How to Replace Heating Element in Your Home Water Heater

Water heaters are a necessary piece of equipment in any home, but with their constant use, they will eventually wear out or break down. Learn how to replace the heating element in your water heater with these simple instructions and you could add years to your unit’s lifespan as well as save hundreds of dollars in repair fees.

What You Will Need:

Element Puller

Replacement Heating Element


Wwater Heater Repair

Part 1: Preparing the Water Heater

Before replacing the heating element, you will first need to drain the water out of the tank until it no longer covers the element.

To do this you will first want to turn the power to the unit off as well as the cold-water supply to the unit.

Next, connect a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the unit, and run the other end of the hose outside where it can drain freely.

Once the hose is in place, open the drain valve located next to where you attached the hose to the unit.

Next, open the pressure relief valve located on the top of the unit by pulling it upward.

Let the water drain from the unit entirely.

Tip: While you have your unit drained, it’s a great time to flush it of any sediment that has built up over the years. Once the unit has been drained of water, turn the cold water supply back on while the hose is still connected to the unit. Leave the water on for five to ten minutes or until all of the sediment is flushed out of the tank. Then turn off the water supply to the unit and continue with replacing the heating element. Doing this will cause your water heater to use less energy and last longer.

Disconnect the hose from the unit, then close the drain valve and pressure relief valve

Part 2: Removing the Heating Element

Now that the unit is readied, open the cover panel located on the side of the unit.

Inside there will be two wires connected to the heating element. Disconnect these wires now.

Next, using the element pulling tool, twist and pull out the old heating element. Calcium build up can cause the old element to stick in place, and it may require some twisting back and forth to break it clear.

Water Heater Elements Old

Part 3: Replacing the Element

Now that the old element is clear, place the new element into the socket and tighten it in place.

Once it is in place, turn on the water and let the unit fill up with water past where the unit is located.

If there are no leaks, connect the wires to the new element and let the unit continue filling.

Finally, replace the cover panel on the side of the unit, and turn the power back on.

With your heating element now replaced, you should be able to look forward to lower power bills, quicker heating times, and no cold spots during your shower. Not all water heaters are equal. Some are more complicated than others. For that reason, if you are still seeking additional help or would like to see other suggestions to repair or replace your unit.

About the Writer:

Leo is the owner of a family owned, Northridge-based plumbing company Rooters On-Time. On his free time, he enjoys blogging about plumbing and writing tutorials to help others.

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