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What Causes Water Heater Elements to Burn Out?

Is your water heater providing you with cold or lukewarm water instead of hot water? If yes, then you should check for a defective water heater element. Electric water heaters use a variety of different elements to warm water. On the other hand, gas-fired heaters utilize a burner.

Elements installed on the side of an electric water heater tank could come into direct contact with water. When this happens, the unit is unable to maintain an adequate supply of sufficiently hot water.

Here are some issues that can cause water heater elements to fail from Sonoma County water heater experts, Holman Plumbing.

Sediment Buildup 

Minerals in hard water (such as calcium and magnesium) can lead to buildup in your water heater. In some cases, mineral sediment collects at the bottom of the tank, preventing heat transfer to the water.

The affected heating elements get forced to work harder and eventually burn out. To prevent sediment buildup and extend the service life of heating elements, drain your heater’s tank every few months.

Power Surge 

A sudden voltage increase could overload a heating element of your water heater, burning it out. All elements of a water heater have voltage ratings. Voltages exceeding the rating of an element will burn it out.

Here are some tips to protect your water heater from a power surge

➢ Install a whole home surge protector

➢ Unplug the unit during a storm

➢ Regularly inspect your wiring.

➢ Fix faulty wiring before it becomes into a major issue

Dry Fire Occurrence    

One of the most common causes of water heater failure is dry firing. Dry fire happens when an installer forgets to open a hot water tap while water flows into the tank as it fills up, causing air to bleed from the system. An air pocket develops in the top portion of the tank, exposing the upper heating element to air. When a heating element burns in an air pocket, it generates enough heat to melt the copper used in its construction or cause serious internal damage.


Some common reasons why water heater cracks include excessive sediment accumulation, damaged internal components, pressure cracks on valves, and rusting heating elements.

If a crack develops in the coils of a heating element, reach out to a water heater repair technician as soon as possible. A crack can travel through the thickness of the coil, disrupting the flow of electricity.

If you ignore the problem, things could take a turn for the worse, and you may have to replace the entire heating element.

Holman Plumbing offers top-notch water heater repair services in Sonoma County. Whether your water heater is not heating properly or does not heat at all, our team has you covered. To schedule an inspection, call (707) 495-5002

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