When your tankless water heater isn't making hot water or the water is lukewarm, you want a quick solution so your routine isn't disrupted. Taking cold showers is no fun, especially in the winter. When your electric hot water heater isn't working, a heating element in it might be bad. Here's how to tell if a heating element is bad and how to replace a bad element.
When To Suspect A Heating Element Is Bad
A few things can go wrong with a tankless water heater, so a lack of hot water isn't necessarily caused by a bad heating element. However, when your water isn't getting as hot as it should, the heating element could be to blame. Check the error code on the heater if one is displayed. This might tell you exactly what the problem is.
How A Plumber Verifies A Heating Element Is Bad
Your electric tankless water heater likely has three heating elements. A plumber can tell for sure if they're bad by removing them from the heater and testing each one with a multimeter. It's possible to have only one bad element, but two or three could be bad at the same time. Once the plumber knows for sure the problem is with a heating element, that eliminates the thermostat and other potential problems and repairs can begin.
How To Replace A Bad Heating Element
When a heating element is bad, the wire inside is probably burned out so repairs aren't possible. Instead, the bad element is replaced. Replacing a heating element is one of the easier tankless water heater repairs to do.
To access the heating elements, the plumber removes the front cover from the heater. This exposes the heating elements. The plumber disconnects the wiring to the elements and then releases them by removing the nuts with a wrench. Once they're loose, the elements can be pulled out of the water heater.
With the old elements out of the way, the new ones can be slid in, the nuts tightened, and the wires attached. All this work is done with the power and water shut off, so when the new elements are in place, power and water are restored so the tankless heater can be tested.
When the plumber makes a house call to replace the heating elements, you may want them to service the entire heater to make sure it is good for another year or so. This might include flushing out sediment if you haven't done so lately. With sediment out of the system and new heating elements in place, your tankless heater should be ready to provide you with plenty of hot showers.