Below is a video on how to replace the upper and lower thermostats on an electric hot water heater.
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Almost all residential water heater thermostats are interchangeable. However the single element water heater thermostats will not work on a double element water heater. So be sure to order the correct thermostats for your application.
First start by turning the breaker to the hot water heater OFF.
Once the power is off to the hot water heater we can now remove the upper and lower inspection covers. With the covers removed we can now carefully remove the clear/ white plastic cover over the terminals. With that removed you can take your voltmeter and test the top two terminals to make sure you have the correct breaker turned off.
Now that we confirmed we have the power off. We can proceed to remove the upper thermostat. First it might be a good idea to draw a diagram or snap a picture with your cell phone. After that we can now disconnect all the wires going to the thermostat and swing them out of the way. The hot water heater thermostat is held tight against the tank with a bracket made of spring steel.
To remove the thermostat, pry one side of the bracket out with a flat screwdriver just far enough to release the thermostat. Repeat to the other side of the bracket and then remove the thermostat. Be careful not to pry to hard as you don’t want to bend the spring steel as it will not hold the new thermostat tight against the tank and affect how it reads the temperature.
With the old thermostat removed we can now we can slide the new thermostat into the spring clip. With the thermostat installed we can now reconnect all the wires using your diagram or picture that we took before. Double check that the terminals are tight and after doing so we can install the clear/ white plastic cover over the terminals.
Once you have both thermostats installed with the plastic cover in place you can now set the temperature to your desired level. The top and bottom thermostat should be set to the same temperature. Be careful not to set it to high as it will cause serious burns.
Once your temperature is set you can proceed to reinstall the upper and lower inspection cover. With the covers in place we can now restore/ turn on the power to the hot water heater.
That’s it you have just finished replacing your thermostats in your electric water heater/ hot water heater.
*Note: Depending on how long your hot water heater has been off will determine how long it will take to reach your desired temperature. If it is been off for a while or you used it until it went cold it will take about 30-45 minutes to reach temperature.