How to Replace a Ruud Hot Water Heater Element

According to Ruud, a Norwegian mechanical engineer named Edwin Ruud came to America and invented the first automatic gas water heater over 100 years ago, changing the daily hygiene habits of Americans. Without this invention, you might still heat water on the stove for a weekly bath in a galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. Replacing a Ruud hot water heater element keeps the water in the tank hot. Replace your water heater element with one of the same electrical wattage and voltage as found on the face of the old heating element.

Step 1

Turn the water heater breaker to the “Off” position inside the main electrical service panel.

Step 2

Turn the water supply valve clockwise to the "Off” position. Turn on a hot water faucet inside your residence closest to your water heater. This relieves the pressure inside the tank, allowing the water to drain completely.

Step 3

Attach a garden hose to the water heater drain located at the bottom of the tank. Place the opposite end of the hose near a floor drain or outside the garage to safely drain the hot water. Turn the drain valve counterclockwise to open the drain and once the water is completely drained, close the valve. Remove the garden hose and turn off the water faucet inside your residence.

Step 4

Remove the screws from the exterior jacket access panels from the Ruud wire heater. The Ruud water heater has one large access panel covering both heating element locations or two smaller access panels at the top and the bottom of the tank depending on the model. Pull the jacket access panels off the tank and remove the cavity insulation from behind the panels covering the thermostats and the elements.

Step 5

Pull the snap on plastic thermostat protective covers from the face of the thermostat and the heating elements. Loosen the two screws on the face of the heating elements and remove the wires from beneath the screws.

Step 6

Slide an element wrench over the heating elements and twist them counter clockwise. Pull the original heating elements from the tank and discard. Clean the area around the tank where the element gaskets sat against the exterior of the tank.

Step 7

Slide the new heating element gaskets onto the replacement heating elements and push them snugly against the back of the element face. Install the new replacement elements into the tank and turn them counterclockwise, tightening with the element wrench. Replace the two wires of each element and tighten the screws to hold the wires.

Step 8

Snap the thermostat protective covers back over the base of the thermostats and the heating elements. Push the cavity insulation back over the thermostats and heating elements. Reinstall the jacket access panels.

Step 9

Turn a hot water faucet on inside your residence and turn the water supply valve counterclockwise to the "On" position, refilling the water tank. Once the water heater fills, turn the water heater breaker to the “On” position and turn the hot water faucet off inside your residence.