why does my hot water heater circuit breaker keep tripping
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? But before we get into those problems, there are a few things you need to know:
Do not keep flipping the breaker back on. This can overheat the wires in the circuit (which can lead to a fire), wear out the circuit breaker (which can cause it to not trip later) and damage your water heater further. Do not replace the breaker with a higher-rated breaker. If you increase the breaker size without replacing the wiring and the rest of the circuit, you ve basically just removed the safety device of the breaker. Now the breaker will let additional electricity flow to the circuit, which can overheat wires and cause a fire.
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. 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. On an electric water heater, only one heating element is on at a time. 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: A wire is loose in the electrical panel, which is causing a short circuit 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.
There are three possible explanations for a breaker being tripped by a hot water heater: water dripping on the electrical lines, a problem with the unit's thermostat or a problem with the breaker. A malfunctioning thermostat is the most common cause. In this case, the thermostat should be replaced. It may be worthwhile to replace the heating element at the same time. A leak that allows water to come in contact with any of the electric components is dangerous and can cause the breaker to flip. A leak caused by a failing gasket must be repaired, but always treat the unit as if electricity is still flowing and contact a professional. Rarely, a malfunction at the breaker is the cause, and the old circuit breaker should be replaced with a new one of the same size.
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