What are the Common Causes of Burnout in Hot Water Heater Elements?

June 11, 2020

Electric water heaters are essential in keeping hot water flowing for any household size. These heaters primarily rely on a pair of upper and lower metal heating elements in keeping their functionalities intact. The heating elements become hot whenever electrical current passes through them, which then helps in regulating the water temperature. For proper and accurate control, these heating elements are operated by a separate thermostat.

The amount of heat concentrated in square inches is called watt density. Elements of the same wattage input may be longer or shorter than their counterparts because of a low, medium, or high watt density construction. Elements of certain lengths are usually used to fit within the constraints of the water heater tank diameter. Low watt density elements typically last longer than higher watt density elements since the heat is spread over a greater surface area.

Whatever the case may be, heating elements would eventually burnout due to the following reasons:

Sediment Build-Up

While the condition of the water from your plumbing systems vary depending on your location, most of it has sediment that coats your heating elements. Once the coating gets severe, your heating elements will eventually stop from transferring heat to the water and experience burn out. This condition mostly happens to the bottom element since any particulate matter that precipitates from the heated water will eventually gather and accumulate on the tank bottom. And once the water conditions become harder, the faster the chemical reaction takes place with your heating elements.

Dry Fire Occurrence

One of the most common causes of burned-out heating elements is dry firing. Dry fire happens when the installer of the new water heater fails to open a hot water tap while the water heater tank is filling with water, which subsequently results in the occurrence of bleeding air from the system. Once this situation continues, an air pocket will most likely develop in the top portion of the tank, which exposes your upper heating element to the air. Whenever your heating element is burned in an air pocket, they generate enough heat that will melt their copper and eventually cause serious damage to your heater.

Electric Disruptions

Since heating elements only depend on electricity, then they are subject to any changes that may occur on their source of power. Some electrical problems that may directly affect your heating elements include the presence of a high voltage or power surge that is generated by your electric utility company. Another electrical situation that may affect your heating elements is when lightning strikes the power lines, which results in spikes into the electrical system. One frequent solution for this type of problem is the energising of heating elements at lower voltages.

Heating elements are crucial in making your water supply hot based on your preferred temperatures. To solve any burn out issues on your heating elements, you can turn to us at Abundant Hot Water. We offer the full suite of services for hot water systems, including installations, repairs, and general servicing.

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