Dual-element water heaters use two heating elements to heat the cold water inside the tank. If the unit is producing lukewarm water, one of its heating elements has blown out. Conversely, if the water heater is producing cold water, both heating elements are faulty. You should identify the causes of element failure to prevent future problems and ensure a reliable supply of hot water. Below are four potential reasons your heating elements aren't working.
Faulty or Loose Electrical Connection
Electric water heaters use heavy gauge wiring to supply electricity to the unit. A loose connection between the wiring and the water heater can cause the elements to stop working. However, this doesn't mean the elements are faulty. You only need to fix the loose connection to restore power to the water heater. However, there may be a faulty connection in the wiring as well. Damaged wires can cut electricity to the water heater elements, causing them to fail. You should replace the wiring to restore power to your water heater.
Faulty Water Heater Thermostat
Water heaters use a thermostat to sense the temperature of the water. In a dual-element unit, each heating element has a thermostat. The thermostats signal the elements to turn on and heat the water to the pre-set temperature. A faulty thermostat cannot accurately detect the temperature of the water; therefore, it won't signal the heating elements to turn on. If one thermostat is defective, its heating element won't work. Consequently, your water heater will produce lukewarm water. Therefore, repair the faulty thermostat, so the unit can perform optimally.
Corrosion Due to Mineral Buildup
When you heat cold water, the minerals dissolved in the water solidify and encase the heating elements. Over time, the minerals prevent heat transfer between the elements and the water, which slows down heating. If you don't flush and clean your water heater, the minerals will erode the elements, causing them to stop working. If you have hard water in your home, your unit's heating elements will burn out often. Therefore, install a water filtration system to remove minerals from the water. Alternatively, flush and clean your tank regularly to get rid of the scale buildup.
Power Surge in the Home
Does your home experience power surges because of faulty wiring, electrical overload, or power blackouts? Power surges cause abnormal increases in electrical voltage. Any voltage exceeding your water heater's rating can damage the heating elements and other electrical components. If your heating elements have blown out due to a power surge, install a surge protection device to prevent future damage.
If your heating elements have burned out, don't replace them yourself. Contact a professional plumbing contractor for water heater repair services.