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How to Turn On Electric Hot Water Heater? Only 4 Steps

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

How to Turn On Electric Hot Water Heater

Are you lost about how to turn on electric hot water heater because you are more confident operating a gas water heater? Fret not. It is simpler than it looks.

An electric water heater offers more efficient use of thermal energy and is safe to operate. It is also one of the easiest water heaters to turn on. All you need is to follow this easy four-step process to activate your electric water heater, and you can start enjoying hot showers and more.

Table of Contents

What You Need to Turn On your Electric Water Heater


Turning on your electric hot water heater is a fairly straightforward process without the need for tools. However, it requires knowledge of a few things.

1. Location of the Water Heater Circuit Breaker

As its name implies, an electric hot water heater requires electricity to heat an element and raise the water temperature in the tank. While some units have a power cord that plugs into an outlet, most electric water heaters connect to the house’s main power line at the circuit breaker panel.

One of the essential things you need to know is the location of the circuit breaker that serves your electric water heater. Your breaker panel consists of many circuit breakers, each one connecting to specific appliances or sections of your house.

Most homes have clear labels for each circuit breaker. If yours does not have a label, now is the best time to determine which circuit breaker runs to your electric water heater.

It may also be wise to turn the main power off completely, erring on caution.

2. Location of Cold Water Supply Valve

Your electric water heater will have two water supply lines going to and from the tank. The cold water supply line moves water to the tank to get heated. The resulting hot water goes out through a separate pipe and begins its way to the different water fixtures in your home.

The water line supplying your tank with cold water has a valve. Most products have a wheel-type valve that you rotate to open or close the valve.

Others have a more straightforward lever mechanism. Flipping the lever parallel to the cold water supply pipe opens the valve, allowing water to flow into the tank. Repositioning the lever perpendicular to the tube closes the valve.

Step-by-Step GuideHow-do-I-know-if-my-electric-hot-water-heater-is-working

Step 1: Close All Water Fixtures

The first step to turning on your electric hot water heater is closing all water fixtures in your home, including faucets and valves. Closing the water fixtures allows you to perform the next step without wasting water.

Make sure to tighten all faucets. Check all the water valves in your home, ensuring they are also closed or turned off.

Step 2: Fill Your Hot Water Tank

Once you have closed all water fixtures in your house, you can turn on the cold water supply line’s valve. Doing so moves water from your main water supply line to your electric water heater’s water tank.

Filling your hot water tank can take some time, depending on your tank’s capacity, water flow rate, and water pressure. For example, you can fill a 40-gallon hot water tank within 10 minutes if you have high water pressure and an optimum flow rate.

Reducing the water pressure and flow rate can lengthen the time needed to fill the same 40-gallon tank. You may have to wait 15 to 30 minutes to fill it.

Pro Tip: Never turn on your electric hot water heater if the tank is not full of water. Doing so can increase the risk of dry fire because of partially submerged heating elements. It can damage the heating elements and render your system ineffective.

Step 3: Remove the Lockout Safety Tag from the Water Heater Circuit Breaker

We assume this is your first time turning on your electric hot water heater. We also believe that you have a lockout safety system in your breaker panel, specially designed for the water heater circuit breaker.

A lockout/tagout safety equipment is a small device that covers a circuit breaker or a series of breakers. It locks the breaker’s switch mechanism, so that no one can turn it on. It is an excellent way to prevent electric shocks, especially if there are children in the house.

Some products are less sophisticated than others. Your electrician may have placed adhesive tape over the electric water heater circuit breaker to cover it. The adhesive tape prevents you from flipping the switch. The only way you can turn on the unit is by removing the adhesive tape.

Removing the lockout/tagout safety device gives you access to the circuit breaker.

Step 4: Turn On the Hot Water Heater Circuit Breaker

Flip the switch in the circuit breaker to turn on your electric hot water heater. Most products do not have an indicator light that you can check to see if the unit is already turned on or not. However, you should hear a faint buzz from the heating elements.

An alternative is to check your water temperature after an hour. You can heat a 40-gallon water tank to about 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in three to four hours. Open one faucet and check the water temperature.

If it is already hot, your system is already working, and you can start enjoying hot showers and other warm water activities.


Did you find our four-step process on how to turn on electric hot water heater helpful? If you did, you might want to share this with your friends, relatives, and acquaintances who may have no idea how to kick-start their electric water heater experience.

We would also appreciate it if you could share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Learning how to turn on your electric water heater opens up many possibilities for your household, including better energy savings and faster water heating. All you need now is plenty of time to enjoy your hot water-related activities.

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