need help with electrical problem!

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  #1  
Old 04-25-12, 08:18 PM
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need help with electrical problem!

50 gallon ge electric heater with 2 5500 watt 220v elements
it has an old fuse panel with 2 switches (one for the upper and one for the lower heating element) with 2 30 amp screw in fuses underneath each switch (4 total)

my sister was doing dishes while i was at work and said the water got scalding hot then went cold. when i got home i measured resistance of the upper heating coil and the reading was out of limits.

i proceeded to replace both coils (i figured i may as well do both while the tank was empty) and the upper thermostat switch just because i figured it had stuck on causing the failure (and it was cheap). I filled the tank up and bled all the air out. turned the switches for the heater on and i have nothing.

i checked the fuses and found a bad one on the upper heating element and replaced it with a new one. i measure resistance of all the other fuses and verified they were all good.

at the water heater, im getting 120v when measure from neutral to ground. also 120v from hot to ground. nothing or very little when measuring from hot to neutral. im still grasping the theory of ac 220v but the 120 between neutral and ground is alarming to me.

Im thinking the upper heating element switch at the panel is bad (open on the neutral)...im still learning ac current but to me this seems to make sense...could someone point me in the correct direction please?
 
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Old 04-25-12, 08:28 PM
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at the water heater, im getting 120v when measure from neutral to ground. also 120v from hot to ground. nothing or very little when measuring from hot to neutral. im still grasping the theory of ac 220v but the 120 between neutral and ground is alarming to me.
A fifty gallon water heater as described wouldn't have a neutral.

with 2 5500 watt 220v elements
it has an old fuse panel with 2 switches (one for the upper and one for the lower heating element) with 2 30 amp screw in fuses underneath each switch (4 total)
Fuse boxes don't have switches. A water heater would have only two 30a fuses. What you wrote doesn't make sense.

Im thinking the upper heating element switch at the panel is bad (open on the neutral).
If the water heater is 240v it doesn't have a neutral and it alamost certainly is 240v.

What you have written doesn't really make sense. Can you try to clarify what you have written. Can you post pictures of the fuse box. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...-pictures.html
 
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Old 04-25-12, 08:39 PM
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ok, i think i understand why its not making sense to you. im thinking of it like its 110v. where the neutral normally would be is now a hot wire as well, correct? im sorry im being misleading...not trying to be x

i wish i could upload a picture of the "water heater control cabinet" but it definitely has 2 switches/circuit breakers with 2 30 amp screw in fuses underneath each one.

http://jimspearsfusebox.tripod.com/help/oldfusebox.jpg <-kind of like that
 
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Old 04-25-12, 08:51 PM
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that is the actual fuse box/cabinet
 
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Old 04-25-12, 09:32 PM
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where the neutral normally would be is now a hot wire as well, correct?
That is correct but I am still totality baffled.
but it definitely has 2 switches/circuit breakers with 2 30 amp screw in fuses underneath each one.
Circuit breakker panels don't have fuses and fuse panels don't have breakers.

You pictures aren't valid URLs. Perhaps a picture will help. Try uploading to Photobucket or Imageshack and include the URL that ends in "JPG" that is labeled "direct link".
 
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Old 04-25-12, 09:39 PM
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sorry about that, i hope this one works.

i guess its a fuse panel but i keep wanting to call it a circuit breaker because it takes the place of the circuit breaker. sorry im confusing!
 
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Old 04-25-12, 10:05 PM
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Does kind of look like switches not circuit breakers. You are in the US aren't you? Your going to have to wait on the pros. I have never seen anything like that.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 10:34 PM
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thank you so much for trying to help me, i really do appreciate it. i am in the us and i just figured it out. i swapped the upper heating element switch/fuse assembly with the lower heating element switch/fuse assembly and now i have warm water (for a little while atleast ). the crazy thing was even after i turned the big 200 amp breaker off it was still getting power. about **** myself when the hot wire arched to the cabinet.

time to upgrade those switches to a normal circuit breaker style...thanks again!
 
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Old 04-25-12, 11:01 PM
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Check back for what the pros say even though you have it working. I am curious about a more complete explanation of what you have and I'm not sure it is correct even though it works.
 
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Old 04-25-12, 11:19 PM
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i have a friend who is an electrician, ill have him come check it out within the next couple weeks. im supposed to be out of town this weekend but ill be sure to give you an update. it makes sense to me i just think it is really outdated, the house was built in 1935. it is kind of scary that a couple of those wires have power unless i have the electric company shut it off though...that cant meet any sort of building codes lol
 
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Old 04-26-12, 05:15 AM
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I have never seen one of those either. The whites on the one side looks strange. I would have expected a white and black pair on each.
 
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Old 04-26-12, 05:38 AM
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i just think it is really outdated, the house was built in 1935.
Your fused disconnect panel looks typical for that time. In fact, the combination of a "kill switch" with the fuses is rather high end. 30A sounds right for the overcurrent protection.

The one confusing thing to me is that the wires are attached with both blacks on one fuse block and both whites on the other, and I'm guessing that each fuse block supplies one of the two elements. I'm also guessing that line in is at the top and load out is at the bottom. Is that correct?

Where is the line power coming from? Can you check the wire colors and connection pattern there, and possibly post a picture of that?
 
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Old 04-26-12, 08:12 AM
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thats what was confusing me as well. i too, thought it would have 2 whites and 2 blacks on each side. im CERTAIN the top right black wire is live, the line in. i had turned the master circuit breaker off thinking that it would cut power to this as well...nope. i would imagine you are right with all the line ins are on the top.

i cannot see where the line in is coming from, it goes behind the wall. i do not like that! today ill go check it out and see if i cant find anything and try and post a useful picture.

another thing i dont understand is at the hot water heater i only have 3 wires going into it. where did the other wires go??!
 
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Old 04-26-12, 09:16 AM
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another thing i dont understand is at the hot water heater i only have 3 wires going into it. where did the other wires go
Do you mean two hots and a ground? That is what confused me about four fuses. Normally there are two fuses, one for each hot.
 
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Old 04-26-12, 11:16 AM
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another thing i dont understand is at the hot water heater i only have 3 wires going into it. where did the other wires go??!
Given that you have
2 5500 watt 220v elements
it has an old fuse panel with 2 switches (one for the upper and one for the lower heating element) with 2 30 amp screw in fuses underneath each switch (4 total)
you should have two hot wires per element. Plus at least one ground.
 
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Old 04-26-12, 04:40 PM
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In most cases a electric hot water heater will only run one element at a time. That is why you normally have only one 30 amp feed.

It is also normal to get 120 volts from one 240v hot to ground/neutral. That is why you get 120 volts in a 120 volt circuit.

I would like to see a diagram/picture of how the water heater is wired.
 
  #17  
Old 04-26-12, 05:45 PM
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50 gallon ge electric heater with 2 5500 watt 220v elements
it has an old fuse panel with 2 switches (one for the upper and one for the lower heating element) with 2 30 amp screw in fuses underneath each switch (4 total)
i proceeded to replace both coils (i figured i may as well do both while the tank was empty) and the upper thermostat switch just because i figured it had stuck on causing the failure (and it was cheap). I filled the tank up and bled all the air out. turned the switches for the heater on and i have nothing.
Today's GE water heaters are sold exclusively by Home Depot and are made by Rheem, GE doesn't make water heaters, today. But, many many years ago GE did make water heaters with a coil type element that wrapped around the outside of the tank, under the insulation. I suspect you have a very old water heater. They weren't very efficient and took a long time to heat up, but they lasted a long time because there were no immersion elements. Can you post a picture of the entire unit? If in fact you do have a very old heater manufactured by GE, I would suggest you replace it with a new modern water heater.
 
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