In this article, we have explained How to Replace a Water Heater Element, diagnosing the problems, their solutions, styles, and types of heating elements, and we have given some useful tips for beginners.
When a water heater often runs out of water, takes time to heat up, or is not able to deliver hot water at all, then there is the dire need to replace the heating element.
The process of replacing a heating element isn’t difficult and you can easily repair it by yourself. When electric current passes through heating elements in a water heater it heats both elements. There are separate thermostats to control each heating element.
Diagnose problems With The Heating Element
It is quite easy to find out the fault in a heating element. If there is a constant flow of lukewarm water it can be because of defects in the upper heating element.
If there is short availability of full hot water the reason for it can be a defect in the lower heating element.
The age of the water heater also matters a lot in finding out the issues in the heating element. If your water heater is older enough then you might consider replacing it with a new one.
To diagnose problems with the heating element, check the circuit breaker first if it has been tripped or turned off. Then check the reset button to cut off temperature. If the circuit breaker keeps on tripping after resetting, the definite problem is with your water heater element.
Check out the Guide about Electric Tankless Water Heaters of this year as well.
Preparations Required While Changing The Heating Element
Immersion heaters or heating elements are completely immersed inside water. The most important thing to keep in mind is that heating elements are reliable for only electric water heaters and not for gas water heaters.
Gas water heaters have different kinds of heating mechanisms in them such as gas burners.
Styles of Heating Element:
Two unique styles of heating elements are available in the market.
The most common type of heating element is screw-in and we are going to discuss and cover most of the instructions concerning it. All new water heaters use this type of heating element and elements are screwed at their proper place.
Different styles of bolt-in elements are also present. In most of the older heaters, this type of heating element is present.
There are four bolts use to secure the element. Universal Adapter Kit is also available in the Market to adapt a screw-in heating element into a bolt-in heating element.
Location of Heating Element:
Two heating elements are present in an electric water heater, an upper & a lower element.
The upper one is located at the backside of the access panel and the lower one is the heating element this is needed to be replaced because most of the sediments accumulate in the bottom of the water heater where the lower element is present.
Eventually sediments lower the effectiveness of the water heater and it will lead to breaking the whole element.
How to Purchase New Heating Element
There are a few things to keep in mind while purchasing a new heating element. It is highly recommended to buy one having an equal voltage, style (screw-in or bolt-in), and wattage.
Similarly, the voltage of older and new heating elements should match with each other but the life of the element can be extended by lowering the voltage.
Note: Never purchase a new heating element of more wattage as compared to the previous element.
Types of Heating Elements
A water heater’s element has three types. If the lifeline of your water heater is near the end then installing a least expensive and high watt density heating element will be a perfect choice.
If you are a resident of an area with plenty of hard water then try to get some expensive and reliable options.
High Watt Density:
The most commonly used type of heating element is the high-watt density heating element. It is an ideal choice to make for all kinds of replacements by matching wattage and voltage.
Most of the time, the original heating element and the new one are of the same high watt density.
The advantage of using high watt density heating elements is the ability to prevent corrosion and they are the least expensive.
Low Watt Density:
Areas with hard water require a low-watt density heating element. Their fold-back design makes them able to produce enough heating space.
Though they are low watt in density they never compromise efficiency. These elements help to lower limescale build-up that is most common in hard water areas.
With equal wattage and voltage, a low watt density heating element can easily replace a high watt density heating element.
Lime Life Element:
With 5 years of warranty, these premium elements are ultra-low watt density with the best quality nickel and surface of stainless steel. They are perfect to discourage limescale buildup.
They are most expensive but long-lasting in comparison to the above two and are ideal for areas with an intermittent supply of water.
Testing A Heating Element
Before replacing a heating element it is important to test an electric water heater to avoid any shortcomings.
How to Remove A Stubborn Water Heater Element?
If by above testing you find out a fault in the heating element of your water heater then here is the time to go for its replacement. Now you need to remove that old faulty heater element with a new and better one.
How to Replace Heating Element:
Here we have arranged a stepwise list to help you replace the faulty heater element. If you feel comfortable keeping safety measures in consideration, you can do it by yourself; otherwise, you can hire a qualified plumber.
Step 1: Turn Off Power Switch
Step 2: To Drain Valve Attach a Hose
Step 3: Turn Off Water Supply
Step 4: Detach Access Panel Cover
Step 5: Remove the Element
Step 6: Install new Heating Element
Step 7: Fill the Tank Again
How to Replace a Water Heater Element in a gas water heater
There is no need to change or replace the heating element in a gas water heater because a heating element is present in an electric water heater while a gas water heater uses a flame or gas burner for creating heat to warm water.