Water Heater

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  #1  
Old 10-13-05, 07:26 AM
LinT
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Water Heater

Not sure if anyone here knows much about water heaters but.. mine stopped working. I get 240 at the top thermostat and element but not at the bottom thermostat or element. How can I test to see if its the element or thermostat and is it the top or bottom? (i assume its the bottom causing the problem.) If anyone can point me in the right direction i'd appreciate it. Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-13-05, 07:53 AM
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You should never assume anything…

Electric water heaters only run one element at a time. The top element is given power until the thermostat decides the water is at temperature, and then the top element is shut off and the bottom element is al;lowed to run. This allows the water heater to recover faster.

I would look at the top element first.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 08:00 AM
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As Bob says, your voltage readings are meaningless.

It would help if you could more precisely define "stopped working". Does this mean that the water is stone cold? Or maybe just not very warm? Or maybe some hot water but not much?

If the water is stone cold throughout the tank, then replace the top element. If the water is just not warm enough, then replace the bottom element. The bottom element goes out ten times more often than the top one. You might want to replace them both, or maybe just get a new water heater (especially if the one you have is 10 to 15 years old). Be sure to clean the sediment out of the bottom of the tank.

Books such as the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Home Repair contain step-by-step diagnostic procedures for water heaters.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 08:12 AM
LinT
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Can I tell if an element is bad with an ohm reading? Also..in most cases the top element is different than the bottom, right? (i have an extra one that fits in the bottom) Thanks again
 
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Old 10-13-05, 08:13 AM
LinT
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oh yea..it is STONE COLD! (doesnt feel good in the morning!)
 
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Old 10-13-05, 08:15 AM
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Yes, you can tell if an element is bad with an ohmmeter. You'll need to shut off the breaker and then disconnect the wires from the element before testing it.

In my experience, both elements are the same. But your water heater may be different.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 08:20 AM
LinT
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I did all that and i got a reading of 16.5 on the bottom element (exact same as the new element) and a reading of 56.5 on the top element) Thats why I wasnt sure if it was the thermostat or the element.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 09:08 AM
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If the resistance of the T-E is approx 60 Ohms, then the current thru the element would be 220/60 = 4 amps.4 amps X 220 volts = 880 watts ( approx)

The rating of the Branch-Circuit that "feeds" the W-H is probably 30 amps. 30 X 220 volts = 6600 watts ( approx).
 
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Old 10-13-05, 09:22 AM
LinT
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you lost me
 
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Old 10-13-05, 09:43 AM
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Replace the top element.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 09:54 AM
LinT
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That I understand!! Thanks for all your help, I'll post back tomorrow with an update!
 
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Old 10-13-05, 10:01 AM
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Remember, turn the power off before you start. Then drain the tank first (or at least drain the water enough to be below the top element) before removing the element. And most important, completely fill the tank BEFORE turning power back on. You will burn out your brand new element if you apply power before the element is completely in water.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by LinT
I did all that and i got a reading of 16.5 on the bottom element (exact same as the new element) and a reading of 56.5 on the top element) Thats why I wasnt sure if it was the thermostat or the element.
Turn the thermostat for the top heater element to its lowest setting. Turn the thermostat for the bottom element up to 140 degrees. Run the washing machine on a hot water wash cycle. Take a voltage reading at the bottom element (voltage readings are not always worthless) when the washing machine stops filling up with water. You should have 240 volts present at the heater element's terminations when the the heater element is bad or good.

An ohmmeter will show a good element even if there's a hole in the element, which renders the element useless.

Best way to test an element is with an amp meter.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 12:36 PM
LinT
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Update!

OK, i went home during lunch and swapped out the upper element. Filled up the tank, turned on the power and.....same thing. I get 240 at the top but not the bottom element or thermostat. Maybe it takes a few minutes to turn on??? So if its not the top element..whats next on the list?
 
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Old 10-13-05, 12:38 PM
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Read my previous post! You may not have to run the washer if the water in the heater is already stone cold!!

Is there 240 volts on the supply side of the lower element's thermostat?

The lower element is usually the workhorse and requires replacement before the upper element.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 12:39 PM
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Well you should see 240 volts at the top element, until the water heats up.
 
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Old 10-13-05, 01:27 PM
LinT
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I was wondering what the washer had to do with this I'll check it again when I get home. I'll check for luke warm water and for power to the bottom element.
 
  #18  
Old 10-13-05, 01:37 PM
LinT
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Update

OK..i couldnt wait any longer so I called the wife and asked her to check for hot water...first she got startled by the air in the line but then....HOT WATER WOOHOO!!! thanks to everyone for all your help on this.
 
  #19  
Old 10-13-05, 01:39 PM
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Glad your water is hot. When you get home, make sure that the temperature is not too hot and also make sure that the seal around the element is not leaking. You may also want to make sure that the bottom element is working properly.
 
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