One way to tell if the heating element on your electric hot water tank is going bad is when water leaks out of the heating element, down the side of the tank, and onto the floor. You need to replace the heating element to stop the leak and restore the ability of the tank to generate hot water. This is a job a homeowner can do in an hour or two with just a couple of tools. If your heating element is leaking on your GE hot water tank, here is how you can replace it.
Turn Off Power & Water
You should always remember to turn off the electric to the hot water heater when working on the heating element. You also want to turn off the valve on the water supply line going to the tank.
If there is water still in the tank, connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and open the valve. Make sure you have the hose extended to a floor drain or a bucket so you don't flood the floor. Close the drain valve and remove the hose when you are done emptying the tank.
Removing Heating Element
There will be an oblong-shaped cover on the side of the tank. Remove the cover to expose the heating element. There will also be a piece of plastic under the cover. Remove the plastic piece.
There is a blue and yellow wire attached to the top of the heating element. Remove the screws holding the wires in place with a Phillips screwdriver and take off the wires. You should get a heating element wrench at the hardware store to remove the broken element and install the new one. The wrench looks like a hollow circular tube with a square-shaped head that fits over the top of the heating element. There are two holes in the hollow body of the wrench that you will slip the shaft of the Phillips screwdriver through. The handle of the screwdriver will give you the leverage you need to turn the wrench. Turn the heating element counterclockwise to loosen and remove it.
Install New Heating Element
Slide the new heating element into the hot water tank and hand screw it into place. Use the heating element wrench to tighten the element so it is snug. Put the blue wire on the top screw on the head of the heating element and the yellow wire on the bottom screw. Tighten the screws to firmly affix the wires to the heating element.
Fill the tank with water before restoring the power. Once the tank is full, you can safely turn on the tank to heat the water inside of it. For tips, contact a company like Valley Plumbing Company.