Replacing an Electric Water Heater Element Replacing an Electric Water Heater Element

What You'll Need
Garden hose
Replacement element
Adjustable wrench

It isn’t too difficult to replace an electric water heater element. The element is a central component of your electric water heater, which performs a vital heating service for the household. Electric water heaters usually have a top and bottom element. These elements are controlled by an adjustable thermostat. When the element is in good condition, it enables the water to heat satisfactorily. With time, however, the element may become coated by mineral deposits in the water. This lowers the capacity of the element to heat efficiently. The element may also become faulty, which necessitates replacement. Here’s how you can replace the element.

Step 1 – Disconnect Power

Turn off power supply to the heater. Locate the circuit breaker at the electrical panel and turn it off. You may want to post a warning at the electrical panel, just so nobody turns the circuit on out of ignorance.

Step 2 – Remove Access Panel

The access panel is found at the top of the heater. Use a screwdriver to remove it.

Step 3 – Drain the Heater

It is best to drain the entire heater. This will allow you to undertake repairs more effectively. Trace the water inlet valve and close it. Attach your hose to the drain valve and run the hose outside or to an open drain. Open the drain valve.

Step 4 –Test the Elements

It is important that you test the elements to confirm if they’re in need of replacement. Set the multimeter to resistance times 1,000 (Rx1,000). Place one probe to the mounting bolt and the other probe to each of the element turning screws in turn. Test both elements this way. Replace the element if the multimeter displays anything other than infinity.

Step 5 – Remove Elements

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws that secure the terminals to the element. Disconnect the terminals from the elements. Use a wrench to remove the bolts that hold the elements in place. In most cases, the lower element will show a greater build-up of mineral deposits. This is because it is always submerged in water unlike the upper element. Remove the faulty element and set aside. If both are faulty, remove both.

Step 6 – Replace Elements

Replace the elements with a heater of the same model, configuration and rating. Secure the terminals with screws and attach the mounting bolts. Secure with a wrench.

Step 7 – Fill the Heater

With new elements securely in place, you can now fill the heater with water. Close the drain valve and remove the hose from the heater. Open the water inlet valve so that water can flow into the heater. Once the heater has filled to the appropriate level you can install the access panel. Fit in the screws with a screwdriver.

Step 8 – Restore Power

Go to the electric panel and turn on the circuit breaker. Switch on your electric water heater. It should give you the regular supply of hot water in about 30 to 40 minutes. However, if your water heater has a faster recovery time it will supply hot water much faster.


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