What Happens When a Heating Element Goes out in a Water Heater?

Usually, what happens when a heating element goes out in a water heater is the sudden lack of available hot water. And you’ll probably find that out when the water goes cold just when you’re in the middle of taking a shower… Yup, it always seems to happen like that doesn’t it?

Sign’s To Look Out For

Some sign’s that a heating element has gone out in a hot water heater are easy to spot, some are not so easy and some signs just appear to be downright confusing.

Cold Water From The Hot Water Faucets

This is the easy one to spot and is a sure-fire way of finding out that your water heater element has failed.

Of course, there could be other reasons as to why there’s no hot water like for instance, maybe the water heater electric breaker has tripped at the fuse box, (though this is usually a sign too that the element has gone out) or if you have a timed system where the timer has failed to switch the water heater on at the preset time.

A Lack of Hot Water

A lot of water heater tanks these days have two heating elements fitted one heating element near to the top of the tank and a second heating element near to the bottom of the tank.

Because of the two water heating elements, one heating element may still be working perfectly OK. This means that this sign to look out for is sometimes not that easy to spot because you will still get some hot water through.

That’s Confusing

Where two heating elements are installed in a water heater tank and one of the water heating elements has become faulty and failed, you’ll notice that you are still getting some hot water through when you take a shower or turn on the hot water at the sink tap or indeed other hot water faucets.

That’s the confusing bit if you don’t know or are unaware that you do in fact have two water heating elements fitted.

With only one of the water heater elements working you will still get some hot water but nowhere near the usual amount that you would normally have when both heating elements are working.

Why Did The Heating Element Go Out?

There are many reasons as to why and what happens when a heating element goes out in a water heater, here are a few examples.

Tank Sediment Build Up

Over time your heating system may start to build up sediment in the system, this usually gathers at the lowest point of the heating system which is generally at he bottom of the hot water tank itself.

When there is enough sediment present it can sometimes cover the heater element if it is at the bottom of the tank, causing it to corrode much quicker that you would normally expect it to and causing the heater element to fail more frequently.

Heater Element Overworked

We all know how tired we get if we feel overworked, well if your water heater element is not correctly sized for your water tank then it will be working harder trying to heat the water. This means that the element will be on for long periods while it is trying to get the water to the required temperature.

Eventually, usually sooner rather than later the water heater element fails.

Failure Due To Old Age

This is something that eventually happens over time and it’s something to be expected if you have been using the water heater for years without problems. So if you’ve had years of trouble-free water heating and finally the element goes out then it’s fair to say you’ve had your money’s worth out of it.

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