Now when most people experience a lack of hot water they blame the system for slowing down somehow. There are many myths that talk about water heaters becoming unexpectedly bad at heating water as they become older. However, this is not true, a good condition six year old water heater will work just as good as a new one and if it does not then the one leading reason will be a bad element. Replacing the heating element in hot water systems is the one thing that any DIY person can do but it needs to be done correctly.
The first thing you need to do is find what type of heater you're working on before you even open up your system. Check if it has one or two elements? Many of the latest electric hot water systems have two elements ie one on the top and the other at the bottom, but older systems have just one. The easiest way to find out is to visit the company's website, punch in the model number and read the specs. If one of the elements is bad it could explain why the heater is taking time to heat the water in the tank.
Which element is failing?
To check which element is failing you'll need a multi-meter or a voltmeter. Set the multi-meter to check resistance and place each prods of the meter on each terminal of the element. Ideally, you will want to remove the element before checking it. If the resistance is very high it could indicate a bad element. Ideally, there should not be much resistance. Once you've spotted the bad one, you'll need to go down to your nearest hardware store and buy replacement but before you do familiarize yourself with points below.
In a hot water system the heating element is categorized by its wattage. The most common across all domestic heaters is the 4500 watt element, these also have a 30 amp pole breaker that is wired into every one of them that supplies 120 volts to each.
What type to buy?
When you're in the market for an element you will be faced with three common types ie flange, screw type and raised flange. These are mainly connector types, the most common is the screw type which can easily be screwed into your heater. The raised flange and flange can not just be added on, you will need a kit that will work the heater's original flange socket and convert it into a screw type one. You also need to bear in mind the fact that flange and raised flange heating elements are rare.
Low or high density elements
You will also need to choose between low and high density heating elements. Normally, you'll ask the store to give you an exact replacement but that is not always a good idea. A low density element is expensive but durable and works a lot more efficiently. This means far less sediment which extends the life of your tank. So, you may want to opt for one with a low density if you have a choice.