The water heater stopped working and does not heat the water – what is the reason? Can you bring him back to life? In this article, we will analyze the most common boiler malfunctions and show you how to avoid them in the future. Don’t let unexpected breakdowns take you by surprise!. You can also use our guide on how to install water heater yourself?

Table of Contents

Water heater not working
Electric Water Heater

Diagnostics: how to identify problem of water heater not working yourself?

The first step to identify problem of water heater not working yourself is to make sure that the water heater boiler does not heat the water due to internal breakdown. To do this, exclude other possible problems of water heater not working:

If your electric water heater not working, check for the following

  • Check for electricity in the house.
  • Look at the position of the circuit breaker to which the device is connected. The electric water heater consumes a lot of energy, which can trigger the network overload protection.
  • Inspect the outlet and plug that may have been burned by high voltage.

If it is an electrician, ask a specialist to check the condition of the wiring, troubleshoot and redistribute the load to the network. Is your home electricity OK? Then check out the list of warning symptoms for water heater not working below.

Types of water heater not working, breakdowns and causes

1. The boiler does not heat up the water, the lamp is on

If you notice that the boiler has ceased to cope with its direct responsibilities, the problem may lie in a faulty water heater thermostat that affects the operation of the heating element, or in the heating element itself. In the second case, the matter is most likely in scale: it covers the tubular electric heater and reduces the efficiency of its operation. This may also be indicated by the fact that the device turns on for a long time or turns off frequently.

The situation will be saved by replacing the water heater thermostat, part or thoroughly cleaning it from scale. If filters are not installed in the house, the heating element should be cleaned before the first warning signs appear – preferably once a year. We advise you to seek help from a qualified technician: in order to clean an element, you need to disassemble the device – you cannot do without locksmith skills. 

How can you avoid this water heater not working problem?

Don’t want to clean your water heater every year? Be proactive: install water filters to avoid water heater not working problem!

  • If you are concerned about water quality in general, install a main filter. It crashes right into the water supply, and household appliances, including a water heater, use the already filtered water. This solves the limescale problem. A main cleaning system is a good investment for several more reasons:
  • Cleans all water in an apartment or house.
  • Productivity reaches 50 l / m.
  • Filter properties vary depending on the cartridge installed. You can buy replacement modules for mechanical, ionic, sorption cleaning or special-purpose cartridges and choose the type of filtration that suits you. 
  • If used correctly, the filter will last over 10 years. Just don’t forget to change the cartridges!
  • Install a softener or pre-filter for your household appliances if the water quality seems acceptable and you just want to save time and money on boiler maintenance. These devices are designed for technical filtration of water entering a specific household appliance: 
  • They consist of a sealed body and a special filling, which dissolves and removes hardness salts and impurities of heavy metals from the liquid. The content of the filter must be updated in a timely manner.
  • They are not as effective as mains filters, but they extend the life of a water heater or washing machine by 3-5 years.

2. The water heater does not heat, the lamp does not light up

The reason in this type of water heater not working problem, may be a burned out water heating element. An element replacement is required, which is best entrusted to a specialist. This kind of breakdown can occur due to scale: a thick layer of salt deposits impedes heat removal, as a result of which the heating element heats up to a critical temperature and fails. 

Another possible cause is power surges due to power plant outages or poor home wiring. In this case, you need to take care of network stabilization.

How can you avoid this water heater not working problem?

Purchase a voltage regulator or UPS with a built-in regulator to protect your home appliances from surges. 

  • A regular stabilizer is suitable if the voltage in the network is uneven, but the electricity does not turn off. The most practical solution is a relay type device :
    • Wide voltage regulation range (140-265 V).
    • Acceptable stabilization accuracy (about 6%). 
    • High response speed (about 100-200 V / s).
    • Long service life (up to 12 years).
    • Small size and weight.
    • An uninterruptible power supply is needed if the electricity in the house not only jumps, but also turns off from time to time. Choose models with a built-in relay stabilizer.
Water heater not working
Wrench always with you. Worker set up electric heating boiler at home. Close-up of young handyman handling Electric Water Heater not working problem!

3. The water heater tank is leaking

If water is dripping from the safety valve, replacing it or installing a pressure reducer may help. The second measure will be needed if the valve is serviceable, but lets water through due to pressure surges in the water supply network.

If water drips from any other place on the tank (seams, temperature sensor, etc.), depressurization has occurred. In this case, the boiler can no longer be repaired: the tank is a monolithic structure that cannot be patched up.

How can you avoid this water heater not working problem?

  • A magnesium anode is installed in the tank, which must be replaced every 1–3 years. This element takes the brunt of the blow: magnesium binds oxygen, preventing it from oxidizing the tank walls. If the anode has fallen into disrepair, the boiler will soon suffer the same fate.
  • Filters will again help you: they purify water, including from compounds that accelerate the formation of corrosion.
  • When choosing a replacement for an old boiler, give preference to models with a stainless steel tank . This material is the best resistant to shattering.

Related Readings!

Troubleshooting methods for water heater not working

If you decide to independently eliminate the reasons why the water heater not working or does not heat the water, identify the breakdown and follow the correct sequence of actions.

Most water heaters, whatever brand they are, have a similar design, so the sequence of actions will be approximately the same.

To work you will need:

  • pliers;
  • flat, cross and indicator screwdrivers;
  • set of wrenches.

Cleaning or replacing the water heating element

  1. Switch off the power supply to the boiler, turn off the cold water and check if the temperature inside the device is safe.
  2. Drain all water from the boiler according to the instructions.
  3. Dismantle the heater cover and, using an indicator screwdriver, make sure that there is no voltage at the terminals. For convenience, you can remove the device from the wall.
  4. Unscrew the nuts, disconnect the wiring from the thermostat.
  5. Remove all fasteners and take out the old heating element.
  6. If the heating element has become unusable, replace it with a new one. Otherwise, soak the electric heater in a special solution to remove limescale, then clean and reinstall.
  7. Reassemble in reverse order.

Replacing the water heater thermostat

  1. For this procedure, you do not need to drain the water, but do not forget to disconnect the device from the electricity.
  2. Disassemble the body of the water heater.
  3. Remove the clamping ring located near the heating element and remove the thermostat together with the regulating block.
  4. Install a new item.
  5. Reassemble in reverse order.

Why a flow-type water heater can not heat water

In addition to problems with the heating element, which are common for both storage and instantaneous boilers, the operation of devices of the second type has its own characteristics. Owners of instantaneous water heaters may face such difficulties:

  • Water pressure too low. The water flow sensor may not work and may not signal the heating element. Try to adjust the pressure and check the device’s performance again.
  • Clogged radiator, filter or water heater flow path. To eliminate this problem, you will need to disassemble the boiler and rinse the elements, as well as hoses and sleeves, with a descaler.

Highlights at a glance: cleaning and maintenance

To make the water heater work longer, pay attention to the prevention of breakdowns to avoid water heater not working problems. 

  • Install water filters: main, if you want to completely solve the problem with the water supply, or flow-through softeners and pre-filters designed for one device. Filtration of water will help avoid damage to the heating element and destruction of the tank.
  • Change the magnesium anode in time. The condition of the tank depends on it.
  • Watch the voltage in the power supply. If you find it unstable, get a stabilizer. This will save you from costly repairs or replacement of electrical appliances.

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