How to Troubleshoot a Kenmore Water Heater

Kenmore water heaters are designed to heat water using electric or gas, and then distribute the water throughout your home using your preexisting plumbing. Water heaters typically function for years and require little to no regular maintenance. If your Kenmore water heater stops working properly, there are a variety of items you can troubleshoot before calling a technician.

You can troubleshoot a Kenmore water heater before calling in a professional.

Electric Water Heater

Step 1

Check the temperature level of your Kenmore water heater and increase it if your water isn't hot enough. The thermostat on Kenmore electric water heaters is located under the element access panel. Water heaters that are greater than 30 gallons in size will have two heating elements and thermostats, both of which should be adjusted.

Step 2

Check the circuit breaker that is connected to your water heater. If the breaker is tripped, reset it, and then wait one to two hours before testing the water temperature.

Step 3

Reset the high temperature shut-off system by turning off the water heater's circuit breaker and removing the top access panel with a Phillips screwdriver. Once removed, locate the red "RESET" button and press it. Turn the circuit breaker back on, and test the water temperature after one to two hours.

Step 4

Clean your water heater's elements to remove any mineral buildup that may prevent them from heating. Before you start, ensure the circuit breaker is turned off, the water supply valve is closed and that all water has been drained out of the water heater. Begin by removing the cover from the lower access panel with a Phillips screwdriver, and gently pull the temperature adjustment dial out. Lift up on the tab that is located on the top of the terminal cover and remove it by pulling it forward. Now, disconnect the wires attached to the heating element and remove the element by turning it to the left. Soak the heating element in vinegar or a de-liming cleaner and scrape it with a metal putty knife to remove any sediment buildup. Place the element back into the water heater, reattach the electrical wires, the terminal cover and the temperature adjustment knob. Allow the water heater to fill and then turn the circuit breaker back on. Test the water temperature after one to two hours.

Gas Water Heater

Step 5

Check the temperature setting of your hot water heater to determine if a misplaced thermostat is the reason for cooler than usual water. The thermostat on Kenmore gas water heaters is red and is on the side of the water heaters, typically near the bottom of the unit.

Step 6

Check the pilot light and gas flow to determine if they could be preventing the water heater from heating your water. Remove the outer access panel located just below the thermostat with a Phillips screwdriver. Remove the inner door by lifting it up and out, and remove any insulation that may be near the door opening. Look for a small blue flame to the left of the opening; this is the water heater's pilot light. If no pilot light is present, follow the instructions on your water heater for lighting it. If the pilot will not light or the water heater will not ignite, contact your gas company or a licensed plumber.

Step 7

Remove any sediment in the water heater by draining out the tank. Turn off the gas and water input valve to your water heater and place its thermostat on the lowest setting. Attach a hose to the drain valve, which is located to the right of the pilot access panel. Place the other end of the hose outside or in a nearby drain, and open the release valve. Allow all of the sediment and water to completely drain. Once the water heater is empty, close the drain valve, turn on the water input valve, light the pilot following the instructions on your water heater and then turn the thermostat to the desired temperature. Allow the heater to run for one to two hours and then test the temperature of the water at a faucet.