What Size Socket for Water Heater Element

The right socket for water heater element is Drive x 1-1/2 inches socket. Designed to properly the all common size electric heater elements, this socket’s opening will snugly fit the hex end. This is to allow you to use the most appropriate torque without slipping.

On the same note, 1.5 inches is the right size socket for the heating element. But for an anode use a 1-1/16 inches socket. For a long-handled socket wrench or a breaker bar make sure you use a 1/2″ drive socket.

How a Water Heater Element Works

When it comes to electric water heaters, water heater elements and electric wiring are the main problems. If you have hot water that runs out quickly your lower heater element may be at fault. But if your water heater takes long to recover after using lots of water then your upper element may be the issue.

When electricity passes through the water heater element it meets some resistance. This resistance creates instant heat just like rubbing your hands against each other. Your wattage will, therefore, determine the amount of heat produced.

It’s important to test your element to know whether it works well or not. To do this you just need a multimeter and a screwdriver. To replace it, you need a screwdriver, a wrench, and a garden hose.

How to Loosen a Heating Element

Here are some to help you remove the bolts and stuck heater elements

  1. Bend the water heater element wires
  2. Mix half water and half vinegar in a small cup
  3. Use the socket to turn the heater element anti-clockwise
  4. Dip a brush into the solution and brush between the side of the heating tank and the heating element.
  5. While applying the solution, do not allow it to dip heavily
  6. Once you apply it allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove

How to Replace the Heating Element in an Electric Hot Water Heater

If you want to replace the heating element in your electric tankless water heater, it’s not a must to drain the tank. However, you need to know that you cannot drain the heater at a high temperature.

Just because your heater element is not working does not mean you must buy another one. Sometimes you just need to replace it and you are good to go. While this process might seem hard if you have the skills and everything you need you can comfortably do it on your own.

How to Replace a Water Heater Element without Draining Tank

To safely do this, you first need to shut off the water supply at the water heater. Make sure no faucet in the house is turned on. This is to prevent air from getting into the tank. Next, put a bucket under the water heater drain and then open the drain valve to allow the pressure to come off the tank.

Once you are done, remove the old element and install a new one. If the water valve does not shut well or you have dripping faucets, you may get a little wet. If the process goes on well you’ll only lose 2 cups of water.


There you have it- everything you need to know about the size socket for water heater element and how to replace a heater element. If you are not sure about the process consult a professional.

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