During the summer, water heaters are often kept on a low setting. However, as fall turns into winter, people all over the nation find they need to adjust their water heater so that they can take hot showers and baths. If you find yourself in this situation and this is your first time changing the temperature on an electric water heater, follow these steps.
Turn off the Power
Electric water heaters have many electrical wires that if touched while receiving a current can cause severe injury or worse. So the first order of business is to shut off the power to your water heater. Check your main circuit breaker and look for the breaker to the water heater and switch it to the off position. Sometimes water heaters have their own circuit breakers. If this is the case you should see a circuit box separate from the main power to your home. Open it to identify that it goes to the water heater and switch the breaker to the off position.
Test for Voltage
Once you've shut off the power, it's best to double check that your electric water heater is indeed off by using a non-contact voltage detector. These are small, inexpensive tools found at most local retailers and are great to have in your tool box. Press the power button to turn the voltage detector on, then hold it near your electric water heater. It will beep if voltage is detected. Depending on the sensitivity of your voltage detector, you may need to hold it fairly close, or press it against the water heater. If the meter detects voltage it means your water heater is still receiving power. Return to the circuit breaker and make sure all the power to the water heater is switched off before re-testing.
Electric water heaters have an upper and lower thermostat. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws from the upper panel and the lower panel. This will expose cotton insulation, which is covering the thermostat. Peel the insulation back to expose the thermostat. If you see wires, test them with the voltage detector to be safe.
Use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature dial of the upper and lower thermostat. Set both thermostats to the same temperature. Most experts recommend setting your water heater to 120 degrees. Setting it higher than that increases the risk of scalding and also may waste energy. Children and seniors are especially vulnerable to scalding. Once you've adjusted the upper and lower thermostat, push the insulation back into place and screw the panels back on to close the water heater, before turning the power back on.
To learn more, contact a company like Bader Mechanical Inc.