Okay, so this is my first house and I'm trying to keep my costs to a
minimum by doing all repairs by myself. That said, I've gone to the
local orange box to pick up 2 thermostats and 2 elements.
When I first discovered I had a problem, I couldn't get any hot water
to come out. I took the two panels off the tank and felt the tank; it
was hot. Anyways I ended up replacing the upper thermostat and that
worked for about 2+ days.
This morning I awoke to find little/no hot water. I took the upper
panel off again and hit the reset button. My shower 10 mins later was
lukewarm at best. I came home from work for lunch to find the water
scalding hot. I checked the water heater and steaming water was coming
out the pressure release valve.
So now I've decided to replace the other thermostat and 2 elements in
hopes that I won't have to replace the hot water heater. The only
trouble is I can't get the elements off.
So now my question is: Does the description above sound like an
element problem or does it sound like a thermostat problem? Both?
I'll go buy a special element wrench if need be, but before I do I'd
like to get some opinions on the matter.
I'd appreciate any feedback!
If it's overheating, it probably isn't an element, but with an ammeter you
could see exactly what each element is doing. It's hard to believe a new
thermostat has gone bad this quickly. Have you attached the thermostat
properly to the tank? If it's loose it won't read temperature properly and
Is the thermostat properly attached so that it accurately senses
the tank temp? Too high of tamp cannot be caused by bad elements,
so don't replace them. You can check the elements easily with
"You couldn't get any water to come out"? Was the water to the
heater turned on?
I had that exact problem with an electric water heater maybe 20 years
ago. Thermostat sticks on, tank overheats until the thermal button pops
Shouldn't be a problem with the elements. The elements are doing what
they are supposed to do, heating the water. The element is either on or
off, according to the thermostat.
As I understand it, the thermostats work as follows. Cold water enters
at the bottom of the tank, hot water exits at the top. At rest, the top
thermostat switches the top element off, passing the power to the
bottom thermostat, which controls the bottom element, keeping the water
in the tank at the set temperature. When enough hot water exits the
tank, the top thermostat switches the power from the bottom thermostat
to the top element, heating water near the exit quickly to accommodate
Now if the top thermostat gets stuck powering the top element and never
switches the power to the bottom thermostat, it will keep heating until
the thermal button on the top thermostat pops out. At this point, there
will be no power to the top or bottom elements. Sounds exactly like
what's happening to you.
Most likely, your problem has to do with the top thermostat. Either a
defective thermostat, or the new thermostat is not mounted correctly,
thus not sensing the tank temperature correctly.
Couple of things to check. While adjusting the temperature setting on
the top thermostat with a screwdriver, can you hear the switch contacts
in the thermostat opening and closing? Hang a voltmeter that can read
220 VAC across the upper element terminals and see if the power
switches on and off as you adjust the thermostat. If you're not
comfortable around electricity, leave that to someone who is, getting
across a 220 V line can hurt!
If you can manually switch the power to the top element using the top
thermostat temperature control, then the top thermostat must not be
switching off when it's supposed to - either flaky thermostat, or not
Hope this helps,
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.