How To Replace A Heating Element In A Water Heater? 4 Easy Steps!

Hey there, today we are sharing to you how to replace a heating element in a water heater. We hope that you will enjoy the whole process like us. So basically, a water heater does not perform its primary task of heating water when the heating element completes its life. 

But luckily, we have an option to replace it, and that too with ease and comfort instead of buying a new heater worth thousands of bucks that will ultimately break your wallet.

how to replace a heating element in a water heater

But, what are the signs of a bad heating element? The first and most obvious sign is that the water coming from the faucets is cold. It happens due to a shorted out or burned element. Alternatively, the mineral buildup at the points from where power goes to the heater is a significant sign of a damaged heating element. Let’s move on to the main body of this blog post to understand the replacement in steps. 


Required Tools To Replace A Heating Element In A Water Heater

It would help if you had some essential tools that may already be found in your toolbox. Here are the following:

  • Flat-blade or ¼ inch nut driver 
  • Garden hose
  • #2 Philips screwdriver
  • 1 ½ inch socket/element wrench
  • Multimeter


Steps To Replace A Heating Element In A Water Heater

No one can take a bath in the freezing and chilly mornings; you might always be asking yourself, why does my water heater element keep going bad? Your family, especially the kids, can’t bear the contact with cold water. That’s why it’s become vital to know how to replace a heating element in a water heater.


Step #1. Shut the power  

First, you have to shut off the breaker from the breaker panel to save yourself from the risk of being electrocuted, being injured, or, god forbid, from dying. Next, go to the heater body and open the inspection panel with a Philips or flat-blade screwdriver. Take off the insulating sheet, reinforcement bracket if your heater one, and protective plastic after disengaging the clips. Open the two screws with a Philips screwdriver to disconnect two wires and note their location. 


Step #2. Test the heating element

Then take a digital or analog multi or voltmeter and set it to the lowest ohms of resistance RX1 or X. Touch one probe with the bare metal housing of the inspection panel and the other with each terminal that you can see. Two of them are heating elements, and the rest are the thermostat terminals. The display screen should show zero to confirm that the heating element is wrong and no power is being supplied to the heater. But the heating element is fine if you see a resistance of 10-16 ohms.


Step #3. Drain the water

In this step, you need to turn the shut-off valve on the cold water line perpendicularly to stop the supply of water to the heater. The next thing that you must do is to open the faucet; do so from anywhere for the purpose of relieving the pressure. Now, it’s time to drain the water out of the tank, and we know two methods to do so. Furthermore, you have to attach your garden hose into a drain valve at the bottom and open the valve with a flat screwdriver. Also, open the T&P valve and dispose of all the water out if you have to replace the upper heating element. Or, drain half the tank if the problem is with the upper part. But make sure to save yourself from the hot water. 


Step #4. Replace the heating element

So, the last step you should take is replacing the heating element. Take note of the following:


Safe and secure

We have to remove the old element using a 1 ½-element wrench or a socket with a ratchet. Place an element wrench and turn it to loosen the heating element. Take it off from the housing. Do the same if you have a 1 ½-inch socket and a ratchet. Place the new stuff and tight it.


A little bit tricky

Drain the water out of the temperature and pressure relief, a.k.a T&P valve, to relieve the water pressure during the replacement. Remove the old element and the old gasket. Immediately place the new one and fit it on the place. But be aware that the water should be cold while doing so, and you must have a good plumbing experience. Next, reinstall the wirings, plastic cover,  insulation, and cover panel. Check the hot water faucet and shut it off. The water is coming out at a regular flow rate. And you are all done. It may be helpful to read about setting the water heater to vacation mode.


Buying A New Heating Element

Before knowing how to replace the heating element in a water heater, consider its different types. We have three types of heating elements: screw-in, clamp-in, and bolt-in—order one after consulting the sticker on your heater’s body. Otherwise, you will get a haying aspect whose wattage is different from the existing element. The average wattage ranges from 3500 to 5550 volts. 


Cost of a heating element

A heating element usually costs 20$ and has a long life of 10 years. You must be thinking that this is a cheap fix. But the total price becomes 200-300$ if we include the repair cost. So, do it yourself and save money. 


It’s A Wrap!

You have understood how to replace a heating element in a water heater, and we have written a blog post. Congratulations to you and us as we both have reached our goals. Anyway, you may want to read related articles; know how to clean hot water heaters and how to replace a water heater element.

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