If your shower erupts with a blast of cold water or your hot water is intermittent or lukewarm, this could be due to a malfunction in the upper or lower heating element. This video shows how you can test this by touching one terminal with one probe from your meter; resistance should read near zero ohms of resistance.
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Whenever experiencing lukewarm or foul-smelling water, the first thing to check is your circuit breakers haven’t tripped. If they have, heating elements inside your tank may have failed and require replacement. Also, try testing the upper thermostat using a multimeter.
Touch one probe between terminal 1 and terminal 2, touching each probe against terminal 2, until one probe reaches terminal 2, touching both probes between terminals 1 and 2, to see near-zero resistance between terminal 1 and 2, this indicates it is defective and requires replacement.
If your pilot light is flickering, the thermocouple (a copper tube-shaped component) could be blocked off from airflow to the flame and blocking its progression. You should replace or clean this device – or call in a professional service provider like this water heater repair person’s training video as a guideline.
2. Pilot light
An electric water heater that isn’t producing hot water may have other issues beyond just its thermostat and heating elements, including its pilot light being out. If this is the case for yours, shut off its gas supply valve first before following any instructions posted on its side or watching this training video to relight it.
If your pilot flame keeps extinguishing itself repeatedly, this could be caused by a clogged orifice requiring cleaning; alternatively, it could also be a low natural gas supply or malfunction gas valve requiring repair – in this instance call your gas utility company immediately! If it still won’t come back on, follow these steps to reset your circuit breaker, or read this guide on how to check heating elements with a multimeter.
3. Heater element
If you’re experiencing hot water issues, either the upper or lower electric water heater heating elements could be broken. Lukewarm water might indicate an upper heating element issue while hot for a few moments followed by cold water could signal problems with both elements.
Make sure the circuit breaker or fuse powering your water heater is activated and unblown, and shut off any cold water supply going to it (see below).
Assuming the power is off, begin testing the upper heating element using a multimeter for continuity. Place one probe of your multimeter on terminal 1 and another on terminal 2, ideally measuring near zero ohms of resistance – otherwise, it is likely broken and needs replacement.
If your pilot light won’t stay lit, this could be a telltale sign of a thermocouple failure. This small copper tube sits within the flame of your pilot light and should function optimally – an easily solved problem if you know what to look out for.
A thermocouple is a device that uses the Seebeck Effect to turn thermal energy into electrical energy. Consisting of two dissimilar metal wires joined together into an measuring junction, it creates an electromagnetic field when heated or cooled which generates an EMF which correlates directly with temperature output voltages.
Select a thermocouple type that provides optimal output voltage and sensitivity for your instrument by consulting a reference table.
5. Gas valve
If the pilot light keeps going out or you smell gas (rotten eggs or garlic), turn off your water heater immediately. If this does not solve the issue, faulty thermocouple and thermostat components could be to blame and may need replacing or repair; check out the video at the 18:30 mark of the video above to locate and reset the high-temperature limit switch of the lower water heater.
If the TP valve or gas flow has been shut off, there could be a short circuit inside your water heater cabinet. A multimeter can help identify where this break lies; once found, follow our Video on How to Repair a Water Heater to repair it.
In conclusion, troubleshooting and resolving water heater problems require a systematic approach to identify the specific component causing the issue. This content provided valuable insights into diagnosing common water heater problems such as cold water blasts, lukewarm water, or intermittent hot water.
By understanding the role of elements like the thermostat, pilot light, heating element, thermocouple, and gas valve, users can perform basic tests using a multimeter to assess their functionality.