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I replaced my water heater elements and thermostats about a week ago. Everything was fine and dandy for about a week. Then this afternoon I noticed no hot water so I took a look at the insides and it looked like the wires caught on fire. Two questions: 1. What could cause this? It worked fine and then bam no more. 2. Would I be able to just replace the thermostat and it work again? It looks like the black wire is kinda burnt. Is it safe to replace myself or should I call in a plumber?

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Thank you.

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    This is really beyond the skills of someone who does not have extensive electrical knowledge. Please call a plumber to avoid further risk to yourself and your family. – bib Sep 27 '16 at 20:35
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    We can't possibly troubleshoot this in a safe manner with the limited information given and from the other side of the internet. Get some local help or you risk a more serious fire. – isherwood Sep 27 '16 at 20:44
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A loose connection can cause the wire to overheat. Now with the terminal appearing to be damaged it would require a new wire and possibly a new thermostat. If you can clean the terminal and it is not pitted you may be able to re use the thermostat but the wire needs to be replaced. These connections are high current draw and your wire was not wrapped around the screw even if tight the point of contact is two small and not code compliant without being wrapped. Exhibit 110.4 in 2014 NEC hand book 2/3 minimum not over lapping.

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