Well I was in for a little surprise this morning. I was the second shower and the shower ended with, warm, not hot water. So, one element in the hot water tank apparently is not going to do the job!
I checked the working upper element and it is ok, so now for the repair of the known bad lower element. First, off with the circuit breaker. Then attach a garden hose and open the valve on the tank to drain the water from the tank. Then to aid in the draining open several of the hot water valves in the house. The draining took about 3 hours. Then remove the lower element which had bent and no longer easily came out the little 2 inch hole. But with some additional force and more bending it was removed. Sure enough there is a 3 inch slit in the element heating tube. No wonder it failed. It was a 5,500 watt element which is huge seems to me.
Off to Home Depot and I find there replacement elements all screw in while this one is held in place by 4 bolts. So off to Coast to Coast and they have an element for all water heater brands with the same bolt hole spacing. I purchased their 4,500 watt element for $16.
The tank is in grand shape where the element attaches and there is no gunk in the bottom of the tank even after all these years. But this universal element does has a thicker base so the bolts are not long enough. And the bracket that also attaches to the bolts which holds the thermostat needs a little grinding to take off some tabs that are getting in the way. So off to Henry’s for 4 each ¼ x 36 x ¾ inch cap bolts and eight washers. Less than $2. Now all installed ok with a little work. Filled the tank and walla, we have hot water once again and hopefully enough for 2 showers. I suspect we have enough hot water for 6 showers now.
Just recently we again had only enough water for one shower. [December 2013.] So rather than troubleshoot much I purchased two new thermostats from Home Depot and installed them. Now plenty of hot water again. The elements tested just fine. The preset on the temperature was set at, 130 degrees if I remember correctly. $25 and an hours work.