Single element thermostat on dual element heater
I've determined that the lower element is bad on a 10-year old State water heater (a Franklin, TN model). I plan to replace the heater with a Bradford-White, based on the recommendations here ... but I'd like to wait a few months until the attic temps are more rational (they're in the 100+ range in the summer)!! (Texas summers are HOT, and this summer is abnormally so -- we've had 34 100+ days already)
My question: Is there anything wrong with the idea of simply replacing the upper thermostat with a single element model, and only using the upper element? This isn't our only water heater -- it only supplies the kitchen and laundry room, so it's not used nearly as much as the one that supplies our bedrooms and jacuzzi. It seems this would let me defer the replacement until Nov/Dec, when it's much more reasonable to work in the attic. Any "bad" things to be concerned about if I do this?
Replacing the element question
Yes, I know the safety controls are on the upper thermostat --my question was simply could I just use a single-element thermostat (which also has the safety switch, etc.). It sounds like the answer is Yes ... but I can also just use a dual-element thermostat and not connect the bottom element.
As for replacing the lower element ==> I was thinking of doing that; but everything I've read (in this forum and others) basically says you shouldn't do that on an older unit -- that it's likely to cause it to start leaking. Is that wrong? I've never replaced an element, but it certainly looks pretty simple -- just buy a new element and the tool to unscrew/screw them, drain the tank, and take out the old/insert the new ... is it really that simple?
As I noted, the unit's more than ten years old -- would you still repair it? ... or should I simply replace it (as I was assuming I should).
I want to do what's best -- but don't want to spend unnecessary $$.
Update -- and follow-up question
Okay, I simply disconnected the two wires that lead from the upper thermostat to the lower thermostat & element and re-applied power to the unit.
It now works "perfectly" -- but obviously with only the upper element.
Other than the fact that it now has only half the heating power, is there any disadvantage and/or danger in using it this way? We do NOT use enough hot water from this tank for the longer recovery time to be an issue. It basically supplies the dishwasher (one load per day at most -- sometimes less) and the washer (a few loads per week ... there are only two of us).
I know a lower element is only $8 or so -- but if replacing it adds to the risk of causing a leak in the tank ... and if it's okay to run with just one element, then I'm inclined to simply leave well enough alone and use it like that until the upper element gives out; the tank develops a leak; or I just decide to replace the whole unit.