How to Replace the Heating Element in a Whirlpool Water Heater

The hot water heater is one of the most important appliances in the modern home. If you turn on your hot water taps and get lukewarm water, knowing what to do can get your hot water restored promptly. A total water heater replacement may not be necessary. Replacing the heating element may be the ticket to get your hot water restored, and is a fairly simple job that should only take one or two hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • 1/4-inch drive ratchet wrench with 5/16-inch socket
  • Water heater element
  • Water heater element wrench

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Turn off the circuit breaker at the breaker box that powers the hot water heater.

Shut off the water supply to the water heater by turning the shutoff valve in a counterclockwise direction.

Attach a garden hose to the water heater drain valve at the bottom of the water heater by twisting the hose fitting in a clockwise direction. Run the other end of the garden hose out a window or into a bathtub. Open the drain valve counterclockwise and let the water drain from the tank to just below the level of the heater element.

Close the heater drain valve by turning it clockwise. Remove the garden hose from the drain valve by turning it counterclockwise.

Remove the sheet metal panel that covers the heating element by twisting out the 5/16-inch sheet metal screws with a 1/4-inch drive ratchet wrench. Pull the electrical connectors from the element by hand. Remove the element by placing the heating element wrench onto the element and turning it counterclockwise.

Thread the new heating element into the water heater by hand and finish tightening it with the heating element wrench. Reconnect the electrical connectors to the element. Reattach the sheet metal panel over the heating element by tightening the 5/16-inch sheet metal screws clockwise with the socket wrench.

Turn the water supply back on by opening the supply valve in a clockwise direction. Turn the circuit breaker for the water heater back on.

Tips & Warnings

  • The water shutoff valve is usually located on the cold water supply pipe to the water heater.
  • An oversize heating element wrench is available at hardware and home improvement stores.
  • Label the heating element electrical connectors before removing them from the old heating element. This will aid in the correct placement of the wires onto the new heating element.

References

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