Electric, Damage, Heating Element, Overheating, Sediment Buildup, Temperature, Thermostat, Water Heater

Electric water heaters are a modern marvel that brings convenience and comfort into our homes. Yet, when they start to overheat, it becomes more of a hassle than a luxury. No one wants scalding hot water coming out of their faucets and showers. On top of that, prolonged overheating can even lead to severe damage to your water heater. If you find yourself in this predicament, you’re likely wondering about the causes and the necessary steps for a solution. The good news is that Pickerington Plumbing & Drain is here to guide you through the three most common reasons your electric water heater might be overheating. 


The thermostat in your electric water heater serves as the maestro of temperature regulation within the tank. However, thermostat issues can lead to overheating, and here’s why: 

  • Settings Are Too High: If the thermostat is set at an excessively high temperature, it will work to heat the water to that elevated level. This not only consumes excess energy but can deliver dangerously hot water. 
  • Malfunctioning Thermostat: A malfunctioning thermostat may inaccurately gauge water temperature or fail to control the heating element effectively. This can lead to the heating element remaining active for longer periods than needed, resulting in overheating. 

To investigate whether the thermostat is the source of the problem, begin by verifying that it’s set to an appropriate temperature. If the issue persists, it’s advisable to enlist the expertise of a professional to inspect and potentially replace the thermostat. 


The heating element in your electric water heater is responsible for warming the water inside the tank. Over time, like any mechanical component, it can wear out, leading to inefficiencies and overheating issues: One reason that a malfunctioning heating element may have overheating issues is when it is stuck in the “on” position, continuously heating the water, even when it has reached the desired temperature.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that as a heating element deteriorates, it loses its ability to heat water efficiently. To compensate for this decline, it may stay active for longer durations, contributing to overheating. So, if you suspect a malfunctioning heating element, it’s best to seek professional assistance. A licensed plumber can diagnose the issue and, if necessary, replace the element, restoring your water heater’s efficiency. 


Over time, sediment, primarily comprised of minerals and debris from your water supply, can accumulate at the tank’s bottom. The accumulated sediment acts as an insulator, forming a barrier between the heating element and the water. Consequently, the heating element struggles to transfer heat efficiently, leading to overheating. 

To counteract the insulating effect of sediment, the heating element works harder and longer, consuming more energy and resulting in overheating. It’s crucial to periodically flush your water heater tank. This is why annual maintenance is so crucial. When a water heater tank is flushed, this process involves draining the tank to eliminate the accumulated sediment. Given the involvement of both water and electricity, it’s highly recommended to have a licensed plumber perform this task for safety reasons. 

An overheating electric water heater demands swift attention to prevent scalding, unit damage, and increased energy costs. By grasping these common causes of overheating and taking appropriate measures, you can ensure your electric water heater operates safely and efficiently, providing you with a consistent supply of comfortably warm water. If you’re grappling with overheating issues still, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 

Call Pickerington Plumbing & Drain today at (614) 350-1955, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here!