Talking About Crawlspace Repairs

Changing The Temperature On Your Electric Water Heater

by Clinton Stone

Many homes have their electric water heater temperature set far too high. When they do this, they are not only wasting energy, they are creating a burn hazard within their home. It's usually best to set your water heater temperature to 120°F. Doing so will save you a lot on your monthly energy bills. In addition, you won't have to worry about small children accidentally scalding themselves by turning on the hot water faucet. Adjusting the temperature on an electric water heater is a relatively simple task, as the following steps will demonstrate. However, if you're uncomfortable doing this kind of work, call in a professional to do it for you. The energy savings you will realize will more than pay for the visit.

Warning: The only exceptions to the above advice would be if your dishwasher doesn't have a booster heater or if someone in your home has a health problem, such as a compromised immune system. In these instances, you might want to leave your water heater at 140.

What You Will Need

  • Standard Cooking Thermometer

  • Set of Screwdrivers

  • One Glass

Step 1. The first thing you should do is check the temperature of the water coming out of your hot water faucet. Position a glass directly under the stream and let it overflow, inserting a cooking thermometer to get the temperature. Allow three minutes to pass. Then check the temperature on the thermometer. If it is higher than 120 degrees, you will want to adjust your water heater's temperature setting.

Step 2. Before you do anything with your electric water heater, go to your home's electrical panel and turn off the power going to the unit. The higher voltages used by water heaters are a serious hazard. Make sure you avoid this danger by turning the power off.

Step 3. It's important to note that electric water heaters have two coils (one at the bottom and one at the top). Each of these two coils have to be adjusted separately to the same temperature.

Step 4. Locate the two rectangular covers on the outside of the water heater. If the exterior of your water heater is insulated, it will be necessary to temporarily pull the insulation away in order to find the covers. Water heater covers are usually held in place by screws. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws from these covers.

Step 5. Once you remove the covers, you should see an adjustable gauge inside each cavity. This gauge will probably not have numbers on it. Instead, you will have letters or marks. In order to raise or lower the temperature of the water coming out of the unit, you should twist the knob either clockwise or counterclockwise by one mark or letter.

Step 6. Replace the covers on the hot water heater and turn the power to the unit back on.

Step 7. Wait at least three hours before you check the temperature again, since it will take time for any change to take place. Then test the temperature again just as you did in step 1. If you're satisfied with the result, you're done. If not, repeat this procedure until you get the temperature you want. Getting the temperature fixed should be all the heating repair you need.