ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Replace Electric Hot Water Heater Element

Updated on July 17, 2014

Did your hot shower turn into a cold wake-up call? Is the hot water in your faucets more lukewarm? If you have an electric hot water heater, the heating elements most likely require replacement. You hot water heater uses two separate heating elements. One element at the bottom of the tank heats that water for immediate use. The upper heating element keeps the water hot and acts as a back-up of sorts to the lower heating element. You should first test the hot water heater elements to determine if they need replacing or if perhaps there are other factors contributing to your cold shower. Electric hot water heater element replacement requires draining the hot water tank.

There are two different types of hot water heater elements. Some water heaters use a screw-on element, while others use an element that secures to the tank with bolts. When you are replacing an electric hot water heater element, it is a good idea to remove the old one and take it with you to a plumbing supply house or appliance repair shop. Some home improvement stores also carry replacement elements. Having the old element with you will help ensure that you get the correct size element for your hot water heater.

Things You'll Need For The Project:

Garden hose
Phillips-head screwdriver
masking tape
Pencil
Vise grips
Socket wrench
Replacement heating element
Pipe dope
Rag


Remove Faulty Hot Water Heater Element

1. Locate the circuit breaker for the hot water heater inside your home electrical panel box. The inside door of the panel box should indicate which breaker controls the hot water heater. If in doubt, turn the main breaker off to the house.

2. Go to the hot water heater, and turn off the water supply valve. The water supply valve is above the water heater tank on the house plumbing line. Turn the valve clockwise to shut off the water to the tank.

3. Thread one end of a garden hose onto the drain valve at the bottom of the electric hot water heater. Place the other end of the hose either outside or in a nearby bathtub. If you place the hose outside, be sure to keep children and pets away from the hose. Although one or both of the heating elements may be bad, the water in the tank can still be scalding hot.

4. Turn the drain valve knob counterclockwise to begin draining the water from the tank. If you are only replacing the upper hot water heating element, you only need to drain half of the water out of the tank. If you are replacing both hot water heating elements or just the lower element, drain the tank completely. Turn on the nearest hot water faucet to aid in draining the tank and leave it on after the tank drains.

5. Close the drain valve when there is no more water draining through the hose. Turn the valve clockwise with your hand to close the drain valve.

6. Remove the thermostat covers on the side of the hot water tank. There are two covers on the tank, one for the upper thermostat and heating element, and one for the lower ones. Remove the securing screws with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Pull back any insulation that is covering the thermostats and heating element. Examine the element to determine if you have the screw-on type or the bolt-in type. The base of the element is round and is above the thermostats.

7. Place small pieces of masking tape on each wire going to the hot water heater elements. Mark the wire location onto the tape with a pencil. This will help you later when installing the new hot water heater elements. Loosen the terminal screws that secure the wires to the element with the Phillips-head screwdriver. Pull the wires away from the element.

8. Turn the heating element counterclockwise with a pair of vise grips, if you have the screw-on type of heating element. There is a special wrench available for removing screw-on elements. A large socket wrench will also work to remove the heating element from the hot water water heater. If you have the bolt-in type element, remove the bolts with a socket wrench. When pulling the bolt-in type element out, pay attention to the direction of the mounting plate. This will help when installing the new element.

Installing The New Hot Water Heater Element

1. Apply pipe dope to the threads of the screw-on heating element. Thread the element into the hot water heater tank until the element is hand tight. Tighten the element completely using a socket wrench or vise grips. If you have the bolt-in type element, wipe off the contact area around the hole of the water heater tank with a rag. You want a good seal between the element mounting bracket gasket and the tank. Insert the element into the tank, making sure to seat the gasket and the mounting bracket flush to the side of the tank. Thread the retaining bolts through the mounting gasket until they are hand tight. Tighten the mounting bolts with a socket wrench, working one by one in a diagonal pattern.

2. Loosen the terminal screws on the heating element enough to wrap the ends of the hot water heater wires around the neck of the screws. Bend the wire ends around the neck of the terminal screws, and tighten the screws to secure the wires.

3. Turn on the cold water supply to the hot water heater, and allow the tank to fill with water. Watch the area around the seam between the heating element and the hot water tank as the tank is filling to check for leaks. Tighten the element as necessary to eliminate any leaks. Go to the faucet you turned on when draining the tank. When water is flowing through the faucet without any air gurgling, turn the faucet off.

4. Push the insulation back into the water heater tank cavity, and install the cover panels. Remove the garden hose from the drain valve, and turn on the circuit breaker to the hot water heater. Allow 30 minutes for the water to heat thoroughly before taking that hot shower after replacing your electric hot water heater elements.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      electricians swansea 

      8 years ago

      Great article. But if your in doubt always contact a qualified electrician.

    • profile image

      Amy Appleton 

      8 years ago

      Everyone who owns a hot tub should be familiar with the water heater element. Great hub!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)