Can a broken water heater cause a high electric bill?
Should you fix the electric water heater, replace it, or just leave it alone if it was leaking or if it had a problem with the heating element or thermostat?
What dangers are there if it was not fixed?
These questions and more, I will be answering in this short article in order to help you know what you should do in order to stay safe and save money on energy and water bills.
Let’s dive in!
Can a Broken Water Heater Cause High Electric Bill?
Yes, a broken water heater can significantly increase your electric bill if it was of the electric type.
And if you have a gas water heater that is broken, then it can also increase your gas bill.
This is in addition to the safety issues that might arise from certain problems that happen with a water heater, which makes it important to fix, or replace, a broken water heater as soon as possible.
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5 Ways a Broken Water Heater Affects Electric Bill
There are different ways how a broken or a bad water heater increase your electricity bill, and here are the five most popular ones:
Water heaters in general, and electrical ones in particular, work based on a duty cycle, which means that it works for a certain number of minutes in order to heat up all the water in its tank until it reaches a certain degree, then the heating element will be shut down automatically even if the electric supply is still on.
And a good insulated water heater will try to preserve the high temperature as long as possible, but since no insulation is 100% ideal, the water temperature will go down after a while, and the heating element will need to operate again in order to re-heat the water.
And a bad or broken insulation for a water heater can cause the hot water to lose its temperature and cool down faster than it should, which leads to forcing the heating element to work more frequently and for longer times in order to reach maintain the desired high temperature of water.
And that leads into increasing your electric bill because of the broken water heater insulation.
Inefficient Heating Element
The heating element is the metallic part that goes inside the water heater tank, gets heated through electric current, and then heats the water inside the tank.
This element’s efficiency might go down for different reasons, such as cracks happening in it, or due to the accumulation of calcium on the element, which then requires it to work for longer times in order to give the desired heat to water.
You can follow the video below in order to know how to safely extract the heating element in order to check it out, and if you notice any signs of calcification or cracks, you can just replace the heating element that costs around $20-$30 to buy, instead of replacing the whole water heater.
Water Heater Leakage
Water leakage from an electric water heater will cause the supply of the cold water into the heater’s tank to continue in order to maintain a full tank.
And when cold water keeps entering the water heater tank, it will cause the overall temperature of the water inside the tank to go down, which will also cause the heating element to work more often and for longer times, or even nonstop, in order to try to keep the water at a high temperature.
And more electricity consumption means more money to pay on the electric bill because of the leaking water heater.
Note that the leakage could happen either from inside the water heater, or even at the connection point at the hot water outlet.
That’s how a leaking water heater can cause a high electric bill, in addition to increasing your water bill.
Overheating Due to a Broken Thermostat
The thermostat is the device that is responsible of internally powering on/off the heating element by detecting the water temperature and turning off the electric supply when the temperature goes up to a certain level, and turning it on when the temperature goes down to a preset level.
The thermostat might become faulty with time, and this might lead to letting the electric supply to the heating element to continue after the desired temperature is reached and either trip after reaching a higher temperature than the original design temperature, or even not trip at all.
This will then make the water heater consume electric energy for hours non-stop, which leads to increasing the electric bill.
In addition to this issue, because now the water will reach a higher temperature than it is what you are used to getting from the heater, it might get unsafe to open a hot water faucet alone without the cold water.
Also, the overheating of water will increase the pressure inside the tank, which is dangerous as the pressure can cause the tank to explode, or could cause certain points to start leaking.
This is why there’s a pressure relief valve that is supposed to open automatically and allow the pressure to go down in order to protect the tank from exploding, but after few years, the valve parts might get corroded and get stuck, which makes it malfunction when there’s a high pressure.
This could lead to a dangerous situation due to the increased pressure inside the tank, and that’s why you should not ignore the broken thermostat in case you notice that the water temperature is increasing more than it was used to.
Timer Is Not Working
Leaving the hot water on all the time is not cheaper as some people think, and that’s why you should regulate the work of a water heater by turning it on and off based on your needs of hot water.
You could do that through using a simple on/off switch.
Alternatively, using water heater timers can save money.by automatically regulating the operation of the heater based on a previously set schedule, or even through smart WiFi water heater timers that you can control from your mobile phone in order to start running the heater only one hour before you arrive home.
And if your water heater already have a timer that is connected to it, it might be that the timer is broken and it doesn’t turn off the heater at all, or it might be not following the preset schedule properly.
Monitor the timer along with the water heater during the times it should turn on and off the heater, and investigate any discrepancies from the schedule you have set in the first place.
Conclusion – A Bad Electric Water Heater Will Increase The Bill
It is always cheaper to fix, or if not possible, replace the broken water heater as it will cause a high electric bill if you leave it without acting.
Above where the five most common ways that a broken electric water heater may increase your electricity consumption and make your bill go up.
If you feel that your water heater is working for longer times than it used to, or it fails to give you how water in the same amounts or at the same temperature as it used to give you in the past, then you better inspect these five possible situation in order to find the problem.
Or, you could call a water heater repair technician to inspect it for you and save on the long run.
I hope that this short article was helpful for you in preventing a broken or a leaking water heater from increasing your bill.
If you still have any question about this topic, please, let me know in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂