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How to Test Heating Elements with a Multimeter

Sep 28, 2020
How to Test Heating Elements with a Multimeter

Electric water heaters are wonderful energy-saving alternatives to conventional and gas water heaters. Their lower upfront costs, maintenance, and safety concerns have made them vastly popular in the past few decades. However, they do malfunction just as any other device or machine does. Neighborhood Plumbing has plenty of experience and tools necessary to take care of repairs, replacements, and installations of these modern water heaters, but we also want our community to be self-sufficient. This article will help you inspect and test heating elements so that you can troubleshoot your electric water heater. Even if you plan to call a certified plumber, it is handy to know what is going on as well. If you need urgent assistance, then call Neighborhood Plumbing to have a plumber dispatched to your location as soon as possible.

What Is A Heating Element?

Let’s start with the basics. What is a heating element and how does it work? These wonderful inventions are typically made of good conductors of electricity. Metal heating elements are generally made of nichrome, a mixture of nickel and chromium. Electric water heaters usually have between one and four of these elements. Larger units may have more, but that is rare. These elements carry electricity through them. As the elements heat up, so does the water that passes through. It is the same concept as a lightbulb or electric oven.

Testing Your Heating Elements

Heating elements have unfortunately short lifespans and are susceptible to weakening by mineral deposits in the water supply. You might suspect that the heating elements are not working correctly if the water is not heating right. If you want to test your heating elements, then grab a multimeter and following these steps:

  • Turn off the electricity to your water heater by switching off the respective circuit breaker in the electrical panel.
  • Wear rubber gloves then remove the metal panes attached to your water heater and remove the insulation from inside them.
  • The heating element will be a thin, single inch diameter object with a plastic plate attached by two screws.
  • Turn on your multimeter to its lowest ohms setting.
  • Loosen one of the heating element screws and take off the wire from it.
  • Touch the loosened screw with one of the multimeter probes and touch the other screw attached to the face of the heating element with the other probe.
  • The multimeter should read between 10 and 30 ohms. Anything lower indicates a heating element that needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Test any of the other heating elements in the same manner.
  • Reattach the wires, replace the insulation, and attach the metal cover plates.

Call the Professionals
If it turns out that you need a replacement, then call the certified plumbers at Neighborhood Plumbing to have an expert at your location as soon as possible. We are proudly available around the clock. Call Neighborhood Plumbing now to speak with a live representative.

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