My wife just turned on the hot water in the kitchen. After it warmed up, it started smoking. It's really, really hot. We
have a 10-year old low-boy State electric water heater. Has the thermostat failed?
The thermostat could have failed, but my money is on one of the heater
elements has gone bad. That is the outer shell that seperate the actual
electrical heating coil from the water has a hole or split in it.
A thermostat often breaks just one side of the line and the hole in the
element lets the water heat all the time.
Also check to see if the heater is releaving water out of the releif valve.
My first thought.
Yeah turn it off until you get your plan made.
Both standard thermostats and heating elements are available at Home
Depot iirc and if not there and an authorized plumbing supply store. I
assumed the latter before I knew how standardized most thermostats are.
Heaters vary in length and if they're folded over, and I didn't have to
replace one of those until the first water heater leaked and I took out
the old good elements.
Both easy to put in. To do the heating element, the guy told me turn
OFF THE INPUT VALVE that comes from the outside,, then unscrew the
heater, pull it out quick and put in the new one quick. Took me 5
seconds and only a teaspoon of water escaped. Better than the pain of
draining the tank, paying for new water and new electricity to heat it.
But I haddn't heard notbob's theory about the heater. Sounds more like
the thermostat. Do you have one or two. I don't know about lowboys.
With taller, generally only one heating element is on at a time. You
could note, even mark with a pen, where it points now, then turn it way
down and see if that makes the water cooler.
There should be a way to tell which part is broken with a meter, power
off some of the tests (220 volts probably. AC) one or two wires
disconnected to make tests, but I can't think without a wiring diagram
in front of me. Maybe came with the WH, maybe hanging from it now.
The problem *appears* to be the upper thermostat. When I took the cover off, the area around the lower thermostat was
not very warm. The area around the upper thermostat is quite hot. Unfortunately, the only thermostat I could get is the
Lowes Utilicrap brand.
There are two additional concerns now. The upper thermostat has to be in contact with the tank. The spring bracket on
the water heater is not holding the thermostat securely on the tank. I did not see a way to bend the spring brackets to
cause it to hold tighter. I'll have to investigate that problem better tomorrow. The second concern is that the new
thermostat did not come with a protective plastic cover, and the only one does not fit on the new thermostat. The only
thing that should be in contact with the screw terminals is the insulation, and it's non-conductive, so hopefully that's
not a problem.
The water is still *steaming* hot coming out of the water heater. I've decided to wait until tomorrow morning to turn
the power on so that I can monitor the performance of the water heater.
Don't know about the heater, but maybe you should find out
what the temperature of that water is.
Do you have a meat thermometer? Anything else that would be
more accurate than "looks hot"?
There is a dial on the water heater where you adjust the temperature.
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