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How To Replace an Immersion Heater

Some homes in the UK have an immersion heater as a backup source of hot water for their central heating system. Immersion heaters often come on during the off-peak hours to take advantage of lower electricity tariffs.

Depending on the size of the hot water cylinder you may have one, two or even three heating elements. These heating elements will last a long time depending on use, but eventually, you may need a replacement.

In this article, we’ll be covering:

  • How much it costs to replace an immersion heater
  • What affects the cost of replacing an immersion heater
  • How you can save money on replacing an immersion heater
  • How to know if you need a replacement
  • What’s involved in replacing an immersion heater
  • How to find and hire a professional to carry out the job for you

If you’re thinking that your immersion heater has seen better days, keep reading to find out how to have it replaced in the most cost-effective way possible.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Immersion Heater?

Changing an immersion heater is one of the few jobs where you may need both an electrician and a plumber – but for most plumbers, this is a task they can do with no problems.

Immersion heater replacement £250 to £350 each £30 to £80 per hour 2 to 4 hours
Immersion heater replacement element £150 to £200 each £30 to £80 per hour 2 to 4 hours

If you’re needing to have an immersion heater replacement, you can expect supply costs of between £250 to £300, with an additional £30 to £80 per hour for labour costs, generally for between two to four hours when being installed.

For those needing just the immersion heating element replaced, this costs between £150 to £200, with the same £30 to £80 per hour for labour costs, also lasting between two to four hours when being installed by a professional.

When it comes to additional labour costs, heating engineers can charge anywhere from £30 to £60 per hour, and plumbers from £40 to £80 per hour. Most plumbers will charge half a day to replace your immersion heater for you.

How long the job will take from start to finish will depend on the accessibility of the hot water tank and the immersion heater. Also, the tank has to be drained, so depending on the size of your tank you have to take the time it takes to drain it down into account.

If it’s a three-element tank and the bottom one needs replacing, you will have to empty the tank. However, if it is just the top element, the plumber may get away with emptying the tank to below the immersion heater level.

Whatever the situation, you are looking at a couple of hours before the old comes out and the new goes in.

Are you ready to replace your immersion heater? HouseholdQuotes can help you find the right plumber.

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What Affects the Cost of Replacing an Immersion Heater?

Several different factors will have an impact on the cost of replacing an immersion heater. Here’s what to look out for when replacing your immersion heater:

The Type and Size

The type and size of the immersion heater will affect the final cost. As you can see from our comparison table above, copper is the cheapest and does the job just as well, but you can opt for more expensive materials like titanium if you have the budget as titanium is better for those in hard water areas.

Your Location

Where you live in the UK always has an impact on pricing. It’s more likely that you’ll pay more for this type of job in larger cities, such as London, but you may also face higher costs in rural and hard-to-reach areas, as there may be an additional cost for travel.

The Number of Heating Elements

While single are more affordable, dual heating elements are more efficient. If you have the budget for dual heating elements, you will yield energy benefits further down the line, but this will come at the extra initial cost of purchase.

Any Additional Services

If limescale buildup is a problem, you may want to have a water softener installed into your system as a preventative measure. This will cost more upfront, but will likely save you money in the long run as you’re not being affected by limescale.

How Can I Save Money on a New Immersion Heater?

Comparing quotes is a great way to potentially reduce the cost of replacing your immersion heater. HouseholdQuotes can help you get quotes from multiple plumbers near you, so that you can find someone that suits your budget.

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The cost of an immersion heater can skyrocket if you’re not careful – and sometimes it’s just parts of the heater that need replacing instead of the entire heater itself.

You can opt to replace two or three elements at the same time for two or three-element cylinders – as the chances are, if one has failed then the others will soon fail.

You can save yourself labour costs and inconvenience by having all elements replaced in one go, rather than needing multiple call-outs to the same trader.

Whether it’s a call-out or a planned job will also affect the price you pay. You’ll probably find that you will pay a premium for an emergency callout, so if you know your heater is on its last legs, book the project in advance to save you and your wallet from having to fork out for emergency rates.

Adding in a water softener will help to reduce limescale buildup; while having a titanium immersion heater will be better for those in hard water areas. These are the kind of changes that will pay dividends further down the line when it comes to maintenance but will cost more upfront in the beginning.

How Do I Know if an Immersion Heater Is the Right Choice for Me?

If you’re looking to change your heating from an alternative source to immersion, it can be a daunting endeavour with lots of upheavals and potential cost – so it’s a good idea to understand the main advantages and disadvantages of having the job done.

Well-insulated, and can help to keep water hot even when turned off Can become expensive to heat your water tank if you have a large household/water demand
Energy-efficient, only turning on when demanded Electricity is more expensive than gas alternatives

The main advantages centre around energy-efficiency, as they only operate when turned on, never heating up water unnecessarily.

The disadvantages are that you may not have hot water immediately when you want it if you have a large household and high water demand. It also will cost a fair amount to heat your entire home in this way.

What’s Involved in Replacing an Immersion Heater?

It isn’t recommended that you replace an immersion heater yourself unless you’re a professional with considerable knowledge of what you’re doing. In most cases, you may end up causing more trouble than it’s worth, leading to leaks and other plumber problems.

You should get a professional in to do the job safely and correctly while saving you the hassle of having to get to grips with a variety of different tools and equipment. Looking at troubleshooting issues, your engineer is likely to take the following steps.

Firstly, your engineer will check and confirm that the source of the problem is not in the fuse board. If the MCBs check out, they will go ahead and isolate the circuit in the consumer unit and turn the switch off next to the cylinder, as it is vital to make sure the immersion heater is electrically safe before proceeding.

Following this, the next step would be for them to test the heating element and to test if there is no power, for which they’ll need an electrical test meter. The professional will disconnect the electrical wiring and check the thermostat first by setting it to its maximum temperature and measuring across the terminals on the resistance setting – if there is continuity then that thermostat is ok, if not, you need a new thermostat.

If the thermostat is working, the trader will now need to test the element for continuity to confirm it is faulty. If the meter shows a very high resistance reading, then the heater is broken, and you will need a replacement.

They’ll then need to purchase the correct replacement part and use a box spanner to loosen the immersion heater element,  remembering to drain the tank before removing the broken parts to avoid a manmade flood in your home. They’ll then wire in the new immersion heater and ensure all electrical connections are tight before restoring power, and refill the storage tank with water, and you will be able to tell within a short time whether the heating element is functioning correctly or not.

If you need a full replacement following the initial investigation, your professional will likely start with turning off the immersion, removing wires and fuses. The cold water supply will then be turned off, and draining will begin.

Once fully drained, the professional will then unwind the existing immersion heater, and insert the new heater. The new appliance will then be filled and tested for leaks, and finally, the electricity will be connected back once the professional is sure everything is in good working order and is safe.

How Do I Find and Hire a Professional?

Finding the right plumber can be challenging. At HouseholdQuotes, we can connect you to plumbers in your area.

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Your first port of call should be with friends, family and neighbours to see if they’ve had similar work done recently and if they’d recommend their traders. If they do, this will save you hours of searching online and will give you a professional who has been pre-vetted for you, which is priceless.

Finally, searching the Gas Safe Register can be a great way of finding a professional who is suitably qualified to get the job done for you, safely and efficiently.

Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit

It’s always best to treat hiring a professional much like a job interview – you want to know about their experience and previous jobs to make sure they’re a good match for you. You should see if they have a proven track record for performing similar jobs, and have a checkable work history with reviews from past customers – this is particularly important if you’re finding a brand new trader, and not someone coming from a recommendation, as you’ll need to do a little more digging for their credentials.

With boilers, you must ensure that the trader is registered with a trade body such as the Gas Safe Register, and you should also double-check that they are insured, and offer a guarantee for their work. It is best practice to ask for a written quote to ensure what you are pitched becomes reality, leaving no room for confusion or potential miscommunication between parties once the work starts.

Similarly, you should check if there’s a manufacturer’s guarantee on the immersion heater, as if there are problems in the future with the product, it’s good to know whether or not you’ll be covered by a warranty, or if you’ll need to fork out for replacement parts yourself.

Final Checklist

If your immersion heater has seen better days and you’re sick and tired of having inconsistent hot water, then getting it replaced could be the best thing you’ve done in years.

Here’s our final checklist to make sure everything is taken care of:

  • Ensure you need your entire unit replaced before booking someone in – can you troubleshoot to find other solutions first?
  • Seek out referrals from friends, family and neighbours who have had similar work done recently
  • Use HouseholdQuotes to find a reputable trader
  • Get a written quote, and ensure your trader is registered with a trade body and carries insurance for their work
  • Find out if there’s a manufacturer’s guarantee on the product and the work

Use HouseholdQuotes to find local plumbers and potentially save money on your immersion heater replacement.



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Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know I Actually Need a New Immersion Heater?

To determine if you actually need to replace your immersion heater, start by troubleshooting to rule out other problems. Some common problems to look out for are:

  • Circuit breaker tripped
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Limescale buildup

If you’re familiar with your consumer unit or fuse board, you should be able to check if a circuit breaker was tripped yourself.

However, we recommend that you hire a professional to rule out a faulty thermostat, and especially for checking limescale buildup as this involves draining the cylinder.

Regardless of the result, immersion heating elements will eventually burn out and leave you with no hot water. If this is the case, you can hire a professional to take a look at your heater for you to tell you what’s going on.

How Long Should an Immersion Heater Last?

Immersion heaters typically last between two and three years. Their longevity depends in part on the make and model of heater you own.

Should a Plumber or Electrician Replace an Immersion Heater?

You’ll either encounter a plumber or a heating engineer taking on this job, but in the instances where an electrical fault has been found, you’ll need to enlist the help of an electrician to get the job done correctly and safely.

In most cases, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional so they can let you know exactly who to call in for help.

Can I Replace an Immersion Heater Myself?

It isn’t recommended you replace an immersion heater yourself. It’s a tricky job and can lead to a multitude of issues if installed incorrectly.

In most cases, it’s best to get a professional in to save you the hassle of learning how to do it yourself, while also benefiting you with fast and efficient service.

Are There Any Alternatives to Using an Immersion Heater?

If your property has the gas capacity, then opting for a traditional boiler is a cheaper way of heating water, as opposed to electricity.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Hot Water Cylinder?

If you’re looking to replace your hot water cylinder, everything you need to know is in this article.

Do You Need to Drain the Tank in Order to Replace an Immersion Heater?

It’s important that your heating engineer drains your tank before replacing the immersion heater to avoid any flooding incidents in your home.

Ready to start your project? We can help!

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