How to replace electric heating elements on the water heater. See what are the most common causes of the water heater element failure, testing tips and solution.
Most of the electric water heaters have two heating elements, upper and lower, where the screw-in type is the most common type. Water heater element with the flange is another type, but is used less. Both types are immersion type elements, U-shaped that heat water when energized with the electricity.
will use various types, which are different in voltages and watt
densities, where 240
volts and 4500 watts are the most common. These two values can be
checked on the rating plate on the water heater.
The thermostat setting is what allows the heating element to
provide more or less power, or lower and higher
temperature of the outgoing water.
When selecting the best electric water heater for your home, you will have an option to buy a unit with low or high watt density elements. Low-watt density heating element is what you should look for, as it has an even distribution of heat, which makes it last longer.
Note: keep in mind that the electric heating elements with the
higher wattage require more Amps and heavier gauge wire.
If you live in the area with the hard water condition, you
probably had problems with the mineral deposits and lime scale. The
sediment build up
on the water heating elements will prevent the heat transfer to water
at the proper rate, thus
overheating and causing the burn out.
The solution for this problem is to clean the electric water
heater element regularly, by brushing away the scale build up. Another
option when selecting a new water heater is to buy a unit with the
Incoloy type which last longer and have better resistance
to the sediment
Dryfire problem happens when the water heater elements, while
are exposed to the air pockets. The part which is in
contact with the air will get an excessive amount of heat. It takes
several seconds for the copper heating element to burn out. They are
designed to operate only when submerged in water.
Recommendation: always fill the tank and bleed all the air from the system before turning the power ON on the electric water heater.
If more than the design voltage is supplied to the heating
element, the element will burn out. One of the examples is the high
voltage during the lighting or sometimes caused by the electric utility
company. If there is less voltage provided, the heating element will
work but will be less efficient.
Other problems that might affect the proper work are related to the vibration break, open circuit or split sheath.
Before you start replacing the broken electric water heater element on the water heater, make sure to use the same type with the same wattage and voltage. Check the element terminal block for the proper rating.
Turn the water heater OFF on the electric service panel.
Locate the broken electric heating element and make the access by removing the insulation and cover.
Make sure that the power is OFF by measuring the voltage on the thermostat terminals, which powers the element.
Shut OFF water supply and drain water below the broken element.
Disconnect the wires and remove the broken part by using the correct tools.
Install a new gasket and the heating element.
Reconnect the wires and make sure they are snug and clean of debris and rust.
Fill the tank up.
Resume the power.
An open element means that the electric current cannot flow so
there is no heating.
Turn the power OFF on the electric panel and check the voltage by using the multimeter.
Remove the wires from the terminals.
Use the multimeter ( set to OHM settings) and place the probes on screw terminals. If there is no resistance, the circuit is open and heating element needs to be replaced.
Turn the power OFF to water heater. Double-check the voltage on terminals by using the multimeter (just in case).
Disconnect the wires from the heating element.
Set the multimeter to OHM settings.
Put one test probe on the terminal and the other probe on the steel tank. If the OHM multimeter shows any reading, the element is grounded and needs to be replaced.