What damages the heating element in the water heater tank, and how to repair it?

Hot water tanks have elements responsible for heating and maintaining the water’s temperature. These elements are specifically present in the electrical hot water tanks. However, sometimes this element can be damaged, causing a very unpleasant situation for you. Knowing the cause and the right solution can also help you stay safe from such situations.

Here we will elaborate on the common causes of damaged heating elements in hot water tanks and the right way to repair them.

Common causes that damage the heating element in your water tank

Before you move towards repairing the heating elements in hot water tanks, knowing what caused the issue is important. Below are some common causes for the issue you are facing:

1.      Poor wiring connection in hot water tanks

In electric heaters, the element is powered using heavy gauge electrical wires. So, having a bad connection or bad wiring can result in a damaged element. A loose wire connection can result in sparking and inefficient performance of the element resulting in permanent failure. Issues related to the wiring of your heater can also impose a safety hazard for your loved ones.

2.      Power surges

The elements of hot water tanks are carefully designed to work on a specific amount of electricity. Any fluctuation can cause issues with the heater element. If there is any power surge where the voltage rating exceeds the suitable range, your element can be badly affected, and in the worst case, it can completely burn. So, if there is any power surge, you must unplug all your appliances to keep them safe.

3.      Water tank having pockets of air

For the best efficiency of the water heater elements, they must be completely submerged underwater. If the element is not submerged, turning it on will cause it to burn instantly. If your water heater tank is not filled, there could be some air pockets which will result in this happening. This situation is also known as dry fire occurrence.

4.      Excessive minerals in the water

Every location has a different type of water. Some places have soft water, which is good, but when your home has a supply of hard water, it can result in sediment buildup inside the water tank, especially on the element. In such a case, the element has to perform even better to meet the desired temperature. Longer exposure to this issue results in damaging your element.

5.      Rusting

Rusting of heating elements is yet another reason that damages the element. When the element rusts, the flow of electricity might get disrupted. It can also create cracks in the element, which, if reached by the coil, will result in safety hazards and permanent coil damage.

The right way to repair the heating element in your water heater

If you follow the whole process, you might be able to repair the heating element. However, the element must be in a repairable condition. Below are the steps that you may need to follow to repair the element:

1.      The first thing you need to check is the warranty of your heater

If you are planning to deal with the situation yourself, the first step is to check the warranty. If the heater is still under warranty coverage, you won’t want to do anything with it because that may void the warranty.

So, if that’s the case with you, you just need to follow through with the warranty claim process, and it will be an effortless experience for you. However, if the heater is not under warranty coverage, you can follow the steps below.

2.      Turning the heater off

You need to start by turning off your heater. First, unplug the electrical connection and cut the water supply to the heater. It will ensure that your heater will not create any safety hazards while working on it. Once you are sure there is no electrical or plumbing connection left with your heater, you can proceed with the process.

3.      Draining water from the heater and removing any covers

Now you need to drain the water heater tank. You can start by opening the nearest tap to get any water out. However, if that does not work for you, there will be a drain valve on the bottom that you must carefully open after attaching a hose to it so that your place does not flood with the water.

Drain it all the way, and then you can close the drain valve. Now remove any covers that you need to remove to access the element.

4.      Checking wire connections

You first need to check the wire connections to access the element. The connections must be good and tight, with no signs of burning or rusting. If you see any of these issues with the connection points, you need to detach and create fresh connections. If the element is not performing, for this reason, fixing the connection will get the job done.

5.      Checking elements for other issues

After working on the connections, you must inspect the element for physical damage like rust, cracks, or sediment buildup. If you find any repairable, you can work on your element to make it good again by removing it from the heater.

6.      Reattaching the old one or replacing the element

If you successfully repair it, you can reattach the old element. Otherwise, you can simply replace that with a new element. Make sure to get one with the same specifications for the best performance.

7.      Assembling everything back

Lastly, you need to close everything back up, and while doing this, ensure you do not create any air pockets inside the water heater tank. Once you assemble everything, you will be good to go.


The first thing you need to resolve is the cause of the damaged element in hot water tanks. Secondly, you can repair or replace it as per the situation and get your water heater working again. However, repairing is not a job everyone can deal with. Feel free to give us a call if you want professional heater element repair and replacement services.

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When it comes to finding a great company that can fix problems, visit Acts Plumbers Tulsa of Service Plumbing page:  About Us | Plumbing Tulsa | Acts of Service Plumbing and then give us a call!

Who are the companies we have had the pleasure of serving? Visit Paul Davis’ website to learn more at Paul Davis Corporate – Restoration and Emergency Service Provider.