Posted by: simplyservicecompany | July 13, 2012

Replacing An Electric Water Heater Element

Here’s an interesting article. You can tackle this yourself OR . . . Just call me at 615-306-0375 and I’ll do it for you!


Water heater elements heat the water in an electric water heater, and they can go bad with old age, exposure to hard or acid water, and being dry-fired-applying power to the heater with no water around the element.

An upper element will be damaged if you don’t purge the air out of the tank when refilling it because the air will prevent the water level from covering the element sufficiently.

Older-style elements are bolted to the tank. New elements are screwed into threads in the tank body. To remove an upper or lower element, shut off the power, turn off the water, and drain the heater.

Tip #1 Do not lose the insulation (if any) that was under the cover plate. Next, locate the plastic snap-on cover that extends over the thermostat and element screws. Being careful not to break it, remove the plastic cover.

Tip #2 There will be two wires going to the element. Using a Phillips screwdriver, loosen each screw (do not remove them completely) and slip the wires out from under each screw.

Tip #3 Don’t worry about which wire goes where. Then using a socket wrench and some muscle power, break the element free from the heater (it will be rusted solid), and unscrew it.

Tip #4 If replacing a bolted element, remove the bolts. If the element folds back on itself, it may not pull through the hole in the tank. Don’t worry about damaging the element, it is bad anyway. Using some extra strength, pull hard and at angles to bend the element until it comes out.

Tip #5 Screw or bolt the new element in place, reattach the wires, the plastic snap-on cover, and the cover plate.

Tip #6 Turn on the water to check for leaks, and reapply the power.

WARNING: Elements vary in voltage and wattage. Match both on the new wattage on the new element to that of the old one–typically 240 volts at 4,500w for home heaters and 3,500w for some mobile home units. Look for the wattage and voltage stamped on the head of the element.




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