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Kenmore 153.321841 water heater tripping high limit

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Okay... Long time no update on this, but here I am again. After about 6 months, it acted up again. This time, I discovered it has melted the upper left corner of the upper thermostat and cover. I never got around to getting a clamp meter, which I think I should, but I'm pretty convinced that while this unit was made to convert to 5500 watts for the lower element, it just doesn't seem to have appropriately sized components to handle it. I think it would be safer all around if I replaced the lower element again and this time went with a 3800 watt element. Which brings me back here. Sears lists the element as a 31906. This appears to equate to a State/AO Smith 9001619005. I can only find a couple of places that even have this element and they are outrageously expensive. I'm guessing there is an updated element that isn't listed for this unit, but is compatible. Anybody know anything about these that could tell me the best element to use? Thanks.

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UPPER ELEMENT: These water heaters are equipped with 3800 watt elements.

LOWER ELEMENT These water heaters are equipped with factory installed convertible elements,

which can be operated at 3800 watts or 5500 watts.

Convertible elements are not offered as replacement parts.


If a replacement 3800 watt, 240 watt element is needed,

order item no. 42-31906 replacement element.

If at the time of installation, the water heater was converted to operate at 5500 watts,

order item number 42-31908 replacement element.

(See model rating plate "If Converted" box)"

search for


3800w Elements are available on "that auction site"

$ 31 free shipping

OR maybe search for

3800* heat* element

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This appears to use standard 1" thread in elements (they use a 1.5" wrench). If so, get any with the watt rating u need. They are everywhere. And cheap. If u have crappy water go for lower density elements if possible (the longer ones that double back on themselves). Cant get 3800? Then get 3500, they are like $10. Or try a 4500. It doesn't matter much as long as the voltage is correct and you aren't exceeding the rating it was designed for. Although lower wattage means lower heating capacity (it will take longer to heat up).

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