Another electric water heater problem

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  #1  
Old 11-30-06, 09:33 AM
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Another electric water heater problem

My buddy next door is having a 120v electric Rheem water heater installed for a converted basement. The installer, a friend of my neighbor who's a GC, has everything hooked up but can't get the heater to turn on.

Here's the set up: There are two hot wires (120v each) and a ground running from a 30 amp double pole breaker. This breaker also feed exterior lights and receptacles.

From the breaker, he connected one of the hot wires to a switch before the water heater. He wire-nutted the other hot and left it loose in the switch box.

From the heater, he connected the hot wire to the other switch terminal and wire-nutted the other wire and left it loose in the box.

The grounds were wire-nutted and pigtailed to a screw in the box.

This is the strangest connection I've ever seen but what do I know.

His meter shows 118v at the heater. He's checked all the connections at the thermostat, hit the reset button about 100 times, but nothing.

Any help would be appreciated-- thank you.
 
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  #2  
Old 11-30-06, 09:35 AM
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What about the neutral?
 
  #3  
Old 11-30-06, 09:43 AM
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Hi Bob,

Thanks for the reply. I had the same question. He said it wasn't necessary.
 
  #4  
Old 11-30-06, 09:46 AM
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He's wrong.
 
  #5  
Old 11-30-06, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by findtheriver View Post
My buddy next door is having a 120v electric Rheem water heater installed for a converted basement. The installer, a friend of my neighbor who's a GC, has everything hooked up but can't get the heater to turn on.

Here's the set up: There are two hot wires (120v each) and a ground running from a 30 amp double pole breaker. This breaker also feed exterior lights and receptacles.

From the breaker, he connected one of the hot wires to a switch before the water heater. He wire-nutted the other hot and left it loose in the switch box.

From the heater, he connected the hot wire to the other switch terminal and wire-nutted the other wire and left it loose in the box.

The grounds were wire-nutted and pigtailed to a screw in the box.

This is the strangest connection I've ever seen but what do I know.

His meter shows 118v at the heater. He's checked all the connections at the thermostat, hit the reset button about 100 times, but nothing.

Any help would be appreciated-- thank you.
Call in a licensed electrician. This guy is either nuts or I'm really mis reading something. There are several code violations in this setup and from the sound of it, it won't work the way he has it wired.
 
  #6  
Old 11-30-06, 09:56 AM
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> two hot wires (120v each) and a ground running from a 30 amp double
> pole breaker. This breaker also feed exterior lights and receptacles.

This is very unsafe. General receptacles and lighting should never be on a 30A breaker. I think your friend is in way over his head.
 
  #7  
Old 11-30-06, 09:59 AM
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Thank you to all for confirming my concerns. The GC has put in a call to an electrician he works with so we're waiting on him. In the meantime, the GC is "sure" he can make this work as is. Yikes.
 
  #8  
Old 11-30-06, 07:35 PM
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Wink

120v Heater? Where does the 220V- 30A double pole breaker come into question?

Skeptical me , would first ask,, Why did your friend do this (if they had no clue)?
Secondly, If I'm a "GC" I have subs who know (and owe me),Why not get them?

I see now you have. Ask "your Friend" to be more carefull next time.

Hope it works out.
 
  #9  
Old 11-30-06, 10:36 PM
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In case anyone's interested, here's how things turned out:

A couple of things to clarify:

1. The 30 amp breaker is a subpanel that feeds the lower level of the house and basement.

2. The breaker used to feed a 220v stove as well as the lights and receptacles in the lower level, basement and exterior. The stove was removed long ago.

3. There were two #12 conductors and a ground going from this breaker to the area where the water heater was being installed (in EMT, which was capped off on that end). The GC thought they were both hot as they were both connected to the the conductor that used to feed the stove.

4. The electrician came and disconnected one of the two "hot" conductors and connected it to the neutral bus bar, leaving the other hot conductor connnected to the stove conductor.

5. This neutral and hot were connected to the neutral and hot of the water heater. The grounds were connected and it worked.

Not sure if this is correct or safe, and would be interested in any feedback.

This really is my neighbor's issue, by the way. I'm kind of the young guy on the block who "knows about the internet" (in their words). I'm extremely careful about passing along advice, and often do nothing more than recommend calling in a pro. But this is a working-class neighborhood, and a lot of the folks around here have been doing their own repairs for decades and are going to do it themselves anyway, so if they ask for help I'll come here and ask.

Thank you for all the suggestions and assistance.
 
  #10  
Old 12-01-06, 04:28 AM
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Converting a 240 volt circuit (two hot wires and a ground) into a 120 volt circuit (one hot wire, one neutral, and a ground) is quite safe, if done properly.

The circuit breaker needs to be sized properly for the load, and the wires need to be at least the right size for the load.
 
  #11  
Old 12-01-06, 06:15 AM
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Only thing I would like to add is that you mention that lights and receptacles are also on this circuit? Maybe I didnt follow quite right. Water heaters with storage tanks 120 gal. or less are continuous loads and conductors must be sized accordingly. Both overcurrent protection and conductor size must be 125% of the rated appliance amperage. You must take into account the water heater and the other non-continuous loads before you can safely use the #12. I suspect the heater requires a dedicated circuit. Most of the 120 volt undercounter type water heaters are from 1500 watts to 2000 watts. Anyway just concerned you may have other loads on the heater circuit that you should take into consideration.

Roger
 
  #12  
Old 12-01-06, 09:19 AM
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Bob and Roger,

This lower level is going to be a guest room of sorts for when my friend's kids come to town. When in use, it doesn't seem like there's going to be heavy demand- there's no kitchen, just a bathroom- but I know he'll keep an eye on the load because if the breaker trips you've got to head outside to flip it back on.

Thanks so much.
 
  #13  
Old 12-01-06, 09:33 AM
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I sure hope that this is a legal bedroom if he intends people to sleep down there.

If a proper sub [anel is in place then you may be okay, however, running any lights or regular receptacles on a 30 amp breaker is a fire hazard.
 
  #14  
Old 12-01-06, 05:39 PM
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I'll pass this information along, racraft. Much appreciated.
 
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