Cover photo for blog and video "Adjusting Electric Water Heater Temperature"

Electric Water Heater Temp Adjustment: An Easy DIY

Changing the temperature on your electric water heater isn’t a task that requires a high level of technical savvy or specialty tools. This is an easy at-home fix that only takes a few minutes and you probably already have the tools needed conveniently laying around. Thankfully, the process is pretty universal amongst the brands of electric water heaters you most likely have, and only a couple of details are dependent on the manufacturer’s design choices; the overall size of your water heater doesn’t play a role in how you have to follow along with our easy steps! Here’s how you heat up your water for those perfect bubble baths or calming showers as we slowly approach the fall season:

  1. Remove Cover Plates

    The front side of your unit has two cover panels that need to be removed in order to gain access to the thermostats. To do this, use either a Phillips screwdriver or a ¼” nut driver and remove the screws (think “righty tighty, lefty loosey”).

  2. Remove Excess Materials

    Many eclectic water heaters, especially newer models, have added insulation that will need to be taken out. Simply remove the extra material and safely set it aside. Additionally, you will find a plastic safety plate that can either be easily detached or bent upwards to reveal your temperature controls for the thermostats.

  3. Locate Temperature Dials

    You’ve made it this far, congrats! Not only are you handier than you thought, you’re almost done! At this point, you should be able to see a dial- this is what controls the temperature settings on your thermostats that will make those times in the tub as the weather cools off extra cozy. Remember when we mentioned that some design choices will vary depending on the maker? Now is when you’ll see these differences: some dial settings are alphabetical, others are numerical, and there are even ones that range from “hot” to “very hot” like the dials we are adjusting in our video.

  4. Adjust Your Dials Accordingly

    Now, all that’s left to do is actually adjust your electric water heater. You’ll change both of your thermostats to the same setting to appropriately reach your desired temperature. Simply grab a flat head screwdriver and adjust the dials accordingly. Keep in mind that it doesn’t take a drastic alteration to get your water hotter- make sure that you’re testing these changes to guarantee that your water is at a safe temperature before you reverse the steps and put all of the materials back to how they were before and replace the front cover panels. It will take some time for the water heater to heat up to the new adjustments so be patient. Just like that, you’re now a pro when it comes to getting the temperature adjusted on your home’s electric water heater!

  5. Bonus Step: Add a Few Extra Gallons of Hot Water

    There is a little plumber’s trick you can try at home to see if you’re able to gain some extra gallons of hot water out of your heater. All you have to do is set the temperature dial of your bottom thermostat slightly higher than that of the top! Here’s why this little hack may work for you:
    Water actually enters your electric water heater through a dip tube that runs to the bottom of your unit. The hot water leaving your water heater exits through the top of the tank. Your water heater does not run both heating elements at the same time, there just is not enough power going to the water heater. Because the water leaves through the top of the tank the top element takes priority heating the water that is leaving first. After the top of the water heater comes to temp the power is switched to the bottom to start heating the water that comes in. Adjusting your thermostats to these setting adjustments allows for the element at the bottom of the tank to run for a longer period of time, and sends hotter water up the tank prolonging the time before the top of the heater cools down enough to transfer power back to the top element. This process may result in a few extra gallons of hot water.

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