How Does an Electric Water Heater Work? — HVAC Repair Tips

Water heater not heating or leaking water? This video provides information on how an electric water heater works and offers troubleshooting tips to assist you in diagnosing and repair.

Here is a list of the most commonly replaced parts associated with each water heater symptom:

Water heater does not heat: thermocouple, pilot, solenoid, draft inducer, ignition module
Water heater leak: temperature and pressure relief valve, drain valve
Water heater does not light: igniter, pressure switch, thermocouple, pilot, spark electrode
Water heater is too hot: thermostat assembly, heating element, thermostat

How to disassemble your water heater:

For more DIY videos including part replacement and help finding your model visit the repair help section of our website:

Click here to purchase replacement water heater parts:

All of the information provided in this electric water heater troubleshooting video is applicable to the following brands: AO Smith, Bradford White, Coleman, Lennox, Maytag

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20 thoughts on “How Does an Electric Water Heater Work? — HVAC Repair Tips”

  1. So wait, the temp/pressure relief valve will open if temp/pressure is too high, so it can without notice spill boiling water onto me? Brutal.

  2. My kids are doing a project on saving water. Is it at all possible to connect an extra pipe near the shower head to pump the first liters of cold water back into the geyser? Do you perhaps have an idea how to save that first liters of cold water?

  3. Great video. The only thing I would point out is that almost zero builders in Connecticut build homes with floor drains anymore so the pan would be of little use here.

  4. why do you insulate the incoming pipe? Isn't that just cold water coming in from the outside? Thanks!

  5. My wife and I have lived in our house now for about 3 years. The original water heater in it is a low boy 38 gallon. The hot water would last at least 30 minutes with her shaving and all that. Did really well. About 3 months ago it recently started getting colder faster. And I mean about 10 minutes. I checked out the water heater finally and noticed a pool of water. So thinking the tank was leaking, I went and replaced it. Now same problem…maybe even 8 minutes of hot water. That's it. My plumber tested it and is the lower element supposed to kick on first? thanks

  6. I just got a water heater, and it doesn't work the way its suppose to. The hot water keeps trayin to go back to the water supply ,and I get 3 to 5 seconds of hot water and that's it. What should I do?please help me on this.

  7. Working water heater installer , I wonder if you have Camara combustion crossing water heater gas , in some material where the water acidezda not puncture or damage the same ?

  8. it was helpful , but my water boiler is giving good heated water but hot water finish quickly ? !
    can you help me fixing this problem?

  9. One thing to mention is when you test the element while it is still in the tank, remove wires first and check across terminals.  also check continuity from each terminal to the side of the tank.  That is checking for a ground short in the element, which will sometimes cause an element to check good even though it is grounded.  

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