A Step By Step Guide For Changing Your Water Heating Element

When your water does not heat up, it may be a sign of a faulty water heater. The cause usually ends up being one of the two elements inside the unit. The elements are designed to heat up the top and bottom portions of the tank in the water heater. When they fail, you will have limited or no hot water until they are replaced. This guide will take you through the steps to replacing the elements and installing a new one to restore your hot water.

Step One

The first thing you need to do is turn off all power going to the water heater. It is dangerous to work on any appliance with electricity running to it. Access the breaker box in your home and locate the switch labeled Water Heater and turn it to OFF.

Step Two

Next you will need to turn off the water so it isn't running while you are working on the water heater. There is a usually a faucet near or on the unit. Turn it as far as you can to the OFF position. 

Step Three

Place a bucket under the unit and open the valve. Wait until all the water has drained out before moving to the next step.

Step Four

Remove the access cover and locate the element inside the water heater. Disconnect all of the wires that are attached to the element. Once the wires are disconnected, you are ready to remove the old element.

Step Five

Use the element wrench to remove the element. Discard the old element.

Step Six

Place the new element inside the unit and attach the wires to it. 

Step Seven

Replace the access cover and secure it in place. Remember to close the drain valve and turn the water on again.

Step Eight

Once the unit is put back together, you can restore power to it. Flip the switch to ON position.

Step Nine

Wait about a half hour or so for the new heating element to do its job and heat up the water in the tank. The tank will also need this time to refill since it was previously drained while you were working.


Heating elements become damaged due to normal wear and tear on the water heater. If you have hard water at your property and do not use a water softener system, this will cause the element to wear out more quickly. Older appliances will also need newer elements frequently. Those who are uncomfortable doing complex plumbing may want to call in a professional for help.