Water Heater Rescue: Know-How, Troubleshooting, Anodes graphic

Tanklets > Removing
Stubborn Electric Elements

Q: I have a GE (Rheem) electric heater. The lower element is bad and I have a new element to replace it with. I have unscrewed the element but can only pull it out about 3 inches. The rods appear to have spread apart and are too wide to come through the hole. Does anyone know a trick to getting this element out?

Q1: OK, I solved it myself. For anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, here is what I did. I took a hack saw blade and sawed the element into at the U this gave me a little bit of play. Then I wiggled the element back and forth and pulled. Very slowly the element rods were pushe together by the presure against the edge of the insert hole. As the rods were pushed togethere I got a little bit out. This took quite awhile and a lot of brute force. However, it finally came out and the new element in in. Hope this helps someone.

A: Thanks for telling your experience. Elements that have burned out in sediment can be a pain to deal with. A trick I've used is to take an old screwdriver that I put a bend in the last inch or so before the tip, so it can be used to hook the element's end. Once I hook the end, I can wiggle the whole thing out without having to cut it or risk leaving any element bits in the tank. Once the element is out of the way, I take a piece of 3/4" copper pipe about two feet long and hook it up to a shop vac to clean out as much sediment as I can get to. This will give the new element more time before getting buried in sediment. -- Larry (12/31/07)

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