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
It is necessary to change the element in a water heater from time to time. It is not necessary to replace your water heater only because the heating element has stopped working; instead, you may repair it. Although changing a water heater element may appear to be a tough undertaking, the majority of homeowners are capable of doing this repair themselves with minimal assistance. The chances are strong that one or both of your water heater’s heating elements are malfunctioning if your water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water, or not delivering any hot water at all!
Checking Your Water Heater Heating Element
A water heater element may need to be replaced from time to time. It is not necessary to replace your water heater just because the heating element has stopped working. Although changing a water heater element may appear to be a challenging undertaking, most homeowners are capable of doing this repair themselves. The chances are considerable that one or both of your water heater’s heating elements are malfunctioning if your water heater is taking a long time to heat up, running out of hot water, or not delivering any hot water at all.
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
There are three different kinds of water heater elements. It is possible that your water heater is reaching the end of its service life and that you will wish to replace it with the least costly high watt density element available. The other, more expensive solutions should be considered if your heater is modern and you reside in a region where hard water is prevalent. Consider each of the following in further detail:
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.
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. It is offered in two power ratings: 4500 watts and 5500 watts.
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.
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. It is NOT necessary at this time to drain the tank
- Rather, it is simply necessary to check to see that the drain valve is not blocked. 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.
- Clear away any dirt or debris from the threads and gasket region of the replacement element before installing it. Attach the new “O” ring to the new element using the new “O” ring. NEVER EVER EVER EVER use the old “O” ring
- To install the element, gently put it into the tank and tighten it with the element wrench. Attach the two wires to the element and secure them in place by tightening the screws that hold them in position. Ensure that the wires are tight and will not slip by checking them twice.
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
It is feasible to replace the heating element in your water heater without having to drain the tank. Keep in mind, though, that it can be a little more difficult in some cases. If you’d like to give it a shot, the video below will walk you through the process. Take a look at the video
Replacing a Heating Element in an Electric Water Heater
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:
- Putting the heating element through its paces
- Removing the old heating element A new heating element is being installed:
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.
Some manufacturers sell heating elements as part of repair kits that contain both the heating elements and the thermostats.
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
- 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
The removal of the heating element can begin immediately after the heating element has been tested and found to be functional (see above).
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
- 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 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
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
- 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.
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.
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. In the case of flange units, the holding bolts should be replaced.
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.
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.
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
With these step-by-step instructions, you’ll have no trouble installing your new water heater element. The team at PlumbingSupply.com® is glad to provide replacement elements and to give you with the following information to aid you with removing your old element and replacing it with your new one.
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.
Replacing the insulation and access cover (Step 16). In order to avoid element damage, the tank must be completely filled with water and completely free of air before applying electric power. Turn on the electric power to the water heater in step 17.
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.
- To ensure that the wires are not damaged, use a voltmeter or circuit tester to test them for electricity before attempting to remove them.
- Step 6: Remove the bolts that hold the element in place with a socket wrench.
- Step 7: Wipe down the gasket region in the tank.
- Step 9: Attach the thermostat bracket and the element.
- Step 10: Turn on the cold water supply and close the drain valve.
- Turn off the hot water faucet.
- Step 12: Firmly secure the thermostat against the tank’s surface and between the prongs of the thermostat bracket.
If there is rust on the wiring, cut and strip wire 1/2″ in length (Only if wire is long enough).
Wiring connections that are too loose, damaged, or defective can lead to heat buildup and fires at the wiring terminals.
Screws should be tightened.
Replacing the insulation and access cover (Step 16).
Turn on the electric power to the water heater in step 17.
Typical Electric Water Heater ConstructionWiring Diagram
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.
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.
- Pro tip: Check that the power has been turned off by tapping the electrical connections with a noncontact voltage detector.
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.
- Disconnect the wires from the terminal screws using a wire cutter. Attach the alligator clamp to one of the element screws using a hex key. With the tester probe, make contact with the other screw.
- 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.
- Pro tip: To spin the socket, you’ll need a long, robust Phillips screwdriver with a flat blade. To free the threads that have become stuck, use a cold chisel and a hammer to loosen the threads that have become stuck.
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 Replace the Heating Element in an Electric Water Heater
if you suddenly realize that you are running out of hot water — and you haven’t brought a teenager into your home — it’s possible that a heater element in your electric water heater has been damaged. The good news is that everything is still on track. Heater elements may be quickly and simply replaced without the use of a special element wrench or other required tools. So, if your tank breaks on you, don’t worry and replace it with a new one. How to achieve this swiftly and painlessly will be demonstrated by me in this video.
What is a Water Heater Element?
A heater element is a component of an electric water heater that is responsible for heating the water in the tank. The majority of electric water heaters (but not all) use two heating components. Some people have only one. They are, however, all powered by electricity. Here’s what a typical water heater element from the A.O. Smith brand (the type we suggest) looks like. It will only set you back around $43. Heater elements are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can go straight or in a circle.
Additionally, they can be screwed in, bolted in, or even clamped in to hold their position.
What You Need to Replace a Water Heater Element
For those who don’t have access to an element wrench, the following equipment and supplies will be required to remove and replace the faulty heating element.
- Pipe-joint compound, a garden hose, screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, and a replacement water heater element and gasket
Pipe dope is a term commonly used by plumbers to refer to the substance used to connect pipes.
How to Replace Water Heater Element
A specific instrument known as an element wrench is not available to everyone (with the exception of plumbers). They are used to swiftly and safely remove the heating element from an electric water heater. So, here’s how to do the task without the need of an element wrench.
- Determine which component needs to be replaced (there are two). If you are getting no hot water, replace the top element
- If you are getting less hot water than normal, replace the bottom element. The water supply valve for the electric water heater should be turned off. The water heater’s cutoff will be positioned on the top of the unit (on the cold-water inlet pipe). Afterwards, cut off the electricity to the water heater at the main electrical panel
- A garden hose should be connected to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank. Empty the tank down the drain in your basement. Close the valve and pull the hose out of the way. Pull back the insulation by removing either the top or bottom access panel on the side of the tank, depending on your preference. Remove the heating element’s terminal screws by turning them counter-clockwise. The wires should be removed at this point
- Using your adjustable wrench, remove the element by rotating it counterclockwise. Remove the bolds first if it is fastened to the wall or floor. Purchase a new element, making certain that it has the same voltage, wattage, and length as the original element. To save time and money, it is a good idea to bring the old one with you when you visit the plumbing supply shop or hardware store. Pipe-joint compound should be applied on both sides of the new gasket. After that, slip the gasket over the replacement element and screw the element into the tank in a clockwise direction. Install a timer on the water supply valve, then turn on each of the hot-water faucets in the home one at a time until the water flows continuously
- Reattach the wires to their respective terminals. Restore power to the thermostat and push the red reset button on the back of the unit. Remove the insulation and the access panel
- Replace them.
It is important to note that the access panel has been opened and that the insulation has been pushed to the side in order to remove and replace the heating element in this case.
If you have the proper knowledge, equipment, and new component, removing a heating element without the use of an element wrench is simple. In reality, it’s similar to changing a light bulb.but with a few additional steps. After learning how to repair a water heater element, you will be able to rapidly restore hot water to your home if the element should fail.
- A straightforward explanation of the components of a water heater
- Maintenance and troubleshooting for your water heater
- 5 suggestions for avoiding a water heater tragedy due to a leak
- How to relight the pilot light on your water heater
- What is the average lifespan of a water heater? Repairing a water heater
- How to inspect and test the T P valve on your water heater
- Is it necessary to install a water softener in your water heater?
Please do not hesitate to contact us here or call 1-866-758-6237 if you require assistance in properly maintaining, repairing, or replacing your water heater. 1-Tom-licensed Plumber’s staff of plumbers and drain professionals responds instantly to any plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage emergency. Also included in our services is the excavation of subterranean water pipes and sewage main lines. Our immediate-response staff is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays.
How To Replace A Water Heater Element
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- Time spent working: 3 hours
- Total time spent working: 8 hours Intermediate to high degree of proficiency
- Project costs range from $10 to $60.
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Estimates are provided without obligation. The water heater element on your electric water heater should be checked if you’ve noticed that the hot water doesn’t last as long as it used to, or if you’re only receiving tepid water. If this is the case, replace the element. Even though a broken water heater element occurs at the most inconvenient of times, it is a pretty simple repair.
A water heater element may be purchased for anywhere from $10 and $60 at most home improvement stores. A water heating element replacement is a do-it-yourself project if you’re experienced with basic electrical work.
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
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
Water heaters contain two types of heating elements: screw-in heating elements and flange-type heating elements. Turn the heating element counterclockwise with a socket wrench fitted with a 1 12-inch socket when working with a screw-in element. Remove the screws and gasket by heating them with a flange-type heating source. Remove the heating element from the water heater after it has been disconnected.
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.
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Estimates are provided without obligation.
A New Heating Element Gives New Life to an Electric Water Heater
Most electric tank-style water heaters include more than one heating element to accommodate the demand for hot water. The fact that you switch on the hot water in the kitchen and the water does not immediately get hot does not necessarily indicate that there is a problem with the water heater. Somebody may be showering, or the washing machine could be using up all of the hot water. The water heater should be checked if the problem persists after a few hours of trying again and again, and if the problem occurs in the bathroom or laundry room as well.
- Electric water heaters feature one or more heating elements that appear quite similar to the heaters that you use to heat a cup of cold water to create an instant cup of hot tea on a stovetop or in the microwave.
- Due to the fact that the task will need draining at least a portion of the tank, your water heater will be out of action for the greater part of one day.
- Locate the water heater breaker on the main panel of the electrical panel.
- If it has truly tripped, turn the power off completely and then back on again.
- A worn out heating element is most likely to blame for the absence of hot water in the event that the breaker has not been tripped.
- This procedure exposes you to the prospect of receiving a shock, which is a remote possibility, but one that necessitates that you continue with caution.
How to Test Water Heater Elements
Each element should be subjected to a continuity test.
- Turn off the electricity to the circuit breaker that controls the water heater
- And Loosen the screws holding the cover plates to the water heater elements and lift them off. Remove the cover plates from the table. Remove the insulation that has been applied to the wire terminals. Preparing the heating element for testing requires setting a multimeter to detect voltage in the 100- to 1,000-volt range and placing one probe on each wire termination. The meter reading should be zero in order to show that the power has been turned off. After this point, it is safe to proceed with the continuity test. Cut any electrical connections between the circuit wires and the heating element that you’re testing
- Set the resistance measurement mode on the multimeter to ohms
- Make contact with one probe at a time on one terminal and the other probe at a different terminal. If the element is operational, you will receive a reading of zero. The presence of anything other than this indicates that the element has burnt out and must be replaced. Additionally, an ohmmeter may be used to check for short circuiting. While the wires are still unconnected, attach one probe to one of the element terminals and the other probe to the element mounting bracket to complete the circuit. It is possible for electricity to flow from the element to the water heater body if you receive a zero reading when you run this test. To put it another way, it’s underpowered and must be replaced. Test the other terminal in the same manner as you did the first.
A multimeter and a combined voltage and continuity tester are both effective tools.
Rather than using a multimeter for these tests, you could opt to purchase store-bought voltage and continuity testers instead.
If the voltage tester illuminates when you check for voltage, this indicates that electricity is flowing, and you should switch off the breaker. Getting a zero reading on an ohmmeter during a continuity test is the same as getting the continuity tester to light up during the continuity test.
Replacing Heating Elements
It is possible that you may require a specific tool to remove the faulty piece. After you’ve tested and determined which heating element is faulty, you may replace it with one that meets the specs of your water heater. The water in the tank will need to be drained before the defective part can be removed and replaced. If you’re replacing an upper element, you just need to drain the tank approximately halfway; however, if you’re replacing a bottom element, you should drain the tank completely before proceeding.
If you obtain a reading, you should turn off the breaker.
- Garden hose, heating element wrench, screwdrivers, rag, and a new heating element are all required.
- Pouring water out of the tank requires turning off the cold water supply and opening a hot water faucet in the house, which allows air to enter the system. Connection: Connect a garden hose to the drain plug, then open the drain stop and let the water to drain into a floor drain, laundry tub, or anyplace else outdoors. Installation: The procedure for removing an element will vary depending on the model, but in most cases you will need to detach the two circuit wires first. Remove the cables from the way and secure the water heater element with a water heater element wrench. This is a big socket wrench that is designed to accommodate the element nut. If the element is stuck, turn the wrench counterclockwise to unscrew it, using a screwdriver for leverage if the element is jammed. On some models, you must remove the complete mounting plate by removing the four screws that hold it in place using a Phillips screwdriver
- On others, you may simply remove the four screws that keep it in place. Once the element has been removed, use a wet towel to remove any debris from the area surrounding the hole. Installing the new element is as simple as sliding on the rubber gasket that comes with it, inserting the element into the hole, and screwing it in with the wrench, or replacing the mounting bracket, depending on your preference. Reconnect the circuit wires to the new heating element in exactly the same way that they were connected to the previous heating element. Remove the insulation and cover plate and replace them. Do not re-energize the circuit breaker until you have replenished the gas tank. Close the drain stopper and turn on the cold water faucet to do this. Turn off the hot water faucet in the house once it has produced a continuous stream of water
- Leave the faucet open until the water stops flowing. Turn on the circuit breaker for the water heater.
Other Service the Tank May Need
Anode rods are used to prevent corrosion of the tank liner and heating components in a sacrificial system. Depending on how thoroughly you drain the tank, you may detect discoloration of the water. It might be brown or yellow, which suggests rust; or it can be milky white, which shows that it’s full with scale, which implies corrosion. In any case, flushing the tank before to refilling it is recommended. Allow the tank to completely empty before turning on the cold water and waiting until the water coming out of the drain plug becomes clear.
You may remove the sacrificial anode by unscrewing it from the top of the tank using either an element wrench or a regular screwdriver, depending on your preference.
You had to replace the heating element because of corrosion, and repairing the anode rod will prevent similar corrosion from destroying the newly installed heating element in the future.
How to Replace a Heating Element in a Water Heater
- Turn off the electricity
- Each piece should be tested. Drain the tank of water
- Replace the element with a new one
- Fill the tank with water and flush it
- Connect the wires
Water heater elements may and do wear out, and changing one is a chore that can be completed by any homeowner who is capable of turning a wrench. However, it is critical to ensure that an element has genuinely worn out before replacing it, or else your electric water heater problem may not be repaired. It’s simple to check the heating elements for continuity, and if one of them fails the test, a water heater repair should be completed in a very short period of time. As a result, you’ll have to drain the tank, which is an excellent opportunity to flush it out to avoid having scale-related problems in the future.
It is critical to turn off the electricity before doing any sort of maintenance on an electric water heater.
It’s possible that the breaker has already been tripped.
Water heaters can have one or two elements, depending on the tank capacity, and the second element is frequently located near to the floor in order to conserve energy.
Make sure the water heater element leads do not have power by testing them with a voltage tester.
To check the continuity of the element, use a continuity tester or a multimeter with a resistance measurement function.
In either case, the tester should light up or, if you’re using a meter, the resistance should read zero.
Each element should be tested for a short as well, which is especially critical if the breaker trips often.
This time, the tester should not illuminate, and you should see a high resistance measurement on your meter this time around.
After that, test the second terminal in the same manner as you did the other element.
If the top element of a two-element heater is malfunctioning, you will only need to drain a portion of the water out.
Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater and then turn on the hot water supply.
Turn on a hot water faucet in the house to allow air to enter the pipes, then open the drain valve on the water heater and let the water to drain out of the system completely.
Apply pressure to the element with the wrench and spin it counterclockwise using a screwdriver to provide leverage.
Using a cloth, wipe the orifice clean.
Bolts are used to fasten some of the elements to the tank.
However, before you remove the piece, make a note of its orientation.
Ideally, you should cleanse the tank before refilling it by turning on the cold water supply and allowing some water to flow down the drain line for a few minutes.
Close the drain valve and remove the hose when the flushing process is complete, and allow the tank to refill.
Before connecting the wires to the new water heater elements, you may wish to clean them with a file or acetone to remove any corrosion that has accumulated on the wires.
Restart your computer and let the water in your tank to heat up, which will likely take many hours to complete. After that, the water heater repair should be completed.