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Water Heater Element Wrench: What You Should Know

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

A water heater element wrench is a tool that can be used to remove and replace your electric water heater elements.

If you’re not already sure how to use one, It’s important to know, as it will save you time and money in the long run!

A water heater element wrench is an essential tool for any homeowner who has installed or repaired a tank-style water heater.

This article aims to explain what these tools are, where they come from, their uses, and how to choose the right one for you.

Water Heater Element Wrench Sizes 

The size of a water heater element wrench depends on the type of water heater that it’s designed to work with.

In general, there are three different sizes of water heater element wrenches: small, medium, and large.

Smaller wrenches are typically used when working on smaller models, while larger ones are more suitable for larger units.

Small Water Heater Element Wrench

This is the most common size of water heater element wrench.

They have a diameter of about 3 inches (7.6 cm) and usually feature two handles that allow them to be gripped by both hands at once.

These wrenches are best suited for removing and installing the heating elements of small water heaters.

Medium Water Heater Element Wrenches

Medium-sized wrenches are slightly bigger than small wrenches but are still relatively compact.

They measure around 4 inches (10.2 cm) in diameter and have four handles that make them easier to grip.

This style of wrench is ideal for working on medium-size water heaters.

Large Water Heater Element Wrenches

These wrenches are much larger than the other two styles.

Their diameters range between 5 inches (12.7 cm) and 6 inches (15.2 cm), making them ideal for working on large water heaters (see also ‘Water Heater Parts‘).

How To Take Off A Seized Water Heater Element 

If you find that your water heater won’t turn off after being turned on, you may need to take it apart to fix the problem.

Before doing so, however, you’ll first want to determine if the issue is caused by a seized element.

To do this, check whether the element has been damaged. If it looks like it’s been burned out, then you’ve probably got a bad element.

However, if the element seems fine, then you should try turning off the power to your unit. After you’ve done this, wait several minutes before checking again.

If the unit hasn’t restarted, then you may need to disassemble it.

To open up your water heater, you’ll first need to unscrew the top panel. Once you’ve removed it, you’ll see a series of screws that hold down the bottom cover.

Remove those screws and lift the cover away from the base.

Once you’ve lifted the cover, you’ll see a number of metal plates that connect the heating element to the rest of the unit.

Each plate has a hole in its center through which the element passes. If you look closely, you’ll notice that each plate also has a set of holes near its edge.

Remove all of the plates and use a screwdriver to remove the element itself. Now that you’ve removed the element, you can replace it as needed.

Why Is My Water Heater Element Failing To Start?

There are many reasons why your water heater (see also ‘Water Heater Smells Like Burning‘) could fail to start. One reason is that the element isn’t properly connected to the rest of the system.

Another possible cause is a broken wire inside the element. Still another possibility is an electrical short circuit.

You can test for these problems using a multimeter or voltmeter. First, plug one end of the meter into the negative terminal of the battery and the other end into the positive terminal of the element.

Make sure that the element is plugged directly into the wall socket.

If the voltage reading stays steady, then there’s no problem with the wiring.

Next, check the wires to ensure they’re not loose or frayed. Finally, check the connections at both ends of the element.

If none of these tests work, then you might need to call a professional.

How To Remove A Heating Element Without A Water Heater Element Wrench?

How To Remove A Heating Element Without A Water Heater Element Wrench?

Removing an old or defective heating element without a wrench isn’t difficult. First, ensure that you’re wearing protective gloves and goggles.

Then, follow these steps:

1. Turn off the gas supply valve located under the sink faucet.

2. Place a bucket underneath the hot water outlet pipe, allowing enough room for the pipe to extend into the bucket.

3. Open the drain valves located at the bottom of the tank.

4. Pour some warm water into the tank until the level reaches halfway up the side of the tank.

5. With the help of a long stick, gently tap the heating element. The element will break loose from the tank and fall into the bucket.

6. Use a pair of pliers to pull the heating element from the tank.

7. Replace the broken element with a new one.

8. Close the drain valves and shut off the gas supply valve.

9. Fill the tank back up with cold water.

10. Test the temperature of the water coming out of the tank. If it’s too hot, repeat Steps 1–9.

11. Let the system cool overnight.

12. Check the temperature of the water once more in the morning. If it’s still too hot, repeat Steps 8-10.

13. Wait another day and test the temperature again. If it’s still not right, call a professional.

How Do You Use A Water Heater Element Wrench? 

Wondering how to use a water heater element wrench? Let us walk you through everything you need to know about removing a heating element with your wrench. 

  • First, make sure that you have a working wrench. This means that you must have a flat head screwdriver and a Phillips head screwdriver. 
  • Next, locate the heating element. It’s usually located behind the top panel of the tank. Look for a round metal plate with two sets of holes on either side. 
  • When you find the heating element, turn it so that the flat head screwdriver is facing downward. 
  • Next, place the Phillips head screwdriver over the heating element. Rotate the screwdriver clockwise until the element pops out. 
  • Now that the element is free, take it out of the tank. 
  • If there are any remaining screws holding down the tank, remove them.
  • If you don’t want to remove the entire tank, you may be able to get away with just replacing the heating element. However, if the tank is leaking, then you should definitely replace it.

What Are The Best Water Heater Element Wrenches? 

In the market for a new water heater element wrench? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best water heater element wrenches on the market. 

Harbor Freight Tools Water Heater Element Replacement Tool Kit

This tool kit contains everything you need to change your heating element. It includes a flat head screwdriver, Phillips head screwdriver, a hex key, and a plastic handle.

This Harbor Freight toolset also comes with a lifetime warranty. So, if anything goes wrong, they’ll fix it for free.

This replacement kit is great because it has all the tools you need to change your element. Unfortunately, this set doesn’t come with a storage case or instructions.

EZ-FLO Heavy Duty Water Heater Element Wrench

The EZ-FLO Heavy-Duty Water Heater Element Wrench is available at Home Depot.

This wrench has a steel body and a rubber grip handle, weighs 2 pounds, and the EZ-FLO even comes with a lifetime warranty!

We found the EZ-FLO incredibly simple to use, and in our opinion, it’s a must-have in your toolbox. It’s well-designed, efficient, and lightweight. What’s not to love?

Dual Head Element Wrench

Just like the EZ-FLO, this wrench is available at Home Depot and features a steel body and a soft rubber grip handle.

But the Dual Head Element Wrench also includes an extra set of jaws that can be used to hold other parts while you work on the heating element, so you’ll get even more bang for your buck with this dual head element wrench!

Despite being lightweight, the steel body of this wrench makes it feel incredibly sturdy and secure, which we love. 

Camco Professional Water Heater Element Socket

The camco professional water heater element socket is available directly from Camco or Amazon.

This water heater element socket features a heavy-duty design and a rubber grip handle, meaning you won’t struggle to use this wrench, even in slippery conditions.

It’s also budget-friendly and carefully designed, which we love!

Camco is one of the most trusted names in the business too, so you can rest assured you’re getting a quality product. 

LASCO 40-1601 Heavy Duty Metal Water Heater Element Wrench, 1 1/2 Inch

This LASCO 40-1602 Heavy-Duty Metal Water Heater Element wrench is made from high-quality materials and is designed to last.

It weighs 3 lbs. and measures 12 inches long, and it does an excellent job at replacing and removing existing elements!

This model is available on Amazon and it’s budget-friendly, well-designed, and lightweight. 

Final Thoughts

Changing your water heater element isn’t as difficult as it sounds. With the right tools, you can do it in less than 15 minutes.

However, if you don’t have the right tools, you could spend hours trying to figure things out.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best water heater replacement tools available. Hopefully, one of these products will work perfectly for you! 

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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