Why Does My Tankless Water Heater Keep Tripping The Breaker?

Your tankless water heater may be tripping the breaker due to an overloaded circuit or a malfunctioning heating element. A tankless water heater can trip the breaker when demand for hot water exceeds the unit’s capacity or when the heating element becomes damaged or faulty, causing an electrical short circuit.

It is essential to identify and address the underlying issue to prevent further damage to the heater and ensure a continuous supply of hot water in your home.

Why Does My Tankless Water Heater Keep Tripping The Breaker?

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Understanding Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are a popular choice for homeowners looking for efficient and convenient ways to heat their water. Unlike traditional water heaters that constantly keep a large tank of water heated, tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand.

In this section, we will explore the key points of tankless water heaters, including what they are, how they work, and the benefits of using them.

What Are Tankless Water Heaters?

  • Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters, are compact units that provide hot water instantly whenever it is needed.
  • Instead of storing large amounts of water in a tank, tankless water heaters heat the water as it passes through the unit’s heating elements.
  • These heaters are available in both electric and gas-powered models, offering homeowners a range of options to suit their preferences and needs.
  • Tankless water heaters are designed to be energy-efficient and take up minimal space, making them an attractive choice for those looking to save money and maximize comfort.

How Do They Work?

  • Tankless water heaters operate on a simple principle: When hot water is needed, cold water enters the unit and gets heated as it flows through the heating elements.
  • Unlike traditional water heaters that continuously heat and store water, tankless models only activate when there is a demand for hot water.
  • When a hot water tap is turned on, a sensor in the tankless water heater detects the flow and signals the heating elements to generate heat, warming the water as it passes through.
  • This on-demand heating system ensures that hot water is available whenever it is needed, eliminating the need to wait for a storage tank to refill and reheat.

Benefits Of Using A Tankless Water Heater

  • Energy-efficient: Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed, resulting in significant energy savings compared to traditional models.
  • Endless hot water supply: With a tankless water heater, you can enjoy a continuous supply of hot water without ever running out.
  • Space-saving design: Tankless water heaters are compact and can be installed in tight spaces, freeing up valuable room in your home.
  • Longer lifespan: On average, tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than traditional water heaters, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
  • Reduced maintenance: Since there is no storage tank, the risk of leaks and water damage is minimized, leading to reduced maintenance and repair costs.

Tankless water heaters offer homeowners a more efficient and convenient way to access hot water in their homes. By understanding what tankless water heaters are, how they work, and the benefits they provide, you can make an informed decision when considering a water heater upgrade.

So, take advantage of the energy efficiency, space-saving design, and endless hot water supply that a tankless water heater can offer.

Common Causes Of Breaker Tripping

One of the most frustrating things that can happen with your tankless water heater is when it keeps tripping the breaker. Not only does this disrupt your hot water supply, but it can also be a sign of underlying issues that need to be addressed.

In this section, we will explore the common causes of breaker tripping and provide some insights into how you can troubleshoot and resolve these issues.

Electrical Overload

  • Insufficient electrical capacity: If your tankless water heater is drawing more power than your electrical circuit can handle, it can trip the breaker. This often happens when multiple high-powered appliances are running simultaneously.
  • Incompatible electrical wiring: If the electrical wiring in your home is not compatible with the voltage requirements of your tankless water heater, it can cause excessive strain on the system and result in breaker tripping.
  • Overheating components: Over time, the heating elements in your tankless water heater can become dirty or worn out. This can cause them to overheat and draw more power, leading to breaker tripping.

Faulty Wiring

  • Loose or damaged connections: Loose or damaged wiring connections can cause electrical resistance and increase the risk of a short circuit. This can result in breaker tripping and should be addressed by a professional electrician.
  • Exposed wires: If the wires connecting your tankless water heater are exposed or damaged, it can create a hazardous electrical situation. This can cause the breaker to trip as a safety measure.

Circuit Breaker Issues

  • Overloaded circuit: If your tankless water heater is connected to a circuit that is already carrying a heavy load, it can cause the breaker to trip. This can be resolved by distributing the load across different circuits or upgrading to a higher-capacity breaker.
  • Faulty circuit breaker: In some cases, the breaker itself may be faulty or worn out. This can cause it to trip even when there isn’t an actual electrical overload. If you suspect a faulty breaker, it is best to consult a professional electrician for replacement.

By understanding these common causes of breaker tripping, you can take the necessary steps to troubleshoot and resolve the issue with your tankless water heater. It is always recommended to seek the assistance of a qualified professional if you are unsure or uncomfortable working with electrical systems.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when dealing with electricity.

Troubleshooting And Solutions

Tankless water heaters provide endless hot water and are an efficient alternative to traditional water heaters. However, if your tankless water heater keeps tripping the breaker, it can be frustrating and inconvenient. In this section, we will explore some troubleshooting steps and solutions to help you understand and resolve this issue.

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Check The Electrical Load

  • Ensure that the electrical load on your tankless water heater is not exceeding the circuit’s capacity.
  • Tankless water heaters require a significant amount of power, so it’s crucial to check if your electrical system can handle the load.
  • Consult the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the appropriate circuit capacity for your specific tankless water heater model.

Inspect The Wiring Connections

  • Faulty or loose wiring connections can cause your tankless water heater to trip the breaker.
  • Start by turning off the electricity supply to the water heater to avoid any potential hazards.
  • Carefully inspect the wiring connections, looking for any signs of damage, frayed wires, or loose connections.
  • Make sure all connections are secure and properly tightened.
  • If you notice any damaged or worn-out wiring, it’s best to call a licensed electrician to repair or replace the wiring.

Reset The Circuit Breaker

  • If your tankless water heater keeps tripping the breaker, try resetting the circuit breaker to see if it resolves the issue.
  • Begin by turning off all electrical devices connected to the same circuit as the water heater.
  • Locate the circuit breaker panel and identify the breaker connected to the water heater.
  • Turn the breaker off, wait for a few minutes, and then flip it back on.
  • If the breaker trips again immediately or shortly after it is reset, there may be an underlying electrical problem that requires professional assistance.

Remember, when dealing with electrical components, it is always best to prioritize your safety first. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with any of the troubleshooting steps, it’s wise to consult a licensed electrician for proper diagnosis and repairs. By addressing these common issues, you can hopefully resolve the problem of your tankless water heater tripping the breaker and enjoy the benefits of a steady supply of hot water.

The Importance Of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance plays a crucial role in keeping your tankless water heater running smoothly and preventing it from tripping the breaker. By following a few preventive measures and investing in professional inspection and tune-ups, you can ensure the longevity of your water heater and avoid any unexpected breakdowns.

Cleaning the various components of your water heater is also essential in maintaining its efficiency. Let’s explore these steps in more detail:

Preventive Measures To Avoid Breaker Tripping:

  • Check for proper electrical connections: Make sure all electrical connections are secure and free from any damage or corrosion. Loose connections can lead to electrical arcing, which may trip the breaker.
  • Use dedicated electrical circuits: Ensure that your tankless water heater is on a dedicated electrical circuit and not sharing power with other high-demand appliances. Sharing the circuit may cause overload and trip the breaker.
  • Keep vents and air intake clean: Regularly inspect and clean the vents and air intake of your unit to prevent any blockages. Restricted airflow can cause the unit to overheat and trip the breaker.
  • Ensure proper water pressure: Check the water pressure regularly and confirm that it falls within the manufacturer’s recommended range. High water pressure can strain the water heater and potentially cause it to trip the breaker.

Professional Inspection And Tune-Up:

  • Schedule regular professional inspections: It is recommended to have your tankless water heater inspected by a certified technician at least once a year. They can identify any potential issues before they become major problems, helping to prevent breaker tripping.
  • Verify proper gas and airflow: During an inspection, the technician will check for any gas or airflow issues that may affect the operation of the water heater. Correcting these issues can minimize the risk of breaker tripping.
  • Adjust temperature settings: Professionals can also ensure that your temperature settings are appropriate for your needs. Incorrect temperature settings can put unnecessary strain on the unit and lead to breaker tripping.

Cleaning The Water Heater Components:

  • Flush the heat exchanger: Over time, mineral deposits can accumulate in the heat exchanger, reducing its efficiency and potentially causing the breaker to trip. Flushing the heat exchanger helps remove these deposits and ensures optimal performance.
  • Clean the inlet filter: The inlet filter prevents debris from entering the water heater and causing blockages. Regularly cleaning or replacing the filter helps maintain a steady flow of water, reducing the chances of breaker tripping.
  • Inspect and clean the igniter and flame sensor: Dirt or corrosion on the igniter or flame sensor can disrupt the ignition process and lead to breaker tripping. Cleaning these components ensures proper functioning and reliable operation.

Regular maintenance, including preventive measures, professional inspections, and component cleaning, is vital for keeping your tankless water heater functioning efficiently and reducing the risk of breaker tripping. By following these steps, you can enjoy a continuous supply of hot water without any unexpected interruptions.

Signs Of A Failing Tankless Water Heater

If you’re experiencing frequent breaker trips with your tankless water heater, it could be a sign of a deeper issue. Ignoring these early warning signs might eventually lead to a complete breakdown of your water heating system. To ensure you take timely action, here are some common signs of a failing tankless water heater:

Rusty Water:

  • Discolored water running from your faucets is a clear signal that something is not right. If you notice an orange or reddish tint, it may indicate rust within your water heater.
  • Rusty water can occur when the anode rod in the tankless water heater becomes corroded. This rod is designed to attract corrosive elements, so if it’s worn out, rust may start to develop.

Decreased Water Pressure:

  • Have you noticed a significant drop in your water pressure? This could be a sign of a failing tankless water heater.
  • Sediment buildup is a common culprit here. Over time, minerals and debris accumulate and restrict the flow of water, leading to decreased pressure.
  • Another possible cause could be a clogged or faulty supply line. If the water flow isn’t consistent, it’s worth investigating the condition of your tankless water heater.
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Strange Noises:

  • Unusual sounds emanating from your tankless water heater can be alarming. Pay attention to any rattling, popping, or hissing noises as they could indicate underlying issues.
  • Sediment buildup, as mentioned earlier, can create a rumbling or popping noise when the water heater is in operation.
  • A failing pressure relief valve or a loose component might also contribute to the strange noises. It’s best not to ignore these auditory warning signs.

Remember, addressing these signs promptly can help prevent major breakdowns and costly repairs down the line. If you’ve noticed any of these issues with your tankless water heater, it’s advisable to consult a professional plumbing technician for a thorough inspection and necessary repairs.

Extending The Lifespan Of Your Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are known for their energy efficiency and on-demand hot water supply. However, like any other appliance, they require regular maintenance to ensure they function efficiently and have a long lifespan. By following a few simple steps, you can prevent your tankless water heater from tripping the breaker and extend its overall durability.

Flushing The System Regularly

One of the most crucial maintenance tasks for your tankless water heater is to flush the system regularly. Flushing helps remove sediment and mineral buildup that can cause your unit to overheat and trip the breaker. Here’s how you can efficiently flush your tankless water heater:

  • Turn off the power supply: Before beginning the flushing process, make sure to turn off the power supply to your tankless water heater. Safety should always be a priority.
  • Shut off the water supply: Locate the valve that supplies water to your tankless water heater and shut it off. This will prevent water from entering the unit during the flushing process.
  • Connect the flushing kit: Attach a flushing kit to the service ports of your tankless water heater. The flushing kit typically consists of hoses, a bucket, and a submersible pump.
  • Use a descaling solution: Fill the bucket with a descaling solution recommended by the manufacturer. This solution helps dissolve mineral deposits inside the unit.
  • Start the flushing process: Turn on the pump and circulate the descaling solution through the tankless water heater. Let it run for the recommended amount of time specified by the manufacturer.
  • Rinse the system: After the flushing process is complete, disconnect the flushing kit and flush clean water through the unit to remove any remaining solution or debris.
  • Restore power and water supply: Finally, reattach the service valves and restore the power supply to your tankless water heater.

Flushing your tankless water heater at least once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer will help maintain its efficiency and prevent common issues like tripping the breaker.

Removing Mineral Buildup

Mineral buildup, especially in areas with hard water, can result in reduced performance and increased energy consumption for your tankless water heater. Here are some steps you can take to remove mineral buildup:

  • Turn off the power supply: Always turn off the power supply before performing any maintenance on your tankless water heater.
  • Identify the affected components: Check the heat exchanger and other critical parts for signs of mineral buildup. Mineral deposits often appear as white or yellowish scales.
  • Dissolve the mineral buildup: Depending on the severity of the buildup, you can use different methods to dissolve it. Vinegar or a commercial descaling solution can be effective options.
  • Soak the affected parts: If possible, remove the affected components and soak them in the descaling solution for the recommended duration. This allows the solution to break down the mineral deposits.
  • Scrub and rinse: After soaking, use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub away the remaining mineral buildup. Rinse the parts thoroughly to remove any residual solution.
  • Reassemble and restore power: Once the components are completely dry, reassemble them and restore power to your tankless water heater.

Regularly Checking For Leaks

Apart from flushing the system and removing mineral buildup, it is crucial to regularly check your tankless water heater for leaks. Leaks can cause water damage, inefficiency, and potentially trip the breaker. Follow these steps to ensure your tankless water heater remains leak-free:

  • Visually inspect the unit: Take a close look at your tankless water heater for any signs of leakage, such as water droplets, dampness, or discoloration around the unit.
  • Check all connections: Inspect all the connections, including the water inlet, outlet, gas supply, and pressure relief valve. Tighten any loose connections if necessary.
  • Check temperature and pressure relief valve: The temperature and pressure relief valve is an essential safety feature of your tankless water heater. Ensure that no water is leaking from it and that it is functioning properly.
  • Monitor water pressure: High water pressure can strain your tankless water heater, potentially leading to leaks. Use a pressure gauge to check and adjust the incoming water pressure if needed.
  • Address any leaks promptly: If you find any leaks during your inspection, do not ignore them. Contact a professional plumber to identify and fix the source of the leak as soon as possible.

Regularly checking for leaks and addressing them promptly will not only prevent water damage but also help your tankless water heater operate efficiently and avoid tripping the breaker.

By following these maintenance practices and taking care of your tankless water heater, you can ensure it operates smoothly and avoid potential issues that may lead to breaker tripping. Regular flushing, removing mineral buildup, and checking for leaks will contribute to extending the lifespan of your tankless water heater, ensuring you have hot water whenever you need it.

When To Call A Professional

Tankless water heaters are a popular choice for homeowners looking to save space and energy. These efficient systems provide hot water on demand, eliminating the need for a storage tank. However, like any appliance, tankless water heaters can experience issues from time to time.

One common problem that homeowners may encounter is their tankless water heater tripping the breaker. If you’re facing this issue, it’s important to understand when it’s time to call a professional. Here are some key points to consider:

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Dealing With Complex Electrical Issues:

  • Electrical problems can be complex and dangerous to handle on your own. It’s always recommended to let a professional electrician take care of any issues related to the electrical components of your tankless water heater.
  • If your tankless water heater keeps tripping the breaker, it could indicate a problem with the circuit or wiring. A licensed electrician will have the expertise to diagnose and repair any underlying electrical issues safely.
  • Remember, working with electricity can be hazardous if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and experience. It’s better to leave it to the professionals and ensure the safety of yourself and your home.

Malfunctioning Heating Elements:

  • Tripped breakers can also be caused by malfunctioning heating elements in your tankless water heater. These elements heat the water as it flows through the unit.
  • Over time, heating elements can wear out or become damaged, leading to electrical issues that trigger the breaker. A professional technician will be able to determine if a faulty heating element is the root cause of the problem.
  • Repairing or replacing heating elements is a job best left to the experts. They have the tools and expertise to identify the problem and carry out the necessary repairs or replacements correctly.

Need For Replacement Or Upgrade:

  • In some cases, a tankless water heater repeatedly tripping the breaker may be a sign that it’s time for a replacement or upgrade. Older models may struggle to handle the electrical demands, leading to frequent breaker trips.
  • Consulting with a professional can help you determine if your tankless water heater is beyond repair or if it would be more cost-effective to invest in a new, more efficient unit.
  • Upgrading to a newer model can provide better performance, lower energy costs, and reduce the likelihood of future breaker trips, saving you time and money in the long run.

Remember, when it comes to electrical issues with your tankless water heater, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and rely on the expertise of professionals. By seeking assistance from a licensed electrician or a qualified technician, you can ensure that your tankless water heater is functioning properly and provide hot water when you need it, without the inconvenience of tripped breakers.

Hiring A Qualified Technician

Dealing with a tripping breaker on your tankless water heater can be frustrating and inconvenient. While there could be various reasons why your unit keeps tripping the breaker, one of the best steps you can take is to hire a qualified technician to diagnose and fix the problem.

Here’s why it’s important to leave this job to the professionals:

Researching Reputable Service Providers

Before you rush into hiring any technician, it’s essential to do your research and find reputable service providers in your area. Look for companies with good reviews and ratings. Here are a few key points to keep in mind during your research:

  • Check online reviews: Read through customer reviews on reputable websites to get an idea of other people’s experiences with the service provider.
  • Ask for recommendations: Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues who may have recently hired a technician for similar issues. Their firsthand experience can be valuable in finding reliable professionals.
  • Look for industry certifications: Pay attention to certifications and accreditations that the service provider possesses. This demonstrates their commitment to quality and expertise in the field.

Importance Of Certifications And Experience

When it comes to hiring a technician for your tankless water heater, certifications and experience play a vital role. Here’s why they are significant:

  • Specialized knowledge: Technicians with certifications have undergone training and obtained relevant certifications in the field. This ensures that they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to handle the specific issues that may be causing your tankless water heater to trip the breaker.
  • Expertise in troubleshooting: Experienced technicians have encountered a wide range of problems with different tankless water heaters. Their experience allows them to quickly identify the root cause of the tripping breaker and come up with efficient solutions.
  • Warranty protection: Hiring a qualified technician is essential, especially if your tankless water heater is still covered by warranty. Many manufacturers require that repairs and maintenance are performed by certified technicians to avoid voiding the warranty.

Obtaining Multiple Quotes

Before you decide on a technician, it’s a good idea to obtain multiple quotes from different service providers. This will help you:

  • Compare prices: Getting quotes from multiple technicians allows you to compare prices and ensure that you’re getting a fair and competitive estimate for the job.
  • Assess the approach: Each technician may have a different approach to diagnosing and fixing the issue. Obtaining multiple quotes will help you understand the different strategies they propose and choose the one that aligns with your preferences.

Remember, hiring a qualified technician is crucial when dealing with a tripping breaker on your tankless water heater. By doing proper research, considering certifications and experience, and obtaining multiple quotes, you can be confident that you’re making an informed decision to resolve the issue effectively.


To ensure your tankless water heater doesn’t keep tripping the breaker, it’s crucial to address the underlying causes. Start by checking if the unit is properly sized for your household’s hot water needs, as an undersized heater can overload the system.

Additionally, make sure the electrical connections are secure and the wiring is up to code. It’s also important to clean the air intake filter regularly to prevent blockages that can lead to overheating. Consider installing a dedicated circuit for your tankless water heater to minimize the risk of tripping breakers.

Finally, if you’ve exhausted all troubleshooting steps and the problem persists, consult a professional plumber or electrician for a thorough inspection. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy a consistent supply of hot water without the inconvenience of a tripped breaker.


I am a mechanical engineer and love doing research on different home and outdoor heating options. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and friends. I also enjoy blogging about my findings and helping others to find the best heating options for their needs.