The scenario: You noticed your electric water heater tripped the circuit breaker. So you went to your electrical panel and reset the breaker. But then a little later your water heater’s circuit breaker tripped again.
So why’s this happening?
The most likely causes are:
But before we get into those problems, there are a few things you need to know:
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s look at the possible problems that are causing your electric water heater to trip your breaker.
The heating element is the part of your water heater that heats the water.
Most electric water heaters have 2 heating elements: one on top and one on the bottom.
Diagram of an electric water heater with 2 heating elements. Photo source.
Usually, when the heating elements fail, they simply burn out and the only way you’ll notice is that the water isn’t as hot as it once was.
But sometimes, the heating element casing can split and expose the electrical components directly to the water or tank. This short circuit can flip the high limit switch on your water heater and/or cause the water heater’s breaker to trip.
Each heating element is controlled by a thermostat; both thermostats “talk” to each other to ensure that only one heating element is on at a time.
Here’s how that works:
On an electric water heater, only one heating element is on at a time. Photo source.
However, when a thermostat goes bad, it can create a problem where both heating elements run at the same time. This draws more electricity than the circuit can handle, causing the circuit breaker to trip.
The problem may not actually be with the water heater. It could be that:
If a plumber has checked out your water heater and everything seems to be working fine, you should have an electrician check the electrical connections.
George Brazil Plumbing and Electrical can help you fix your electric water heater if you live in the Phoenix area. Contact us today.