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How to Test a Water Heater Thermostat

How to Test a Water Heater Thermostat

Are you experiencing issues with your water heater? The water heater thermostat could be to blame. We have created an outline to help you learn more about the purpose the thermostat serves, how to test it, and how to replace it when it malfunctions or breaks.

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What Is a Water Heater Thermostat?

The water heater thermostat is the control center of your water heater and the hot water supply in your home. Standard water heaters contain two thermostats, one to control the upper heating element and another to control the lower heating element.

How to Test a Water Heater Thermostat

Perform a simple test to ensure the water heater thermostat is working properly. If you have a standard dual-element water heater, follow these steps for the upper and lower heating elements.

  1. Turn the power to your water heater off. Like with any plumbing equipment, you should never perform inspections or repairs while the power to the system is on because you could damage the unit or get injured.
  2. Before testing the thermostat, unscrew the access panel, lift and secure the insulation to keep it from obstructing your view, and remove the protective covering.
  3. Disconnect the power wires to isolate the component.
  4. Touch one of the digital multimeter’s probes to a terminal and the other to a different terminal.
  5. The meter display should show a voltage at zero, meaning the thermostat has continuity. If the meter display shows either no voltage or a voltage of one, the thermostat has no continuity and should be repaired or replaced.

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How to Replace a Malfunctioning Water Heater Thermostat

If your water heater thermostat needs to be replaced, follow this eight-step guide.

  1. Turn the power to the water heater off.
  2. Unscrew and remove the access panel, and move the insulation to get a clear view.
  3. Confirm the power is off using the digital multimeter.
  4. Remove the protective covering, and disconnect the power wires.
  5. Remove the current thermostat and insert a new one.
  6. Reconnect the wires and reattach the protective covering.
  7. Return the insulation to its original place and screw in the access panel.
  8. Restore power and test the new thermostat.

Remember: Water Heater Thermostats Are Not Universal

Water heaters have either one or two heating elements. Make sure the element type of the thermostat you get aligns with the element type of your water heater (i.e. single element thermostats with single element water heaters and dual element thermostats with dual element water heaters). The thermostat won’t work properly otherwise.

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Dual Element Thermostats vs. Single Element Thermostats

Single element thermostats are designed for water heaters with one heating element. On the other hand, dual element thermostats are designed for water heaters with two heating elements. Most water heaters have two heating elements and require a dual element thermostat. The upper and lower units of a dual element water heater differ in both size and function.

What Is the Purpose of a Water Heater Reset Button?

Only dual element water heaters have a reset button, a component that blocks power from flowing to the water heater. The reset button initiates this process when a problem occurs within the unit.

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Water Heater Repair and Replacement Services

If the water heater thermostat on your system is not working, give our team of licensed plumbers a call by phone at (703) 543-9649 to schedule an appointment. Our professionals offer comprehensive water heater replacement and water heater repair services for homeowners in Sterling and other areas of Virginia. Whether your water heater is making unusual noises or showing signs of corrosion, our technicians will help you resolve the problem.

In addition, our plumbers provide other types of plumbing services such as sink installation, gas line repair, drain cleaning, and sump pump installation. Book an appointment to receive assistance with a damaged hot water heater or other plumbing issues in your house.