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How to Maintain an Electric Water Heater

Keep the hot water flowing with This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and Kevin O'Connor

In this video, This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and Kevin O'Connor keep the hot water flowing.

Steps:

  1. When an electric water heater stops producing hot water, check the main electrical panel to ensure the breakers aren't tripped.
  2. Next, check the emergency cut-off switch on the thermostat. If the switch button is popped out, reset it by pressing it in.
  3. Test a heating element by first turning off the electricity to the water heater. Then, remove the access panel to expose the end of the heating element.
  4. Loosen the two screw terminals on the element and disconnect the two wires.
  5. Touch each of the screw terminals with a prong of a continuity tester. If the tester doesn't light up, then the heating element has failed and must be replaced.
  6. Drain the tank of water and use a special socket and pipe wrench to loosen and remove the heating element from the water heater.
  7. Thread the new heating element into the water heater and tighten.
  8. Unscrew the old thermostat from the side of the water heater and replace it with a new thermostat.
  9. Fill the tank with water and turn the electricity back on.

Looking for more help with repairs around your home? A home warranty may help. Check out these in-depth guides from the This Old House Reviews Team: