Troubleshooting Electric Water Heaters in MINUTES ~ Step By Step
A very nice video tutorial on how you can easily identify the cause of an electric water heater failure. AFTER you establish that there is power being supplied to the water heater, ALL remaining tests are done with the POWER OFF to the water heater.
You will need a phillips & slot screwdriver, as well as a digital or analog multimeter.
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For a super detailed understanding of how the thermostat operates, watch this video: