How to Test Heating Elements with a Multimeter?

Being a homeowner, you may worry about your electric water heater’s heating elements failing over time. If the power is turned on, but there’s no hot water coming out, or even if the water is flowing but isn’t as hot as it used to be, you might have an issue. You can quickly check whether your heating elements are working by simply testing them with a multimeter.


A multimeter is a measuring instrument specifically designed to measure multiple electric properties such as voltage, resistance, current, and more. It provides you with accurate results and clear, visible output on the screen. A multimeter only costs you between fifteen dollars for a basic unit, so it’s an excellent investment if you’re having issues with your water heater.


While it is easy to test heating elements with a multimeter, you should have a little knowledge about the device before you do it.


Steps to Test Heating Elements with a Multimeter


You will find two heating elements in most modern electric tank-style water heaters, one at the top and one at the bottom. Older or smaller electric water heaters may only consist of one heating element. One thing you should know about your water heater elements is that they have a relatively short lifespan. This is because mineral deposits inside the water supply can easily weaken them. The first step for testing heating elements in your electric water heater is to locate them.

How Do I Locate Water Heater Elements?

  • First of all, you need to find the water heater’s circuit breaker in your electrical panel and turn it off.
  • Then find the metal panels attached to the side of your water heater, and remove them. There should be one panel per heating element.
  • Carefully remove the insulation from inside the metal panel. Look for a one-inch-diameter round or hexagonal object with a plastic plate attached by two screws.


Congratulations! You’ve located the heating element and taken the first step to check your system. You can wear gloves during the process to protect your hands.


How Do I Test Heating Elements Using a Multimeter?

  • The first step is to turn on the multimeter and set it to the lowest OHMS setting possible. This will eventually allow the multimeter to measure the amount of resistance in the heating element.
  • Loosen one of the screws from the heating element and detach the wire from it.
  • Touch one of the multimeter probes to the loosened screw and then touch the other probe to the other screw attached towards the heating element’s face.
  • If the heating element is functioning correctly, the multimeter will read between 10 and 30 OHMS. However, if there is a very low reading or zero reading, it indicates that the heating element isn’t working and must be replaced.


If your water heater has two heating elements, the second element can be checked in the same manner. After checking your heating elements, reattach the wires, replace the insulation, and reattach the metal cover panels. If you’ve discovered an issue with the heating elements, call your local plumber for repairs or replacement of your system.


Call a Reliable Local Plumber to Check Your Tankless Water Heater


If you have a tankless water heater that isn’t working correctly, you’ll need to call a professional for an inspection. Contact a reliable local company to service your tankless water heater in Los Angeles.

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