Replacing a heating element in an electric water heater is a task that can be done by most DIY enthusiasts. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you replace the heating element safely and effectively. Before you begin, make sure to turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker and shut off the water supply to the heater.
Tools and Materials You’ll Need:
- Voltage tester
- Adjustable wrench
- Heating element wrench
- Teflon tape
- New heating element
Turn Off Power and Water Supply
- Turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker.
- Shut off the water supply to the heater.
Drain the Water Heater
- Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater.
- Place the other end of the hose in a drain or outside.
- Open a hot water faucet in the house to allow air into the tank.
- Open the drain valve to drain the water from the heater.
Test for Power
- Use a voltage tester to ensure there is no power going to the heating element. Safety first!
Remove the Access Panel and Insulation
- Remove the access panel(s) on the side of the water heater.
- Carefully remove any insulation covering the thermostat and the heating element.
Remove the Faulty Heating Element
- Use an adjustable wrench and a heating element wrench to unscrew the faulty heating element from the water heater tank.
- Sometimes, heating elements can be quite tight, so be patient and use proper tools to avoid damaging the element or tank.
Prepare the New Heating Element
- Wrap the threads of the new heating element with Teflon tape to create a tight seal.
Install the New Heating Element
- Carefully screw the new heating element into the water heater tank using your hands first to avoid cross-threading.
- Use the heating element wrench to tighten it securely. Do not over-tighten.
Reassemble the Water Heater
- Replace any insulation that you removed earlier.
- Put the access panel(s) back on.
Fill and Test
- Close the drain valve.
- Turn on the water supply and fill the tank.
- Check for any leaks around the new heating element.
- Once you are sure there are no leaks, turn the power back on at the circuit breaker.
Bleed Air from the System
- Open a hot water faucet in your house to allow air to escape from the water heater tank.
- When water flows smoothly from the faucet, close it.
Your electric water heater should now be working properly with the new heating element installed. If you’re unsure about any part of the process or if you’re uncomfortable working with electricity, it’s always best to call a professional plumber to handle the replacement.