Fire Recovery Realities

What To Check If Your Water Heater Is Not Keeping The Water Hot

by Matthew Fields

Traditional water heaters only do two things: heat water so you have domestic hot water in your home, and keep the water in the tank hot until you need it. If your water heater is not doing both of those things properly, you need to find out why. Sometimes you can find the problem, and sometimes you need a professional to help, but here are some things to check if you are not getting hot water.

Electricity to the Tank

Your water heater needs electricity to power the heating element in the tank and heat the water. If there is no power going to the tank, the heating elements can't do their job, and your water heater is nothing more than a storage tank.

If you suspect you do not have power to the tank, check the breaker panel and the breaker for water heater to be sure it is on and has not tripped. If the breaker is not on, reset the breaker and check the water in the tank in thirty minutes to see if it is hot. If the breaker tips a second time, you need to have a water heater repair service come check the elements to make sure they are working.

Check the Heating Elements

If you have power to the tank, the heating elements may be bad, and the best way to tell is with a continuity check. The heating elements should have a specific amount of resistance from the positive to the negative side of the element. You can check the continuity with a digital multimeter sold at any home center. 

The meter should be set on ohms and the reading taken with the leads from the meter on the poles of the heating element. The reading you get will tell you the resistance, and you can look online or check with a shop the sells the elements to see what the correct range should be. 

If the heating elements are out of range, it is more than likely bad and will need replacing. 

Calling for Help

If you are not comfortable checking the water heater or the elements on your own, you can call a plumber to come out and check the tank for you. They will more than likely test the elements first because that is the most common failure point. The plumber can drain the tank and replace the element for you.

The job typically takes a couple of hours to complete, and if it is done right, the water heater will be ready to provide many more years of service to your home.