Replacing Heating Element In Water Heater

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Are Water Heater Elements Universal

How to Replace an Electric Water Heater Heating Element

No, there are a few key characteristics that will need your attention. You need the voltage and wattage to match . As general rules of thumb, you always need to keep the volts the same, but you can install an element with fewer watts, just not more. Check the label on your water heater for this information. Some tanks have different wattage for each element, so be aware of that. If you have a 20-140 gallon tank, you probably need 240v and 4500 watts.

There are two configuration types: screw-in and bolt-in. Bolt-in elements are hard to find these days, and if you have a tank configured for a bolt-in element, then you can use a screw-in adapter kit.

Cost To Replace A Tankless Heat Exchanger

Tankless heat exchanger replacement costs $600 to $700 for labor alone or $1,200 to $1,300 for the part plus labor. Manufacturer warranties cover labor for 1 year and parts for 5 to 12 years, depending on the brand. The heat exchanger transfers heat energy from gas or electricity to water flowing past it.

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How To Replace The Heating Elements On Your Water Heater

Posted by William Heinselman on Jun 15 2012

Follow this easy guide for a common water heater repairreplacing the heating elements of your water heater. If you have any trouble with your water heater repair or would like a professional to do the job for you, Well be happy to help with your water heater repair.

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Why Does My Water Heater Element Keep Going Bad

Dealing with a damaged water heater is a frustrating experience, especially if youre getting ready to hop in the shower or prepare a meal. When the water coming through your faucets is cold, the water heater is usually to blame. It could be the heating element in the unit, which can give out and require replacement. However, if your water heater element continues to go bad, its important to know what might be causing this ongoing issue.

Turn Off The Power And Water

Best Bradford White Model M250t Water Heater Replacement Heating ...

If you have not already done so, turn off power to the electric water heater at the main power panel by turning off the circuit breaker or fuse powering the heater .

Turn off the cold water supply delivering water to the water heater. This shut-off valve is usually found just above the water heater, on the cold-water pipe that enters the water heater.

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

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Final Verdict On How To Replace A Heating Element In An Electric Water Heater

Replacing a heating element is not a very difficult process even for the rookie, but you need to ensure that you get the right replacement part. Always make sure that you follow our recommendations and take your time when replacing an electric heating element. It will save you from many headaches later on.

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she’s not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

Putting In The Next Heating Element

Now that youve removed the current heating element, its time to put in the new one. When you were removing the old one, you probably encountered the rubber gasketor, at least, what remained of it after years of use. Go ahead and position the gasket so that it forms a tight seal between the element and the tank.

Running your water heater element wrench clockwise, install the new heating element. We recommend you start by hand-tightening it, and then using the wrench to tighten it just a little further. You need to find a happy medium here: you dont want to overtighten , but you also dont want the element to be too loose, which can result in leaks. Use your best judgment.

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Diy Hot Water Heater Repair

Homeowners with plumbing experience may perform water heater repairs. Anode rods cost $25 to $50 and should be replaced when flushing the tank. Replacing a faulty dip tube or pressure relief valve costs $10 to $25 for parts alone. Thermocouples cost $20 to $30.

DIY water heater repair part costs


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Tankless Water Heater Flush Cost

How to replace an electric water heater heating element

Flushing a tankless water heater costs $75 to $350. Flushing, also called descaling, is recommended annually to remove mineral deposits that cause corrosion and damage the unit’s internal components. Areas with hard water should flush tankless units more than once per year.

  • Installing a water softener costs$800 to $2,500 and reduces mineral and sediment buildup in water heater tanks, extending its life.
  • Failure to perform routine flushing is the #1 cause of breakdowns for tankless water heating systems.

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Drain The Water Heater

Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater.

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the unit and run the garden hose outside.

Open a hot water faucet in the house or flip the relief valve open on the water heater.

Open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain until empty.

Hiring A Plumber For Water Heater Repairs

Hire a local plumber to repair a water heater. Before signing a contract, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates from licensed plumbers to compare.
  • Look for plumbers with experience repairing tank or tankless water heaters.
  • Check out their reviews and previous work on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau .
  • Select companies that are licensed, insured, and bonded.
  • Get an itemized estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

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Who Fixes Water Heaters

Plumbing companies fix most water heater problems, including leaks, strange noises, rusty water, low water pressure, or no hot water. Hire a residential electrician instead if the unit trips the circuit breaker, overheats the water heater’s fuse box, or has loose wiring that trips the unit’s reset button.

How To Replace A Gas Water Heater Element

Replacement Electric Heating Element for Atwood Water Heaters

How To Replace A Gas Water Heater Element. Remove access cover and fold. Some repair kits come with a socket that fits the heating element.

Remove access cover and fold. How to replace water heater element determine which element needs replacing . * turn off power to the water heater .


You need to shut down the power to do any work on your water heater. Learn how to replace an element on an electric water heater.


Position the new gasket on the heating element and replace the elements with new ones by tightening. You need to shut down the power to do any work on your water heater.


Remove access cover and fold. Maybe you have a slab leak, that would drive up the gas bill because the burner would be on most of the time and the water water wouldn’t get as hot.


Shut off cold water supply to water heater, open hot water faucet, attach hose to drain valve, open drain valve on water heater and drain water. To add a final touch to the process, go for replacing the thermostat cover as well as the cover panel.


Follow this procedure to drain the tank, so water is below. We will also show you how to test the element to confirm that it is bad.

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Replacing Heating Element In Water Heater

Replacing a hot water heater element is probably faster and easier than you thought, and is only a fraction of what a new water heater costs.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

The steps required are nearly identical for the flange and screw in models, but screw-in types are more common and will require the use of a special tool called a water heater element wrench.

Checking Your Water Heater Heating Element

Before jumping in and changing your water heater heating element, you should check to see if the element is, in fact, the issue. It’s not uncommon to change the element, only to find out that the problem wasn’t the heating element at all.

To do this, first check to see if the circuit breaker has tripped or been accidentally turned off. If the breaker is fine, you’ll next need to check the reset button on the temperature cutoff. The reset button on a water heater is located above the thermostat inside the upper acccess panel. It’s typically a red button. Once you reset the button and the water heater trips again, the problem is most likely your heating element.

If you own a multimeter you can check the element for continuity. It’s very simple to do and the best way to know if your water heater’s heating element should be replaced. This short video takes you step-by-step through the process.

Watch the Video

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Check The Feed Supply

If you performed all the steps above but still no results then chances are the problem is with the main supply. Performing this test requires dealing with 240volts. If you arent comfortable with that then I advise calling the electrician and letting him do the job.

All right. So open access panel. Keep all connections intact. Resume the supply from the breaker. Get your multimeter, set it to voltage, and check the supply at the element. Is it 240 volt? If it is then the feed is good. Otherwise, theres the voltage drop at the feed of your home and you should call an electrician. Have you noticed your other electric appliance like dryer, electric oven not working? These are telltale signs of feed problem.

Pilot Light Replacement Or Lighting Cost

How to Replace an Electric Water Heater Element

Water heater pilot light replacement costs $50 to $200. The pilot light produces a flame to ignite the gas burner. Plumbers charge$45 to $150 per hour to reignite the pilot light, and the task typically takes 1 hour or less.

If the pilot light doesn’t ignite, the problem may be due to a faulty thermocouple or gas control valve.


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Electric Water Heater Thermostat And Heating Element Wiring Diagram

Be sure that any electrical wiring that you disturb or disconnect is reconnected as it was originally.

We label parts or make a sketch to avoid confusion later on. Check for proper water heater thermostat and heating element wiring connections by reviewing the installation manual that pertains to your water heater.

Abbove we show a typical wiring diagram for a two-element electric water heater at which both heating elements operate simultaneously.

Below we show the water heater thermostat and element wiring details from a Plumber’s Pack Water Heater Repair Kit using Thermo-o-Disc thermostats.

This electric water heater repair kit includes two electrodes and the upper and lower thermostats as well as replacement plastic covers for those devices.

The kit fits most models of electric water heaters made by American Water Heaters, A O Smith, Bradford White, Craftsmaster, General Electric or GE water heaters, GS Wood , Kenmore, Lochinvar, Maytag, Mor-Flo, Reliance, Rheem, Richmond, Ruud, Sears and State – in other words many major water heater brands.

But your electric water heater wiring may differ in that it may have only one heating element, or the two-element heater may operate the heaters individually , or your unit could be a 120V heater or even a three-phase installation .

Continuing with the steps in replacing the heating element for a typical electric water heater: re-connect the electrical wires

How To Change A Hot Water Heater Element

  • Cut the power supply at the breaker – we recommend you do a voltage test to ensure there is no power running to the water heater.
  • Attach a hose to the drain valve – you can use a garden hose. Connect it to the drain valve near the bottom of the tank. Run the hose outside the house or into a floor drain.
  • Open the drain valve – we’re only doing this now to test to make sure the drain is not clogged. Close it back up. Do not drain the water heater yet.
  • Shut off the water supply – close the cold water supply valve.
  • Open a hot water valve inside the home – run to the kitchen or a bathroom and turn on a faucet for hot water. You will not get hot water it alleviates pressure in the line.
  • Uncover the access panel – you’ll need a screwdriver to remove the cover. There should be two panels, one for the upper element and another for the lower element. If there is insulation, remove it and set it aside for the moment.
  • Uncover the thermostat – now, you should see the thermostat cover. Remove that, too.
  • Examine the wiring – take a minute to look for damage. If any, it needs to be repaired.
  • Disconnect the element wires – there should be two of them.
  • Loosen the element – you will need a tool specific for the job, aptly named the heating element wrench. Once you’ve loosened the element, you no longer need the water weight in the tank.
  • Open the drain valve – leave it open until the water stops coming out.
  • Completely remove the element – please make sure you remove the gasket , too.
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    Having Trouble Changing A Water Heater Element


    Changing a water heater element isnt a difficult job, but you might run into some complicated problems along the way. If that happens, stop what youre doing and contact a professional for help.

    Some of the issues wed recommend contacting a professional for include:

    • Voltage reading is anything but 0 after flipping circuit breaker switch off
    • Leaks from the water heater
    • Difficulty locating the right replacement element
    • Clogged drain valve
    • Difficulty loosening old water heater element
    • Replacement water heater element doesnt fix the problem

    A professional will inspect your water heater and ensure the proper part is replaced correctly. If you have any difficulties while trying to change a water heater element on your own, dont take the risk of making the problem worse. Call a local plumber for help!

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    Hot Water Heater Thermostat Replacement Cost


    Water heater thermostat replacement costs$100 to $350 for parts and labor. The thermostat regulates the temperature in the tank, turning on the heating elements when heat is needed. If there is no increase in water temperature when the thermostat’s temperature is increased, the part may be faulty.

    • If the thermostat fails on a single-element water heater, the unit produces no hot water.
    • If the upper thermostat fails on a two-element water heater, the unit produces no hot water.
    • If the lower thermostat fails on a two-element water heater, the unit produces a limited supply of hot water.

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    Electrical Testing Of The Elements

  • A bad element typically fails one or more tests with a continuity tester. Unplug the water heater, or turn off power to it at the homes main electrical panel before testing. Double-check that the power is off with a noncontact circuit tester. Remove the wires leading to each element, then test for continuity across the to terminals. If the testers light does not illuminate, the element is bad and youll have to replace it. You can also test for a short-circuited element by touching a probe to the terminal, and the other to the metal water heater tank jacket. If the light comes on, replace the element.

  • What Causes A Heating Element To Burn Out

    Only electric water heaters rely on heating elements to warm up the water in the tank. A gas-powered unit has a burner at its base. If your water heater is electric, the element will come into direct contact with the water, which means items in the water could be causing the issue. However, the wiring to your electric water heater could also be to blame.

    Heavy gauge wires provide electricity to the components of your unit, so a poor connection between the wires and the water heater could result in the element giving out. A wire that has slipped out of place or becomes damaged may also be problematic, and its important to get this issue checked out by a plumber as soon as possible. A hot wire could create a safety hazard, especially if it grounds through the metal tank.

    Since an electric water heater is connected to an outlet in your home, a sudden surge of power can also cause damage to the heating element. Power surges can occur during electrical storms or if the power company suddenly experiences a surge on the other end. Every electrical water heater has a voltage rating, so exceeding that rating can burn out the heating element.

    A water heater element doesnt work unless its fully submerged in water. If it did operate without any water in the tank, it could produce enough heat to burn out its core in a short period of time. The element must have water to transfer the heat in order to prevent significant damage.

    • Minerals in the Water

    Recommended Reading: Home Depot Hot Water Heater Installation

    How To Change A Water Heater Element

    Safety First! Safety should be your main priority when changing a water heater element. Electric water heaters are filled with water and connected to power a potentially dangerous or deadly combination.

    Follow the instructions below closely and in the correct order to minimize your risk. If you feel uncomfortable doing this project yourself, you can always call a qualified plumber to do it.

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