Replace heating element AO Smith ProMax

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by john_k9jgs, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. john_k9jgs

    john_k9jgs New Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    No hot water! The lower element in the water heater measures about 15 ohms and the upper one almost infinity, so that tells me the upper is a gonner. I think I need to drain the tank to below the upper element, unscrew it, and screw in another. Is it that simple? Will the lower element continue to work with the upper disconnected? If not, can I do something to make this happen? My school teacher wife needs a morning shower! HELP!
  2. john_k9jgs

    john_k9jgs New Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    I think I found the info needed

    I found a thread from last month that answered all but the question of whether the remaining element will work on its own without the bad element also working. Is there a way to have the remaining good element continue to heat all by itself? If so, I might be able to get enough hot water for the wife's shower in the morning.

    I'll replace both elements and the anode tomorrow.
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  4. Mike Swearingen

    Mike Swearingen New Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Independent Real Estate Broker
    On Albemarle Sound In Northeastern NC
    One element should work without the other, because they don't come on at the same time anyway.
    The lower element does most of the work, because that's where the dip tube delivers the cold water supply.
  5. GregO

    GregO Member

    Oct 5, 2004

    Replacing both is an easy process. Just make sure to flip the breaker to the unit, drain it, then disconnect, remove and reinstall a new upper and lower element. Make sure also to refill the tank BEFORE flipping the breaker back on!!! Inspect for leaks, then adjust thermostat for desired temperature setting. Good Luck.

  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    Replacing element

    Even if you can replace the element without draining the tank, I would advise you to drain it completely anyway. Tanks should be drained every year and this would be a good time to do it.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    The lower element will not work unless the upper one heats the top of the tank first. But the question is why the upper one was working in the first place. It is a "last ditch effort" when the tank is about to run out of hot water and thus only operates under the most extreme conditions. Under normal conditions, therefore, it should not have operated, and thus could not burn out, unless there was also a problem with the lower one not functioning properly. There is a way to bypass it, but if you did something incorrectly you could create a dangerous situation, and if you forgot how to "undo" it the heater would be unsafe. Most plumbers would replace the element, either top or bottom, without draining any water.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2005
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