How To Change Water Heater Element

How to Replace a Water Heater Element: A Step-by-Step Guide

It is possible that a water heater element may need to be changed. It is not necessary to replace your water heater only because the heating element has stopped working; instead, you may repair or replace it. Although changing a water heater element may appear to be a challenging undertaking, the majority of homeowners are capable of doing this repair themselves. The likelihood that one or both of your water heater’s heating elements are malfunctioning is high if your water heater takes a long time to heat up, runs out of hot water, or fails to supply any hot water at all.

Replacing a Hot Water Heater Element

If your water heater is more than six years old, you may want to think about replacing it with a new one. Water heaters normally have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years, so if your heater is more than a decade old, you may anticipate it to begin having difficulties much sooner rather than later. As a bonus, because modern water heaters are more energy efficient than older models, you’ll save money on your monthly utility bills as well.

Checking Your Water Heater Heating Element

Before rushing in and replacing your water heater’s heating element, make sure that the element is, in fact, the source of the problem. Sometimes, after replacing the heating element, it is discovered that the problem was not with the heating element in the first place. This can be accomplished by first checking to see whether a circuit breaker has been tripped or if the power has been mistakenly turned off. If the breaker is in good working order, the next step is to examine the reset button on the temperature cutoff device.

It’s usually represented with a red button.

If you have access to a multimeter, you may verify the continuity of the element.

Using this brief video, you will be guided through the procedure step-by-step.

Preparing to Change Your Water Heater’s Heating Element

The heating elements are sometimes referred to as immersion heaters since they are completely submerged in the water of the tank during operation. Keep in mind that heating components are only utilized on electric water heaters, which is vital to know. Gas water heaters heat water in a completely different way than electric water heaters.

Heating Element Style

There are two distinct types of heating elements: infrared and radiant. Screw-in: This is the sort of heating element that we will be discussing because it is the most prevalent. They are commonly found on all modern water heaters, and the element is secured in place with a screwdriver. Installed as a bolt-in element: There are various distinct designs for bolt-in elements, and if you have an older water heater, it’s probable that this kind was used.

The element is held in place by four bolts that go through it. If you wish to convert a screw-in element into a bolt-in element, you may purchase a universal adapter kit to do so.

Heating Element Location

Electric water heaters are equipped with two heating components. There are two elements: an upper part that is hidden behind the upper access panel and a bottom element that is visible from the outside. Typically, the lowest piece is the one that has to be repaired or replaced. As the sediment in your tank builds up, it will eventually settle in the bottom of the tank, where your lower element is located. The silt encircles the element, reducing its ability to perform its function. Eventually, it will either entirely fail or utterly short out on you.

Today is the day to fix your plumbing emergency!

Purchasing New Heating Elements

Purchase new heating elements with the same voltage, wattage, and type (screw-in or bolt-in) as the heating element you are replacing if you want to keep your existing system running efficiently. The new element’s voltage should always be the same as the voltage of the old element. However, if you want to lengthen the life of the element, you might choose a lesser wattage. You should keep in mind that the element will also produce less heat. Never replace an element with a higher wattage than the one you replaced.

If you are unable to locate it, you can always conduct a simple web search using the model number of your water heater (found on the name plate).

Types of Water Heater Elements

Purchase new heating elements with the same voltage, wattage, and type (screw-in or bolt-in) as the heating element you are replacing if you want to keep your existing system running smoothly. Voltage matching should be maintained between the new and old elements at all times. The element’s life can be prolonged by using a lower wattage, albeit this is not always necessary. You should keep in mind that the element will be producing less heat. Do not acquire an element that is more powerful than the one you already have.

Even if you are unable to locate it, you can always conduct a simple web search using the model number of your water heater (found on the name plate).

High Watt Density Heating Element

When it comes to water heater elements, High Watt Density Elements are the most popular and may be utilized in any replacement scenario as long as the wattage and voltage are compatible. In the majority of situations, a high watt density element will be the same type of element that was originally installed in your water heater. The corrosion of high-wattage density components results in a reduced life cycle for the elements. You may anticipate that these elements will be the least expensive of the three types to be purchased.

Element with a High Watt Density from LASCO The screw-in base of the LASCO 40-1015 High Watt Density 1500-Watt, 120-Volt Electric Water Heater Element contains a 1-1/4-inch threaded hole for easy installation.

Low Watt Density Heating Element

Those who live in places with hard water will benefit from low-wattage density components. Many are constructed with a fold-back design to provide more heating area. Despite the fact that they have a lower watt density, there is no reduction in efficiency. The lime scale build-up that is frequent in locations with hard water can be reduced as a result of this. You can use a low watt density element to replace a high watt density element as long as the wattage and voltage are the same as the original element.

Element with a Low Watt Density (DERNORD) The DERNORD Foldback heating element has a low watt density and is ideal for small spaces.

Lime Life Element

A limited 5-year guarantee is provided on these high-end components. Lime life elements feature an ultra-low watt density and a high-quality nickel and stainless steel surface that prevents the accumulation of lime scale on the element’s surface. Because they are resistant to dry burning, these components are an ideal choice if you live in a region where water supply levels are inconsistent. Lime life components are often the most costly element; yet, once installed, they will frequently outlast the life of the water heater itself.

It is offered in three different power ratings: 4500 watts, 5500 watts, and 6500 watts.

Necessary Supplies

You’ll need the following items in order to make changes to an element:

  • The following items are required: garden hose, water heater element wrench, voltage tester, new heating element with “O” ring.

Replacing a Heating Element

Replacing the heating element in a water heater is a reasonably straightforward procedure. Keep in mind, though, that you will be working with both electricity and water, which are two things that should not be mixed in any way. If you are not comfortable with the situation, you should contact a certified plumber. Your first and foremost concern should always be safety.

How to Replace a Heating Element

Step 1: Turn off the electricity.

  • Circuit breakers are located in the electrical panel and should be turned off. Check the voltage of the water heater to ensure that the electricity is no longer reaching the water heater. Due to the fact that you will be dealing with electricity and water, it is necessary that the water heater be switched off before beginning.

2nd step: connect the drain hose to the drain valve

  • Connect a hose to the drain valve and turn the valve to the open position. At this time, we do NOT want to drain the tank, merely to check sure that the drain valve is not clogged
  • If your tank is blocked, you’ll need to deal with it first
  • Otherwise, move on. Please do not empty your tank at this time. See the next section for instructions on how to replace a heating element without emptying your tank.

Step 3: Shut off the water supply.

  • Close the cold water inlet valve on the water heater, which is often placed above the water heater, to turn off the water supply to the water heater. Allowing air to enter the tank will relieve the pressure in the hot water system. To accomplish this, turn on a nearby faucet. Only the hot water tap should be opened, not the cold. Make certain that the tap is left open.

Step 4: Remove the Access Panel Cover from the Access Panel.

  • To remove the cover from the access panel, use a screwdriver to pry it up. The upper water heater element is housed within the upper panel. The lower element is housed in the lower panel, and there is normally insulation between the panel door and the thermostat itself. Set the insulation away in a cool, dry location
  • The thermostat should be protected by a plastic casing. Remove the lid in a gentle manner. Check the cables with a volt meter to make sure there is no electricity flowing through them
  • Examine the electrical wiring. Is there any damage to any of the wires? Is there anything that has melted? An element that has become overheated as a result of silt might cause damage to the wiring. It is necessary to repair any damaged wiring. Disconnect the two element wires from the heating element by loosening the screws that hold them in place.

Step 5: Disconnect the heating element from the circuit.

  • To remove the heating element, use a heating element wrench. With a large mouth that fits over the exposed section of the element, it’s particularly intended for removing electric water heater elements from water heaters. Whilst the tank is still partially filled with water, loosen the element by rotating it in a counter-clockwise direction. The weight of the water will assist in keeping the tank in place. Drain the tank by opening the drain valve after you’re satisfied that you’ve been able to release the heating element. This might take anything from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your tank. Remove the element from the equation. A rubber gasket, often known as a “O” ring, will be used to seal the tank. Make certain to remove the “O” ring that came with the element.

Installing the New Heating Element is the sixth step.

  • Installing the New Heating Element in the Home is the sixth step.

Step 7: Fill the Tank with Water

  • Drain the water heater by closing the drain valve. Turn the water supply to the water heater on. At this time, do not switch on the electricity. If the tank is not completely filled with water before turning on the electricity, the heating components will be damaged. Ensure that the newly installed piece does not have any leaks. Turning off the cold water supply and tightening the element will stop any leaks from occurring. Removing the element and repositioning the “O” ring may be essential in some cases. It is normal for water to begin sputtering out of the open faucet tap as the tank fills (left open in Step 3). The water is forcing the air out of the line as it flows through it. As soon as there is a consistent flow of water, the faucet may be turned off. Replace the plastic thermostat cover, insulation, and access panel cover with new materials. You may turn the electricity back on to the water heater once the tank has been fully refilled by flicking the circuit breaker back on. The fact that there will almost certainly be air in the hot water pipes means that it is not unusual for the hot water taps throughout the home to splutter. Fortunately, this will subside in a short amount of time. Open each faucet individually, if desired, until you get a continuous stream of water
  • However, this is not necessary.

Take a look at the video

How to Replace a Heating Element Without Draining the Tank

Check out the video below.

How To Replace A Water Heater Element

Please keep in mind that this content may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, we may gain a small profit on purchases made via our links. The procedures necessary for both flange and screw-in models are almost identical, however screw-in models are more frequent and will necessitate the use of a specific instrument known as a water heater element wrench.

Turn Off the Power

Whenever you are working on a water heater, you should always cut off the electricity.

Electric units may be turned off by turning the circuit breaker, however gas units will have a knob or dial to turn off the gas. If you are unsure whether or not your electric water heater is turned off, use a voltmeter to check the wiring before you start.

Drain the Tank

Close the cold water inlet valve, which is positioned on the tank’s top, and turn off the water supply. Connect a garden hose to the drain at the bottom of the tank and turn on the drain valve to allow the water to flow out. Even though you only need to drain the unit to a point below the heating element, it is a good idea to thoroughly cleanse the tank whenever you are performing maintenance. This aids in the reduction of sedimentary deposits in the tank as well as the extension of the life of all components.

Remove the Existing Element

Your water heater may be equipped with two elements: an upper element and a lower element. If this is the case, both components are changed using the same procedure. To begin, open the access panel and remove the plastic safety cover, if one is present, from the vehicle. Disconnect the wires from the element using a crimping tool. To save time, you may just disconnect the cables from both parts at the same time. An element tool, also known as a water heater element wrench, is a specifically designed socket that fits over the hex end of the element and has a hole in the other end that will receive the shaft of a screwdriver.

See also:  How To Replace A Water Heater Element

It may be tough to turn elements that have been in place for a lengthy period of time.

After the element has been unscrewed from the unit, it will simply lift out of the unit.

Install the New Element

When changing a water heater element, be sure to replace the rubber gasket as well to avoid leaks in the future. Placing the gasket over the threads of a screwed-in element or around the base of a flanged element is recommended. Install the replacement element by reversing the procedure of removal and spinning the element in a clockwise direction while the gasket is still in place on the old element. Then use your water heater element wrench to tighten the component another 1/2 to 1 turn after it has been finger-tightened.

Refill the Tank

Drain the tank by closing the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank. Start by turning on the cold water intake on the tank’s top. Your water heater may make noises if you leave the hot water faucet turned on. This noise might be anything from a sputtering sound to a rattling sound as water is driven through the pipes. Allow the water to run until all of the air has been expelled from the pipes. Turn off the hot water faucet if it is still running.

Reconnect andRepower

Make sure to reconnect the wires to the new element(s), taking care to connect the proper wires to the same equivalent terminals as before to prevent shorting out the new element. Switch on the circuit breaker and have a look at the water heater. The plastic safety cover should be replaced, and the access panel should be closed if there is no evidence of leaking. Allow the water to heat for one hour, and then check to see that the unit is heating correctly and that there are no leaks in the system.

Congratulations, you have successfully accomplished the replacement of the hot water heater element! Watch the video below to learn how to replace the element in an electric water heater:

How to Remove & Replace a Water Heater Element – PlumbingSupply.com

Make sure to reconnect the wires to the new element(s), taking care to connect the proper wires to the same equivalent terminals in order to prevent shorting out the new element. Start by turning on the circuit breaker and checking the water heater. The plastic safety cover should be replaced, and the access panel should be closed if there are no signs of leaking. To check for leaks, let the water to heat for 1 hour before checking to see whether the device is heating properly. Change of the hot water heater element has been accomplished satisfactorily.

How To Install Your Screw-In Immersion Element

In addition to the following tools:phillips screwdriver, screws-in-element-wrenches, fresh elements, a garden hose, and an oscilloscope or circuit tester (to make sure power is off) Important! Make certain that you utilize the same wattage, voltage, and flange type as your prior element to prevent confusion. Step 1: Turn off the electricity to the water heater. Step 2: Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater and open the hot water faucet. Attach a hose to the drain valve on the water heater and open the drain valve to drain the water.

  • Step 4: Remove the plastic terminal shield from the connector.
  • Electric cables should be disconnected from the element in step 6.
  • Step 8: Thoroughly clean the gasket region and threads.
  • Step 10:Install the element and tighten it using a ratchet.
  • After allowing all trapped air to escape from the open hot water faucet until water is flowing continuously, shut the open hot water faucet.
  • Step 13: Examine the wiring.
  • If corrosion is still evident, or if the wire is not long enough, see an electrician for advice on wire replacement and wire gauge choices.
  • In Step 14, you’ll connect the electric cables to the element.
  • Step 15: Replace the plastic terminal protector with a new one.
  • In order to avoid element damage, the tank must be completely filled with water and completely free of air before applying electric power.

How To Install Your Universal 4 Bolt Flange Type Immersion Element

Tools required: a Phillips screwdriver, a socket wrench, a replacement element, a garden hose, a volt meter or circuit tester, and a volt meter or circuit tester (to make sure power is off) Important! Make certain that you utilize the same wattage, voltage, and flange type as your prior element to prevent confusion. Step 1: Turn off the electricity to the water heater. Step 2: Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater and open the hot water faucet. Attach a hose to the drain valve on the water heater and open the drain valve to drain the water.

  1. To ensure that the wires are not damaged, use a voltmeter or circuit tester to test them for electricity before attempting to remove them.
  2. Step 6: Remove the bolts that hold the element in place with a socket wrench.
  3. Step 7: Wipe down the gasket region in the tank.
  4. Step 9: Attach the thermostat bracket and the element.
  5. Step 10: Turn on the cold water supply and close the drain valve.
  6. Turn off the hot water faucet.
  7. Step 12: Firmly secure the thermostat against the tank’s surface and between the prongs of the thermostat bracket.
  8. If there is rust on the wiring, cut and strip wire 1/2″ in length (Only if wire is long enough).
  9. Wiring connections that are too loose, damaged, or defective can lead to heat buildup and fires at the wiring terminals.
  10. Screws should be tightened.

Replacing the insulation and access cover (Step 16). To avoid element damage, the tank must be completely filled with water and completely clear of air before applying electric power. Turn on the electric power to the water heater in step 17.

Typical Electric Water Heater ConstructionWiring Diagram

Electric water heaters, in contrast to gas water heaters, which heat the water via the use of gas burners, heat the water through the use of a pair of upper and lower metal heating elements. The heating elements of a water heater operate in a manner similar to that of oven heating elements, in that they heat up when electrical current runs through them. Using a separate thermostat, each of the heating components may be regulated independently.

Before You Begin

Despite the fact that replacing a broken heating element on an electric water heater is not very difficult, it is categorized as an advanced job since it takes both mechanical competence and a thorough understanding of electrical wiring concerns. Specifically, it entails three main project stages:

  1. Putting the heating element through its paces
  2. Removing the old heating element A new heating element is being installed:

Warning

Because of the electrical expertise necessary for this job, it is recommended that an electrician complete this work. It’s possible that you’ll be dealing with high voltage, so if you’re not comfortable with electrical work, you should consult with an expert to reduce the danger of damage. Heating components are not especially expensive, therefore it is possible that you will wish to replace both of them even if only one of them has been found to be defective. If one heating element fails, it is conceivable that the other will fail shortly after, and replacing both heating elements at the same time can help to avoid a second repair in the near future.

Materials

You will need to be familiar with the usage of a multimeter in order to test the heating element of an electric water heater.

Turn off the Power

  • Turn off the power to the electric water heater at the main power panel by removing the fuse that controls the power to the water heater’s circuit or by turning off the circuit breaker that controls power to the water heater’s circuit. Wait for the water in the tank to calm down, which might take up to two hours or longer. Important because the heating elements are regulated by thermostats, and hot water in the tank will alter the electrical flow to the heating components, making this a critical consideration. Open a hot water faucet and let the water run to be sure it is cold before continuing.

Expose the Heating Element

  • Remove the access cover panel and the insulation protecting the heating element terminal block from the heating element terminal block. When you fold the insulation outward and away from the heating element, it will be more effective. The screw terminals where the circuit wires are linked to the heating element will be exposed as a result of this. To check for power, use a non-contact circuit tester to probe the wires. Following your confirmation that the power has been turned off, unscrew the screws securing the wires to each of the two terminal screws and remove the circuit wires from the circuit.

Test the Heating Element

  1. To test the heating element, first set a multi-tester to the OHMs (continuity) setting, then connect the red lead to one screw terminal on the heating element and the black lead to the other screw terminal on the heating element, repeating the process. There is no electricity flowing through the heating element when the ohm reading on a digital multi-tester is zero, or when the needle on an analog dial is at infinity (does not move) when using an analog dial. This means that the heating element has failed and that it should be replaced immediately. If you are able to get an ohm resistance value with the multi-tester, this indicates that the heating element is not malfunctioning. It is possible that the problem is with the other heating element or with the thermostat for the upper or lower heating element.

How to Remove a Heating Element

If you want to check the heating element, then set the multi-tester to the OHMs (continuity) setting and then connect the red lead to one screw terminal on the heating element and the black lead to the other screw terminal. There is no electricity flowing through the heating element when the ohm reading on a digital multi-tester is zero, or when the needle on an analog display is at infinity (does not move). A defective heating element is indicated by this condition, and it must be replaced. Using the multi-tester, you may determine if the heating element does not have a problem with its resistance.

Turn off the Power and Water

  • You should shut off the electric water heater at the main electrical panel, if you haven’t already done so. To do so, locate and switch off the circuit breaker or fuse that powers the heater (see above). Shut down the cold water supply line that supplies hot water to the water heater. An example of where you could find this shut-off valve is on the cold-water line that enters the water heater, right above the water heater.

Expose the Heating Element

  • Assuming you haven’t already done so, remove the access cover panel as well as the insulation that covers the heating element terminal block. When you fold the insulation outward and away from the heating element, it will be less likely to catch on fire. Using a non-contact circuit tester, check to see that the power has been turned off. Remove the thermostat cover from the thermostat if it’s required to do so. Make certain that the connecting point that connects the thermostat to the heating element is disconnected. Disconnect the circuit wires by loosening the screws that hold the wires to each of the two terminal screws
  • Then tighten the screws again.

Drain the Water Heater

  • To drain the water heater, connect a garden hose to the drain spigot on the water heater and run it to a floor drain to empty the water heater. To drain the water from the water heater tank, open the drain valve and turn it on.

Remove the Heating Element

  1. Remove a screw-in typeheating element by rotating it counterclockwise with a ratchet wrench and a 1 1/2-inch socket on the other end of the element. Some repair kits include a socket that is designed to accommodate the heating element. Remove the gasket that is used to connect the heating element to the water heater tank and set it aside. Remove the four screws that hold the aflange-type heating element in place in order to remove the element. Remove the gasket from the joint. Remove the heating element from the water heater tank once the mounting screws and gasket have been removed from it.

How to Install a New Heating Element

The replacement heating element may be placed immediately after the old malfunctioning heating element has been checked and removed (see above).

Check Specifications

  • Check to be that the replacement element has the right voltage and wattage rating for your water heater before installing it. On the flange or terminal block of the heating element, or on the data plate of the water heater, you should be able to discover this information.

Insert the New Heating Element

  • Using a cloth, wipe out the area around where the gasket attaches to the tank to remove any debris. Install the replacement gasket on the heating element and then put the entire assembly into the water heater’s tank of storage. Tighten a screw-in-type heating element by threading it into the tank opening with a socket wrench in a clockwise direction until it is securely fastened. Insert the four mounting screws into the flange-type heating elements and tighten them down firmly to secure them
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Refill the Water Heater Tank

  • Drain the water heater by closing the drain valve. Open the cold water inflow valve as well as the nearest hot water faucet at the same time. Allow three minutes for the hot water faucet to remain open after you have achieved a consistent flow of water. As a result, any surplus air and sediment will be removed from the lines. Examine the area surrounding the heating element for leaks.

Make Wire Connections

  • Connect the black and white circuit wires to the heating element’s screw terminals by wrapping the wires around the terminals in a clockwise orientation. The wire that is connected to the screw terminal does not matter which one it is on. Adjust the wires to ensure that they are securely fastened once you have completely tightened the screws.

Reassemble the Cover Plate

  • In order to properly reinstall the thermostat cover, you must first tuck the insulation back into its original location before reattaching it to the water heater tank.

Turn on Power and Test

  1. Switching on the water heater’s circuit breaker will bring the electricity to the unit on. Allow the water to warm up for many hours before checking the temperature of the water with a probe. If you need to make any modifications to the thermostat, do so.

DIY Water Heater Testing and Repair

Occasionally, the heating elements on electric water heaters break long before the water heater itself fails, but changing them in a hot water heater is a simple Do It Yourself repair.

Tools Required

The majority of the time, replacing one or both of the heating elements will address the problem if your electric hot water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water more quickly than it used to, or not delivering any hot water. Water heater repairs are simple, and replacement components are affordable ($8 to $20), and they are easily accessible at home centers, hardware shops, and appliance parts dealers across the country. How to test the heating elements, remove one if it’s defective, and replace it with a new one will be demonstrated.

Maintaining a realistic expectation of their lifespan of 10 to 15 years is all that is required. If your heater is reaching its end of life, it may be more cost-effective to replace it than to repair it. Find out how to adjust your water heater in this article.

Other Causes of Water Not Getting Hot

Of course, there are a variety of additional factors that might contribute to a shortage of hot water. Before you begin testing the elements, double-check that the circuit breaker is not tripped and that it is in the on position. Press the reset button on the high-temperature cutoff, which is positioned slightly above the top thermostat, at the same time. Although resetting either the circuit breaker or the high-temperature cutoff may remedy the problem, the fact that they were tripped in the first place may suggest that there is an electrical fault with the system in the first place.

Assuming that the heating components are working properly, the thermostats or cutoff switch may be defective.

Video: How to Test Your Water Heater Element

  • Power should be turned off at the circuit breaker. Remove the metal covers from the thermostats and heating components to reveal them.
  • Power should be shut off at the circuit breaker. Remove the metal covers from the thermostats and heating components to reveal them

Test the Wires

  • Please keep in mind that if the wires are covered by metal conduit, the tester will not read the voltage. Take off the metal thermostat cover that is mounted on the side of the water heater, peel out all of the insulation, and place the tester in close proximity to the wires that go up to the top of the high-temperature cutoff switch.
  • Placing the tester against the metal water heater shell will get the following results:
  • Note: If the tester does not light up, it is okay to proceed with the testing of the components.

What’s Inside a Water Heater and How It Works

The vast majority of domestic electric water heaters feature two heating elements: one near the top of the tank and another towards the bottom of the tank. After entering the top, power travels to the high-temperature cutoff switch, and then to the thermostats and elements on each side of the unit. The temperature of the top and bottom components is regulated by two different thermostats. When the water at the top of the tank becomes too hot, the top element goes off and the bottom element takes over to heat the water.

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Test Continuity for a Burned-Out Element

  • Please keep in mind that you will need a continuity tester ($5 to $10) for this stage.
  • A continuity tester (about $5 to $10) will be required for this procedure.
  • Note: If the tester does not illuminate, the element should be replaced.

Test for a Short Circuit

  • The alligator clip should be attached to one of the element screws. Touch the tester probe to the mounting bracket for the element
  • Repeat the process on the other screw.
  • It is important to note that if the tester light illuminates either time, there is a short. Replace the element with a new one

The Secret of the Red Button

Occasionally, both elements will pass the test, but you will still be unable to receive hot water. Try pressing the “high-temperature cutoff” button, which is situated right above the upper thermostat, to see if that helps. It may temporarily cure the problem, but if the problem recurs, the heating components should be checked. Step number five.

Remove the Bad Element

  • Close the intake valve for cold water
  • Start by turning on the hot water tap in the kitchen. Pour water into the tank by connecting a garden hose to the drain valve and opening it
  • Note: A water heater element wrench (available for $5 at home centers and hardware stores) is required for thread-in–type elements such as those shown below.
  • Remove the old heating element by unscrewing it using a heating element wrench.
  • Using a heating element wrench, unscrew the old element.

Install the New Element

  • Insert the replacement element into the water heater and tighten it down with the heating element wrench if necessary. Reconnect the wires, checking to see that the connections are secure. Remove the insulation and metal covers and replace them.

Buying Heating Elements

Replace your heating element with one that has the same wattage as your existing one. For information on wattage if your old element isn’t labeled, look at the nameplate on the water heater, your instruction manual, or search online using the model number found on the nameplate. Heating elements are secured to the water heater with either a big thread and nut, as illustrated below, or with four bolts and nuts, as indicated in the diagram below. Most home centers carry the type we’ve shown, but if you’re replacing the four-bolt version, you may purchase an adaptor kit.

Low-density parts that are more costly are typically folded back.

Replacement of your old element with a low-density element will result in more efficient functioning and a longer service life.

How to Change Water Heater Element

Vous êtes ici: Accueil/Habitat/Systems/How to Change a Water Heater Element | Step-by-Step Instructions A water heater element replacement is something that everyone who owns a house will have to learn how to do at some point. Why not right now? Just that will be demonstrated in this how-to tutorial for your convenience. It’s not as difficult as you would imagine! Disclaimer: REthority is financed by advertisements and participation in affiliate programs. When you click on one of our links, we may receive a commission.

  • Before doing any DIY plumbing work, consult with a professional.
  • To assist you in locating local plumbers in your region, we have teamed with Networx.
  • Find a Plumber in your area.
  • How to Replace the Element in a Water Heater Warm water, restricted hot water, or no hot water coming from your electric water heater are all indications that a heating element may need to be changed in your water heater.
  • Every householder should be able to learn how to execute this task.
  • First, we’ll go through the functions of water heater elements and how to tell which of your components is malfunctioning.

What Is a Water Heater Element?

Photograph courtesy of Afanasiev Andrii/Shutterstock The water heater element is in charge of heating the water in your water heater tank, and it is located inside the tank. Warming up the water is accomplished by completely immersing the electric components in it. Electric water heaters make use of two of these immersion heating elements to heat the water to the desired temperature for your needs. One can be found towards the top of the tank’s water level. The other one is at the bottom of the list.

Lower Heater Element

TrotzOlga/Shutterstock The bottom heater element is in charge of the majority of the labor involved in heating up the water contained within the tank. As fresh, cold water is introduced into the tank, it is dispensed through a tube that directs the water straight to the bottom. The lower heater element works extremely hard to get the cooler water at the bottom of the tank up to the proper temperature while also preventing it from dropping down too rapidly. Furthermore, because it is located at the bottom of the tank, it is susceptible to being covered by the typical silt that settles to the bottom of the water heater.

This has the potential to impair the efficacy of the lower heating element and lead it to cease performing sooner than it should. In most cases, the bottom element of your water heater will be the one that fails if you believe that one of its elements has failed.

Upper Heater Element

The higher heater element does not exert as much effort as the lower heater element does. This is due to the fact that it is placed at the top of the tank, where it can “boost” the temperature of the already-heated water just before it leaves the tank and exits through the tap you are now using. As opposed to raising the temperature of 40 or 50 degree water all the way to the temperature specified on your water heater thermostat, its purpose is to guarantee that the water remains at 120, 130, or 140 degrees before it exits the storage tank.

Screw-In Water Heater Elements

There are two sorts of heater elements that will be used in your lower and higher heater elements. Screw-in water heater elements are by far the most prevalent type of water heater element. It’s almost guaranteed that if your water heater was built less than 15 years ago, you’ll have heater elements similar to the ones seen above. Screw-in heater elements, as the name implies, are installed on your water heater by screwing them in place.

Bolt-In Water Heater Elements

The second (and considerably less frequent) form of water heater element is a bolt-in water heater element. The most common place to find them is on vintage water heaters. It will be obvious if you look closely that bolt-in components are held in place by four bolts. With the help of an adapter kit, it is simple to convert bolt-in components to screw-in elements.

Buying a Replacement Water Heater Element

The first step in replacing your water heater element is to ensure that you have the proper replacement. Bringing your old water heater element to a plumbing supply business can ensure that you acquire the right sort of replacement water heater element. Selecting a new water heater element of the same type (screw-in or bolt-in) and voltage as the original will be necessary. You have the option of selecting a lower wattage than your present element. However, you should be warned that it will not heat water as efficiently.

Once you’ve obtained a replacement part, you may proceed to the next step in the process: replacing it.

How to Change a Water Heater Element

First and first, safety must be prioritized. When replacing a water heater element, the most important consideration should be safety. A mix of water and electricity is used to power electric water heaters, which is a potentially harmful or even lethal combination. If you want to reduce your risk, make sure you follow the recommendations below carefully and in the exact order. If you are frightened with the prospect of completing this project on your own, you may always hire a trained plumber to assist you.

Materials Needed

  • The following items are required: garden hose, screwdriver, water heater element wrench, voltage tester, replacement heater element, O ring.

Prepare all of your materials before you start.

A water heater element wrench may be purchased at a hardware shop or on the internet through sites such as Google Shopping. It’s possible that they’ll be referred to as element tools. Remove and replace your heating element with ease if you use these tools to make the process easier.

1. Turn the Power Off

Locate the switch on your circuit breaker that is connected to your water heater and turn it off. To turn off the light, turn the switch to the Off position. Then, using your voltage tester, confirm that the power has been turned off.

  • Navigate to the circuit breaker panel and locate the switch that is connected to your water heater. The switch should be turned to the “Off” setting.”. Use your voltage tester to confirm that the power has been turned off after that.

2. Check the Drain Valve

Once you are positive that there is no electricity running to the water heater, connect your garden hose to the water heater’s drain valve and proceed as described above. The drain valve will be situated towards the bottom of the tank, near the bottom of the tank. You’re not going to completely empty the tank just yet. This step guarantees that the drain valve is not clogged, allowing you to drain the tub in a matter of seconds. Using the hose, connect the other end to the exterior or into a huge bucket once it has been connected.

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The drain valve will need to be unclogged if no water comes out when the valve is opened when the valve is open.

3. Turn off the Water Supply

You’ll need to switch off the water supply that’s linked to your water heater at this point. Close the cold water inlet valve, which is situated at the top of the water heater. Replace the water heater cap. Allow an assistant to switch on the hot water faucet at a nearby faucet and leave it turned on while you work. As a result, a portion of the hot water pressure in the tank is released.

4. Access the Water Heater Element

Remove the access panel lid for the heating element that has to be replaced using a screwdriver and set it aside. The higher access panel allows you to see the upper heater element, while the lower access panel allows you to see the bottom heating element. In between the access panel lid and the thermostat, there may be some insulation to be seen. You can gather this information and put it away for the time being. Remove the plastic cover that has been placed over the thermostat. Before proceeding, do one final check with your voltage tester to confirm that it reads 0 volts.

5. Loosen the Bad Water Heater Element

Photograph courtesy of Afanasiev Andrii/Shutterstock Using your element wrench, loosen the defective water heater element by turning it in a counter-clockwise manner. The broad end of the hose should be placed over the exposed area of the heating element. If it’s proving tough to loosen, you may use the short end of your screwdriver to provide more leverage to the process.

6. Drain or Partially Drain the Tank

You can drain or partially drain the tank while keeping your garden hose in place (make sure the opposite end is pointed outdoors or into a large bucket). This should be done at least once each year, and we recommend that you completely drain the tank every year.

This ensures that your water heater is maintained to its maximum potential. To remove the water from the tank, open the drain valve on the side of the tank. This might take up to an hour for a water heater of ordinary capacity to completely drain the tank.

7. Remove the Bad Water Heater Element

The tank can be drained or partially drained while the garden hose is still connected (make sure the opposite end is directed outdoors or into a big bucket). This should be done at least once each year, and we recommend that you completely drain the tank before doing so. The water heater maintenance will be at its best as a result of this. Drain the water from the tank by opening the drain valve. This might take up to an hour to completely empty a water heater of ordinary size.

8. Change the Water Heater Element

Prepare your new water heater element and O ring in advance of the event. In order to secure your screw-in heating element, you must first place the O ring over the threads. Insert the new element into the opening at this point. Afterwards, rotate it in a counterclockwise manner. If necessary, use your water heater element wrench to tighten it completely and ensure that it will not leak when the tank is refilled.

9. Refill the Tank

FotoDuets/Shutterstock You may now refill the water heater tank because the new element has been placed. First, close the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank. Re-open the cold water intake valve, which is located at the top of the tank. You will hear some sputtering sounds coming from the hot water tap that you switched on in the adjoining bathroom. Continue to run the hot water faucet in the vicinity until all of the trapped air has been expelled through the pipes. You’ll know when the air has been released from the faucet because you won’t hear any sputtering or bubbling sounds coming from it any more.

10. Reconnect Wires and Turn Water Heater Power On

After you have completely refilled the tank, you may reconnect the heating element wires that you had previously detached from the old element to the new element. Make certain that the wires are connected to the correct terminals. Return the circuit breaker switch to the “On” position by pressing it once more. This will give you the opportunity to inspect the water heater and ensure that it is operational and free of leaks. Replace the insulation and access cover, then put the panel back into place using the screws provided.

  • The heater element may have been the source of the problem, which resulted in tepid, restricted, or no hot water.
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Having Trouble Changing a Water Heater Element?

Steklo/Shutterstock When it comes to changing a water heater element, it is not a tough task, but you may encounter some tricky issues along the road.

If this occurs, immediately stop what you’re doing and get expert assistance. Some of the concerns for which we would recommend consulting with a specialist are as follows:

  • After flicking the circuit breaker switch off, the voltage readout is anything but zero. It is difficult to locate the correct replacement element for the water heater because of leaks. Drain valve that is clogged
  • Unable to get the old water heater element to come loose
  • The problem is not resolved by replacing the water heater element.

A professional will examine your water heater and guarantee the necessary item is installed correctly. If you experience any issues when trying to change a water heater element on your own, don’t take the chance of making the situation worse. For assistance, contact a local plumber.

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How To Replace A Water Heater Element

Note from the editors: We receive a commission from affiliate links on Forbes Advisor. The thoughts and ratings of our editors are not influenced by commissions.

  • Time spent working: 3 hours
  • Total time spent working: 8 hours Intermediate to high degree of proficiency
  • Project costs range from $10 to $60.

Compare Quotes From Top-rated Water Heater Installers

The working day lasts three hours, and the total time is eight hours. Intermediate to advanced degree of ability Budget: $10 to $60 for the project.

Safety Considerations

Before changing a water heater element, be sure that the power to the water heater has been turned off at the main electrical panel. Check the water heater element with a non-contact circuit tester to ensure that there is no current flowing through the element when it is time to inspect it.

Tools and Materials

  • Element remover, screwdriver, multimeter, non-contact circuit tester, socket wrench and sockets, heating element, rags, and other supplies

Instructions

To turn off your water heater, locate the circuit breaker for it in the main electrical panel and turn it off or remove the fuse, if you are using fuses. Allowing the water in the tank to cool for a period of time before testing the water is recommended. Before moving on, check a hot water faucet to verify whether the water is still hot enough to use.

2. Access Heating Element

Locate the access cover panel on the water heater and carefully remove it from the unit. Fold the insulation back and away from the heating element in order to reveal the screw terminals and circuit wires behind the layer of insulation. Check the wires using a non-contact circuit tester to check whether any electricity is flowing through them. If there is no power, unscrew the screws and unhook the wires from the circuit breaker.

3. Test the Heating Element

To obtain an OHM reading, you’ll need a multimeter. if the multimeter displays the letter O, it means that the heating element has to be changed. However, if you do obtain a reading, it is possible that the fault is with the other heating element.

4. Drain the Water Heater

Turn off the cold water supply line to the water heater while the electricity to the water heater is turned off as well. It is customary to locate the cutoff above the water heater. Drain the water heater by attaching a garden hose to it and letting it run. Drain the water heater water by placing the hose on top of a floor drain and allowing it to drain until the water line is below the element.

5. Remove the Heating Element

Turn off the cold water supply line to the water heater while the water heater’s electricity is turned off. The shutdown valve is usually located above the water heater unit. Pour water from the water heater by attaching it to it with a garden hose. Drain the water heater water until the water line is below the element by placing the hose on top of a floor drain.

6. Install New Heating Element

Consult your water heater’s owner’s handbook to determine which heating element to use so that you have the proper voltage and wattage for your water heater. It is necessary to clean the area where the heating element will be installed on the tank prior to putting it in place.

Placing the heating element in the tank with the gasket on it is a simple procedure. When working with a screw-in element, use a socket wrench to turn it clockwise. Screw in the mounting screws if you’re using a flange-type heating element.

7. Refill Water Heater

After you’ve filled the water heater, turn off the drain and turn on the cold water intake valve, as well as a nearby hot water faucet. When the hot water faucet begins to flow, continue to run it for three minutes more.

8. Reconnect Wires

Wrap the black and white circuit wires around the screw terminals on the heating element in a clockwise direction, starting at the hot end. Before reassembling the cover plate, check to be that the wires are securely fastened. Reconnect the electricity and run a test on the hot water heater.

When to Call a Pro

If you aren’t comfortable with electrical work, you should get a professional to perform it for you. On occasion, when you empty the water heater, you may discover that there is more silt and debris than you thought. That being the case, it would be wise to consult with a professional about the situation. An electrician may be hired for between $50 and $100 per hour, while a plumber can be hired for between $50 and $200 per hour.

Compare Quotes From Top-rated Water Heater Installers

If you aren’t confident with electrical work, you should seek professional assistance. When you drain the water heater, you may discover that there is more silt and debris than you expected. A professional should be contacted if this is the case to examine the situation. Electricians typically charge between $50 and $100 per hour, whereas plumbers might charge anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour depending on their experience and location.

How to replace the heating element in an electric hot water heater without draining the tank

If you need to replace the heating element in your electric water heater, you may be under the impression that you must first drain the tank. This is not necessarily true. Even if you were to go about it that way, the Old Timers would look at you and think, “What a rube.” Following are some ideas and techniques from some of the Academy’s Master Appliantologists for replacing the heating element with a tank full without creating a flood: 1. Fill the tank halfway with water. Water heater element replacement that is quick and filthy switch off the electricity to the heater cut off the water supply to the heater or the housere- If you wish to leave the pressure as it is, just close the valve when it is no longer needed (sink, tub ect) take off the lid and unplug the cables Prepare the new heating element by removing it from the packaging and placing it on the gasket, for example.

a large towel should be placed in front of the heater Using a wrench, loosen the old element approximately a half turn.

If everything is done correctly, you will only spill less than a glass of water on the floor.

With this method, I have completed hundreds of jobs, including the old 4-bolt kind, with no difficulties at all.

You just lose a small amount of water.

It is only when it is an old corroded part that the rubber gasket tries to stick in the hole that the situation becomes problematic.

If the gasket sticks, remove the new gasket from the replacement element and re-use the old gasket to complete the process.

I was able to replace the element without having to drain the tank.

Disconnect the incoming supply line.

If the gasket is stuck to the tank, loosen the element a few turns and you should be able to check if it has to be pryed away with a little flat bladed screwdriver.

When it is removed, just drop it and replace it with the new one.

If you need to drain the water, unplug both the incoming line and the outlet side of the faucet.

It is expected that the water level will be ejected out the incoming side until it reaches the level of the fill tube (lowest point). Although not all of the water will be gone, it will be significantly lighter. What is your recommendation for a new electric water heater?

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