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09:47AM | 03/23/01
Member Since: 03/22/01
1 lifetime posts
All of the hot water is gone after one 5-7 minute shower in the morning. I have a 40-gallon water heater so this shouldn't be happening. Does it sound like I need to replace the heating element? If so, how do I do it?


03:39AM | 03/26/01
Member Since: 03/13/00
1674 lifetime posts
See next post.

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited March 26, 2001).]


03:41AM | 03/26/01
Member Since: 03/13/00
1674 lifetime posts
What you describe is usually a bad element - but could be a bad thermostat as well. Most electric water heaters have 2 elements, an upper and a lower and 2 thermostats as well. Usually the lower thermostat is set at a slightly higher temperature than the upper, and the lower element does all the heating. Since heat rises, this is desireable. The way the thermostats are wired allows only one of the elements to work at a time. If the lower element (or thermostat) fails, then the upper will take over, but will only heat the water near the top of the unit and to a slightly lower temperature. That's why you experience a limited amount of hot water.
To replace: Shut off the circuit breaker.
Shut off the cold water input to the heater (there should be a shutoff near it.)
Drain the heater. It has a drain. If it's inside, use a garden hose to route the water outside. Open a tap in the house to encourage it to drain. Some people say you can do this job without draining, but I've had poor success trying that.
Disconnect the 2 wires from the lower element after removing the lower cover.
Remove the element either by unscrewing it or by removing the 4 screws that hold it (there are 2 different styles).
Take the old element with you to the hardware store and get one like it - probably between $10 and $15.
Install the new one, reconnect the wires and replace the cover.
Turn on the water and let the heater fill with water. Do not turn on the circuit breaker until last.
Close the open tap and then close the breaker. Wait about 45 minutes for hot water. You will experience some air in the pipes at first and may see some rust in the water initially. This is normal. Let them flow a bit.
ps - if you are unable to unscrew the old element you can get a special tool at Lowes and other places for about $3 in the section where water heaters are sold. It's worth it.

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited March 26, 2001).]

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