Bradford White Water Heater Troubleshooting

Bradford White Water Heater Troubleshooting [The Complete Guide]

This guide on Bradford White Water Heater Troubleshooting will break down common problems of both electric and gas-powered water heater, including:

  • No hot water
  • Insufficient hot water
  • Slow hot water recovery
  • Overheated water
  • Noisy elements
  • And a lot. 

And the best part is- I will also walk you through the troubleshooting steps to solve those issues. So, let’s get started right here. 

In This Article:

Bradford White Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting: Common Problems & Solutions

Here are some common problems with Bradford White Electric Water Heater and their solutions: 

01. No Hot Water

You will get no hot water out of your Bradford White Electric Water Heater due to one of the following reasons, including:

  • The unit gets no power due to blown out fuses or the circuit breaker at the service panel gets tripped.
  • Loose wire connections or corroded wirings block electric supply to your water heater.
  • Open ECO also causes your Bradford White Water Heater to not heat water. 

How To Fix: 

Inspect the water heater fuses first and ensure they don’t get blown out. Next, I recommend you take a look at the circuit breaker to see whether it gets tripped or not. If yes, flip it to the Up position. 

For loose wiring, I highly recommend you hire a certified electrician to check the wiring and let him fix the wire connection issues for you. 

To fix the issue with the ECO, you need to check the ECO. Then, reset or replace the thermostat to bring the Bradford White water heater back into operational state. 

02. Insufficient Hot Water

Your Bradford White Water Heater won’t produce enough hot water due to the following reasons: 

  • Inoperative or malfunctioned heating element
  • You set the thermostat too low 
  • Defective thermostat 
  • Lime or sediment build up on the heating element
  • High demand period
  • Undersized heater
  • Very cold inlet water to heater
  • Plumbing connections get reversed
  • Defective dip tube

How To Fix: 

The heating element is the part of your water heater responsible for heating the water. If it gets damaged or dirt and sediment builds up on it, the heating element will become inoperative. Consequently, it can’t heat the water properly. 

Generally, all heating elements get burnt out like a light bulb. Most often older heating elements may burn due to their age. Besides, if the heating element gets covered with sediment, it can’t transfer heat to water and cause it to burn. 

On the other hand, new heating elements get damaged or burnt because of dryfires. If the heating element doesn’t get submerged into water, it will burn in the air pocket which produces a lot of heat within a short time. As a result, the high heat melts the copper used in its construction and damages the element severely. 

Therefore, there are other reasons like high voltage situations can also burn the heating element. Bradford White has a complete guide where they break down what causes the element to burn. You can check that article here

It doesn’t matter what causes the heating element to get damaged, you must replace it to get sufficient hot water. The following video will come in handy if you want to replace this part yourself: 

Secondly, make sure you set the thermostat high enough to generate hot water. If you set it too low, just move the thermostat knob to a high setting. 

Thirdly, test the thermostat electrically to know whether it gets defective or not. Use a multimeter and check the continuity of the thermostat. If the multimeter shows 0 voltage reading, understand it gets faulty and needs a replacement. In this case, you can check out the following tutorial to learn how to replace the thermostat:

For a high demand period, I recommend you reduce the demand and prevent yourself from running multiple hot water faucets or other appliances at once. 

On the other hand, if the water heater fails to meet your needs, replace it with a larger one. 

Don’t forget to check the plumbing connections. If they get reversed, correct the connections. 

And lastly, inspect the dip tube. If it gets deteriorated, you should replace it. I already covered a guide on Rheem Dip Tube Replacement. Though the brand is different, you can find that guide helpful to replace the dip tube. 

03. Slow Hot Water Recovery

You will get hot water from your Bradford White Water Heater but in slow rate because of the following reasons: 

  • The heating elements get covered with lime and sediment buildups.
  • Loose wiring
  • The thermostat is not working properly
  • You may install defective heating elements. 

How To Fix: 

Begin with inspecting the heating elements for lime buildups. First off, turn the electric supply to your water heater. Then, remove the heating elements from the unit and check for scale or lime buildups. If needed, replace them. 

For loose wire connections, it would be better to leave this task for a certified electrician. On the other hand, you must replace the thermostat if this part is at fault. Above, I mentioned a tutorial regarding this. So, check that out. 

Finally, make sure you install the correct type of heating elements that deliver sufficient voltage and wattage for heating water. Just take a multimeter and test the heating elements for proper voltage & wattage output. 

04. Overheated Water Or Continuous Operation

Get too hot water! Then, I bet one of the following reasons are responsible for overheated water: 

  • Thermostats make no contact with the tank
  • You set the thermostat too high
  • Grounded heating elements
  • Inoperative ECO

How To Fix: 

The thermostat flush should make contact with the tank surface for proper water heater operation. So, position it with the tank surface. 

Secondly, check the thermostat and see if you set it to a higher setting. If yes, adjust the thermostat to your desired setting. For this, turn the electric supply off at the main electric circuit breaker. 

Then, pull out the access panel and remove the insulation. Now, use a screwdriver and move the thermostat dial to your desired setting. To decrease water temperature, move the temperature dial counterclockwise. 

Thirdly, the heating elements should be immersed into water to heat water. If they remain grounded, they will fail to transfer the heat to water and get overheated. In the worst case, the heating elements will get burnt out. So, ensure the tank is full of water. If the elements get damaged, replace them. 

Nonetheless, an inoperative ECO can also cause your water heater to overheat the water. Every Bradford White water heater comes with a safety feature named ECO (electric cut-off switch). When it senses too hot water, it will cut electric supply to the unit. If it’s at fault, you will encounter the too hot water issue. To solve this problem, you need to replace the thermostat. 

05. Noisy Elements

Does the water heater produce a hissing sound? Then, I bet lime or scale builds on the heating elements. In short, lime and sediment buildup on the heating element or at the bottom of the tank will result in noisy water heater operation. 

How To Fix: 

I recommend you flush the water heater to remove all the sediment build ups from the bottom of the water heater tank. You can use vinegar in this case to dissolve the lime and sediment formation. Fortunately, I already covered a guide on Will Vinegar Damage A Hot Water. In that article, I describe how you can flush the water heater with vinegar. So, it will be worth checking the article. 

Tips: I highly recommend you drain your water heater every month. It will help you remove the lime formation from the water heater and keeps the unit in its tip-top condition. 

Bradford White Gas Water Heater Problems

All the problems we break down above are related to Bradford White Electric Water Heater. If you have a gas water heater, you will encounter the following problems over time. 

Bradford White Water Heater Not Heating

Your Bradford White Gas Water Heater won’t heat water for several reasons. Restricted pilot is one of them. Carbon deposits can block the pilot, causing the gas burner to not light up. Consequently, it will not heat the water. 

To solve this issue, you need to remove the gas burner from the bottom of the unit. Then, use a blower or shop-vac to eliminate carbon buildups. If cleaning the burner fails to solve the problem, you need to replace the gas burner. 

Secondly, a faulty igniter or electrode can also be the culprit behind the not-heating issue. I recommend you use a multimeter to test the igniter electrically. If it gives a negative result, replacing the igniter will be the only solution. 

Therefore, a faulty gas valve, defective thermocouple, and a fault pressure switch are other caveats that prevent your gas water heater from heating. Once you address and solve these problems, your Bradford Water Heater will heat the water again. 

Bradford White Water Heater Pilot Light Will Not Stay Lit

Your Bradford White Water Heater pilot will not stay lit due to the following reasons: 

  • The gas shut-off valve may be in the close position, which prevents the gas from flowing into the burner. Or, the gas pressure is too low. 
  • You may not depress the pilot light button fully when attempting to light the pilot. 
  • Pilot orifice may get clogged by dirt and debris. Turns out, a clogged pilot tube can also prevent the pilot from lighting. 
  • The piezo ignition button is at fault. 

First off, make sure the gas shut-off valve is in the open position. If not, open it. Secondly, relight the pilot again if you fail to depress the pilot light button fully. 

Check the pilot tube or orifice for clog. Don’t forget to release the blockage if the orifice gets blocked by debris. 

Lastly, replace the piezo igniter button if it gets defective. 

Bradford Whiter Water Heater Pilot Will Light But The Main Burner Won’t

Though the pilot light is on, the main burner won’t come on. Sound familiar? Well, you will face this gas water heater issue if insufficient gas is feeding to the gas burner. If this is the problem, check the gas tank first to see there is enough gas. Then, open the gas valve to let the fuel go into the burner. 

If you set the combination thermostat too low, the burner won’t receive sufficient fuel for lighting. So, ensure you set the gas valve to your desired setting to fix this issue.

How To Drain Bradford White Water Heater?

Draining or flushing your tank water heater is a must-maintenance workflow to keep the unit operational. Flushing the water heater annually or biannually helps remove sediment buildup.

Draining Water Heater

To drain your Bradford White Water Heater (either it’s electric or gas), walk through the following steps:

  • Turn the power off to your water heater. If it’s an electric water heater, flip the circuit breaker for the unit to the Off position. On the other hand, rotate the gas supply valve to Off if you have a gas-powered water heater.
  • Turn off the cold water supply.
  • Setting the gas control knob to the lowest setting is an additional step you should follow if you have a gas water heater.
  • Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank water heater. Then, place the other end of the hose to the nearest floor drain.
  • Open the drain valve by using a Phillips head screwdriver. Just turn the drain valve counterclockwise.
  • Open a hot water faucet to quicken the drainage procedure.
  • Once you drain the tank completely, detach the garden hose and close the drain valve.
  • Refill the water heater tank.
  • Restore power to your water heater. 

How To Relight Pilot Light On Bradford White Water Heater?

Relight the pilot light on the Bradford White Gas Water Heater by following these simple step-by-step guidelines:

  • Read all the safety information labeled on the water heater tank.
  • Set the gas control thermostat knob to the lowest setting.
  • If possible, turn the gas control knob to the Off position.
  • Wait for five minutes to clear all the unburning gas.
  • Remove the outer door and look through the sight glass to view the pilot.
  • Rotate the gas control knob to the left to the pilot position.
  • Press and hold down the gas control knob and start striking the igniter button simultaneously until the pilot light comes on.
  • Finally, set the thermostat knob to your desired temperature settings.

How To Maintain Bradford White Electric Water Heater?

Maintaining your Bradford White Electric Water Heater will help avoid operational problems like no hot or lukewarm water out of the unit. On top of this, regular maintenance will prolong the lifespan of the water heater.

Here are some preventive maintenance tips that keep your water heater operational:

  • Inspect the thermostat for proper operation annually.
  • Check the seals around the heating elements every six months and verify that they don’t get worn out. If those seals leak, contact the professional who installed the water heater.
  • Check the pressure relief valve annually to verify that the valve is working correctly. It will help you ensure that the T&P valve doesn’t get encrusted with lime. Operate the pressure relief valve manually by lifting the lever at the top of the valve.
  • The pressure relief valve may discharge periodically due to thermal expansion in a closed water supply system. If you observe such an occurrence, call a professional to correct this issue.
  • Drain a gallon of water every month to remove sediment buildup from the bottom of the tank.
  • Check the anode rod every two years and replace it if necessary to extend the water heater’s lifespan.

How To Maintain Bradford White Gas Water Heater?

To avoid operational problems like the Bradford White Water Heater pilot won’t light, follow these maintenance tips:

  • Annually check the thermostat for proper operation.
  • For proper combustion, the flow of combustion and ventilation air are prerequisites. Regarding this, ensure there is no obstruction in the jacket slots. Don’t forget to remove dirt, debris, or restrictions from the jacket slot openings.
  • Keep the water heater area free from combustible materials, gasoline, and other flammable objects.
  • Bi-annually, inspect the main burner and pilot burner flames to ensure they are burning efficiently. Clean the burner area and the pilot assembly if you notice abnormal flames.
  • Take out the inner door and the burner assembly annually to clean orifices or other parts that get covered with dirt. Check the burner ports for debris buildup and clean that buildup with a wire brush or vacuum cleaner.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to remove scale deposits from the combustion chamber.
  • Inspect the vent system once a year and remove blockage from the vent.
  • Drain or flush the water heater once a year or twice, depending on the water quality, to remove sediment buildup.
  • Operate the pressure relief valve manually at least once a year. 


How do I reset my Bradford White?

Follow the below steps to reset your Bradford White Water Heater: 

  • Make sure the pilot light is on. 
  • Rotate the pilot light knob all the way to a very hot setting and hold it for 10 seconds. 
  • Rotate the pilot light knob to the lowest setting and hold the button for 10 seconds
  • Finally, set the pilot light knob to the pilot and keep the knob there for another 10 seconds. Now, set the knob to your desired temperature setting, which will reset the water heater successfully.

What is the most common problem with water heaters?

Water leaking out of the water heater is the most common problem every homeowner encounters. Generally, the water is leaking from different places like the top, bottom, and heating elements. It’s better to check this article On Rheem Water Heater Leaking. In this guide, I describe everything and disclose the common places from where the water is coming out.

Where is the reset button on a Bradford White electric water heater?

You can find the reset button with the thermostat on a Bradford White Electric Water Heater. To access the reset button, you need to remove the access panel. Then, take the insulation out, and you can see the red button right there, which is the reset button.


Every electric appliance starts malfunctioning over time. And your Bradford White Water Heater is not an exception to that. This guide on Bradford White Water Heater Troubleshooting will help you detect a specific problem and solve it. So, it’s worth bookmarking this guide so that you can get it whenever you encounter an issue with your Bradford White.

Read Also:

Bradford White Water Heater Status Light Blinking

Similar Posts


  1. We have a Bradford white electric hot water tank that is less than three years old. It keeps shutting off, what is causing this to happen?

    1. Hey Kathy,

      This water heater has a reset button, which is a safety feature. If the water temperature inside the tank raises over the safety level like goes over 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the unit will cut-off the power to the unit by tripping the reset or high-limit safety switch. In short, the unit will keep shutting off due to overheating issue.

      In this case, you need to reset the unit.

      However, to resolve this issue in the long run, you should find out the reason behind overheating issue. Typically, if the tank gets clogged with sediment or the upper heating element gets burnt-up or covered with sediment, it will cause the overheating issue.

      So, check the heating element for sediment buildup. Then, clean the heating element or replace it if needed.

      Lastly, flush your water tank every six months or once a year.

      Thank you,

        1. It’s pretty simple. Hook up a garden hose to the drain valve, place the other end of the garden hose to a floor drain or outdoor, and turn on the drain valve of the water heater. Keep in mind; ensure you turn off electric supply to the unit when flushing the unit.

  2. i have a brand new bradford white propane water heater, the flame is yellow and carbon is on top of the heater.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *