Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot
17 posts / 0 new
Last post
garcia5
Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

This started a couple of days ago. The hot water is coming out scolding hot and then there is no hot water. I assume the water ehater is heating the water to much and then shutting down. I went in and reset the heater but the problem is still happening. My final attempt before either attempting to do some serious work on the water ehater itself or calling in a repairman was to turn the settings down. Any helpful advice would be greatly apreciated. TIA.

djohns
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

Turn the power off NOW !!! Have it looked at by a pro .

JEWEATHER
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

You either have a burned out lower heating element, or a malfunctioning lower thermostat. Your standard electric water heater has an upper and lower heating element that operate independently of each other...each with their own thermostats. Even though the hot and cold lines both enter at the top of the tank, the cold water enters the heater and travels down through a "dip tube" and exits the pipe close to the bottom of the tank. The hot water exits at the top of the tank, and does not have a dip tube. Since hot water will rise, just like hot air will, then based on your description, only the top element is working. It is heating the water near the top of the tank, leaving that in the bottom cold. The job of the lower element is to heat the water in the bottom of the tank. That top element is working overtime to try to keep up, and that is why you are getting scalding water for a few minutes, and then it goes cold. If the lower element was working, and the top one was out, you would just have a lot of warm water, but not much hot.

This is a very common problem, and parts are readily available at home centers. The project is rather involved though, and will require that you turn off the power, drain the tank, remove the element and/or thermostat, get the exact matching part, make the repairs, and then completely refill the tank before turning the power back on. Unless you are rather DIY savvy, you may just want to call a plumber.

garcia5
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

We called in a pro. Thanks for all the helpful advice.

Fencepost
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

You said you had to reset the water heater. This tells me that the high-temperature cutoff kicked out. I'm guessing the upper thermostat went bad and won't shut off.

For everyone else's information, reference, enjoyment, whatever... the top thermostat "overrides" the bottom thermostat so only one element is on at a time. The bottom element does most of the work, as it heats the cold water. Most of the time, the top element won't come on; only if there's high demand. When the top element comes on, the bottom element won't come on no matter how cold it is down there.

garcia5
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

Not to confident in the repairman's analyses. He came in and took a look at it for a few minutes, opened it up, ran the water and then told me that the brains were fried. Terminology anyone? Anyway he said the whole water heater neds to be replaced, that they could replace the brain but that at this point it looks like it would just keep burning it out. Loks like I'm paying for a new water ehater and installation. I can't help but feel this is wrong but then again, to me, its a lot of money to replace it. I checked out Lowes and water ehaters go for under $300 yet I'm paying $800. Can a repairman's time be that cost worthy?

Fencepost
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

Get a different repairman, this one's brains are fried. Any competent repairman should use proper terminology with a customer, and explain what the parts do if needed. Terms like thermostat, element, and control valve aren't that hard for the layman to understand.

Replacement of the water heater should take no more than an hour; $400-500 is an unreasonable labor charge. There will be some other minor expenses: probably less than $25 worth of parts plus a permit. In most places a permit is required to replace a water heater, even if you do it yourself. That will be an added expense.

One critical thing we all forgot to ask: is this a gas or electric water heater? In some cases, a water heater may have to be placed on a raised platform. This can mean reworking the plumbing, electrical or gas, possibly even the venting. You may be required to install earthquake straps. If that's the case, it may take $100 worth of parts and 2 hours labor.

garcia5
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

Its an Electric Water Heater, 40 Gallons, about 4 feet tall. The repairman explained that they would have to put the water heater on order which is beyond me since there are so many readily available at any Lowes or Home Depot. He says the $850 price includes all installation and a 6 year warrenty from them on the water heater as well as the 4 year warrenty the water heater already comes with.

The water heater is a Bradford White which the repairman says isn't that great.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot

Call another repairman.
An electric water heater consistes of a tank, and insulated jacket, two thermoststs, two elements, a pressure/temperature release valve, a dip tube, and anode rod but no brain. Sounds like you got a high commissioned salesman rather than a repairman.
Jack

Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot
Fencepost wrote:

You said you had to reset the water heater. This tells me that the high-temperature cutoff kicked out. I'm guessing the upper thermostat went bad and won't shut off.

For everyone else's information, reference, enjoyment, whatever... the top thermostat "overrides" the bottom thermostat so only one element is on at a time. The bottom element does most of the work, as it heats the cold water. Most of the time, the top element won't come on; only if there's high demand. When the top element comes on, the bottom element won't come on no matter how cold it is down there.

I am sorry to inform you that all water heaters top element does not overide the bottom stat and element. In a residential unit that is the case most of the time but, not always the rule so do not assume that is the case. I have seen both in homes. A true way to find out is to look at the wiring info on the unit and compare the element watts to the elements watts and the circuit required by the manufacture. this is a reference enjoyment or whatever.:)

Re: Electric Water Heater: Water Too Hot
garcia5 wrote:

Its an Electric Water Heater, 40 Gallons, about 4 feet tall. The repairman explained that they would have to put the water heater on order which is beyond me since there are so many readily available at any Lowes or Home Depot. He says the $850 price includes all installation and a 6 year warrenty from them on the water heater as well as the 4 year warrenty the water heater already comes with.

The water heater is a Bradford White which the repairman says isn't that great.

In reality that is not a bad price the water heater is about $400 dollars and most contractors charge about 4 hours to do a job. that includes pick up of the water heater hooking it up and then removing the old one and disposal. sometimes getting the new one in and the old one out requires two men. not a great deal but it isn't over priced.

Pages

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.