Thursday, June 19, 2008

How To Be A Handyman - Replace a Water Heater

How to replace a water heater, this tutorial the Handyman will be going over how to replace an electric water heater, typically the average household sizes.(About a 30 gallon water heater or so) Now let me explain something real quick before you go out spending tons of money on a new water heater, because the only time you should fully replace a water heater is if its leaking from the bottom or middle of it.

If the water heater isn't leaking and is just not working it could be due to a couple of a bad water heater element, a bad water heater thermostat, or simply just not having power going to the water heater. So the first that I would check would be the breaker to the water heater. ... or if you have a volt meter you can check it for proper voltage.(Usually 240v)

Note:If you have no handyman or plumbing experience I do not recommend you trying to repair or replace your water heater just seek a plumber or maintenance guy that knows what hes doing.

Okay on your typical 30 gallon+- electric water heater theres commonly two heater elements. Some people like to test the elements and thermostat with the power on but it is very unsafe and unnecessary.

Troubleshooting the water heater thermostat the safe way:

Turn the power off to the water heater, then remove the access panel to the water heater. Look at the thermostat to see if the reset button is out or in, if the reset button is popped out just push it back in. That should solve the problem but if it is in then let us move on to testing the water heater thermostat. Assuming you have the power turned off (you better) remove one wire from the thermostat it doesn’t matter which one. With a multi-meter in hand set it to resistance or rx1,touch the probe to the top screw and the other probe move along the other screws to test each individual one, the multi-meter will either read 1. (which is open) or 0 (which is closed). You might get some numbers like .005 jumping around but it will eventually hit 0. If it is closed you will have to replace the thermostat. Below is a picture of me testing a bad thermostat.

click the image to see it fully

Do the exact same thing to the other thermostat
You do the exact same thing to test the water heater elements.

If you have a fairly new water heater then I would first check to see if you still have a warranty on it so you can get a professional Handyman to come out and fix it for free....If thats not the case then just keep reading and the Handyman will tell you how to replace the heater elements and/or heater thermostat.

To replace a water heater element first thing you have to do is secure the power and then you wanna turn the supply water off by closing the inlet valve. If you don't do this you are going to flood you entire house. Then you will need the right sized wrench to fit over the heater element. Have a towel in handy because water is going to come out. Unhook or unscrew the wires that are going to the heating element. You are going to need the right size lug wrench to loosen the water heater element. Then loosen the heating element until you can pull it out. Then quickly tighten in the new heating element. Re-hook or screw the wires back the way that they were on the old heating element. Some people would recommend draining the water heater first but I have replaced many elements and as long as you have a towel in hand and do this swap out quickly it is not necessary to drain the water heater. By all means if you feel uncomfortable about doing this with water coming out then drain the water heater.

To replace a water heater thermostat first thing you have to do is secure the damn power so you don't wind up shocking the crap out of yourself. Then you unscrew the screw securing the thermostat the unhook the wires going to it but just make sure that you remember where the wires hook up too....Install the new water heater thermostat by taking back steps from removing the old water heater thermostat.

Okay now lets get down to the subject of the titled post, How To Replace a Electric Water Heater

Removing the Old Water Heater

You will have to look at the connection hoses on the water heater to see if you will need compression fittings or just plain ol' no burst water hear supply line, or you could just use the old water heater lines if your budget is a little low but I wouldn't recommend it. What I would definitely recommend is to have some nipples for the cold and hot side.

How to remove the old water heater, shut off the inlet valve. Go to the bathroom or somewhere there is a hot water faucet and open the hot water valve to be sure that the hot water is turned off. Next you will need a garden hose to attach to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater. Attach the hose, make sure the end of the garden hose is somewhere that it can discharge about 30 or so gallons of outside or a the drain disconnect the cold and hot water heater hoses from the top, also disconnect the t&p valve connection. Let the water drain....a water pump makes this process much more quickly....while you are waiting for the water to drain you can start undoing the electric.....once all or most of the water is out of the water heater it will be light enough to either wheel out with a dolly or carry out with the some help...

Installing the New Water Heater

Warning: You should have a tub faucet or sink hot water valve fully open before you open the inlet valve to fill the water heater....and do not turn the power on to the water heater until it is full of water or you will fry the water heater elements.

First thing you need to do is connect all of the hoses, the cold water inlet, the hot water outlet, and the relief valve hose which is optional. then you need to open up the inlet valve and fill the water heater up with water. While your filling the water heater up with water you can hook up the electric....there should be 2-3 wires...the two main wires are going to be two hot wires, then there should be a ground wire for safety...hook all these up, ground goes to anything metal, secure the ground however you you have the electric hooked up.

With a couple of hot water valves open you just have to wait for the hot water to start pouring out..(its not going to be hot until the breaker is on)...Once the water starts coming out of the hot knob or valve you want to check for leaks...if there are no leaks...then you can turn the breaker on for the Hot Water Heater. In about 30 minutes you will have some hot water from your brand new Hot Water Heater

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1 comment:

prajod said...


Neat and simple post. Thank you. My electrician took away my thermostat saying that its damaged. Only heating element was damaged, as far as I could see. What's worse, he gave me a damaged thermostat(Racold/Ariston) and charged me full price ! I found about this later, after my water pipe burst from overheating, with the new thermostat :( It happened on the same day of installation.
Can the thermostat and the heating element get damaged at the same time ? They are in series connection, aren't they ?