Why Is My Electric Water Heater Tripping My Circuit Breaker?

The old saying is electricity and water don’t mix, but sometimes they have to. Case in point: An electric water heater. Electricity is used to heat the elements inside the tank which in turn heat the water for use in your Auburn or Montgomery, AL home. Sometimes Dixie Electric, Plumbing & Air hears from clients who say the circuit breaker for their water heater is tripping repeatedly and they want to know what’s going on.

What NOT to do

Turn the breaker back on repeatedly:

The circuit breaker is a big part of electricity and water safety. Turning it back on, without locating the problem, can cause wires to overheat and perhaps start a fire. It can also cause the breaker to fail.

Install a breaker with a higher amperage rating:

This is extremely dangerous. A higher amperage means you must upgrade to heavier wiring to carry the extra load. If you don’t, you are creating a huge fire risk.

Common Causes

So, what causes a circuit breaker to trip on a water heater? There are always exceptions, but we feel you can break it down into three common causes:

  1. A burned-out heating element—Most water heaters have two elements. When one or both burn out the result is little or no hot water. Occasionally, when the elements fail, they can split. The result is the electrical components are exposed to the water in the tank causing a short-circuit.
  2. Faulty thermostat—We mentioned most tanks have two elements. Each is controlled by its own thermostat. They make sure only one element is heating at any given time. If a thermostat fails both, elements can be turned on at the same time. The increased amperage draw causes the circuit breaker to trip.
  3. Bad breaker or wiring—If a plumber has checked out the water heater and can’t find a problem it may be time to call in an electrician. Circuit breakers can wear out, causing them to trip for no reason. A loose connection in the electrical panel can also cause a short circuit.

Call Dixie, and It’s Done

Luckily for you, no matter where the fault lies, it takes just one phone call. Our name says it all, Dixie Electric, Plumbing & Air. We have licensed plumbers and electricians on staff and waiting to serve you, just as we have been for more than 110 years. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more great information like this.