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If you tear into the heaters and look at how the temperature is sensed it makes much more sense of what is happening. To me it is a design flaw of many (most?) heaters made for the mass market. Many of them have a bi-metal spring located in the heating tube. Each time the heater kicks on the air in the tube gets really hot really quickly as air heats very easily. The heat is then transfered through the glass walls to the water. Trouble is the spring that controls the temperature gets a lot of heat and at some point stops acting as a bi-metal spring should. Heat changes metal so if you have a tiny cheap little spring and heat it numerous times, it changes the way it works. Just not a reliable system that we have in that type heater. A heater with the temperature sensing probe outside the heater tube does not suffer from this fault. They will also cost more but that is where the decisions have to be made. Chaep now and replace or pay now and hope it lasts much longer.
I would suggest replacing the heater but before you throw it away, take it apart and see how it works and why it fails. It will help make you a more experienced[/i] consumer for the next time you need a heater.
 
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