Not at all like gas water heaters which have gas burners for heating the water, electric water heaters depend on a set of upper and lower metal water heating elements to boil the water. Just like the method in which oven heat elements function, the heating elements of a water heater warm up as the electrical current passes into them. And like any electronic device they also damage with time.

It generally is easy to determine which heating element is damaged. A constant lukewarm water supply while having shower symbolizes a faulty upper heating element, while a short amount of adequately hot water means a defective lower heating element.

Changing heating elements in the water heater is a comparatively easy process. Here’s a step to step guide to do that:


  • Switch off the power to the water heater.  Unplug the wall outlet in case that the tank is plugged into it.
  • Next, switch off the cold-water supply line which flows into the water heater tank. You have to rotate the valve counterclockwise.
  • Then open the nearest hot water tap and allow it to drip into the sink. It lets air flow into the system, that will support in draining the water heater.
  • Take a long enough garden hose and attach one end of it to the valve found at the base of the tank, and the other end at outer side. Open the valve and let the tank to drain.
  • Later, remove the screws which fasten the bottom element’s access cover, when the cover lifts force the insulation aside to reveal the water heating element.
  • Now unfix the screws which retain the two heavy-gauge wires in position on the water element, and turn the wires.
  • In case your water heater has a screw-in type element use a heating element wrench for this element. It is a specialty tool which you can buy from water heating elements suppliers. If your unit has a flange-style element, remove the screws which hold it in position.
  • For eliminating the existing heating element, you may have to shake the element to release, particularly if it has burned.
  • Advance the rubber gasket which came with the new water element onto the threaded tip. Apply the new element into position, and ensure that it turns smoothly, showing it hasn’t to be cross threaded. Tighten the element by hand, later completely tighten it using the heating element wrench. For flange-style elements, enter the screws into the flange and tighten them in position. Ensure the new gasket slides into the recess of the tank.
  • Now rotate the drain spigot clockwise to seal it, and separate the garden hose. Open the cold-water supply again, and let the tank fill. Check the nearby hot water tap that must pop and stutter as air leaks from of the line. When cold water drains, close the tap.
  • Lastly, connect the two heavy gauge wires to the new water element. Put the insulation into position. Wait for the tank to be filled entirely, afterward re-plug the water heater.


And you’re done!


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