Water Heater


In an electric water heater, the heating element is the actual component that heats the water in the tank. As most people know, hot water is lighter than cold water. For this reason, the cold water intake on an electric water heater is near the bottom and the hot water outflow is at the top. The water will thus pass and be warmed by both heating elements before being sent into the rest of the house.Thus, in most residential water heaters, there are two such elements to help heat the water thoroughly and evenly. These components are absolutely essential to the proper functioning of your appliance and are made to last. Still, they do occasionally wear out or become defective.Fortunately, their replacement is relatively easy and can be accomplished by most homeowners without the need for professional plumbing help. It does however, usually require at least two specialized tools, a multimeter and an element removal wrench.

Detecting a Bad Element 
The element must be tested in cool water and with the electricity off. So, turn off the power and wait. Once the water has cooled sufficiently, remove the access cover and push aside the insulation. Then, loosen the two screws that connect the element to the power source. Use the multimeter to detective a current will flow through the element. Any positive reading means that the element is working properly. The lack of a reading means that the element must be replaced. Repeat the procedure on the other element.

Replacing a Heating Element without Pro Plumbing Help
(Changing either element requires the same steps.)

  • Shut off the electrical power and drain the tank, removing any sediment in the bottom.
  • Remove the access plate and push aside the insulation if not already done.
  • Loosen the screws holding the electrical connections and remove the wires.
  • Using an element removal wrench, rotate the element until it slides free. (Note: some elements are held in place by four screws and do not require this specialized tool)
  • Reverse the steps to install the new element.
  • Afterwards, fill the tank and fully open a faucet for three minutes to allow any dislodged sediment to flow out.
  • Wait for the water to heat and test.

Keep in mind that if replacing the heating element on you water heater is a bit more difficult than you want to tackle yourself then call in your local plumbing company.