Frequently Asked Questions
Q. "Do you sell thermostats that will go to higher temperatures than my standard residential thermostat that came with my electric water heater?"
A. We aren't aware of any water heater company that will not void your warranty if you install a higher temperature thermostat. This is for two reasons: the lining of your residential tank probably isn't designed for continuous
temperatures over 140 degrees and scalding liability potential. For that reason we also won't sell
any electric thermostats that can go over standard temperatures.
Q. "Can I increase the wattage to a higher wattage when replacing an element?"
A. Due to liability, we never recommend that you increase the element wattage over the original
element installed by the manufacturer. We are not aware of any water heater manufacturer that will
warranty a heater if you have changed wattages.
Q. "What is the difference between High and Low-density elements?"
A. A high density element is able to transfer more energy flow (higher temperature) per square inch to the water in the water heater but these higher temperatures will wear out the element much quicker than a lower density element. If you have scale build-up a high density element will need to generate this higher temperature for a longer length of time to transfer energy through the added coating on the element which will then cause it to burn out quicker. Lower density elements operate at lower temperatures per square inch so if they encounter a scale build up, the higher amount of energy needed to get through the added coating does not cause the element to get hot enough to burn out the element. A lower density element tends to last longer.
Q. "Which is better, one element or two on a water heater?"
A. In our opinion, there is NO doubt about which is best: two elements! Most two element systems work like this: The upper element goes on first and once it is hot enough on top then the lower element goes on. If the water you are getting out of your heater comes from the top, why would anyone think that heating the bottom only is better? We think the only reason is to save manufacturing costs.
Q. "Do you think electric water-heater timers are worth it?"
A. In almost all cases we believe that they should pay for themselves in a short time.
Q. "What does incoloy mean?"
A. Incoloy is a type of extra high-grade stainless steel that helps extend the life of the element, resists burnout and the effects of sand or lime over time. For these elements, incoloy pertains to the element coil, not the threaded base of the elements. The extra low density heating elements are made of incoloy. The normal low density and the high density elements are non-incoloy. Non-incoloy element coils are copper on the inside with a nickel plating on the outside. The threaded bases on all of these elements, including the incoloy, are made of zinc-plated carbon steel.
Q. "I have an electric water heater that isn't working?"
A. For a water heater to work, you need the following:
1) Water in the tank; 2) Electric power to your heater; 3) Thermostats that work; 4) Elements that work.
Q. "How do I check an electric water heater element? Should the elements be removed to check it, and do I need to drain the tank?"
A. It isn't necessary to remove the elements or drain the tank to test them, but the elements must be removed (and the tank drained) to replace them. To test the elements, you will need a voltage/OHM meter. Turn off the power to the heater first and disconnect the two wires to the elements. Set the meter to the "OHM" function, and check the flow between the two screw connectors of the elements: If there is a positive reading, then the circuit is "closed" and the element is fine; if there is no reading, the circuit is "open" and a new element is needed. Also, if you get a reading on your meter between either of the screw connections and the metal element, the element is shorted and must be replaced.
You should expect an approximation of the following readings on the OHM meter (give or take a little) for functioning elements:
- 15.5 ohms for 3500 watts
- 13.0 ohms for 4500 watts
- 10.0 ohms for 5500 watts
Q. "Will 'low density' water heater elements take longer to heat up than 'high density' elements?"
A. No. Low density water heater elements use less watts of energy per square inch so they are made longer in length to make up the watts rating of the element. A 4500 watt high density element generally has 30 square inches of surface area and a 4500 watt low density element generally has 60 square inches of surface area.