The lower element on my sears water heater is not working -- it looks
as if one of the wires has melted. I'd like to replace it but im
wondering how difficult it is to do. Can anyone let me know?
Also, i have a upper element part but not a lower. Are these
interchangable or do i need to buy a lower element.
thanks for any help.
They are not difficult at all to replace. Just make sure you have the power
turned off first. And you will have to drain the tank on some models. Might
not be bad to just go ahead and drain yours. I do not think they are
On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 07:19:41 -0800, allisonjohnson wrote:
If a typical electric hot water heater,
turn off power at the fuse box
turn off water to the unit
open hot water faucet in basement or kitchen
connect hose to drain spigot on tank and then put hose in floor drain
drain tank to level below element
remove element wires
remove element: some require a special wrench, easily obtained at store
caulk thread of new element with pipe dope suitable for high temps
close drain valve
turn water back on
when water comes out of faucet, turn off faucet
check for leaks
turn power back on
There should be a label on the unit indicating size/wattage of element.
Stick with those recommendations/limits. If you are in doubt, take old
element when you buy new one.
It's this simple: 1-2 hours depending on your skills and problems along
When our 11-year-old electric water heater finally needed a replacement
element, I called a plumber. It was some of the best money I have ever spent.
Our situation made for an interesting comparison: We lived in a starter home
tract where literally EVERY home on our block (six months from vacant lots to
fully built and occupied) had the EXACT, same furnace and water heater.
Our water supply passed through a water softener before going anywhere else in
the home. Our neighbor did NOT have a water softener.
In the 11 years that passed before I needed a new element, my neighbor
replaced 3-4 of them in his heater.
The circumstances were such that I didn't have the time off from work
sufficient to LEARN and tackle my first water heater replacement. I hired a
This hapless guy hammered and beat on the tank but, after several hours and
trying everything he knew, he called and told me he couldn't remove the
offending element; it was "fused" into the tank.
Since he had already spent too much time messing with the old tank, and our
three daughters ("tweens") had only recently "discovered" hot water, I told
him to replace it with a new, larger heater. Done.
Allow yourself plenty of time when it comes to extracting the defective
element in the event that you have a similar situation. Good luck!
If one of the supply wires has melted, you may just need to cut
it back to good wire and reattach. Use emory cloth or sandpaper
or something abrasive to clean the terminal contact - a poor
connection is probably why it melted in the first place. Don't
forget to turn the power off first!
If the existing wire becomes too short, grafting on a chunk of
suitably sized wire with wirenuts or replacing it will work.
Get suitably rated wire from an electrical supply store. Eg:
10ga stranded (THHN I think, tell them what it's for. Regular
90C-rated wire should be okay).
Franz gave full and detailed instructions on how to replace the
element. I'd only add: while the element is out of the tank,
inspect the tank through the hole for sediment, and if there is
lots, remove it. If you have a wet/dry shopvac, it'll make it
easy - find a piece of tubing just small enough to go through
the hole, and duct tape it to the shopvac hose. A chunk of garden
hose will work, but you want it as big as possible (sometimes
the sediment is rather, er, "chunky" ;-) yet still fit through
They're often interchangeable. You can check the parts list or
online sources, or compare the one you have with the one you pull out. Or,
perhaps it will have visible part numbers on the outside flange,
so you can check before you have to take the tank out of service
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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