Repair: Elect Hot water heater?

wilsonkoriNovember 9, 2008

I have a Rheem Elect Hot Water heater that is about 11 years old. The hot water it puts out is not so hot anymore. I am wanting to replace the elements and possibly the thermostats too. I have never done this before. Have any of you? Any tips would be appreciated.

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I think you'll find the cost of the parts, isn't worth the repair. Somebody always has heaters on sale. I would get price and availability first.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 6:29PM
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yep, tha told and you could have other issues as well. FIRST thing to check would be to shut off the power and water and pull the dip tube to see if it is cracked/broken. also flush it out. if it has never been flushed it may be full of crud.

the elements either work or they don't, they don't get weaker. if you have an ohm meter you can shut off power and ohm them to verify continuity. to check the stats, simply check voltage to each element. only 1 works at a time, so when the bottom shuts off the top should fire or vice versa i can never remember.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 11:34PM
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Replacing all of the parts that you mentioned would probably cost less than $100. HOWEVER, the question is----DOES AN ELEVEN YEAR OLD HEATER HAVE THAT MUCH LIFE LEFT--- and the answer is Probably not!! Considering you can replace it for from $300 to $500. Also heaters that old have a way of developing other problems (leaks) when you start disturbing them. IF this heater has been well maintained, regularly draining and replacing the rod when necessary, you may get several more good years, but if it has just been standing there with no maintenance, its life is just about over. Don't waste any money on it!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 4:28PM
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"I am wanting to replace the elements and possibly the thermostats too." If you don't understand the nature of the problem why would you guess about the solution? There are times when an electrician is a bargain.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 7:45PM
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Yes, you can replace the elements(they do wear out by corroding/getting crusted with sediment) and the thermostats. That should be less expensive than replacing.

However, there is undoubtedly a lot of particulate sediment(depending on water hardness) that would need to be removed(difficult). There is also the factor of total life expectancy---the amount of time the unit will last before major problems. That amount of time varies widely---based mostly on useage. Low use equals longer life as a rule. I have worked on 15 year old heaters that worked fine(after element replacement) for another three or four years.

Replacing elements can be difficult. Hard water causes a lot of sediment build up. I have loosened elements only to find the build up was so much the element could not be removed without chiseling off the crud---not easy. Also, it takes a big wrench to get the elements unscrewed.

Thermostat replacement is usually a matter of disconnecting wires, removing the thermostat from a spring loaded mount, replacing and reconnecting wires.

You could check the elements to see if they are corroded away/covered. I would just replace those initially. The thermostats can be replaced later more easily if necessary.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 5:59AM
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I've used Phoenix Plumber
and they are great. I'm not sure if they service Raleigh but it's worth a try. I had to call them out twice for my stupid hot water heater that shuts off and won't relight when it's windy (what in the world?). Anyway, the second time, he came and relit it and didn't charge us at all.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 5:14AM
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The elements and an element wrench are cheap. At least mine were. I'd start by turning off the power, removing the wires from the elements and check the continuity with and ohms meter. That will tell you if they are bad or not. But really you can just skip that and go buy 2 new element and an element wrench. Drain the hot water heater and replace the elements. Considering how cheap the elements are, there's no point in just pulling the old ones out to check for corrosion. You might as well just put new ones in while you have the old ones out. Once the elements are back in and hooked up, refill and see how the water feels the next day. Again though, you're prices may vary from mine.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 1:10PM
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Their life expectancy is only about 10 years. Might be a good time to consider an efficient 20-yr tankless, and free up some space as well.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 6:26PM
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    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:51PM
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thompson55, you might want to consider actually paying for your advertising like most class act contractors instead of illegally on this site.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 4:11PM
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