Tips For Replacing The Upper And Lower Thermostats In An Electric Water Heater

An electric water heater has two thermostats on the unit: an upper thermostat and a lower thermostat. Each thermostat checks its half of the tank's water to see if the optimal temperature has been reached. Once the temperatures are reached, the thermostats signal the system to stop heating the water. But a problem with one or both thermostat can leave you with lukewarm water.

If you know which thermostat is causing the issue, or have simply decided to change out both thermostats, the repair process isn't difficult. But there are a few tips to keep in mind to make the project run smoothly and quickly.

Both Thermostats Remove the Same Way

If you figure out how to remove one of the thermostats, you can do the other in exactly the same way. And the process is fairly simple from start to finish. Make sure you start by switching off the power to the unit at the circuit breaker as you never want to work near water when there's active electricity.

You can find the thermostats by looking for two identical access covers that are vertically parallel. Remove one of the panel doors by removing its fasteners and you will now see a wall of foam insulation. Look for the bottom lip of the wall and you should see that the insulation can lift up out of the way. You can even tape it to the side of the tank to make sure it stays out of the way.

Then you only need to remove a plastic cover to get to the thermostat.

Wire Orientation is Important

There are wires hooked up to the thermostats that will need to be unhooked so that you can pull the old thermostat out of the water heater. The wires will stay behind to be hooked to the new thermostat, assuming the wires aren't rusted, damaged, or melted, which would require a call to a plumber to finish your water heater repair project.

It's very important that you hook those wires up in the correct places on the new thermostat. If you have a good memory and have the new thermostat ready to install immediately, the wire orientation shouldn't be an issue.

But if you have a poor memory or need to take a break during the repair process you might want to use a digital camera to help guarantee proper orientation. Take a picture of the wires attached to the old thermostat before unhooking the wires. You can then refer to the picture when it comes time to hook the new thermostat up into the heater.

Thermostats Aren't the Only Cause of Lukewarm Water

Water heaters involve a number of parts that all need to work together correctly to heat your water. A problem with any one of those parts could leave you with lukewarm water. If you're not sure the problem is one or both of the thermostats, which mostly has to be determined through process of elimination, it is better to call in a professional plumbing services company such as Stephens Plumbing And Heating Inc for diagnostics.