be repaired quite easily either as a DIY project or by a local plumber. They include a leaking pipe connection,  failed heating element, or a failed thermostat.

    Tips for Electric Water Heater Repair

    This house repair guide provide tips for trouble-shooting problems with your electric water heater (click here for gas water heaters) and instructions for making the repair. The tips will prove helpful whether you do it yourself or need to discuss the repair with a plumber. Electric water heater repair costs are included. In addition, we list the tools and parts you’ll need for a DIY fix and cover costs of hiring a professional for the work. Tips for saving money on the work are included, and this post ends with a list of further resources you will find helpful for this common home repair.

    The first step, of course, is determining what’s wrong with the unit. If it’s leaking from the bottom, we’ll say right now, it is time to replace the water heater (you may have to lift the carpet to for check water stains) If it’s not making hot water, that can be remedied.

    1. Heater Isn’t Making Hot Water

    • Check to see if the circuit in the electrical box has been tripped, and reset it if necessary
    • Remove the cover to the control panel, and push the reset button if it is popped up
    • Use an electrical tester to test both heating elements, since if the element is broken, it won’t complete an electrical circuit
    • If an element is past its used-by time, purchase a new one along with an element wrench at a hardware store or home improvement store
    • Turn off power to the unit at the electrical box
    • Turn on a bathroom tub tap, and let it run until the water is lukewarm or cooler
    • Open your new element and the wrench, and grab a large towel
    • Take a picture or make a diagram of the wiring covering the heating element
    • Disconnect the wires to the thermostat covering the element and loosen the element with the wrench
    • Holding below the element opening with one hand, use the other hand to finish unscrewing the
      old element, pull it out and quickly insert the new element, (follow the easy instructions that come
      in the package)
    • Tighten the element until it is snug, and use the wrench to tighten it another quarter to half turn
    • Reattach the wiring (as per your diagram) and turn on the heater circuit at the electrical box
    • Depending on the capacity of the water tank you may have to wait awhile before you can notice
      the water heating up
    • 2. Water is Too Hot or Not Hot Enough
    • Check the temperature setting on the thermostat, and turn it up or down (usually with a small screw driver in the slot provided) accordingly, being careful not to set it so high it could cause burns
    • If more hot water is demanded than can be generated, then the system won’t keep up and water will be cool at times

    3. Water is Leaking from the Water Heater

    • As we noted, if the bottom of the tank has rusted through, (especially around the water feed connection) a repair isn’t a possibility
    • If the temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve is leaking, hold a bucket beneath it and open the valve to flush it (being cautious, because the water is hot)
    • If the valve continues to leak, it should be replaced by turning off the heater and letting it cool for an hour first
    • If the water supply line is leaking, use a plumbers wrench to snug it up without over-tightening it
    • If the heating element leaks, tighten it until very snug, and if it still leaks, remove it and replace the gasket

    4. Water is Rusty

    The anode rod should be replaced. If the rust continues, corrosion inside the tank is the likely cause, and the heater should be replaced

    5. Water Smells Bad

    Add 2 points of hydrogen peroxide to a 40-gallon unit and 2.5 pints to a 50-gallon or 60-gallon tank and let it set for two hours

    The hydrogen peroxide doesn’t need to be rinsed out. If the smell persists, replace the anode rod with a zinc-alloy type

    6. Consistent Popping or High-Pitched Whining Inside the Tank

    This is caused by sediment in the tank, use the drain valve to drain the tank with a hose running into a tub or out of doors

    Electric Hot Water Heater Repair Costs

    Here are the costs for the supplies and tools we’ve mentioned. We also look at professional repairs to your water heater.

    DIY Electric Water Heater Repair Costs: Keep in mind that you’ll be working on an electric device, and water may be present too. If you don’t have experience working on electric appliances, don’t risk injury; Call a professional!

    • Electric water heater element: $18 to $25
    • Element wrench: $4 to $7
    • Electric water heater thermostat: $12 to $19
    • Anode rod: $18 to $35

    Professional Electric Water Heater Repair Costs: Most plumbers charge a minimum service fee of $175 to $185, and that might cover minor repairs. If an element needs to be replaced, it will likely cost more.

    Saving Money on Electric Water Heater Repair

    If you have a friend with experience with these repairs, ask for help to save money. When choosing professional repair, the best way to save money is to get several estimates for the work. Call several plumbers, and ask about their minimum service fee and typical fees for making the basic repairs listed here.

    DIY Resources for Electric Water Heater Repair

    Len The Plumber – You’ll find a good overview of how an electric water heater works:

    Albrights Mechanical – This Baltimore plumber shows you how to properly set your home’s water heater temperature.

    Plumbing Supply – This plumbing supply company offers helpful FAQs on electric water heater repair issues.

    Grover Electric – Another plumber offers a good overview of water heater problems.

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