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What Size Socket Fits a Water Heater Element? (Explained)

As a regular water heater element user, you must need a perfect-sized socket to plug in the heater. Here is all the confusion. Users sometimes don’t know the best size of a water heater socket.

If you buy the wrong sized socket, you have to change it. You cannot use it for any other purpose. Therefore, it’s necessary to know the exact socket size.

However, we will show the best answer to your queries. So, what do you need? You need to keep going and exploring the entire write-up to make things easier and precise.

What is a water heater socket?

A water heater socket is the part of the water heater that will enable you to replace the screw easily. It has different sizes and measurements. Therefore, you need to have the perfect socket size that can do the job.

When you need to change the water heater screws, you will require a socket. A socket is an integral part of the water heater. You cannot do anything and can’t even change a tiny screw.

If you face any internal issues with the heater, first, you have to open the screws and then find if anything is happening in the heater machine.

However, you must have a clear idea about the water heater socket; otherwise, you cannot do any change or primary work with it. Be sure that the usual electric sockets are different from the water heater sockets.

What size socket fits a water heater element?

1-½” is the best size for sockets that will fit a water heater element. If you have a drive socket that is ½”, you can use the 1-½” over the water heater elements. It will help you to change the different parts, including screws. However, you might have various sizes of the socket.

It would be best if you read the user manual of the heater. You will find the actual size of the required sockets is written there. Manufacturers explain everything in their manual to buy the required parts and use them any time.

However, we have found the best-fitted size of the sockets for different heaters. Here you go.

Standard electric water heater:

If you have a standard electric water heater, you will find 1-½ inch socket is the best. If you search for the metric in mm, you will find it at 38mm. That means the standard water heater requires a 38mm size socket.

It is good to go through the user manual that you get from the manufacturer. You will find clear indications there too. If the size doesn’t meet ours, it might indicate that your heater does not come in standard size.

Suburban Rv/Camperwater heater:

If you have a Suburban Rv/Camperwater electric water heater, you will find two universal socket sizes here. They both are perfect for this heater. They are ⅞ inch and 15/16 inches, which equals 34mm.

You can use anyone. Go for it if you find one socket that matches the size with the given instruction. You can use it for both the heaters.

Whirlpool water heater:

if your whirlpool electric water heater comes in a standard size, it will fit in 38mm or 1-½ inches. It is a standard size for a water heater. You can check the product description or manual guide to ensure the size.

However, you might find the different size requirements from the manufacturer. You don’t need to worry about the different sizes. You will get it in your locality. If you face any struggle, call the hotline number of your seller and ask for the correct size socket.

Rheem hot water heater:

It’s a standard electric water heater; therefore, it comes with ½ inch hex. So, you can use the usual socket here. That means you can use the 38mm socket size.

38mm or 1-½ inch size would be your perfect match. You have nothing to worry about. You will find the size everywhere.

AO Smith water heater:

AO Smith water heater has come with a 5″ socket requirement. That means you need to use the 127mm socket for that. Otherwise, it will not work on the heater’s element.

However, it is a heavy-duty electric water heater. That’s why it comes with a large wrench and socket size.

Are water heater element socket size universal?

No, water heater element socket size is not universal. You will find different sizes of sockets out there. Among them, you need to find your match.

In that case, you can follow a simple strategy. The required strategy is to follow the user guideline from the manufacturer. It will let you know what size is for your water heater.

However, you will find the largest socket size with a heavy-duty electric water heater. Here, the standard size is 5 inches. You might find the bigger one as well.

How to remove the water heater element?

You can remove the water heater elements in different ways. We will describe them below and follow the steps to remove the parts.

Turn off the power:

First thing first, you have to turn the power off. If it remains on, you cannot change the water heater and get the electricity. It might be dangerous.

However, you can unplug the heater or switch it off. In both ways, you can turn it off.

Attach hose to drain valve:

You need to attach the hose to the drain valve. It will be for opening the valve. You might think you will drain the tank; that’s not the case here.

Instead, you have to open the valve and ensure it is not clogged.

Turn off water:

It’s time to turn off the water. Here, you will find the cold water inlet valve above the water heater. It will help release the hot water pressure and allow the air to get through it.

Now, you need to open the hot water tap. Don’t make the mistake of opening the cold water tap. You have to open the hot water tap.

Open access panel and check wires:

Now comes the access panel cover. You need to open the access panel and get to the machine and motor parts. After that, check the wires and ensure that any electricity is flowing or not.

Then, go for your element change. You need to find out what elements you need to change.

Replace with new one: You got the element section, now you will change or replace the element with the new one.

What can I use instead of an element wrench?

You can use the socket instead of an element wrench. Also, the pliers or the pipe wrench are the best. You can use them too.

Element wrench is the best equipment that you find with your water heater. It will help you open the screws and other elements of your heater. If you lose it, you need to use a socket, pliers, or pipe wrench.

These three are the best substitute for an element wrench. You can use them safely. There will be no issues at all.

How to remove water heater element without socket?

It’s not challenging to remove a water heater element without a socket. You can remove the water heater element without a socket by following simple steps.

Turn off circuit breaker:

You have to turn off the circuit breaker before you start the process of removing water heater elements without a socket.

Attach hose:

Garden hose would be your second tool to remove the water heater element. In step 2, you need to attach it to the heater. It will ensure that the valve is open and is not clogged.

Disconnect water supply:

You have to turn off the water supply. In that case, you can turn off the inlet valve. Then, open the tank and release the hot water. Let the air go through it.

After that, you need to open the nearest tap and make the tank empty.

Use a screwdriver to open the water panel:

You need to use a screwdriver and open the screws from the water panel. It will help to remove the access panel. After removing the access panel, you will find different heater parts.

Remove the heating element:

It’s time to remove the heating element you want to change carefully. Before that, check the wires and electricity.

Clean the new parts and install:

You should clean the new elements and replace the damaged ones in this step.

Close the panel to check:

Now, close the access panel using the screwdriver again. And refill your heater water tank. Finally, you have removed the water heater elements without using the sockets.

If you want to remove the elements without a socket or wrench, you follow these steps.

Final thoughts

½ inch or 38mm is the socket size that perfectly fits electric water heater elements. But it’s not the universal size. Sockets have different sizes and variations. Therefore, you should always look at the heater’s user manual guide and find the perfect size from there.