Our water heater quit working on Monday, the water was getting warm but nowhere near hot enough to take a shower (Andrea found out the hard way, sorry babe!). Rather than calling a plumber I decided to give this fix a shot myself, it was a learning experience but in the end I got it working for only $30.00 in parts.
What I learned:
• There is a racket for the “tool” used to remove the heating element from a water heater, the “tool” is nothing more than a pipe that has one end bent into the shape of a hex nut and it cost $8, there is a picture below
• Water heaters are very simple, there are less than 10 parts to check and the ones that break most often are very easy to access. In my case the lower heating element had shorted out so I replaced that and the lower thermostat as well
• I have hard water. Since I had the water heater take apart my uncle recommended that I try to remove the calcium deposits that had built up in the bottom. After building the right tool for the job using duck tape a shop vac and water hose I removed 10 pounds of calcium sediment from the water heater (gross).
Pictures are posted below click one to see the full set on Flickr