Appliance Repair Questions? Ask a Technician for Answers ASAP
If this doesn't work, call Sears. Your heater has a 9 year warranty. If power was applied without water in the tank, then the elements and/or the thermostats may be damaged or may have failed.
Most electric hot water heaters have two thermostats, one near the top of the tank and one near the bottom, behind removable metal cover plates. The thermostats are pressed firmly against the bare metal wall of the hot water heater's tank.
The top thermostat usually has a high limit switch that will trip if the water gets too hot. When it trips it shuts off the electricity to both the upper and lower heating elements.
To reset the high limit switch there is usually a red button that you must press. When the upper limit switch trips it is often an indication that something else has gone wrong with the heater. Not enough hot water or water temperature too low.
When the top of the tank is hot the upper thermostat removes power from the upper heating element and transfers the power to the lower thermostat and heating element. If the lower thermostat or element is defective, then the lower portion of the tank will not be heated and the supply will be greatly reduced.
Check for power at the upper thermostat terminals where the power is sent to the lower thermostat and heating element. If there is no power then the upper thermostat should be replaced. If there is power then check for power at the lower heating element. If there is no power at the lower heating element then replace the lower thermostat.
If there is power to the lower heating element then it should be getting hot. If it is not, replace it.