How to Fix a Water Heater

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You depend on the water heater in your house for hot water and when something goes wrong with it, you need a quick fix. Sometimes that means you need to do it yourself rather than wait for a repairman.

Things You'll Need

  • Electrical tester
  • Screwdriver
  • Thermostats
  • Heating element
  • Turn off the electricity to the water heater. Make sure everyone in the house knows it's off and to leave it off. Post a sign if necessary.

  • Locate the access panel on the water heater. Press the reset button if the water heater has one. You may need to refer to the owner's manual. Turn the electricity back on and see if the problem resolves itself with this easy fix. If not, continue on to Step 3.

  • Open the access panel again. Disconnect one wire to the upper thermostat. Use your electrical tester to see if there is a charge flowing through the thermostat. Test both the upper and lower thermostats. If both thermostats seem to be working properly, proceed to Step 5.

  • Replace the thermostat if it is not working. Purchase a thermostat appropriate for your water heater. Consult your owner's manual for the right type to purchase. Turn off the power to the water heater. Unscrew the old thermostat and put the new one on. Adjust the heat and turn the electricity back on to the water heater.

  • Check the electrical connection to the heating element with the electrical tester. If it is not getting power, turn off the electricity to the water heater and replace the element.

  • Purchase the proper heating element for your water heater. Drain the unit. Disconnect the mounting bolts and pull out the old element. Put the new one in place and bolt it on the water heater. This is a good time to replace any gaskets to avoid the need to fix them at a later date.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're not comfortable or confident about working with electrical connections and electricity, hire a professional.
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