If you have an electric water heater that stops providing you with the hot water that you expect, then you may be thinking of purchasing a new one. However, a professional can come and service the appliance for you so it works effectively once again. You also can complete a few troubleshooting tasks on your own. If you want to try to repair the heater on your own before calling a professional, keep reading.
Drain The Heater
In some cases, your water heater may fill with sediment and minerals that keep the appliance from working properly. Your water heater will contain heating elements that heat up the water. One of the elements will sit towards the middle of the tank, and the other one is seated towards the bottom. As hot water empties from the tank, cold water is pulled into it. The cold water falls to the bottom of the tank, and so does the sediment and other debris that comes into the tank with your water. Rust is one of these materials that flakes off from steel town water lines. If you have hard water, then calcium and magnesium may accumulate as well. These types of materials may solidify on the heating elements as well and cause heating problems. Thankfully, you can remove much of the foreign material by flushing your water heater.
Turn the knob on the cold water supply line to the off position and then locate the drain valve on the very bottom of the water heater. Secure a hose to the valve and place the other hose end in a bucket. Turn the knob attached to the drain valve to start emptying water from the tank. Pour the water in a sink as the bucket fills. Once all the water has drained, turn the cold water on to release stuck matter. If you see a good deal of rust when you do this, then this is an indication that it is time to replace the anode in the heater.
Replace The Anode
Your water heater contains a long metal pipe attached to the top of the appliance. This pipe is called a sacrificial anode and it is made out of a metal like zinc or magnesium. These metals form a cover over an internal steel wire. As water enters the tank, it reacts with the anode and the metal across the device breaks down. This helps to keep the water from reacting with exposed steel pieces along the inside of the water heater. However, the anode will crumble as it wears down. Once the anode is completely degraded, steel parts will begin to rust. Both of these issues cause rust and metal debris to build on the bottom of the water heater. The anode must be replaced to prevent holes from forming in the tank itself and to also reduce the buildup of rust inside the tank.
Most sacrificial anodes are screwed into a hole at the very top of the water heater. Look for a small metal piece that extends out from the top of the water heater and unscrew the device. Once unscrewed, you should be able to simply pull out the anode. Water tanks contain many different types of anodes. Zinc rods are best to reduce the smell of sulfur that can come from the water tank. If you have hard water, then think about adding an aluminum device to protect the tank against corrosion. Once you screw the new anode in place, consider checking the device at least once a year. Replace the device when you see noticeable pits or deterioration along the outside of the anode.
If your water heater does not seem to be heating your water as effectively as it once did, then think about flushing the appliance and replacing the sacrificial anode rod. If these things do not work or if you are not comfortable troubleshooting the appliance, then make sure to contact a professional for water heater service.