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Electric Water Heaters

Electric Water Heaters – No Hot Water

A bad heating element is the number one reason why electric water heaters fail to produce hot water.

Heating elements typically last around ten years or less depending on the water, temperature, and frequency of use.

Electric Water Heaters – Heating Element Problem

But, heating elements are easy to replace, as we are about to explain.

Make sure your new heating element has the same mount and gasket- either screw in or flange- and the same wattage and voltage as the element being replaced.

You’ll need

  • a replacement heating element
  • a #2 Philips screwdriver
  • 1 ½ inch element wrench for screw-in heating elements or 3/8 inch socket wrench for flange mount heating elements
  • flat blade screwdriver
  • Teflon tape
  • a voltmeter
  • a garden hose
  • and a few rags and towels.

Refer to the Rheem website for ordering the element for your specific water heater.

Electric Water Heaters – Replacing The Heater Element

To replace the element, start by turning the power off to the water heater at the circuit breaker. Remove the cover panel and insulation to expose the heating element. Remove the reinforcing bracket and throw it away. You’ll also need to remove the plastic protective cover over the thermostat.

Using a voltmeter, verify that power has been disconnected. There should not be any power. Close the shut-off valve at the cold water inlet line. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house; that will relieve the system pressure inside the tank. Connect the garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater and run the other end to a floor drain or somewhere safe outside the house.

Then open the drain valve and drain water to a point below the element you’re replacing.

Now you’re ready to remove the old heating element. Disconnect the two wire leads and remove the element using an element wrench with a 1 ½ inch socket for a screw-in type element. Install the new heating element and gasket, tightening until it is snug.

Reconnect the two wires. It doesn’t matter which wire goes to which screw terminal. And open the shut-off valve at the cold water inlet line. You’ll hear the water heater start to fill. When you have a steady stream of water from the open faucet, turn the faucet off.

Double check to be sure that your wire connections are tight. Also, check for leaks around the heating element.

Tighten more if needed. Replace the plastic protective cover to the thermostat and heating element, and replace the insulation and cover panel.

Then turn the electric power back on at the circuit breaker. And about an hour, you’ll have a full tank of hot water again. You’re all set, but do a final check for leaks at the heating element after 24 hours.