State Select Electric Heater Troubleshooting [A Complete Guide]

This State Select electric water heater troubleshooting guide will discuss the most common issues you’d face when using this heater. They are:

  • No Hot Water
  • Not Enough Hot Water
  • Slow Hot Water Recovery
  • The water Temperature Is Too High
  • Low Water Pressure
  • Dripping T&P Relief Valve Discharge Pipe

Apart from that, there are also other issues like the water smelling bad or the heater going into limp mode. Moreover, you may also notice operation costs of the heater increase and unusual sounds are coming from the heater.

Keep reading to find out what causes these issues and how you can fix them.  Apart from that, you’ll also learn about some diagnostic codes if your heater has a diagnostic LED light. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

State Select Electric Heater Troubleshooting [Complete Guide]

I’ll discuss the main issues with State Select water heaters and their fixes in this section.

1. No Hot Water

Your electric water heater has one job – to give hot water. It’s obviously going to be extremely annoying when it doesn’t do that one job correctly and you get no hot water. 

There are many potential reasons behind not getting any hot water from your State Select water heater. The primary ones are:

  • No electrical power.
  • Reversed inlet and outlet connections.
  • Plumbing leaks.
  • Tripped ECO.
  • Burned out upper heating element.
  • Broken upper thermostat.

How To Fix:

Out of the six reasons I’ve mentioned, the first three are commonly seen in new installations. So, I’ll address them first and move on to the other issues.

If you have no electrical power, the circuit breaker could be tripped. Flip it back and check if the heater is working. If the heater still doesn’t have any power, the circuit breaker or the wiring attached to it can be damaged. You’ll have to diagnose what’s wrong and fix the issue.

If there are reversed connections, you need to set them in the opposite way to correct the issue. When there’s a plumbing leak, you need to locate its source and seal the leak.

The ECO can get tripped when the water temperature is too high. You’ll have to reset the heater to fix this issue.

How To Reset The Heater?

You’ll have to turn off the power to the heater first. Then, remove the upper thermostat cover and remove the insulation. You’ll see a bright red button. That’s the reset button. You need to press it.

Your heater should start working again normally. Check out our guide on State Select reset button and how to reset it to learn more about the reset button. It explains why the reset button may not work at times and how you can fix it.

The next issues are more serious. If you have a faulty heating element, you need to replace it. Test the heating element with a multimeter. If the reading is outside 5 to 25 Ohms, it means the heating element is bad. Scroll down below as we have a dedicated section on how you can replace it by yourself.

When you have a faulty thermostat, it’ll also have to be replaced. Lucky for you, we have a guide on that too. Here’s our State Select thermostat replacement guide to help you out with testing and replacing the thermostat.

2. Not Enough Hot Water

Another issue you’d commonly get with your State Select electric water heater is that the water will be hot but it won’t be as hot as you desired.  There are many potential reasons behind it. The main ones are:

  • Reversed plumbing connections.
  • Plumbing leaks.
  • Setting the thermostat too low.
  • Faulty thermostatic mixing valve.
  • Using an undersized water heater.
  • Melted dip tube.

How To Fix:

You already know how to deal with reversed plumbing connections and plumbing leaks from the previous point. Yes, one cause can lead to several types of issues in a heater.

The process of fixing these problems is the same as shown earlier. With that said, let’s look at the additional issues that result in insufficient hot water from your heater:

i. Fixing Setting The Thermostat Too Low

Setting a low temperature on any one or both of the thermostats can cause not enough hot water. It doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with your heater. The heater is doing what it’s supposed to do.

It’s you that has set a low temperature. Ideally, both thermostats should have the same temperature. Remove the thermostat access panels and check the temperature you’ve set on them.

If any of the thermostats are set too low, then turn up the temperature on it. As a general recommendation, you shouldn’t set the temperature above 120°F. Anything higher than that can cause scalding.

However, if you do set a temperature higher than that, make sure you’re using thermostatic mixing valves. Doing so will give you hot water quicker and even reduce the scalding risk.

ii. Fixing Faulty Thermostatic Mixing Valves

Remember that thermostatic mixing valves are highly essential to prevent scalding. But the bad news is that they can go bad from time to time. If they go bad, you won’t get enough hot water from the faucets even if there is a good deal of hot water in the tank.

state select electric heater thermostatic mixing valve

Thankfully, it’s easy to diagnose if you have a faulty thermostatic mixing valve. Turn on all the hot water faucets in your house. If you get sufficient hot water from the other faucets, it means that the thermostatic mixing valve in one hot water faucet is faulty.

The solution is simple – you have to replace the defective thermostatic mixing valve. Sometimes, thermostatic mixing valves are built into faucets. So, if you’re thinking that you didn’t install any mixing valve, it came with the faucet. Replace it and you’ll get hot water from your heater once again.

iii. Fixing Using An Undersized Hot Water Heater

Everything you’d use in your life would have certain limits associated with them. Just as we humans can’t run 50 miles an hour, your electric hot water can’t give you hot water at all times.

When you push the heater beyond its capacity, you won’t get enough hot water from it. The cheapest fix here is to reduce your hot water needs. If you use hot water to wash clothes and other unimportant stuff, you can refrain from that.

You can also plan and schedule shower times if you are a small family so that there’s no overlap of hot water needs.  That way, the hot water will be distributed properly. Since there won’t be too high demand at a given time, you can use it without any issues.

If conservation and reducing hot water use isn’t an option, you can add a mini hot water tank to get hot water quickly. Or you can also upgrade your heater if you’ve been using it for a long time.

state select electric heater using a mini tank

However you do it, the important thing is that your water heater matches your hot water needs. Once you do that, you should have no issues with getting enough hot water from the heater.

iv. Fixing A Melted Dip Tube

A  common consequence of soldering the copper pipes together and attaching them to the heaters is that the dip tube gets melted. When that happens, the output water temperature could be less than what you wanted.

state select electric heater dip tube

The solution is to replace the dip tube. There’s no need to panic as it’s a relatively easy job. You’d have to remove the cold water inlet connection, pull the old dip tube out, and replace it with a new one.

3. Slow Hot Water Recovery

Imagine this scenario – you’re showering and you’re getting nice hot water. But there are bursts of cold water coming through the faucet every now and then. It’s not something that’s supposed to happen.

This issue is called slow hot water recovery. Your heater is meant to give a continuous flow of hot water. But when it doesn’t happen due to some issues, you’ll have cold water in the middle.

Sometimes, the hot water can run out altogether and you may have to wait for a long time to get hot water again. So, what causes it? Here are the main reasons behind it:

  • Low voltage.
  • Faulty lower heating element.
  • Defective lower thermostat.

How To Fix:

The right solution depends on the problem that’s causing the trouble. Let’s look at them one by one.

i. Fixing A Low Voltage Supply Issue

The first thing you should check when you’re facing this issue is whether there’s a low-voltage situation in your house. Look at the other demanding components like fans, ACs, or refrigerators.

If the fan runs slow or the refrigerator makes a bad noise, they point to a low voltage issue. It could be a temporary issue. All you have to do in that case is wait it out for a while and the problem should be fixed by the national grid.

But if the issue persists, you can do a proper test to know the exact voltage of the power outlets in your house. All you need to do the test is a multimeter. Follow these steps to do it:

  • Set the multimeter to the Volts AC option.
  • Make sure you’re holding the multimeter at the insulated handles to prevent any unwanted shocks.
  • Connect the black lead to the neutral wire first and the red lead to the hot wire. Do it in that exact order. If you connect the hot wire first, it can energize the other multimeter probe and increase the risk of an accident.
testing the voltage

You’ll get a reading on the multimeter. The correct wattage and voltage for your heater will be stated in the data plate. Once you get the voltage reading in the multimeter, compare it to the one in your data plate.

You’ll immediately know if there’s a prolonged voltage issue in your house by doing the test. As low voltage is a serious issue, your ideal course of action is to consult a trained electrician and have him fix the problem.

ii. Fixing A Faulty Lower Heating Element

When it comes to electric water heaters, remember that it’s usually the lower heating element that does most of the heavy lifting. So, they’re likely to go bad much faster.

fixing a faulty lower heating element

You’ll have to diagnose them the same way you did with the upper heating element. The only difference is that you’ll be removing the lower element access cover instead of the upper one.

If it’s damaged, you have to replace it. Skip to our section on how to replace the heating element for detailed instructions on doing it.

iii. Fixing Defective Lower Thermostat

If the heater wasn’t causing the issue, the next most likely culprit behind this issue is a faulty lower thermostat. I’ve already written a comprehensive post on diagnosing and replacing thermostats in the State Select water heaters. To learn more visit it that is linked above in the “how to reset the heater” section of the “no hot water” part.

4. The water Temperature Is Too High

It’s not normal for the hot water temperature to be extremely high. This issue is a serious one as it opens you up to the risk of scalding. The main reasons behind it are:

  • Shorted heating element.
  • Faulty thermostat.
  • Setting the thermostat too high.

How To Fix:

You already know how to deal with bad heating elements and thermostats. Diagnose them first and replace them if you find them to be faulty. The most common reason behind getting water that’s too hot would often be setting the temperature on the thermostat too high.

If you don’t have an understanding of what the right temperature is, then start by setting the temperature at 120°F. It takes a long time to scald you at this temperature. If it’s too low, then turn it up at 10-degree increments until you find a good fit.

state select electric heater change the temperature

The reverse of that is also true. If you find the temperature to be high at 120°F, then lower it by 10 degrees. If you don’t want to adjust the thermostat every now and then, you can install thermostatic mixing valves at the hot water faucets. They’re great at regulating temperature and protecting against burns.

One final word of advice regarding this issue is that you should make sure the thermostats fit tightly against the tank. Sometimes, you may have functional thermostats but they don’t work properly as they’re far from the water of the tank. So, inspect the thermostat and tighten them if they were loose.

5. Low Water Pressure

Bacteria can enter the water system and stay there if there’s low water pressure. It’s equally dangerous as high water pressure. It can also be extremely frustrating as the supply of hot water will also be reduced during this time.

The primary reasons behind this issue are-

  • Clogged pipes.
  • Melted dip tube.
  • The water supply valve is not fully open.

How To Fix:

The right solution depends on the problem. But how can you find out what’s causing the issue? Check whether you’re getting low water pressure on both the hot and cold water sides.

If both sides have this problem, it’ll usually be the result of clogged pipes or other issues in the water supply. Call your local utility company and have them send someone to fix your issue.

If only the hot water side has this low-pressure issue, it’ll most likely either be a partially opened supply valve or a melted dip tube. Check the valve first. If it wasn’t fully open, turn it on and that’ll take care of the issue.

state select electric heater water supply valve

Even if doing that doesn’t solve the issue, you have to replace the melted tube. It’s a plastic tube attached to the tank of the water heater in case you don’t know what it looks like. When you remove the cold water connection, you’ll be able to replace it and solve the low-pressure issue.

6. Dripping T&P Relief Valve Discharge Pipe

T&P valves or Temperature and Pressure relief valves are extremely important to protect water heaters from excess pressures and temperatures. They do it by discharging water. So, no water should come out of them when the heater is working normally.

state select electric heater T&P relief valve

It’s not a good sign if you see water dripping from the T&P discharge pipe. If you see a small amount of water coming out of it, the usual culprits are high water pressure and not using a thermal expansion tank.

Sometimes, debris can also get stuck in the T&P valve and cause this issue. When you have a large amount of water coming out of the T&P valve, it means the tank is overheating. A faulty T&P valve will also cause water to drip from the discharge pipe.

How To Fix:

If high water pressure is causing this problem, you need to install a pressure-reducing valve. Set it to 50 or 60 PSIs and you’re all done.

Have you installed a thermal expansion tank? If not, you need to install one. If you have already installed one, it may have the wrong pressure or have a defective internal bladder. Both these things need to be corrected.

The build-up of dirt can also keep the T&P valve from settling properly and make it drip. Remove the dirt from it by letting small amounts of water pass by manually operating the valve.

If you have the right water pressure, the right thermal expansion tank, no dirt in the T&P valve, and the valve still drips, it’s broken. You have no other option but to consult a qualified technician in that case.

7. Bad Smelling Water

The water temperature inside the tank is usually ideal for bacterial growth. So,  the bacteria residing in the tank multiply and create a lot more of themselves.

bad smelling water

Though the bacteria in the tank are harmless, they tend to give a very unpleasant smell. The closest example is a rotten egg smell. It can be hard for some people to use hot water when it smells like that.

How To Fix:

The surefire way to solve this problem is to kill the bacteria present in the tank.  You’d have to chlorinate the system to get rid of the smelly water.

If that seems a little extreme, you can try turning the water temperature above 140°F. This temperature is not ideal for bacterial growth and the smell should reduce over time. You can also replace the current anode rod in your tank with a special zinc rod to reduce the smell.

8. Limp Mode

There are some models of State Select water heaters that can go into limp mode. The control board of the heater switches to this mode when it senses that certain parts have gone bad.

The heater continues to operate but is not at its full potential. The four most likely culprits behind this issue are-

  • Faulty lower thermistor.
  • Defective lower heating element.
  • Damaged upper thermistor.
  • Defective upper heating element.

When the lower thermistor or the lower heating element goes bad, the heater goes into limp mode by only activating the upper heating side. When the upper thermistor or the upper heating element goes bad, it does the opposite.

How To Fix:

The heater will continue to operate in this mode until you fix the underlying issue that drove it into limp mode. You already know the four potential reasons behind it. You have to find the faulty component and replace it to solve the problem for good.

9. High Operation Costs

One particular issue that can make your blood run cold when using your heater is high operation costs. It can be extremely difficult to deal with, especially, if you don’t know what’s causing it.

There are many things that can increase the operating costs of your heater and leave you with a hefty bill. The most common ones are

  • Using an undersized water heater.
  • Wasting hot water.
  • Setting the thermostat too high.
  • Sediment build-up in the tank.
  • Leaking faucets.
  • Long runs of exposed piping.

How To Fix:

You already know what to do if you’re using an undersized water heater. Ideally, you can upgrade the heater to a bigger one. The other option is to add a small mini tank to keep hot water so that the load on the heater is reduced.

If you’re wasting hot water, no wonder your heater’s operation costs are high. The heater will be working harder to keep up with the hot water demands in such cases and increase the bill. Reduce your hot water consumption and use only as much as needed.

Setting the thermostat high is also absolutely unnecessary. Dial it down to make sure that you’re not making your heater work around the clock to maintain the water temperature.

You can lower the temperature to 50°F- 60°F during the night when you don’t plan to use hot water faucets. And you can turn it back on when you need to use it. Doing that can take a little work if you’re using older electric heaters. But it’ll be a breeze if you’re using heaters that have keypads.

Draining and flushing the tank will take care of the issue if you have sediment build-up in the tank. You can go to the “Solution” section of the next issue to learn all about draining and flushing the tank.

draining the water heater

If you have leaking faucets, a lot of hot water will be wasted. There will be a constant load on the heater to keep producing hot water. So, it’ll work overtime and drive up the energy bills. So, repair or replace the leaky hot water faucets in your house.

Finally, the issue can also occur when the hot water piping is exposed. The solution is simple – you have to insulate it so that the outside weather has less impact on it. Hopefully, taking these corrective actions will reduce your electricity bills by a great deal.

10. Sounds From The Water Heater

Another sign that your State Select water heater isn’t working properly is hearing sounds from it. The two main reasons behind it are

  • Sediment built up on the bottom of the tank.
  • Accumulation of scale on heating elements.

How To Fix:

If the sound is coming due to the build-up of sediment on the tank, you have to drain and flush the heater. Scroll below to learn how to drain the water heater.

11. Water Heater Leaking

Lastly, another common problem you may come across is your water heater leaking. It’s not safe to use the water in that condition. So, the first thing you should do is to turn the heater off in this condition. Next, you’ll have to diagnose the source of the leak and fix it.

There are many potential problem areas that can create the leak. Wherever there’s a joint with a component that involves water, there could be a leak. Here are the common water leakage points in a State Select electric tank-style water heater:

  • A loosely installed or cracked heating element.
  • Cracks in pipe joints.
  • A drain valve that’s not fully closed or damaged.
  • The T&P relief valve.
  • A corroded water tank.

How To Fix:

You should have already turned off the power to the water heater. Then, you should turn the water supply off and see where the leak is coming from. Sometimes, the leak will be obvious and you’ll see it right away.

During other times, you may have to feel the components by hand and check for water residue. Either way, you’ll have to seal the leak once you find out the source of the leak.

All of the issues I’ve mentioned can be fixed. The only major problem here is if you have a corroded tank. It’s too late to repair it and you’ll have to replace the tank or upgrade to a new heater to solve this issue.

We have a detailed guide about water leaks in State Select heaters that’ll show you how to deal with this issue. You’ll find appropriate solutions to all of the problems that can cause water leaks. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your heater to stop water leaks after following this guide.

How To Drain State Select Water Heater

Draining the State Select electric heater is incredibly easy. You can follow these steps to do it:

Step 1: Preparation For Draining The Water Heater

Turn off the circuit breaker connected to the water heater to make sure that the heater has no power supply. Shut off the cold water supply to the heater. If you don’t have that valve, turn off the main water supply in your house.

Open the hot water faucets in your house until the water is cool. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and place the other end of the hose outside or in a bucket to collect the water coming from it.

connecting the drain valve

Step 2: Inspecting If Sediment Comes Out

Open the drain valve to start draining the remaining water from the heater. Replace the anode rod if it’s in a bad state. Inspect if sediment is coming out along with the water. If no sediment comes out, that means it wasn’t the issue.

Step 3: Turn The Heater Back On

If you see sediment come out, turn the cold water supply back on until sediment stops coming out and you get clean water. Close the drain valve. Make sure a hot water faucet is open and water runs through it to remove the air.

open a hot water faucet

Close the hot water faucet and let the tank be fully filled with water. Turn the circuit breaker back on to restore power to the heater and wait for a couple of hours for the tank to heat up.

If you turn on the power supply before completely filling the tank with water, the heating element can be shorted. So, don’t make that mistake.

However, the build-up of scale on heating elements can also cause this issue. You’d have to clean the heating elements to solve the issue in that case.

I’ve written a detailed section on replacing heating elements that’ll come up later in this guide. Instead of replacing the heating element with a new one, you’ll take it out, put it in a white vinegar solution to get the scale out, and put it back in the heater.

State Select Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting [Diagnostic & Error Codes]

If your State Select water heater has a diagnostic LED light, you can know what’s wrong with your heater by looking at it. Here’s a quick view of what each diagnostic code means and how you can resolve the issue:

i) No LED Light

It means that the heater doesn’t have any power. Replace the blown fuse or reset the circuit breaker. This issue could also mean that the LED bulb has burned out. In that case, you’ll have to replace the electronic thermostat.

ii) 2 Red Flashes

This code means that the water temperature is too high and the ECO has been tripped. If you have a State Select electric water heater with a digital display, it’ll show the error code 002 to indicate this issue.

Turn off the electrical power to the heater, press the red reset button on the thermostat, and turn the power supply back on to solve this issue.

iii) 3 or 7 Red Flashes

When you see 3 red flashes in your State Select electric water heater, it means the upper thermistor sensor has failed. In the same way, 7 flashes indicate a failed lower thermistor sensor.

You’ll have to replace the failed sensor to fix the issue. Simply turn off the power to the heater by flipping the circuit breaker. Then, inspect the wiring connections.

If they’re good, you have to replace the faulty sensor. Turn the power back on and the issue will be solved. Check out our guide on fixing State Select sensor failure to learn about it in detail.

iv) 4 Red Flashes

This code refers to a failed upper heating element. On the units that have a digital display, the error code 021 will come up with an alert icon to indicate this problem.

Inspect the upper heating element and replace it if required. If the heating element is fine, it means the electronic thermostat has been damaged. You’ll have to replace it.

v) 5 Red Flashes

Check the heating element and replace it if it turns out to be damaged. If there are no issues with the lower heating element, you have a bad electronic thermostat. Replace it to clear the error code.

It’s like the 4 flashes code except it points to a faulty lower heating element. The error code 022 will pop up in units with digital displays. You’ll approach it the same way as you did with the upper heating element. 

vi) 9-12 Red Flashes

These diagnostic codes mean that the electronic thermostat is damaged. You can reset the heater first and see if the code goes away. If it does, that means it was a temporary glitch.

However, if the code comes back, it only goes on to confirm that you have a defective electronic thermostat. In that case, you’ll have to replace it.

Apart from these diagnostic codes, there are some other codes that can appear. I’ve only discussed the most common ones. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn about all the diagnostic codes.

If you’re interested in learning more about these error codes, check out our State Select water heater status light flashing guide. Go to the “State Select electric water heater status light flashing” section & you’ll learn more about the error codes and their appropriate fixes.

How To Replace State-Select Water Heater Heating Element

The first thing you have to do before replacing the heating element is to drain the water heater. You already know how to do it from the “How To Drain State Select Water Heater” section above.

You also know how to diagnose a faulty heating element now as you have read the process in the “How To Reset The Heater?” section. If the test reveals that you have a bad heating element, follow these steps to replace it after draining the water heater:

Step 01: Disconnect The Heating Element

Double-check that the power to the heater is off by inspecting the power wires using a non-contact circuit tester. You’ll either be replacing the upper or lower heating element. Once you’ve drained the tank, remove the right access panel. You’ll remove the upper access panel to replace the upper heating element and vice versa.

removing the upper access cover

Fold the insulation and remove the thermostat cover. Remove the connection between the power wires and the heating element. Use an element wrench to disconnect the heating element from the heater and pull it out.

Step 02: Insert The New Heating Element

Verify that you have the right replacement part by looking at the data plate. Clean the threads in the tank before putting in the new heating element.

Insert the new heating element in place of the old one. It’ll have a rubber gasket. Lubricate the gasket with dishwashing liquid to make sure that the heating element doesn’t get damaged when you tighten it.

pulling out the heating element

Tighten the heating element and secure it in its position using the element wrench. Open the cold water supply and wait for the tank to be filled with water.

Step 03: Testing The New Heating Element For Leaks

If there’s no leak, you can directly proceed to the next step. However, if there’s a leak, try to tighten the heating element.

If that doesn’t stop the leak, drain the tank once again and remove the heating element. The rubber gasket may be damaged. If that turns out to be the case, you need to replace it. Reinstall the heating element carefully making sure that the gasket remains intact.

Step 04: Put The Heater Back Together

Once you’re sure that there are no leaks and the heating element is secure, you can put the rest of the heater back together. Connect the power wires again and put the thermostat cover in its original position.

Place the insulation correctly and screw the access panel back in. Turn on the power supply to the heater and wait for a few hours for it to heat up.

That’s how easy it is to replace the heating element on your own. Make sure that the power supply to the heater is off when you remove it so that you don’t electrocute yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable taking on this job yourself, you can always hire a qualified technician to do it for you.


What temperature should you set your State Select water heater at when it’s in vacation mode?

A good temperature to set your electric water heater is around 50°F. The water will be warm enough to keep the water heater from freezing and also reduce energy consumption at the same time.

Why should you be careful when working with the T&P valve?

The water coming out of the T&P discharge pipe can be extremely hot and cause immediate burns. It can also damage the property. So, it’s wise to move people from the discharge area when you work on it.

What causes water leaks in State Select electric water heaters?

Leaking water from the State Select water heater tank means that one of the threaded connections is loose. The issue can be with the hot or cold water connection, drain valve, or relief valve. Tighten all the connections to solve this problem.

How do you reset the State Select electric water heaters?

There’s a red reset button on the thermostat that you can press to reset the ECO. If you want to reset the heater, you can flip the circuit breakers, wait for a few minutes, and turn the heater back on.

How to maintain the T&P valve?

Operate the T&P to make sure that the waterways are clear and it’s functioning freely. You should do this test at least once a year on your own and have a professional inspect it every 5 years.

Do all models of State Select electric water heaters have WiFi connectivity?

No, different State Select electric water heater models have different features. The model you own could have Wi-Fi connectivity, a digital display, and a keypad altogether whereas some models would have none of these things.

What to do when the thermostats in State Select water heaters won’t shut off?

When the thermostats don’t shut off, it’s due to them going bad or improper calibration. You have no other option but to replace the thermostats in both of these situations.


I’ve tried to cover every issue you could face in this State Select electric water heater troubleshooting guide. Hopefully, I’ve achieved that and you’ll be able to solve your heater’s problems and get it to work again.

Be patient when you’re diagnosing the issue as it can take some time to find the culprit. Well, if you’re having problems with your tankless water heater, you can check out our State Select tankless water heater troubleshooting guide.