Troubleshooting : Electric Hot Water Heater Problems

Troubleshooting : Electric Hot Water Heater Problems

You come home after a long day and you are looking forward to a nice, hot shower, some tasty dinner and putting your pyjamas on. You turn on the shower and, as you take your first step in, the water is cold. Like freezing cold. You think to yourself that you must have turned the wrong tap on, so you go to turn on the hot tap… and it’s already on. At that moment you realise, the electric hot water system isn’t working and you are not very happy about it. So, what do you do?

Shower and Bath Hot Water

If you have had a situation like this before, you will know how frustrating and annoying it can be no matter the day or time. All you want to know is what the problem is, or more appropriately, how the problem can be fixed so your hot shower isn’t just a distant memory. Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues when it comes to electric hot water systems and how they occur.

Your water is too hot

One of the most common situations to arise is that your water is too hot or, alternatively, way too cold. If this is happening to you, it may be that the thermostat on your heater is set too high or too low, depending on your situation. To find out, check your heater’s temperature dial as it may need a little adjusting to make sure your water is back to the best temperature for you.

Hot Water Thermostat

There isn’t any water at all

If you are finding that you don’t really have any water at all, this usually indicates there is something that is slowing down/stopping the flow of water to your home. This may be a buildup of calcium or sediment, or a rusty section of your plumbing may be slowing things down. Alternatively, if your system has a leak this can also affect the ability for water to flow through the pipes. Take a look around your system to see if there is unnecessary water pooling, or if you have noticed water dripping or leaking from any other areas around the house which could indicate a leak.

Shower Running Water

With an electric hot water heater there is also the circuit breaker to consider – give it a check to see if it has tripped, otherwise the heating element may be the culprit. If none of these seem to be the answer, the reset/limit switch may need a reset or it could be faulty. It is recommended that you give a professional call if you don’t have any water, as they know exactly what they are looking for and how to fix it!

Your hot water system is making weird noises

Due to the fact that metal expands and contracts when it gets hot and cold, your hot water system is going to make some odd noises from time to time when your water is going through the pipes. If your heater is making a ‘boiling’ noise though, you need to get a qualified professional out as soon as possible as this can indicate overheating and the buildup of pressure, which becomes dangerous if not attended to promptly and properly.

If your system is making popping or hissing noises, this may mean there is a buildup of hard water sediment or scale somewhere. If your heater is making any noise you are unsure of, or you feel it is of a concern, give your local professional a call. It offers peace of mind and you then know your system is working like it should.

Your water heater is letting our random large amounts of water

If your relief valve is letting out sporadic large amounts of water, it is likely that your heaters’ temperature is too hot. The relief valve is in place to release any pressure that naturally occurs in hot water systems, so if yours is spurting out random yet regular large quantities of water its temperature is probably a little too hot for it to handle.

Running Water from Tap

Your hot water is smelly, rusty or dirty

One of the most common causes of dirty, smelly or rusty water is corrosion, either of the anode rod or of the tank itself. In relation to water with a bad odour, this can indicate a buildup of bacteria and it may be time for a temperature increase for your heater (to kill off bacteria) or a flushing out of your system.

There isn’t enough hot water

If you aren’t getting enough hot water, there are a few different reasons this can occur including :

  • Your heaters temperature dial may not be set properly
  • If there has been a big drop in the temperature outside, this can mean your system is having to work a lot harder to get hot water to you than normal
  • If you are using more hot water than you normally would, this may mean your system isn’t keeping up with your needs. This can occur if you have changed your shower heads or you may have installed a bath, meaning more water is being used. If this is the case, you may need to consider a bigger storage tank or a tankless system
Not enough hot water?

Your safety switch is constantly tripping

If your safety switch or circuit breaking is constantly tripping, this is an immediate job for a professional. There are a large array of reasons this could be occurring, including :

  • A water leak
  • A shorted wire
  • A breaker that isn’t big enough
  • A grounded thermostat
  • A grounded element

Any of these reasons, plus many more, can be very dangerous so do not attempt to fix a tripping switch or breaker yourself.

If you are having continuing issues with your electric hot water system, or feel your system may be due for a service, give the qualified team at Captain Cook Electrical a call on 0481 134 679 and they can help you with all your hot water electrical needs. Alternatively, fill in one of our online job booking forms and we can arrange to help you out today! We provide electrical services in North Shore, Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs, Hills District and Ryde.


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