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- Farmer Giles
November 10, 2009, 12:13 pm
The immersion heater element in my hot water cylinder has failed. The
problem is what length of element shall I get? I can already hear someone
saying, 'why don't you take it out first and have a look?' Well that makes
perfect sense, of course, but I need to travel a few miles to get a box
spanner to get it out first. When I go to get the spanner it would be much
easier - and quicker - to get the element at the same time.
The cylinder is about 15 years old and of the indirect type - although not
used in mode. It is 36 inches high and the element is fitted at the top. I
see two different lengths available at my supplier: 11 inches and 27 inches.
Which is it likely to be, or is there no way of being certain?
Thanks for any help.
- The Medway Handyman
November 11, 2009, 3:40 am
Re: Immersion heater element length
email@example.com (ARWadsworth) wrote:
I had to change my bottom immersion (short) about a year ago. It had only
been fitted a few years ago. No matter what I did or used, I just couldn't
shift it. In the end I had to replace the whole tank. The long immersion
in the top (fitted at the same time as they were cheap, but never used)
was jammed solid as well. Really pxxxd me off as what was going to be a
half hour's job took over three days as the plumbing had to be altered to
fit the connections on the new tank.
- Heliotrope Smith
November 10, 2009, 5:40 pm
Re: Immersion heater element length
Well I got the new element - it was the 27inch one - it is now fitted and
working ok. But you are correct, and I was a bit lucky! I can see that there
are many possible pitfalls and that some luck is needed. First of all (spot
on, Adam) there was an isolation valve between the header tank and the
cylinder - but the damn thing didn't work (not until some banging, WD40 and
lots of heat were applied anyway!).
Then came the actual job of getting the old one out - and it was a very old
one! - the cylinder was replaced in 1996, but I think that the immersion
element was much earlier and had been re-used. First of all the proper box
spanner that I got wasn't a very good fit - it was too big, I think that the
element flange hexagon was an imperial size. I had sprayed WD40 on it some
hours earlier - as recommended here, but I didn't have time to give days as
advised. Even after wedging the box spanner to get a decent fit, and tapping
it with a hammer, it still wouldn't budge.
Thankfully, after using the heat gun on it for a fair time (choking myself
on fumes from the cylinder lagging and setting off the smoke alarms in the
process!) I got it to move - hurrah! As I took it out I was surprised to
find the cylinder full to the brim - even though I had the isolation valve
closed and the hot taps open (with no water coming out of them). By placing
a couple of towels around the immersion heater hole and gently pulling it
out, I was able to clean up around the fitting and put the new element in
place without there being much water splashing about.
Yep, I think it could be a real sod of a job if things went badly wrong on
you. As it was I had real visions of having to replace the entire cylinder -
at around 200, not to mention loads of work and hassle - not a pleasant
prospect. Very grateful that it's done - and many, many thanks once again to
everyone for their help.
If I could pass on one or two tips on the basis of this experience, I would
1. Make sure that the isolation valve (if there is one) supplying the
cylinder is functioning ok before you start.
2. Tie up the ball valve of the expansion tank in the loft as a precaution -
better than turning off the cold water supply to the whole house (could be
while before it can be turned back on again!).
3. If your plumbing is quite old (like mine!), and things like stop taps and
isolation valves haven't been disturbed for a while, it might be worth
having a pipe freezer kit on stand-by.
4. Make sure that you have plenty WD40 and a heat gun available.
5. If the old element is quite stubborn to shift, and you need to give it a
few bangs with a hammer, make sure that the cylinder is full of water to
lessen the chances of damaging it.
6. Best of luck - you might need it!
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