A Step By Step Guide To Replacing A Hot Water Heater Element

Have you ever been in the middle of a nice hot shower only to have it cut short by a blast of cold water? Or have you tried to take a hot shower only to find that you have zero hot water at all? This usually points to a problem with your hot water heater. More specifically, the element in the hot water heater. Instead of spending tons of money on an emergency plumber, you can learn how to repair the issue yourself. This guide walks you through replacing an element step by step.

Tools Needed:

  • Water element wrench

  • New element

  • Screwdriver

  • Hose

Step One

The first thing you need to do is shut off the water. After that, you will need to shut off the power for the hot water heater. Your breaker box should have it clearly labeled so you can easily find it. Once both of these things are shut off, you can begin working on the hot water heater.

Step Two

Now you will need to completely drain all the water from the heater. Connect the hose to the drain valve and open the faucet on the heater. When the water is all gone, you can move to the next step.

Step Three

Use the screwdriver to remove the front panel of the water heater. If you want, you can use a circuit tester to make sure the power is totally shut off before you begin working.

Step Four

Disconnect all the wires connected to the element. Use the element wrench to remove the element from the water heater.

Step Five

Take the new element and repeat step four but backward. Screw in the element and then re-attach all the wires.

Step Six

If the drain valve is still open, you need to close it now. Once it is closed, you can turn the water back on. After that is done, you can restore power to the hot water heater.

Step Seven

Allow the hot water heater to fill up again. This may take an hour or longer depending on the size of the appliance. Once it is full, you can test the water. If the water is hot, then your problem is fixed.


If your problem is not solved, then you have a bigger problem with the hot water heater than the element. You should seek the services of a professional plumber. They can correctly pinpoint the issue for you.