Fixing Your Plumbing To Fix Your Life

Did The Lower Heating Element In Your Electric Hot Water Heater Fail? Tips For Replacing It

If the hot water in your home has suddenly turned cold, it could be an issue with your electric hot water heater's heating element.  With there being a upper and lower element, all it takes is one of them to break for the unit to start putting out cold water, since only half of the water is being heated.  Thankfully, replacing your tank's heating element along the bottom does not require that you have knowledge of electrical work or have special tools.  These tips will help you replace it on your own.

Tools and Materials

Before you can get started, you'll need the following items:

  • New heating element
  • Socket wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Garden hose

Draining The Tank

You won't be able to access the heating element until you have drained the tank of water.  Start by turning off the power going to the hot water heater by unplugging the tank.  Next, turn off the water going into the tank by closing the water inlets that feed into it.  Attach your hose to the spigot near the bottom of the tank, and run it into a nearby sink.  Turn on the hot water at a nearby faucet to relieve water pressure in the lines.  You should now open the water tank's spigot to allow all of the water to flow outward. 

Accessing The Heating Element

There should be an access panel along the bottom of the tank, which will give you access to the heating element.  A screwdriver can be used to remove screws that are holding the access panel shut.  Put these screws somewhere safe so that you do not lose them.

Removing The Heating Element

You'll need to make note of where wires have been attached to your water heater's existing heating element. Use your screwdriver to loosen all screws that are holding the electrical wires in their place.  Your socket wrench can then be used to turn the old heating element and loosen it from the tank.

Place the new heating element where the old one was located, twist it until it is secure, and reattach the wires. Secure the door of the access panel back onto the water heater, plug in the unit, and you should be good to go.

Intimidated by working on your water heater? Know that you can always hire a local water heater repair professional to handle the repair for you. It will ensure that the job is done right the first time.