How to Tell if Electric Hot Water Heater is On?

Do Electric Water Heaters Have Pilot Lights?

No. Electric hot water heaters do not have pilot lights as they do not rely on gas to heat the water. Instead, you switch these heaters on and off with an electric switch on the unit.

How to Turn on an Electric Hot Water Heater
The process is like turning a gas heater on, except there is no pilot light. (We assume your heater is turned off as you begin these steps).

  1. Close all Faucets and Valves. Make sure that no faucets or valves are open.
  2. Fill Your Tank. You want a full tank of water to heat when the heater turns on, as an empty heated/heating tank can cause damage to your unit.
  3. Ensure the Water Heater is Plugged In. Your unit obviously must be plugged in, and the outlet must be working and turned on (check it).
  4. Remove the Safety Tag from the Breaker. After turning off an electric water heater, the electrician should have placed a safety tag over the breaker. Or, you may have a label next to it that one can stay.
  5. Turn on the Water Heater Breaker. Turn on the breaker, and the tank should start to warm up.
  6. If you have a tankless heater, the process is even more straightforward. First, ensure the tankless water heater breaker is on, then just flip on the tankless heater's switch. Finally, adjust it to the temperature you desire. That’s it!

How to Tell if an Electric Hot Water Heater is On?
Follow the below steps to determine if your electric hot water heater is on, and if not, how to diagnose the issue.

  1. Lit Light. Some electric water heaters have a small light which indicates whether the heater is on.
  2. Noises. If you cannot see the light, listen for noises coming from the heater.
  3. Warm Tank. Lightly touch the water tank with the back of your hand; it should feel warm.
  4. Outlet. Check the outlet if you see no light, hear no noise, and the tank does not feel warm within 20 minutes.

    Use a hairdryer or similar device to test if the outlet is working. Press the outlet's reset button and test button for additional diagnosing. Also, use an extension cord and plug the water heater into a different working outlet to know if it is an outlet issue or heater issue.
  5. Check the Breaker. If both outlets work and the heater does not, your breaker may be out. Try flipping the breaker switch while your hairdryer is plugged into the outlet. If you hear the dryer come on, the breaker is fine.
  6. Call the Manufacturer or a Plumber. If the breaker diagnostic test fails, you have either a bad breaker or a bad unit. Call the manufacturer and a plumber for further assistance.

We hope that helps and that you get plenty of use out of your hot water tank.

Hope that helps!

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Young Alfred