is the element bad?


Old 08-11-04, 05:31 PM
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is the element bad?

A few months back (feb) i had to replace the lower element in the water heater after we started expeirencing cold water showers first thing in the morning. All went well with the replacement, i tested the old one with my multimeter and it was showing ZERO voltage...

Now fastforward to 2 days ago the same problem started happening again, cold water first thing in the morning. After metering the lower element again its showing 122.2 volts, the upper element is showing 240 volts. Both elements give good cont. where as last time the lower element had no cont. So my question I guess is: Is the element bad or is the theromstat bad?

Elements are 4500W Elements. Upper thermostat is non-adjustable, lower is adjustable.

FWIW, neither element would give me an OHM reading no matter how i tested them..

Thanks again you guys rock!

Last edited by steelwoolwombat; 08-11-04 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 08-11-04, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Northeastern NC On The Albemarle Sound
Posts: 10,952
I assume that you tested the elements with the wires removed with the ohm meter? (I always replace both elements, if I have to replace one.)
Sounds like a tstat problem. Replace both.
Get a good mental picture or sketch the layout and number of the screws on the tstats. Do not remove any wires yet. Go to a store and get new tsats with the exact same layout and number of screws (doesn't have to be the same brand).
Remove the wires from the old tstats and put them on the new ONE AT A TIME in the same places. Can't go wrong like that.
Good Luck!
Old 08-12-04, 08:36 AM
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Sounds like a plan, i will get on it tonight when i get home
Old 08-12-04, 07:45 PM
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Ugh, sex life dieing with the wife

Well after further testing before i ran to Lowes here is what i found
Lower Element:
.5 OHM reading (its toast)

Upper Element
12.0 MOHM (working great)

Now, i went ahead and replaced BOTH T-Stats, and the lower element that was giving the bad reading. Guess what, yep, still the same situation. This is a simple repair what the hell is going on with the damn water heater...

Test results after everything was replaced. Across the contacts of the upper element i get a solid 240V reading. Across the bottom element i get a .2 mV reading. If i go from contact to ground on lower element i get 120V (from either side of the element. I still have good cont throughout the entire circuit.

Picture of circuit

A-B: 240V
C-D: .2mV
E-F: .2mV

C-D and E-F are the same if i use the old or new lower t-stat.

I know this is not a difficult task, what the hell is going on with the unit? Tried the reset button too!
Old 08-13-04, 05:46 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Davenport, Iowa
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I would expect a good heating element to measure somewhere around 5 ohms. Your reading of 12.0 MOhm would indicate a bad (open) element. The reading of 0.5 ohms indicates a near short and isn't right either. I would expect that both of them would be on with cold water in the heater. If everything is working right you should have 240 volts across both the upper and lower elements. Since you bought new elements you know that they are good. Look for a defective thermostat since you have no voltage across the lower element.
Old 08-13-04, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
The lower element is not energized unless the upper thermostat is happy with the upper temperature. So depending on the temperature of the water in the tank at the time you conduct the experiment, you may read voltage on the upper element, or the lower element, but never both at the same time.
Old 08-13-04, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: port chester n y
Posts: 2,117
Try a continuity-test across the element using a simple 120 volt lamp threaded into a lamp holder/socket.

Isolate the element by removing all external connections---- snip-off the receptacle-end of a 6' 2-wire extension-cord. #18 guage wire---- connect one of the wires to one of the element terminals----- wire-nut the other wire of the X-C to the lead of a lamp-socket---- plug the cord in---touch the "loose" lead of the lamp-socket to the other wire of the X-C connected to the element to verify there is a closed-circuit thru the lamp----touch the loose "test-lamp" lead to the other element terminal--- the lamp should be illuminated thru the element.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!

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