Five quick & easy water heater replacement safety steps –
By Tina Jacobs

December means one thing to home owners—frigid temperatures and high energy bills—which relates to longer, hotter showers and baths. It’s true; in the winter months the temptation to lie in a hot bath or languish under in a hot shower is too much! That’s why it’s important that the water heaters in our homes are working efficiently.

A little proactive planning can really make a difference when it comes to protecting your water heater from breaking down mid-winter. That’s why last winter, I was taken completely by surprise when the heating element in my water heater broke and I was left without hot water for days. Luckily, a water heater is a safe and easy DIY repair. If you notice that your electric hot water heater is slow to heat, runs out of hot water faster than it should, or doesn’t deliver any hot water at all, that’s your first sign that one or both of the heating elements might need to be replaced. The fix is fairly easy and safe, with replacement parts costing between $10 and $20 per element at your local home center or hardware store.

So do yourself a favor. If your water heater needs some maintenance, follow these five quick and easy do-it-yourself steps to help you replace a broken water heater and keep it running safely and effectively all winter long.

1. Check to see if the electrical source is tripped

Before you test the heating elements in your water heater, ensure the circuit breaker is on and not tripped. A tripped breaker can indicate an electrical problem or even burn out the elements. Just be sure to monitor your unit to see if it trips again.

2. Reset the circuit breaker and high-temperature cut-off

It’s also wise for safety sake to push the reset button on circuit breaker as well as the high-temperature cutoff (you’ll see it right above the upper thermostat). This reset by itself could be enough to solve the problem.

3. Test the heating elements with these safety measures

First and foremost, turn off the power at the circuit breaker and remove the metal covers to expose the thermostats and elements. You can ensure the power is off by touching the electrical connections with a non-contact voltage detector before you start any work. If the tester doesn’t light up, it’s safe to go ahead and test the heating elements.

4. Replacing your hot water tank elements

To replace an element, ensure the power is still off and drain the tank by opening the hot water faucet in the kitchen. You can drain faster by connecting a garden hose to the drain valve and opening the drain the empty the tank. Next, unscrew the bad element and install the new element with a wrench. Finally, reconnect the wires on the new element, turn on the drain valve and fill the tank. Now you’re ready to switch on the circuit breaker and test your new elements for working order.

5. Ensure the thermostat is working

If the circuit breaker isn’t tripped and the reset doesn’t work, the elements are fine. This may indicate that your thermostat is broken and require a replacement.

About The Author

Tina is a registered nurse and DIY home improvement maven who has written and blogger for DIY Mother as well as numerous print and online publications ranging in topics from education to health and from home renovations to interior decorating.