How to Check the Continuity on a Water Heater Element

This tutorial outlines the process to check for continuity between two connectors on an element. This process applies to many types of elements on water heaters and will tell you whether or not the element is still working as it should be or needs replacing.


  1. 1
    Disconnect all power to the appliance. Make sure any capacitors etc., are discharged.
  2. 2
    Open the access panel or remove the appropriate cover to reveal the element.
  3. 3
    Remove any wires attached to the element. Take care not to damage anything or get cut on often present sharp metal.
  4. 4
    Set your multimeter to ohms or continuity setting. Touch the leads of the meter together.
  5. 5
    Check the reading. The reading should jump or fall sharply on an analog meter, and drop to zero or go blank on a digital meter. Overall, you just need the meter to change when the ends are touched together.
  6. 6
    Touch the ends of the meter leads to the ends of the element. You should see the same change, or at least a very similar change––it may not be that large. If you see no change, then the element has no continuity and most likely needs replacing.


  • A magnet on the back of your meter may help it stay in place as you work.
  • It is recommended that you take a picture of the wires before you remove them so you can be sure to get them back in the correct spot.


  • High voltage, so take care.
  • The element may have sharp edges; always handle with the utmost care.
  • Be aware that even when unplugged or turned off, many appliances still have electricity in them.

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Categories: Illustrations | Electrical Circuits and Devices