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
There are two types of heating elements: radiant and infrared. This is the sort of heating element we will be discussing because it is the most commonly encountered. They are commonly found on all newer water heaters, and the element is secured in place with a screwdriver or other tool. ‘Bolt-in’ elements are available in a variety of designs; if you have an older water heater, it’s probable that this type of element was used in its installation. Using four bolts, the piece is held in place. If you need to convert a screw-in element into a bolt-in element, you may purchase a universal adapter kit to do so.
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
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. Make sure to turn on the hot water faucet that is closest to the heater in order to properly drain the system.
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.
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:
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.
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
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
- 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 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
To do this project, you will need the following tools: a Phillips screwdriver, a socket wrench, a replacement element, an old garden hose, and a voltmeter or circuit tester (to make sure power is off) Important! As with the last element, be certain to utilize the same wattage, voltage, and flange type. Shut off the electric power to the water heater in step one of this procedure. 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 turn on the drain valve to empty the water heater.
- Step 4: Before attempting to remove wires, check for power on the wires with a voltmeter or circuit tester.
- With a socket wrench, remove the bolts that hold the element to the base.
- Then, thoroughly clean the gasket region within the tank.
- Step 8: Step 9: Attach the thermostat bracket and the element to it.
- Step 10: Shut off the drain valve and turn on the cold water faucet.
- The hot water faucet should be turned off if possible.
- Place thermostat firmly on the tank surface and between the prongs of the thermostat bracket in step 12.
- If there is rust on the wiring, cut and strip the wire 1/2″.
- If corrosion is still evident or if the wire is not long enough, an electrician should be consulted for wire replacement and wire gauge selection.
- The element is connected to the electrical cables in step 14.
- The plastic terminal protector should be replaced at this point.
The insulation and access cover should be replaced in Step 16. Before applying electric power, make sure the tank is completely full with water and free of air to avoid element damage. The water heater should be turned on at this point.
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.
If your heater is reaching its end of life, it may be more cost-effective to replace it than to repair it.
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 a Heating Element in an Electric Water Heater
In a water heater, the heating element is in charge of bringing the water to a comfortable temperature. The fact that it is a powered element means that you will not be able to turn it on or off using a switch or thermostat. When an electric heating element breaks, it is preferable to replace it rather than attempt to remedy the problem. One of the indicators that your hot water heater’s heating element isn’t operating properly is that the water takes an excessive amount of time to heat or does not heat at all when it should.
Learn how to replace the heating element in your electric water heater by following the steps in this article.
Start by Understanding Electric Water Heater Wiring
Before you touch any portion of your water heater, you should first get familiar with the electric water heater wiring. Electric water heaters are equipped with two heating elements, a thermostat, and a high-temperature safety limit. Image courtesy of: The high limit switch is critical to the safety of your house because it will shut off the electricity if the water temperature rises to an unacceptably high level. If you are unsure about where these components are situated on your heater, consult your owner’s handbook or contact a professional to assist you with this.
How to Replace Electric Water Heater Heating Element
If you want to work on your water heater, you must first turn off the electricity. You may do this by turning off the circuit breaker or removing the fuse from your electrical panel. It is necessary to turn off the electricity until you have completed your task. You should also close the cold water input valve to prevent water from being delivered to the heating element while the valve is closed. The shut-off valve for the cold water supply may be found just above the heating element on the wall.
2. Locate the Heating Element
The heating element may be found right above the water supply connectors on the wall. It will be in the shape of a cylindrical rod with two cables attached to it. Most water heaters have a circular hole in the center, which is where the heating element is located. Image courtesy of: In addition, electric water heaters feature two heating components, which you should be aware of. One is positioned in the top portion of the access panel, while the other is located in the lower portion. One of these components may be equipped with a thermostat, while the other may be equipped with a timer.
3. Test the Heating Element
Using a multimeter, you will be able to determine the condition of your water heating element at this stage. Turn off the power to your water heater by turning off the main breaker. Now, insert one probe of your multimeter through each of the heating element screws and place the other probe on each of the screw terminals. Repeat this process for the other probe. If both meters register 120 volts, you’ll know that they’re both fully charged.
If one is gone while the other is there, you’ll need to replace either the top or lower heating element, depending on which is missing. In addition, you may use your multimeter to check your thermostat or timer at this point if you so want.
4. Drain Water from Heater
Before you begin working on the unit, you should understand how to empty the water heater, which will make it much easier to deal with. Drain the tank or cut off the cold water supply to the water heater to conserve energy. To drain, locate the drain plug below one of your hot water faucets and simply open it with your finger. If you do not have access to a drain plug, you can turn off the cold water supply line to your home. This is positioned directly above your water heater, against the outside wall of your home, and immediately adjacent to your pressure release valve.
5. Remove the Heating Element
Using a water heater element wrench, crank the heating element counterclockwise until it comes out of the water heater. The heating element is placed at the bottom of the heater and should be very straightforward to identify with the proper tools. When you remove the panel, it is probable that a hose or cables will be linked to it, so don’t be startled if you see something when you remove it. After removing the heating element, place it somewhere safe so that you may continue working with it without danger of injuring it.
6. Install a New Heating Element
Using a water heater element wrench, crank the heating element counterclockwise until it comes out of the tank. The heating element is positioned at the bottom of the heater and should be very straightforward to spot with a flashlight. When you remove the panel, it is probable that a hose or cables will be linked to it, so don’t be startled if you notice something when you remove it. After removing the heating element, place it somewhere safe so that you may continue working with it without risk of hurting it any more.
7. Refill the Tank
Testing is the only method to determine whether or not everything continues to function as it did previously. You’ll need to fill your tank with e-juice in order to accomplish this. If the flow is too slow, you may need to remove a small screw or two from the top of your atomizer and adjust them so that they fit snugly in the holes. If the flow is too fast, you may need to remove a small screw or two from the top of your atomizer and adjust them so that they fit snugly in the holes. If you leave the hot water faucet turned on, you may also hear some water heater noises coming from it.
Allow all of the air to escape from the water tank during the filling process before turning off the hot water faucet.
8. Reconnect Your Water Heater
It is not yet necessary to test whether or not your new heating element is operational. It is necessary to join the wires of the heating element to the terminals (or wires) of the electric heater and to verify that they are secure by tightening the screw that holds them in place.
9. Turn on the Water Heater Again
Replenish the supply of water to your water heater by turning it back on. Keep an eye out for any unexpected symptoms or signals from your new heating element. You may notice unusual scents, bubbles, or other symptoms that the heating element is not functioning correctly. It is necessary to cease using your water heater and replace an electric water heating element if you observe any of these indications and symptoms. You should also check to see if there is any leaking by turning on the circuit breaker.
Set aside for around one hour and check to see whether your unit is heating as it should. If everything checks out, you’ve done an excellent job of replacing the heating element. Congratulations!
FAQs About How to Replace a Heating Element in an Electric Water Heater
The most typical symptoms are a lack of warm water, a lack of hot water, or even vapor emanating from your heating element, according to the manufacturer. If you detect any of these symptoms, you should immediately turn off your water heater and replace the heating element. You should also check to see if there is any leaking by turning on the circuit breaker. If everything checks out, you’ll be ready to travel in no time.
Is it easy to replace an electric heating element?
To answer this question, the answer is unequivocally yes! The process will be much simpler if you just follow the procedures we’ve laid out for you and, more significantly, apply our advice for how to replace a heating element in an electric water heater. It goes without saying that changing an electric heating element is less difficult than replacing a gas heating element. Just make sure you have the new component in your possession before proceeding with the rest of the job.
Final Verdict on How to Replace a Heating Element in an Electric Water Heater
The procedure of replacing a heating element is not difficult, even for novices, but you must be certain that you are using the correct replacement component for your appliance. When changing an electric heating element, always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take your time. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation in the future.
How to Replace a Water Heater Element
If you have an electric water heater, you will need to replace the heating element on a regular basis to keep it operating properly. This is a project that even a complete newbie may complete if they spend the necessary time reading and learning how to repair a water heater element. Don’t forget that we have fantastic rates on all of our water heater components, no matter what sort of maintenance your system need. Bradford White is one of the respected brands that we sell. You’ll be astonished at how reasonably priced the components are.
How to Change a Hot Water Heater Element
- We propose you do a voltage test to check that there is no electricity flowing to the water heater after you have shut off the power supply at the breaker. Connect a hose to the drain valve – you may use a garden hose for this purpose. It should be connected to the drain valve located towards the bottom of the tank. Run the hose outside the home or into a floor drain to dispose of the waste. Turn on the drain valve
- We are merely doing this for the sake of testing to ensure that the drain is not obstructed by debris. Close the window once again. Don’t turn off the water heater just yet. Water supply should be turned off by shutting off the cold water supply valve. Open a hot water valve inside the house, then go to the kitchen or the bathroom and turn on a faucet to get some hot water there. You will not receive hot water
- Nevertheless, it will relieve pressure in the pipe. The cover for the access panel must be removed with a screwdriver, which is provided. There should be two panels, one for the upper element and the other for the lower portion of the composition. Remove any insulation that may be present and leave it aside for the time being. Remove the thermostat cover- you should now be able to view the thermostat cover. That should be removed as well. Take a minute to inspect the wiring and search for signs of damage. If there is any damage, it must be rectified. Make a connection between the element wires, which should be two of them. To loosen the heating element, you’ll need a special instrument for the job, which is fittingly termed theheating element wrench. Once the element has been released, the water weight in the tank is no longer required. Activate the drain valve and leave it open until no more water is dripping out Please be careful to remove the gasket (or O-ring) as well as the element when removing it completely. Install the replacement element- begin by connecting the fresh new gasket and pressing the element into position with the element still in place. After that, using your special wrench, tighten the element. Last but not least, reconnect the two wires to the element.
- Close the drain valve on the water heater tank and open the cold water supply valve to refill the tank. Keep an eye out for leaks as it fills. The gasket on your new element will most likely need to be repositioned if there is any leakage from the element. Turn off the faucet that you had left running—remember the faucet inside that you had cranked up to the maximum temperature? Whenever you notice a constant stream of water pouring out of the faucet, go ahead and close it. Finally, reinstall the thermostat and access panel covers to finish the job. Everything should be returned in its correct position at this point. Turn on the water heater only when the tank has been entirely filled (a heating element might be damaged if it is not totally submerged)
You should only be aware that when you turn on the hot water in the house, you will most likely hear air flaring out of the hot water line. This is typical, and the faucets will only need to be turned on for a short period of time to clear the line.
Are Water Heater Elements Universal?
The answer is no, there are a few crucial traits that will require your consideration. You must ensure that the voltage and wattage are compatible (240v vs. 120v, for example). For the most part, you should maintain the voltage constant; nevertheless, you can add an element with less power, but not more power, as long as the voltage remains constant. This information may be found on the label on the back of your water heater. It’s important to note that some tanks have varying wattages for each element, so keep that in mind.
There are two different sorts of configurations: screw-in and bolt-in.
What Size Socket for a Water Heater Element
Changing out a water heater element requires the use of a massive 1-1/2-inch socket wrench, which must be both long and wide to do the job (5″).
Replacing a Water Heater Element without Draining
In terms of the likelihood of making a mess, it is quite dangerous for a newbie to take this technique. Also, draining your water heater every two years or so is beneficial to the longevity of the appliance, so why not take advantage of this opportunity to do so? However, if you want to try your hand at this ingenious solution, check out this coolChristopher Moore tutorial video first.
Thanks for Visiting PlumbersStock
If you found this information to be useful in understanding how to repair a water heater element, please forward it along to your friends and family members. Keep in mind that we have excellent deals on water heater parts and components. Resources that are related to this topic include: How to Replace a Thermocouple (with Pictures) How to Check the Element in a Water Heater Instructions on How to Clean a Thermocouple How to Replace a Water Heater (with Pictures) Thermostat T P Valve Doesn’t Close ProperlyT P Valve Replacement How to Repair a Water Heater That Is Leaking
How to select & replace water heater element
11.5 threads per inch/ Convert element port to 1″ pipe threadAdapt element NPSH straight thread to NPT pipe threadNPSM threadBuy:1x1Suburban 1440 watt element
Stainless 1″ nut/
11.5 threads per inch/ Convert element port to 1″ pipe threadAdapt element NPSH straight thread to NPT pipe threadNPSM threadBuy:1″ NPT nut
Identify Element wattage and voltage
Watt rating of tank appears on label on side of tankMatch same watt rating of new and old elements. Smaller wattage is ok. Larger wattage is not ok.Product warranty, and electrical safety code, support same-wattage or smaller-wattage element.Do not use larger wattage element than shows on water heater label.12 gauge wire and 20 amp breaker, use max 3800 watt element10 gauge wire and 30 amp breaker, use max 6000 watt elementWhat size wire do you have? Buy short pieces 10 and 12 gauge wire and compare with your wireResources:Choose wire and breakerFigure volts amps watts for water heaterWater heater is tripping breaker
1) Before replacing element: Press reset button and see if heater works
Press reset button. Put ear against tank and listen for bubbly fizzing soundIf reset button will not reset and lock in place, thenreplace thermostatIf reset keeps tripping, then element might be one cause: read reset keeps trippingResources:How to replace thermostatBuy water heater thermostats
2) Before replacing element: Reset circuit breaker
Push breaker fully OFF and then fully ONIf breaker will not reset, then elements might be the problem, move wires to another same-size breaker like dryer circuitIf water heater works fine on different same-size breaker, then replace breaker: read how to replace circuit breakerIf breaker resets but keeps tripping, then elements might be the problem: read water heater is tripping breakerResources:Water heater is tripping circuit breakerHow to replace circuit breaker
3) Before replacing element: Test if water heater is getting Voltage
A low voltage might result in less hot water being produced.
Check the top two screws on the upper thermostat for tightness. The tape tester leads to the discovery of wood sticks. keep your hands away from live electrical electricity If there is no voltage displayed on the tester, then the power to the water heater is suspicious.
4) No Hot water / Less Hot watercan be bad element/ or bad thermostats
Test the items represented in the diagram below. If the elements are in good working order, the thermostats should be replaced. The absence of hot water is caused by a faulty higher element.
5) Very hot watercan be shorted element/ or bad thermostats
Test each element screw to metal tank as shown belowIf elements are OK, then replace thermostatsResources:How to replace thermostatsTroubleshoot resources
6) Before replacing element: Test element
Less hot water and no hot water indicate possible element failure, or thermostat failure, or low voltage etc. Test elements.Requires multimeter/ power is off/ do not drain tank/ remove wires from element/ takes 10 minutesLook at volts watts printed on end of element/ Put battery in multimeter/ Set multimeter to read ohms/ Ω symbolNo wires on element. Test for ohms across both screws on element/ volts squared divided by watts = ohmsTest for ohms betweeneach screw and the steel tank/ should read zeroResources:Step by step: How to test elementsBuy multimeter
7) General troubleshoot
If there is some hot water, then upper element is good. Test lower element.Action:How to test water heater element If both elements are good. Action: Push reset button, reset circuit breaker before replacing both thermostatsOverheating, or very hot water: Action: test both elements before replacing both thermostats.Read moreReset button keeps tripping: Action: test both elements before replacing thermostats.Read more NO hot water: Action: Press reset button. Fully reset circuit breaker, test both elements.Read more New water heater, or repaired water heater not working:Read action If voltage is reduced, then watt-consumption of element is also reduced.
remove bag and filter from shop vac so it will work with wet sediment from water heater
If continuous beep then power is present.Use at top of heater.
as if it was a door knob.
Wait.Do Not drain tank yet Weight of water inside tank will hold tank in place when loosening element.
Do this by shutting off water valve just above water heater -or- close main shut-off valve to houseThis will stop all hot water going to each faucet
use non-contact voltage testerBuy:Upper element terminal protectorLower element terminal protectorResource:How to replace thermostats
Remove O ring and element.Before going further,Check inside tank for loose pipe coming from top broken dip tubecauses reduced hot water and wasted electricityResources:Dip tubesAnode rod
Clear package tape also works.
Insert hose or pipe.
Remove and clean end of hose or pipe as needed.Clear tube is handy Length of 1″ clear tube lets you see if sediment is flowing past.
that’s okBuyTank rinserResourceHow to clean tank and household pipes with bleachHow to maintain water heater
Tank is full.✔Bathtub hot water side is running with no air gapsturn off tub momentarily open TP valve on water heater to bleed last of waterturn on circuit breaker
Choose lowest overall cost water heater to save energy.Research pdf:water-softener/water-heater efficiency comparison Read do-it-yourself:9 ways to save with a water heater
Once anode rod is 50-75% corroded, water heater tank begins to rust.
Rusted water heaters can rupture and cause massive damage as water runs until problem is discovered.Read moreSeeAnode rod options
The use of water softener may decrease life of water heater tank.”Six-year tanks come with 1 anode rod. Read manual.Generally, tanks with longer warranties come with 2 anode rods.Anode rod options