What is an immersion heater spanner?

 
     
     
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What is a spanner?

 
 Double ended spanner with open head at either end 

A spanner is a tool used to provide grip and leverage when tightening or loosening a nut. 

 
     
 Image of a spanner tightening a nut 

The use of a spanner enables a nut to be fastened much tighter than is possible by hand, as the length of the spanner handle provides increased torque on the component that is being tightened. The same is true of loosening the nut.

 
     
 Image showing a see saw to explain the law of levers 

The reason for this is that the spanner handle acts as a lever. Effectively, levers magnify your strength - the longer they are, the stronger you are.

 

If you tried to lift a friend, for example, you might find they were quite heavy. If you sat them on the end of a see saw and pushed downwards, it would be much less effort.

 
     
   

What is torque?

 
 Illustration of how torque works 

Torque is a force that causes rotation. In this diagram, pushing on a handle (green arrow) attached to a pivot (blue arrow) in the direction marked with the red arrow, causes everything to turn in the direction marked with the grey arrow.

 
     
 Two spanners - one ring head and one open head for comparison of different types 

Spanner heads are either shaped like jaws (open head) or have a specific shape cut out of a metal ring (ring head). 

 
     
   

What is an immersion heater spanner?

 
 Image of a flat ring immersion heater spanner to show the difference between a normal spanner and an immersion heater spanner 

An immersion heater spanner (sometimes referred to as an immersion heater wrench) is a large, ring headed spanner designed specifically to fit around the immersion heater element in a hot water cylinder.

 
     
 Image of an immersion heater element 

Its purpose is to tighten or loosen the immersion heater element and it is used when a heater element needs to be removed from or installed in a cylinder. 

 
     
 Image to show an example of a broken immersion heater element compared to one that is working 

An immersion heater element may need to be removed if it gets damaged. This can happen through corrosion, a build up of limescale or the element itself being faulty.

 
     
 Image of a flat, cranked and box immersion heater spanner 

There two main types of immersion heater spanner - ring headed (flat spanners and cranked spanners) and box headed (box spanners, heavy duty box spanners and box ring spanners).

 

More information on all of these types of spanner can be found under What are the different types of immersion heater spanner?

 
     
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