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How do you remove an immersion heater element?

How to remove an immersion
heater element

Shop for Immersion Heater Spanners

Image to show that the DIYer is ready to begin once their hot water cylinder is partially drained Now that your hot water cylinder or tank is partially drained, you are ready to begin. Make sure that the drainage valve is closed and shut off all your hot water taps.

It’s now time to loosen your immersion heater element.

Loosening the immersion heater element

Image of the tools required for removing an immersion heater element including an immersion heater spanner, hammer, screwdriver and Stanley knife You will need an immersion heater spanner. You may also need a hammer if your immersion heater element is difficult to loosen.

If your hot water cylinder is insulated with polyurethane foam, you may need a Stanley knife and a screwdriver.

Image showing an immersion heater spanner being attached to an immersion heater element

Step 1 – Attach spanner

Attach the immersion heater spanner so that it fits snugly and securely around the immersion heater element.

Image showing the handle of an immersion heater spanner being rapped with a hammer

Step 2 – Get things into motion

Rather than attempting to pull on the spanner by hand at this stage, give the spanner handle or tommy bar a series of short, sharp, firm raps with a hammer.

For stability, you may need to hold the head of the immersion heater spanner around the element so that it doesn’t slip off.

Image indicating how to turn the spanner handle in an anticlockwise direction Make sure you’re turning the spanner handle anti-clockwise.
Image to illustrate shock waves, which will be sent through the screw threads in the boss to loosen the immersion heater element Using a hammer in this way sends shock waves through the spanner and into the heater element’s screw thread, which can help toloosen your heating element if stuck. It also helps to prevent damage to the hot water cylinder, the copper boss or the pipes attached to it because you are using short bursts of force rather than applying prolonged pressure to the spanner handle.
Image of croquet player to illustrate the kind of hammer swing that could distort a spanner handle Don’t be tempted to apply too much force with the hammer – short, sharp taps should be effective enough to do the job.

Big swings with a lot of force could distort (bend) your spanner’s handle or tommy bar, so put that croquet mallet down!

 Wonkee Donkee warns against removing the immersion heater element without draining the tank
Image to show a hot water cylinder with an immersion heater element at the top If the immersion heater element that you’re removing is at the top of your tank then you do not need to drain any more water out of it and you can carry on with step 3 below.
Image to illustrate emptying the rest of the hot water cylinder If the immersion heater element that you’re removing is at the bottom of your hot water cylinder then you will now need to empty the rest of the water from your tank.

IMPORTANT – Turn your hot taps back on before reopening the drainage valve and leaving the cylinder to drain until it’s empty.

Image of a DIYer loosening an immersion heater element by using an immersion heater spanner to turn it clockwise

Step 3 – Slacken off immersion heater element

You now need to loosen your immersion heater element by turning the handle or tommy bar of your immersion heater spanner anti-clockwise.

Image of a DIYer removing an immersion heater element from a hot water cylinder

Step 4 – Remove immersion heater element

Once the element is loose enough, finish unscrewing it by hand and remove.

Image of DIYer holding an 18" immersion heater element for comparative size The element coil is long and can be fragile if it has blown. Pull it out carefully to prevent it from breaking and dropping debris in to the hot water cylinder.

If the element has blown (failed), you may find that it has distorted and will not fit through the hole. Gently reshape it using pipe grips or similar until you can remove it freely. Forcing it out may damage the threads of the boss, or leave debris inside the tank.

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