The heating element is the part of the electric water heater that actually heats the water making it hot. It is also the most common part of the water heater to fail. Luckily experienced plumbers and electricians can replace the heating within an hour or so. If you want to make the job go quicker for your service technician you can start draining the old water heater before they get there.
There are usually two heating elements for most electric water heaters both a lower and an upper. It is usually recommended that you replace both of the heating elements if either one of them is bad but here is how to tell which one has failed.
Since hot water rises the water leaving the water heater comes out of the top of the unit. So if you are getting luke warm water it’s probably your lower heating element. If you are only getting hot water for five or ten minutes it’s probably your upper heating element.