Types of Hot Water Heater Safety Switches


Most hot water heaters constantly heat water, so hot water can be immediately supplied once a tap is turned on. Rather than replacing your hot water heater with the latest model, several hot water heater manufacturers offer various switches you can install on your tank to monitor your hot water heater's performance. Most switches provide an added safety feature to preserve the life of your hot water heater as well as to prevent a disaster from occurring if your hot water heater fails.

High Limit Switch

  • Electric hot water heaters generally have two thermostats which are both concealed by detachable metal plates. Each thermostat on the top and bottom of the tank is affixed to the interior wall of the hot water heater tank and measures the water temperature inside the tank. When water near the top of the tank becomes too hot, a high limit switch on the top thermostat triggers and automatically shuts off electricity to the tank's heating elements. It's a safety feature found on most electric water heaters. When the switch activates, it usually means there is a problem with your hot water heater, states Chilipepper Appliance. You can restore electricity to your tank by pushing a red button on the side of the tank.

Snap-Switch Sensor

  • A snap-switch sensor is a feature which you can install on the side of your solar-powered hot water heater. The switch enables you to manage the temperature of the water inside the tank so the water does not become too hot. Typical snap-switch sensors are sold that detect 160 degrees and 180 degrees F, which is the maximum allowable temperature of water heated in the tank.

Time Sensor Switch

  • Install a time sensor switch on the exterior of your electric hot water heater tank to regulate electricity supplied to your hot water heater. With a time sensor switch, you can program your hot water heater to cycle on and off periodically over a seven-day period so hot water is available just when it's needed in your home. Furthermore, you can set your hot water heater to run only during nonpeak hours when electricity is cheapest. Most time sensor switches can maintain the programming for up to three years with the support of standard alkaline batteries, so you do not have to reprogram it every month. A time sensor switch also acts as a safety feature that prevents your heater from running needlessly and wearing faster.

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