Failing Thermostat On A Water Heater: Identifying The Problem

Posted on: 28 January 2020

A water heater is designed to deliver warm water at a consistent temperature throughout a home. When this is not happening, it is a good idea to take a closer look at the unit's thermostat. 

How the Thermostat Works

The thermostat on a water heater is not necessarily responsible for heating the water inside the tank. There is a heating element located inside the water heater that coordinates with the thermostat to heat the water. The thermostat serves as a sensor that sends a signal to the water heater that the temperature of the water has reached its optimal level. 

When the thermostat is failing, it might send inaccurate data to the water heater about the temperature of the water, and in the case of a complete failure, it might not send a signal at all. 

Indicative Signs of Failure

Fortunately, it does not take a degree in rocket science to spot an issue with a thermostat. Since a failing thermostat will send an inaccurate signal to the heater that the water is warm enough, a common sign of failure is water that is not warm at all. 

In this instance, the thermostat is reading the temperature at a higher level than it is, which ultimately keeps the water from getting warm enough. Another red flag to look out for is a water heater that keeps tripping. Sometimes, when the thermostat is bad, it can cause the heater to reset. If you notice the unit resetting often, it is worth taking a closer look. 

Dangers of a Failing Thermostat

Water that is not warm enough is only one part of a failing thermostat on a water heater; there are also dangers. If the thermostat does not send a signal to the unit to stop warming the water, the water can get very hot, and it can do so unexpectedly. 

For instance, in the middle of a shower, the water temperature could increase substantially and even lead to scalding, which could cause serious burns across the body. The thermostat is the measuring gauge for the water heater, so when it doesn't work, the water can quickly increase in temperature. 

While it might seem like a small problem, a problem with the thermostat is a major inconvenience and has the potential to create a serious safety hazard. Contact a professional water heater repair technician as soon as possible to address the problem. 

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