How To Replace Water Heater Element And Thermostat

How To Replace A Water Heater Thermostat

Please keep in mind that this content may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, we may gain a small profit on purchases made via our links. The replacement of a onethermostat is an ideal time to replace both the upper and lower thermostats at the same time.

Testing the Thermostats on a Dual Element Water Heater

Because the majority of electric water heaters employ both an upper and a bottom element, the procedure outlined below is intended for these models only. A multimeter and a screwdriver will be required for this test. You can get an excellent, affordable multimeter online or at your local hardware shop for less than $20. Putting the UPPER thermostat through its paces:

  1. Immediately turn off the water heater’s electricity. Remove the panels that provide access to the elements, as well as the insulation beneath them
  2. Set the upperthermostat to the highest level possible with a screwdriver. Lower the lowerthermostat to its most conservative setting
  3. Restart the water heater by turning the power back on. Check the two wires above the reset button to ensure that electricity is being sent to the water heater. The voltage should be shown as 240 volts. Check the power on the upper element terminal screws with your multimeter to ensure they are not faulty. If there is no power, the thermostat is defective and must be replaced. Ensure that the lower thermostat is operational if there is electricity.

Putting the LOWER thermostat through its paces:

  1. Set the top thermostat to the lowest setting possible. Make sure that the lower thermostat is set to its maximum setting. Check to see whether there is voltage on the bottom component. Assuming the multimeter indicates that there is power at the element, take a few minutes for the water to warm up.
  • Turn down the thermostat’s temperature setting and listen for an audible click, which shows that the thermostat is operating properly.
  • To determine whether there is power at the element if there is no voltage, check the lower thermostat.
  • In order to test the top contact screw, place one of the multimeter probes there and another probe on the metal shell of the water tank. It should display a voltage measurement of about 120 volts. The top thermostat, which supplies voltage to the lower thermostat, will need to be replaced if there is no indication of operation. Place one probe on the lower contact screw of the water tank and the second probe on the metal casing of the water tank if a reading is obtained. It should display around 120 volts. If this is not the case, the lower thermostat will have to be changed.

Electric Water Heater Thermostat Replacement

Before working on a water heater, make sure the electricity is turned off or the breaker is turned off. You will need to remove the access panel and the safety cover in order to change the thermostats (do this for both upper and lower access panels on dual element units). Make sure the power is turned off with a voltage meter for the sake of safety before proceeding. Make a basic schematic of how the wires are linked to the diagram and label it accordingly. Remove the wires from the thermostat and set them aside.

Step 2

In order for the thermostat to sense the internal water temperature, it must be secured in place by means of a particular bracket that clamps down on it tightly against the tank wall. Remove one side of the bracket by gently prying it out while twisting the other side of the thermostat upwards to prevent the bracket from locking back into place. Repeat the process on the opposite side. On dual element versions, repeat the process with the lower thermostat.

Step 3

To purchase a replacement thermostat, bring the old thermostat(s) with you. Despite the fact that most thermostats are interchangeable, the greatest results are obtained by precisely matching the parts.

Step 4

If the bracket was broken during the removal of the thermostat, you can purchase a replacement bracket at the same time. When the old bracket is removed, the new one should be placed flat against the tank and dragged downward until it is securely in place.

Step 5

Each thermostat should be replaced by sliding it uniformly downward into the retaining bracket until it locks into position. Replace the wire in the exact same manner as it was removed. Replace the safety cover(s) and the access panel if they are damaged (s). Restore electricity to the water heater and allow it to run for one hour before checking the hot water pressure. If you believe that a heating element has failed as well, read How to Replace a Water Heater Element for more information.

Gas Water Heater Thermostat Replacement

Gas water heaters employ a different sort of thermostat system than electric water heaters. Generally speaking, on gas water heaters, the gas control valve, which incorporates both an adjustable thermostat and a heat limiting mechanism, is positioned on the outside of the unit, near the bottom. It may be distinguished from other components by the fact that it has temperature and pilot light controls.

The thermostat on a gas water heater will need to be replaced, and the gas control valve will need to be replaced as well. Do you need to change a water heater thermocouple or a water heater element? Refer to this page. Take a look at our articles on the subject!

How to Replace a Water Heater Element: A Step-by-Step Guide

It is possible that a water heater element may need to be changed. It is not necessary to replace your water heater only because the heating element has stopped working; instead, you may repair or replace it. Although changing a water heater element may appear to be a challenging undertaking, the majority of homeowners are capable of doing this repair themselves. The likelihood that one or both of your water heater’s heating elements are malfunctioning is high if your water heater takes a long time to heat up, runs out of hot water, or fails to supply any hot water at all.

Replacing a Hot Water Heater Element

If your water heater is more than six years old, you may want to think about replacing it with a new one. Water heaters normally have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years, so if your heater is more than a decade old, you may anticipate it to begin having difficulties much sooner rather than later. As a bonus, because modern water heaters are more energy efficient than older models, you’ll save money on your monthly utility bills as well.

Checking Your Water Heater Heating Element

Before rushing in and replacing your water heater’s heating element, make sure that the element is, in fact, the source of the problem. Sometimes, after replacing the heating element, it is discovered that the problem was not with the heating element in the first place. This can be accomplished by first checking to see whether a circuit breaker has been tripped or if the power has been mistakenly turned off. If the breaker is in good working order, the next step is to examine the reset button on the temperature cutoff device.

It’s usually represented with a red button.

If you have access to a multimeter, you may verify the continuity of the element.

Using this brief video, you will be guided through the procedure step-by-step.

Preparing to Change Your Water Heater’s Heating Element

The heating elements are sometimes referred to as immersion heaters since they are completely submerged in the water of the tank during operation. Keep in mind that heating components are only utilized on electric water heaters, which is vital to know. Gas water heaters heat water in a completely different way than electric water heaters.

Heating Element Style

There are two distinct types of heating elements: infrared and radiant. Screw-in: This is the sort of heating element that we will be discussing because it is the most prevalent. They are commonly found on all modern water heaters, and the element is secured in place with a screwdriver. Installed as a bolt-in element: There are various distinct designs for bolt-in elements, and if you have an older water heater, it’s probable that this kind was used.

The element is held in place by four bolts that go through it. If you wish to convert a screw-in element into a bolt-in element, you may purchase a universal adapter kit to do so.

Heating Element Location

Electric water heaters are equipped with two heating components. There are two elements: an upper part that is hidden behind the upper access panel and a bottom element that is visible from the outside. Typically, the lowest piece is the one that has to be repaired or replaced. As the sediment in your tank builds up, it will eventually settle in the bottom of the tank, where your lower element is located. The silt encircles the element, reducing its ability to perform its function. Eventually, it will either entirely fail or utterly short out on you.

Today is the day to fix your plumbing emergency!

Purchasing New Heating Elements

Purchase new heating elements with the same voltage, wattage, and type (screw-in or bolt-in) as the heating element you are replacing if you want to keep your existing system running efficiently. The new element’s voltage should always be the same as the voltage of the old element. However, if you want to lengthen the life of the element, you might choose a lesser wattage. You should keep in mind that the element will also produce less heat. Never replace an element with a higher wattage than the one you replaced.

If you are unable to locate it, you can always conduct a simple web search using the model number of your water heater (found on the name plate).

Types of Water Heater Elements

There are three different kinds of water heater elements. It is possible that your water heater is reaching the end of its service life and that you will wish to replace it with the least costly high watt density element available. The other, more expensive solutions should be considered if your heater is modern and you reside in a region where hard water is prevalent. Consider each of the following in further detail:

High Watt Density Heating Element

When it comes to water heater elements, High Watt Density Elements are the most popular and may be utilized in any replacement scenario as long as the wattage and voltage are compatible. In the majority of situations, a high watt density element will be the same type of element that was originally installed in your water heater. The corrosion of high-wattage density components results in a reduced life cycle for the elements. You may anticipate that these elements will be the least expensive of the three types to be purchased.

Low Watt Density Heating Element

Those who live in places with hard water will benefit from low-wattage density components. Many are constructed with a fold-back design to provide more heating area. Despite the fact that they have a lower watt density, there is no reduction in efficiency. The lime scale build-up that is frequent in locations with hard water can be reduced as a result of this. You can use a low watt density element to replace a high watt density element as long as the wattage and voltage are the same as the original element.

Element with a Low Watt Density (DERNORD) The DERNORD Foldback heating element has a low watt density and is ideal for small spaces. It is offered in two power ratings: 4500 watts and 5500 watts.

Lime Life Element

A limited 5-year guarantee is provided on these high-end components. Lime life elements feature an ultra-low watt density and a high-quality nickel and stainless steel surface that prevents the accumulation of lime scale on the element’s surface. Because they are resistant to dry burning, these components are an ideal choice if you live in a region where water supply levels are inconsistent. Lime life components are often the most costly element; yet, once installed, they will frequently outlast the life of the water heater itself.

It is offered in three different power ratings: 4500 watts, 5500 watts, and 6500 watts.

Necessary Supplies

You’ll need the following items in order to make changes to an element:

  • The following items are required: garden hose, water heater element wrench, voltage tester, new heating element with “O” ring.

Replacing a Heating Element

Replacing the heating element in a water heater is a reasonably straightforward procedure. Keep in mind, though, that you will be working with both electricity and water, which are two things that should not be mixed in any way. If you are not comfortable with the situation, you should contact a certified plumber. Your first and foremost concern should always be safety.

How to Replace a Heating Element

Step 1: Turn off the electricity.

  • Circuit breakers are located in the electrical panel and should be turned off. Check the voltage of the water heater to ensure that the electricity is no longer reaching the water heater. Due to the fact that you will be dealing with electricity and water, it is necessary that the water heater be switched off before beginning.

2nd step: connect the drain hose to the drain valve

  • Connect a hose to the drain valve and turn the valve to the open position. It is NOT necessary at this time to drain the tank
  • Rather, it is simply necessary to check to see that the drain valve is not blocked. If your tank is blocked, you’ll need to deal with it first
  • Otherwise, move on. Please do not empty your tank at this time. See the next section for instructions on how to replace a heating element without emptying your tank.
See also:  How To Convert A Natural Gas Water Heater To Propane

Step 3: Shut off the water supply.

  • Close the cold water inlet valve on the water heater, which is often placed above the water heater, to turn off the water supply to the water heater. Allowing air to enter the tank will relieve the pressure in the hot water system. To accomplish this, turn on a nearby faucet. Only the hot water tap should be opened, not the cold. Make certain that the tap is left open.

Step 4: Remove the Access Panel Cover from the Access Panel.

  • To remove the cover from the access panel, use a screwdriver to pry it up. The upper water heater element is housed within the upper panel. The lower element is housed in the lower panel, and there is normally insulation between the panel door and the thermostat itself. Set the insulation away in a cool, dry location
  • The thermostat should be protected by a plastic casing. Remove the lid in a gentle manner. Check the cables with a volt meter to make sure there is no electricity flowing through them
  • Examine the electrical wiring. Is there any damage to any of the wires? Is there anything that has melted? An element that has become overheated as a result of silt might cause damage to the wiring. It is necessary to repair any damaged wiring. Disconnect the two element wires from the heating element by loosening the screws that hold them in place.

Step 5: Disconnect the heating element from the circuit.

  • To remove the heating element, use a heating element wrench. With a large mouth that fits over the exposed section of the element, it’s particularly intended for removing electric water heater elements from water heaters. Whilst the tank is still partially filled with water, loosen the element by rotating it in a counter-clockwise direction. The weight of the water will assist in keeping the tank in place. Drain the tank by opening the drain valve after you’re satisfied that you’ve been able to release the heating element. This might take anything from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your tank. Remove the element from the equation. A rubber gasket, often known as a “O” ring, will be used to seal the tank. Make certain to remove the “O” ring that came with the element.

Installing the New Heating Element is the sixth step.

  • Clear away any dirt or debris from the threads and gasket region of the replacement element before installing it. Attach the new “O” ring to the new element using the new “O” ring. NEVER EVER EVER EVER use the old “O” ring
  • To install the element, gently put it into the tank and tighten it with the element wrench. Attach the two wires to the element and secure them in place by tightening the screws that hold them in position. Ensure that the wires are tight and will not slip by checking them twice.

Step 7: Fill the Tank with Water

  • Drain the water heater by closing the drain valve. Turn the water supply to the water heater on. At this time, do not switch on the electricity. If the tank is not completely filled with water before turning on the electricity, the heating components will be damaged. Ensure that the newly installed piece does not have any leaks. Turning off the cold water supply and tightening the element will stop any leaks from occurring. Removing the element and repositioning the “O” ring may be essential in some cases. It is normal for water to begin sputtering out of the open faucet tap as the tank fills (left open in Step 3). The water is forcing the air out of the line as it flows through it. As soon as there is a consistent flow of water, the faucet may be turned off. Replace the plastic thermostat cover, insulation, and access panel cover with new materials. You may turn the electricity back on to the water heater once the tank has been fully refilled by flicking the circuit breaker back on. The fact that there will almost certainly be air in the hot water pipes means that it is not unusual for the hot water taps throughout the home to splutter. Fortunately, this will subside in a short amount of time. Open each faucet individually, if desired, until you get a continuous stream of water
  • However, this is not necessary.

Take a look at the video

How to Replace a Heating Element Without Draining the Tank

It is feasible to replace the heating element in your water heater without having to drain the tank. Keep in mind, though, that it can be a little more difficult in some cases. If you’d like to give it a shot, the video below will walk you through the process. Take a look at the video

Test & Replace a Water Heater Thermostat: DIY Guide

We shall almost certainly all be confronted with the situation of a water heater that is not producing any hot water at some point in our lives. We have two options: either contact a qualified plumber or do it ourselves. Fortunately, most water heaters can be repaired reasonably quickly and inexpensively. There are two primary reasons for a water heater not working: If you’ve never checked or changed a water heater thermostat before, it might seem like a difficult process at first glance. It’s not too difficult.

When bathing or cleaning, no one enjoys using cold water.

In this post, we will look at how to diagnose your electric water heaterthermostat and how to replace it if it becomes damaged or malfunctioning.

How Electric Water Heater Thermostats Work

When you begin to realize that your water heater isn’t operating as efficiently as it should, the thermostat is more than likely the source of the problem, or at the very least a contributing factor. No need to repair the entire electric heater when you can save yourself both time and money by just replacing the thermostat instead. Once you’ve gone over the following instructions, it will only take a few minutes. Electric water heater thermostats function by opening and shutting connections, which allow electricity to pass to the heating components of the water heater.

Modern home water heaters are equipped with two heating components as well as two thermostats.

The higher thermostat differs from the lower thermostat in several ways.

It is quite rare for both thermostats to fail at the same time (although I do recommend replacing both when one fails).

Whenever a lower heating element or thermostat fails, the top thermostat and heating element will take over and continue to heat water in the upper part of the hot water storage tank. Nonetheless, you will observe that the hot water runs out soon or is barely lukewarm.

Are Electric Water Heater Thermostats Universal?

No, not all water heater thermostats are designed to be interchangeable. It is important to note that there are certain differences in thermostats between single-element and dual-element water heaters. Additionally, with dual-element water heaters, there is a differential between the top and bottom thermostats. In order to properly select a water heater thermostat, you must first determine the number of elements and the voltage of the water heater in question. It is possible to obtain this information from the data tag located on the side of the water heater.

The voltage is inscribed on the end of the heating element, and it may be read with a magnifying glass.

There are more than 50 different household tank-style electric water heaters available on the market, and the thermostats on the majority of them are designed to be interchangeable.


Typical household water heater thermostats are seen in this photo, which includes an upper and lower thermostat for each. Because it is located above the lower thermostat, the thermostat on the left has a high limit switch, which can be identified by the red reset button. The upper thermostat is in charge of controlling both the upper element and the lower thermostat, respectively. When you look at it from this angle, you can see the bottom thermostat, which regulates the lower element. For a replacement kit that includes two heating elements, upper and lower thermostats, and seals, we offer theRheem SP20060 Electric Water Heater Tune-Up Kit, which can be purchased on for about $30.

A universal upperthermostat produced by Rheem is what we’re looking at here.

It is a Rheem lower thermostat that is universal in use.

Single-Element Thermostats

The thermostat seen here is for a water heater with a single heating element. The thermostat is very similar to an upper dual-element thermostat, with the only variation being the amount of wire terminals on the thermostat. In this case, the single element thermostat has just two terminals on the right side and four on the left side, as you can see in the illustration. If you require a single-element thermostat, the Camco 07843 Single Element Water Heater Thermostat with HLC is a good option to consider purchasing.

The following is a list of the supplies you’ll require:

  • In addition, you’ll need a 1/4-inch nut driver or a flathead screwdriver, two Phillips screwdrivers, an analog or digital multimeter/voltmeter, and a new thermostat.

How to Test a Water Heater Thermostat for Continuity – Step-By-Step

We must examine the thermostats for continuity in order to identify whether or not the thermostat has failed. You’ll need an analog or digital multimeter for this, which you can get here.

WARNING: Working with electricity is extremely hazardous and can result in death. Before dealing with wiring or electrical connections, be certain that the power is turned off. Follow these procedures to determine which thermostat is malfunctioning.

Step 1: Turn the power off

Make your go to your circuit board and locate the water heater breaker to switch off the power supply. Discover and switch off the breaker that is labeled “water heater” or “hot water” in the electrical panel box where the water heater is located.

Step 2: Remove the outside access covers

To remove the access cover from the upper and lower thermostats, use a 1/4-inch nut driver or flathead screwdriver to pry them off. Fold the insulation back over the thermostat to prevent it from being damaged. To keep the insulation out of the way, use tape to hold it in place. Remove the plastic cover that covers the thermostat on the inside of the house.

Step 3: Confirm power is off to the water heater

Make sure the water heater is not receiving electricity before working on it with a multimeter before doing anything on the thermostat. If you have a voltage stick, you may also use it to measure the voltage. Connect the top and legs of the multimeter at the same time, using the multimeter connectors. The meter should be set to zero. Touch each leg of the water heater while the black connector is in contact with it to ensure there is no electricity.

Step 4: Check the high limit reset button

If the manual reset switch, also known as the high limit reset button, has been tripped, it should be replaced. This button will trip on occasion if any of the following conditions are met:

  • There is a short circuit between the thermostat contacts
  • The thermostat is out of tune
  • The heating element has failed

Step 5: Disconnect the wiring

Take a photo with your phone or a digital camera to use as a reference if it becomes necessary to identify which cables are connected to which terminal in the future. To detach the wiring from the thermostat terminals, unscrew the terminal screws using a Phillips #2 screwdriver and pull the wiring away from the terminals.

Step 6: Check the thermostat with a multimeter

Set the resistance of the multimeter to the lowest ohms possible (typically x10). Using your fingers, squeeze the probes together and adjust the needle to zero to calibrate your meter. To check the resistance of a digital multimeter, set it to the lowest possible value of resistance (usually 200), or, if your multimeter has an option for resistance with tone, choose it. Take one of the black probes from your multimeter and insert it into the screw terminal on the left side of the instrument. Take the red probe and connect it to the other left-side terminal on the other side.

This means that the thermostat is not functioning properly and must be replaced.

For a demonstration, please see the video above.

As soon as you have finished testing your water heater thermostat, you may either reconnect the wire and close the access cover, or you can proceed to the next step, which is replacing the thermostat.

Assuming you have decided that your thermostats do not require replacement, you may proceed to inspect your heating components. How to Test and Replace a Faulty Water Heating Element is a step-by-step guide that explains how to accomplish this in further detail.

How to Replace a Faulty Water Heater Thermostat – Step-By-Step

Once you’ve discovered which thermostat is faulty, it’s time to begin the process of removing and replacing it. Insider’s Tip: As previously said, it is typically a good idea to change both thermostats and heating components on a yearly or biannual basis. The reason for this is that if one of the heating components is beginning to fail, it has the potential to short out the replacement thermostat shortly after it has been placed, causing it to fail. Some of the stages will be repeated in this section.

For those who have not yet tested their thermostats, we will first go through the preparatory processes.

See also:  Where To Buy Gas Water Heater

Step 1: Turn the power off

Make your way to the circuit breaker box and look for the switch labeled ‘Water Heater’ or anything along those lines. It should be turned off, making sure to turn off both switches if it is a 220v switch. If you’re not sure which water heater is causing the problem because of outdated stickers or labels, get a professional to turn them off for you.

Step 2: Remove the outside access covers

Remove the cover panel that corresponds to the thermostat that has to be replaced and set the cover panel aside. The coverings for water heater tanks are often located on the side of the tank. Ensure that you do not loose any of the little screws by using the 1/4-inch nut driver or a flathead screwdriver for this section. Remove the insulation from the thermostat as well as the plastic protective cover that covers it.

Step 3: Confirm power is off to the water heater

Each wire should be tested with your multimeter/voltmeter. This may be accomplished by grounding one of the lines and checking each terminal one at a time until the problem is resolved. Even if you have shut off the power at the circuit breaker, you should always double-check your work using one of these meters to ensure that you have not electrocuted yourself. Connect the top and legs of the multimeter at the same time, using the multimeter connectors. The meter should read 0 at this point. Touch each leg of the water heater while the black connector is in contact with it to ensure there is no electricity.

Step 4: Disconnect the wiring

Take a photo with your phone or a digital camera to use as a reference if it becomes necessary to identify which cables are connected to which terminal in the future. Disconnect the wiring from each terminal on the thermostat with a Phillips screwdriver #2. Remove the thermostat from the wall.

Step 5: Remove the defective thermostat

Gently remove the old thermostat by pulling outward on the clips and raising the thermostat up and out of the retaining bracket with your finger or a flathead screwdriver. Caution should be exercised to avoid breaking the retainer bracket. It is possible that breaking this retaining clip will result in the need to replace your water heater.

Step 6: Insert the new thermostat

Inserting the new thermostat into the retaining bracket that holds the old thermostat in place will allow you to precisely position the new thermostat. Reconnect the wires to the relevant terminals by twisting them together. If necessary, you can refer to the photograph you took previously for guidance. Check to see that each wire is securely linked to the next. Check to see that the thermostat is securely attached to the water heater, otherwise the thermostat may not operate correctly. After that, adjust the thermostat to the temperature you like for the water.

These modifications may be accomplished with the use of a flathead screwdriver.

The following is an insider’s tip: If you intend to replace your heating element with your new thermostat, you will need to empty the water heater first.

Some people propose doing a quick change without draining the storage tank; however, I do not encourage this because any mistakes might cause harm to the interior of your house. Check out our post on how to empty your water heater, as well as additional water heater care advice.

Step 7: Reattach the cover panels

Now that you’ve completed the replacement, it’s time to seal everything up and double-check your work for mistakes. Remove the plastic protective cover and insulation and replace them with new ones. Reattach the outside access panels if they have been removed.

Step 8: Turn the power back on

Following the completion of the installation, return to the electrical box and re-energize the circuit breaker (if necessary). Hot water recovery will take around one hour to complete, but you should be able to use hot water within 15 minutes after turning on the faucet. Over the next several days, make sure to check on the water heater on a regular basis.

Water Heater Thermostat FAQs

Electric water heater thermostats are typically pre-set by the manufacturer to 110 or 120 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the model. You have the option of increasing the temperature to the maximum setting, which is typically 150 degrees Fahrenheit, if necessary (65 degrees Celsius). The maximum water temperature setting should be no greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius), since a higher setting might provide a scorching threat to small children and the elderly.

Should water heater thermostats be set to the same temperature?

In fact, the top and lower thermostats should both be set at the same temperature. The dip tube is responsible for delivering cold water to the bottom of the tank. Having consistent settings across the tank helps to keep the temperature consistent throughout the tank.

What would cause a water heater thermostat to burn up?

A malfunctioning heating element, a power surge, or just the passage of time can cause a water heater thermostat to burn up. When internal components of water heater thermostats wear out, they become faulty and fail. Even with regular electric currents, an older thermostat may experience failure. If the manual reset switch on your water heater thermostat does not work, the thermostat will need to be repaired or replaced. Replacement of both thermostats and heating elements should be done at the same time because if one of the heating elements is beginning to fail, it may cause the new thermostat to short out shortly after it is installed, which is not recommended.

Final Thoughts

Simply said, that’s the whole story! Water heaters aren’t too difficult to maintain, and replacing a thermostat can be completed in a matter of minutes if you know what you’re doing and have the right tools. The most important thing to remember while working with electrical equipment is to avoid taking shortcuts. Although it is possible to change your water heater thermostat in a short period of time utilizing the correct skills and tools, doing so is not recommended. DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is not intended to be professional guidance.

It is owned and operated by Hubert Miles who is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by placing advertisements and links on their websites that direct traffic to (hereinafter referred to as “” or “ Associates Program”).

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How to replace an electric water heater thermostat

Replacement of the thermostat in an electric water heater is covered in detail in this do-it-yourself repair guide. The thermostat regulates the temperature of the water by turning on and off the heating element on and off. If the thermostat stops operating, the element will either not turn on at all, resulting in cold water, or it will stay on for an excessive amount of time, resulting in scorching water. Replace a faulty thermostat with a replacement part that has been approved by the manufacturer.

  • O.
  • How to replace the thermostat on an electric water heater with this video repair instruction.
  • Warning: It might be dangerous to do repairs or maintenance on appliances or power equipment without proper training.
  • In an effort to decrease the danger, make use of the right tools and safety equipment as specified in the applicable handbook and adhere to all of the guidelines.
  • A qualified technician, on the other hand, should be called in for some repairs or maintenance.

DIY Water Heater Testing and Repair

Occasionally, the heating elements on electric water heaters break long before the water heater itself fails, but changing them in a hot water heater is a simple Do It Yourself repair.

Tools Required

The majority of the time, replacing one or both of the heating elements will address the problem if your electric hot water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water more quickly than it used to, or not delivering any hot water. Water heater repairs are simple, and replacement components are affordable ($8 to $20), and they are easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers across the country. How to test the heating elements, remove one if it’s defective, and replace it with a new one will be demonstrated.

If your heater is reaching its end of life, it may be more cost-effective to replace it than to repair it.

Other Causes of Water Not Getting Hot

Of course, there are a variety of additional factors that might contribute to a shortage of hot water. Before you begin testing the elements, double-check that the circuit breaker is not tripped and that it is in the on position. Press the reset button on the high-temperature cutoff, which is positioned slightly above the top thermostat, at the same time. Although resetting either the circuit breaker or the high-temperature cutoff may remedy the problem, the fact that they were tripped in the first place may suggest that there is an electrical fault with the system in the first place.

Assuming that the heating components are working properly, the thermostats or cutoff switch may be defective. Because they’re affordable (around $20 for both the thermostat and the cutoff switch), you could just replace them rather than go through the trouble of testing them.

Video: How to Test Your Water Heater Element

  • Power should be turned off at the circuit breaker. Remove the metal covers from the thermostats and heating components to reveal them.
  • Pro tip: Check that the power has been turned off by tapping the electrical connections with a noncontact voltage detector.

Test the Wires

  • Please keep in mind that if the wires are covered by metal conduit, the tester will not read the voltage. Take off the metal thermostat cover that is mounted on the side of the water heater, peel out all of the insulation, and place the tester in close proximity to the wires that go up to the top of the high-temperature cutoff switch.
  • Placing the tester against the metal water heater shell will get the following results:
  • Note: If the tester does not light up, it is okay to proceed with the testing of the components.

What’s Inside a Water Heater and How It Works

The vast majority of domestic electric water heaters feature two heating elements: one near the top of the tank and another towards the bottom of the tank. After entering the top, power travels to the high-temperature cutoff switch, and then to the thermostats and elements on each side of the unit. The temperature of the top and bottom components is regulated by two different thermostats. When the water at the top of the tank becomes too hot, the top element goes off and the bottom element takes over to heat the water.

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Test Continuity for a Burned-Out Element

  • Please keep in mind that you will need a continuity tester ($5 to $10) for this stage.
  • Disconnect the wires from the terminal screws using a wire cutter. Attach the alligator clamp to one of the element screws using a hex key. With the tester probe, make contact with the other screw.
  • Note: If the tester does not illuminate, the element should be replaced.

Test for a Short Circuit

  • The alligator clip should be attached to one of the element screws. Touch the tester probe to the mounting bracket for the element
  • Repeat the process on the other screw.
  • It is important to note that if the tester light illuminates either time, there is a short. Replace the element with a new one

The Secret of the Red Button

Occasionally, both elements will pass the test, but you will still be unable to receive hot water. Try pressing the “high-temperature cutoff” button, which is situated right above the upper thermostat, to see if that helps. It may temporarily cure the problem, but if the problem recurs, the heating components should be checked. Step number five.

Remove the Bad Element

  • Close the intake valve for cold water
  • Start by turning on the hot water tap in the kitchen. Pour water into the tank by connecting a garden hose to the drain valve and opening it
  • Note: A water heater element wrench (available for $5 at home centers and hardware stores) is required for thread-in–type elements such as those shown below.
  • Remove the old heating element by unscrewing it using a heating element wrench.
  • Pro tip: To spin the socket, you’ll need a long, robust Phillips screwdriver with a flat blade. To free the threads that have become stuck, use a cold chisel and a hammer to loosen the threads that have become stuck.

Install the New Element

  • Insert the replacement element into the water heater and tighten it down with the heating element wrench if necessary. Reconnect the wires, checking to see that the connections are secure. Remove the insulation and metal covers and replace them.

Buying Heating Elements

Replace your heating element with one that has the same wattage as your existing one. For information on wattage if your old element isn’t labeled, look at the nameplate on the water heater, your instruction manual, or search online using the model number found on the nameplate. Heating elements are secured to the water heater with either a big thread and nut, as illustrated below, or with four bolts and nuts, as indicated in the diagram below. Most home centers carry the type we’ve shown, but if you’re replacing the four-bolt version, you may purchase an adaptor kit.

See also:  How Much Propane Does A Hot Water Heater Use

Low-density parts that are more costly are typically folded back.

Replacement of your old element with a low-density element will result in more efficient functioning and a longer service life.

How to Test, Troubleshoot & Repair an Electric Water Heater Thermostat: DIY Guide

Every year in the United States, around 1.5 million water heaters are replaced. That’s a significant amount of money. However, not all water heater issues are severe enough to warrant the purchase of a new heater. Some electric water heater thermostat problems might be resolved by doing a DIY repair at home. And that is exactly what this tutorial is all about. Let’s have a look at how to test and repair an electric water heaterthermostat now, shall we? Before we go any further, what exactly is the purpose of an electric water heater thermostat, and how does it function?

What Is The Purpose of an Electric Water Heater Thermostat?

We wash our clothes, do the dishes, and take a nice shower every day. However, the amount of hot water we consume for these tasks is not the same. Furthermore, the thermostat is essential since it regulates the temperature of the electric heater. An electric water heater is, at its most basic level, a piece of electrical equipment that consists of three components: a heating element, a thermostat, and a switch. Electric water heaters are used to heat water for various purposes. As a result, the thermostat functions as a switch that is actuated when the temperature of the water changes.

  1. When it senses a drop in water temperature, it will activate the elements, causing them to generate heat.
  2. So, how does it determine if the water is cold or hot to drink?
  3. Furthermore, there is no insulator at the point where the tank meets the thermostat.
  4. Having stated that, when electricity is introduced into the device, the heating element becomes extremely hot and begins to convert the power into heat.

This then transforms your cold water into hot water, at a temperature of around 120°F. Finally, the high limit switch keeps the hot water from becoming scorching hot while it is running.

How Does An Electric Water Heater Thermostat Work?

Electric water heaters are classified into two categories:

  • In addition to the single element water heater, there is also a twin element water heater.

The single element type is comprised of a single element thermostat as well as a single element heating element. Tanks are often lower in size since only a single thermostat is required to regulate the temperature. Two thermostats and two heating elements are found in the dual element water heater, on the other hand. The majority of water heaters are dual-element water heaters, which is what we’ll be focusing on throughout the remainder of this article. A single element heater, on the other hand, may be checked and changed in the same manner.

  1. The thermostats for electric water heaters generate heat in the tank by enabling energy to flow into the elements of the water heater.
  2. The top thermostat, which is also the principal thermostat, regulates the heating element in the top part of the unit, as well as having a high limit switch.
  3. Keep in mind that the high limit switch, which is placed in the same region as the higher thermostat, includes a reset button that activates when the water temperature becomes too warm (over 170F).
  4. A 240-volt power supply is used to heat the water, which is subsequently heated by the higher heating element.
  5. The problem is that only the water in the upper part of the tub becomes heated, while the water in the lower half is either chilly or lukewarm at best.
  6. As the bottom heating element gets 240 V, it warms the water in the bottom region to the temperature that has been specified before the process is completed and turned off.

Problems with Electric Water Heaters

Sometimes, when your heating elements or water heater thermostats fail, you will notice a difference in the performance of your device. If the upper element or thermostat in your water heater breaks, the water heater may be unable to provide hot water. And whether it’s the bottom element or the thermostat that’s defective, you’ll find that you’re running out of hot water quite soon as well. These, on the other hand, might be a result of the cold weather or pipes that are not properly insulated.

However, it is possible that this is due to the thermostat being set too high or the changing of the seasons.

A defective electric water heater may also take an excessive amount of time to reheat the water in your water heater. Other issues might arise as a result of improper tank maintenance or excessive water pressure at home.

How to Test an Electric Hot Water Heater Thermostat and Fix it: Step by Step Guide

We’re going to test both the thermostats and the heating components in our unit to be certain that we’re not dealing with a false alarm. It’s important to note that if your elements are open and grounded, the algorithm may produce a misleading result, which is why we’re also evaluating them. It is necessary to have a Flathead and Philips screwdriver, as well as a digital multimeter, in order to carry out the test described in this section. Let’s get this party started.

Step 1: Turn the power source off

Locate the water heater breaker panel on your circuit breaker panel and switch off the water heater or the hot water supply.

Step 2: Remove the outer access panels

With a flathead screwdriver or 1/4-inch nut driver, pry up the top and lower thermostat access panels on the unit’s left and right sides.

Step 3: Remove the insulation

You have two options for removing the insulation: either entirely remove it or fold it over the thermostat. As well as removing the plastic safety barrier that was covering the thermostat and heating element, Also, use tape to hold the insulator in place as you work on this step, and be careful not to yank the wiring out as you work.

Step 4: Check the high limit switch button

Check to see whether the red high limit reset button has been triggered by accident. If it has, you should push it. The red switch button may trip on occasion if the heating components fail, if the connections on the thermostat have fused closed, or if the thermostat is not calibrated properly.

Step 5: Disconnect the wires

Using your Philips screwdriver, disconnect the wires that are entering each terminal on your computer.

Step 6: Turn the temperature setting to the highest

Make sure that the temperature on the top thermostat is set to its maximum level, and that the scale on your multimeter is set to RX1.

Step 7: Check the thermostat and heating element with a multimeter

Set the resistance of your analog or digital meter to the lowest possible value, which should be 200 ohms. You should hear a click sound at this point. Then attach the black probe to the screw terminal on the left side of the screw terminal. In addition, connect the second red probe to the other terminal, which is still on the left side of the board. Then, using your reading, check to see if the thermostat is still operational. As long as the meter shows zero or a reading that is very near to zero, your thermostat is in proper operating order.


Step 8: Repeat the process for the right side

In addition, lower the top thermostat on the right side to its lowest setting and connect the probes to the screw terminals on the left side. This should also return a zero as a result of the condition.

Step 9: Take the meter reading on the lower thermostat

After confirming that the upper thermostat is in proper operating order, repeat the process to ensure that the lower thermostat is in proper working order. Take note that there are only two connections on the bottom thermostat, which is a little number. Check to ensure that the reading is zero before continuing. Assuming that the thermostats are in good working order, you may check the heating components to make sure they are working properly. However, if one or more of the thermostats needs to be replaced, continue reading.

How to Replace A Faulty Thermostat on an Electric Water Heater

It is rather simple to replace a malfunctioning thermostat. Furthermore, purchasing a new one is inexpensive. As a result, even if the problem is with a single thermostat, we’re going to replace both of the thermostats.

Prior to doing so, you’ll need to make sure that all of your thermostats are from the same brand. If you are unable to obtain this product, another one from a reputable brand would suffice. You’ll need a few tools.

  1. A flathead screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver, a digital multimeter or a voltmeter, and a replacement thermostat are all necessary tools.

Now it’s time to get started.

Step 1: Turn off the power supply to the heater

You don’t want to be working with the electricity turned on. So go to the circuit breaker panel and turn off the electricity to the water heater that is currently attached to it.

Step 2: Remove the outer access panel and insulation

Electric water heaters feature access panels on the outside that protect the thermostat and heating components. Remove the insulating pad and plastic covering by unscrewing the nut, taking care not to contact the wires in the process.

Step 3: Take out the Thermostat

Take a photo of the wiring before you remove the malfunctioning old thermostat so that you can remember which wire goes into which terminal while you’re attaching the new thermostat. Alternatively, you can label the wire. Using your multimeter, you should also check to see if it is turned off. Then, using a Philips screwdriver, remove the screw terminals and separate the wire from the terminals. After that, you may peel the thermostat away from its attachment clamps and bracket. However, proceed with caution so as not to harm the clips.

Step 4: Install the new thermostat

After you’ve successfully removed the broken thermostat from the water heater, you’ll need to fix the new thermostat installed in the water heater. Position it appropriately so that it rests comfortably on the surface of the storage tank, and attach the appropriate clips by referring to the image you captured in the preceding step. In addition, connect the circuit wires to their corresponding screw terminals and tighten the screws on the terminals. In addition, it may be a good idea to examine the heating components, clean them, and replace them.

Step 5: Set the temperature of your new thermostat

When you’re certain that the wires are correctly connected and you’re through setting up your thermostat, use your flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature to the ideal setting for you. The optimal temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 6: Replace every other thing you took out

Having completed your setup, it is now time to reinstall your insulators as well as the chamber access panel. After that, reconnect the power supply by turning on the water heater breaker on the circuit breaker panel to the water heater.

Step 7: Cycle test your electric water heater

If you want to test if your water heater heated your water sufficiently, you may turn on the hot water faucet for two hours and observe if the heater did a good job. Troubleshooting Other Water Heater Issues and How to Resolve Them Leaks of water: The majority of the time, faulty valves and plumbing connections are to blame for water leaks in the home. However, corrosion in the water heater tank or loose components in the water heater tank might be the source of the problem. If your tank has rusted beyond repair, you will have no choice except to replace it.

  • Noises coming from the tank: If your tank is making noises such as rumbling, popping, or high-pitched sounds, it might be due to boiling water.
  • Things’s a simple matter of putting it back together.
  • If it does not function, the tank should be replaced.
  • It’s also possible that the corrosion is occurring in your pipes.
  • If the water flowing through your home smells like rotten eggs, it’s possible that bacteria has accumulated in your hot water tank over time.

It is possible that you may need to replace the anode rod in order to correct this. You, on the other hand, cannot achieve this on your own. In addition, hire the services of a skilled plumber to help you.

Wrapping up

You should now be aware of the measures to take in order to simply test and replace your faulty water heater thermostat. Working with electricity, on the other hand, may be quite dangerous, therefore take steps to ensure that the power supply to your water heater is always turned off. Another thing to keep in mind is that silt that accumulates at the bottom of water heater tanks is the most significant factor in lowering the performance of water heaters over time. It might also lead to the overheating of your heater.

Other options include installing a sediment filter and/or a water softener in your water supply.

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