How to Replace an Electric Hot Water Heater Thermostat

Written by kenneth crawford
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How to Replace an Electric Hot Water Heater Thermostat
Replace your hot water heater thermostats for proper water temperatures. (water image by Joshua Peterson from Fotolia.com)

Replacing electric hot water heater thermostats is not difficult. It is a good idea to purchase the replacement thermostats in advance. Know how many you have, along with the voltage on your water heater. Most water heaters have two thermostats, while smaller apartment-size water heaters have only one. You can tell by the number of access doors on the side of the water heater. The voltage is labelled on one of the doors or near the front.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Voltmeter

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn off the circuit breaker to the hot water heater. The circuit breaker is in your home electrical panel box, inside the door.

  2. 2

    Remove the screws that secure the upper and lower access panels to the water heater tank with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Remove the access panels and pull any insulation away that may be covering the thermostats.

  3. 3

    Place one of the probes from your voltmeter on one of the upper wire terminal screws on the upper thermostat. Scratch the body of the water heater with the other voltmeter probe so that you get a good ground. You should not get a reading on your voltmeter scale. If you do have a reading, go back to the home electrical panel and turn off the circuit breaker to the hot water heater.

  4. 4

    Disconnect the wires going to the upper thermostat; remove the wire terminal screws with the Phillips-head screwdriver. Disconnect the screws that secure the upper thermostat to the water heater with the Phillips-head screwdriver.

  5. 5

    Place the new upper thermostat into position on the water heater and secure the thermostat with the retaining screws. Bend the ends of the wires to hook around the terminal screws on the thermostat and tighten the screws to secure the wires.

  6. 6

    Remove the wires from the lower thermostat. Remove the screws securing the lower thermostat to the water heater and pull the lower thermostat off the water heater.

  7. 7

    Place the new lower thermostat into position and secure the thermostat with the retaining screws. Attach the wires to the terminal screws and tighten the screws with the Phillips-head screwdriver.

  8. 8

    Fold the insulation back over the thermostats and reattach the access panel covers. Turn on the circuit breaker to the hot water heater.

Tips and warnings

  • Always turn power off to the water heater before attempting any repairs or testing.

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