When an electric water heater fails to heat water properly, either the power to the water heater has been interrupted or there is a problem with the controls or heating elements. For other water heater issues, please see Water Heater Troubleshooting & Repairs.
Always shut off the power to an electric water heater before working on it. And never work on it if there is standing water pooled on the floor near the appliance. Shut off the circuit to the water heater and call a qualified water heater repair person.
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Perform these diagnostics:
1Be sure electricity is being delivered to the appliance. Check the main switch on the water heater and the circuit breaker (or fuse) that serves the water heater. If the circuit breaker has tripped, reset it by flipping it all the way to OFF and then back to ON.
If a fuse has blown, replace it with a new fuse with the same rating. If the circuit breaker or fuse repeatedly blows out, call a qualified electrician to check and repair the circuit. Note that the water heater should not share a circuit with another appliance—it draws too much power when heating.
2Check the high-temperature cutoff in the water heater. Open the panel and push the reset button. If the button doesn’t make a clicking sound or you still don’t have power after pressing it, then your high-temperature cutoff is probably bad. Call an electric water heater repair person.
3If there is any water inside the compartment, this could cause the thermostat to malfunction. Leaking water means that your water heater may need to be replaced. If this is the case, be sure to read the Water Heaters Buying Guide and related buying guide articles before making your purchase.
If these steps don’t solve the problem, you may have a problem with your heating elements. You can replace these yourself following the manufacturer’s instructions if you feel comfortable doing so, or call a water heater service professional.