Water Heater: Why is my water heater making the water too hot?

First, adjust the thermostat setting to lower the water temperature if the water heater thermostat is set above 130 degrees. The 120-degree setting is standard. If 120-degree water is too hot for you to use, try setting the thermostat at 110 degrees. Next, check the thermostats. The upper and lower thermostats in an electric water heater must fit snug against the tank to properly transfer heat in order for thermostats to detect the water temperature correctly. To check the thermostats, turn off the power to the water heater and remove the thermostat access covers. Check the thermostats' positions and adjust the thermostat brackets if necessary to press the thermostats against the side of the tank.

A thermostat that's stuck in the 'on' position will cause the heating element to stay on constantly, overheating the water in the tank. Or, if the element breaks, it can make contact with metal inside the water heater, creating a short-circuit. In that case, electric current flows through the element to the metal, causing the element to heat constantly. Examine the elements and replace an element if damaged.

Follow the steps in our troubleshooting video to figure out why an electric water heater overheats. Replace a thermostat if it's not regulating water temperature accurately.

In a gas water heater, a broken thermostat won't shut off the burner when the tank water reaches the set temperature. Replace the thermostat if it doesn't cycle the burner on and off to keep the tank water at the set temperature.

water heater



Replace the water heater thermostat

The thermostat constantly monitors water temperature in the tank. When the water temperature drops beneath the desired setting, the thermostat sends power to the electric heating element or gas burner to begin heating. If the thermostat isn't sending power to the heating element, replace the thermostat. In a gas water heater, replace the gas control assembly that contains the thermostat.

Water heater thermostat

Find the required part specific to your product.

July 1, 2015By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace an electric water heater thermostat

If your electric water heater makes the water too hot or not hot enough, the thermostat could be broken. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace an electric water heater thermostat.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Replace the water heater heating element

The heating element is the heat source inside an electric water heater. It extends directly into the tank, where it radiates heat energy to the water around it. If the heating element is not heating when activated, replace the heating element.

Water heater heating element

Find the required part specific to your product.

July 1, 2015By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace an electric water heater heating element

If your electric water heater runs out of hot water quickly, or if the water isn't as hot as it should be, the heating element could be the problem. This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a water heater heating element.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Symptoms common to all water heaters

Choose a symptom to see related water heater repairs.

Main causes: lack of power, no gas supply, thermostat limit switch tripped, bad element, bad thermostat, gas valve failure, bad thermocouple
Main causes: water supply needs chlorine treatment, anode rod too reactive
Main causes: thermostats need adjustment, water heater capacity too low, bad heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment
Main causes: thermostat temperature set too high, thermostats need adjustment, faulty thermostat, shorted heating element
Main causes: faulty pressure relief valve, water is overheating
Main causes: broken heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment, tank size too small, burner valve assembly failure
Main causes: loose water pipe fittings, leaky drain valve, bad temperature-pressure relief valve, leaky heating element, cracked tank

Articles and videos common to all water heaters

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your water heater.

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Wiring schematic symbols explained video

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Learn some of the most common symbols found in a wiring diagram and what they mean.

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Cleaning your appliances after a drinking water advisory

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Easy DIY water heater repairs

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Read about some water heater repairs that you can easily do yourself.