Replacing an Electric Water Heater

by April Reinhardt
(last updated November 5, 2014)

If you find that your hot water isn't lasting as long as it should, your water heater might have a problem. Because most water heaters are simple devices, troubleshooting the problem isn't difficult. Perhaps the heating element is broken, or maybe the high temperature cutoff switch has tripped. Sometimes sediment may settle within the tank, causing the heating element to fail. The pressure relief valve might have malfunctioned, causing water not to heat properly. Or the problem may be as simple as having to adjust your water heater thermostat to a higher level.

If you've ruled out all of those variables, or if your water heater is cracked and leaks water, then it is time to replace the unit. Make sure that you have help moving the old and new water heaters, and then follow these steps for replacing an electric water heater:

  1. Turn off the electric supply to the water heater at the main electric panel, turn off the water supply at the main shut off valve, and covering the floor with a large tarp.
  2. Turn on all of the hot water house taps to drain the hot water from the water heater, and then attach a garden hose to the heater's draincock. Drain the water from the heater into the floor drain or into a bucket.
  3. Using a pipe wrench, remove the water lines from the heater and then remove the old heater to a section of the tarp.
  4. Have your helper grasp one side of the heater, while you grasp the other, and place the new heater into position.
  5. Always follow the installation directions that accompany a new water heater. You will need to connect the water lines to the heater and then you might need to install temperature and pressure relief valves. Following the instructions, make the connections from the wires under the electrical plate to the wires from the main panel.

Once you've connected the new heater, turn the hot water taps off in the house, turn the water back on at the main valve, and then fill the water heater completely. To remove sediment from the tank, drain about a gallon of water from the draincock. Turn on the electrical power to the heater and then set the thermostat.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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