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Our water heater barely gives hot water for 10 minutes before it runs out. It's 8 years old, model number GEH50DFEJSR. I haven't done any maintenance in the last 3 years, and I'm not sure if the previous owner did either. This is a hybrid electric water heater.

I'm thinking about replacing the heating elements as shown in this video to see if it helps. Before I dive in, I wanted to check with the community to make sure I've got the steps right.

I opened the panels to see what type of heating elements I need to order and this is what is written: on the upper heating element: 240V/4500W 215C1231P001, lower heating element: 240V/4500W 215C1231P002.

Steps I'm Planning:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker to cut power to the water heater.
  2. Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater.
  3. Connect a garden hose to the water heater valve and open it to drain.
  4. Flip the pressure relief valve to the open position.
  5. Turn on the kitchen sink for hot water.
  6. Let all the water drain from the water heater.
  7. Turn off the kitchen sink hot water.
  8. Remove access panels and replace heating elements.
  9. Close the drain valve and remove the hose.
  10. Close the pressure relief valve.
  11. Turn on the water supply.
  12. Check for leaks.
  13. Turn on the circuit breaker.

Did I miss anything or get something wrong? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated!


UPDATE

Thanks to this community. I changed upper heating element and see the improvement already. It was totally busted: https://imgur.com/a/mcdoPPq Planning to change lower heating element as well. 🙏🙏🙏

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  • What operating mode is the water heater set to? Page 7 products-salsify.geappliances.com/image/upload/s--SAZw1r0U--/…
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 12 at 11:03
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    #7 I would leave to the last. You want a way for all the air to escape. You will have a tankful of air to remove.
    – crip659
    Commented Jun 12 at 11:27
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    I would also be suspecting the dip tube, rather than the heating element. If you haven’t already, you should read about what the dip tube is, and why it’s important.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jun 12 at 15:40
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    Is it displaying an F9 or F10 code?
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 12 at 17:08
  • @Ecnerwal There is no code displayed.
    – javanoob
    Commented Jun 12 at 17:25

1 Answer 1

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You have a hybrid which combines 100 year old water heater tech with new tech called a Heat Pump Water Heater. This is what makes the unit so very efficient.

Grab your water heater manual (Google will help you get a copy) and read the maintenance procedure for the heat pump section. This is important - the heat pump doesn't do you much good if the filter or evaporator is clogged, and it's generally pretty easy to maintain.

I mean if you are just 100% negligent to the heat pump section, I'm sure it'll fail eventually, and then you'll just have grandpa's water heater, electric bill to match, no benefit from the dehumidification it provides, nor the cooling in summer.

You've done a fine job of describing the procedure for heating element swap in grandpa's water heater. However it feels to me like you're throwing parts at the problem completely ignorant of the technology you're dealing with, and with no effort whatsoever at diagnostics. I would not change a heating element blind, I would measure its resistance with an ohmmeter or its current flow in operation with a clamp ammeter.

And I would advise making an effort to understand this new technology as part of your troubleshooting, as it will provide a variety of benefits to you, and why ignore it merely because it is different.

For more on how the "grandpa" heating elements are sequenced, see Technology Connections here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm7L-2J52GU

Also note heat pump water heaters tend to have 10 year warranties. Check your warranty info.

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    Potentially very efficient. With adequate lack of maintenance, possibly not so efficient. There's also a distinct possibility that apart from an unhappy heat pump section with dust bunnies blocking the airflow, etcetera; some prior owner may have told the thing to operate in a mode where it doesn't use the electric heating elements, so changing them would be a waste of time and money, and "fixing" that would be a mere matter of changing that setting.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 12 at 10:58
  • This answer is good in theory, but it does read like someone that has never had to deal with how difficult and temperamental these heat pump water heaters can be. They are often sold to unsuspecting DIY capable homeowners that know and understand how to install a regular electric water heater with no knowledge of the special plumbing and room size restrictions that can make them inoperable. These DIY folks are also unaware that the warranty is often voided by self-installation, leading to a very expensive mistake. Ask me how I know and why I am bitter about it. Commented Jun 12 at 14:53
  • Yeah, I could have gotten an $800 "rebate" if I'd paid a professional $2000 to install a $1200 heater they would have charged me $2400 for as well as the $2000 installation. Using the highway robbery installers "Required" to get the rebate. Such a "deal." I ended up getting "grandpa" for $400 since I was not too confident that "junior's" complexity was going to live up to the life claims, and it would be adding heating load to my heating heat pumps, and I have alternative water heat in the works (solar thermal & wood boiler.) The "free AC" was not going to be terribly helpful in my climate.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 12 at 15:43
  • @Ecnerwal Definitely. Its another example of engineering excessive complexity for a disappointing increase in efficiency, and creating an absurdly bad ROI. Commented Jun 12 at 16:45
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    The efficiency is quite real, when it's not robbing the house heat. Unfortunately ones that can actually heat from outdoors year round in freezing climates are even more overpriced than the usual ones.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 12 at 17:00

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