How to test an electric hot water heater?

by Mat

I think my Bradford White electric water heater, doesn't work properly. It produces much less hot water than before and it takes longer to recover. Is it a problem with the heating elements, or maybe a thermostat?

How to troubleshoot my Bradford White electric unit that is having problems described above?

Also, how to test heating elements and its thermostats?

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Jun 14, 2010
Bradford White Hydrojet hot water heater
by: Shar

That's what I believe about my water heater. I think my water bill is higher because we have to let the water run at least 3 minutes before it's hot or warm enough to shower or wash our hands. I hate thinking about the gallons of water being wasted. The contractor practically promised it would not take long for the water to heat up once the hot weather hits...NOT! I will print the steps to testing and have a contractor see if it is working properly.

Jun 14, 2010
How to test an electric water heater element - Bradford White
by: Mark

Before you test your electric water heater be sure that power to the unit is turned OFF. There only two components that have to be tested, when the heater is not working: heating element(s) and thermostat(s).

Testing heating element is easy... first, do the test for the open or burned out heating element.
This is how:

- After you remove the cover and insulation from your Bradford White water heater, disconnect wires from the heating elements.

- Use the multimeter and set it to OHM setting.

- Put one probe of the multimeter on one terminal of the heating element and the other probe on the other terminal screw.

- Your electric water heater should have 12.8 ohms at the heating element terminals. This reading refers to the 240 V and 4500 watt.

- If the value is higher or lower (+-6% is the tolerance) you have a bad heating element and your water heater needs a new part.

Next, test the heating element short circuit to ground:

- Follow the same steps as above to the point where putting the probes onto the screw terminals. Instead, one probe should touch one of the screw terminals and the other the element flange. If there is any value on your OHM meter(there should be no reading) the heating element is grounded and has to be replaced.

Testing a thermostat is more complex so I am suggesting using Bradford White electric water heater manual:

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