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Electric water heater won't power on


bluesbreaker's Avatar
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01-12-18, 12:55 PM   #1 (permalink)  
Electric water heater won't power on

I have a Whirlpool 50 gallon electric water heater. It's exactly 2 years old. It's model# E50R6-45 100

A couple nights ago, the hot water went out. The next morning, hot water came back. I decided to power off the water heater and flush the tank as part of the annual maintenance. We have hard water in Arizona. I also installed new elements since these are relatively inexpensive.

I talked to an engineer at the thermostat manufacturer. He said on this model, you can't tell from the red button position if it tripped. He says if it clicks when you press the button, then it tripped. So in my case, he says the upper thermostat ECO button did not trip.

I made sure the tank was filled with cold water, then I tried switching the water heater circuit breaker ON and OFF a few times. The water heater won't even turn on. The thermostats and wiring connections look ok and correct.

Could I have a bad water heater circuit breaker or bad lower thermostat? The breaker switch had not moved position

I have toggle switch circuit breakers. What happens when it trips? Does that stiff switch actually move to the OFF position?
It would seem to take a lot of energy to move that stiff spring in the switch.

I don't have a multi meter.

 
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01-12-18, 02:09 PM   #2 (permalink)  
I have a Whirlpool water heater and the control board went bad, so you may have a bad control board.

Edit: After looking at that model it doesn't appear to use a control board.

You need to get a multimeter to trouble shoot the problem.

 
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01-12-18, 02:45 PM   #3 (permalink)  
I wouldn't even know what to buy in multi meter, such as specs, capabilities, what is measures? Then I have learn how to use it

 
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01-12-18, 02:49 PM   #4 (permalink)  
You can buy an inexpensive analog meter from the home improvement stores.
One example from the depot....... Gardner-Bender-14-Range-Analog-Meter


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01-12-18, 03:18 PM   #5 (permalink)  
Hey. I was just removing the upper thermostat to replace it. I was thinking why is the tank wall still warm with circuit breaker turned off about 24 hours and a tank full of cold water.

Hot water is still coming out of the tap. So it sounds like circuit breaker is malfunctioning even though I moved water heater toggle switch to OFF position. Late last night, indoor lights flickered and this morning garage door opened really slow like when when you get a power interruption.

 
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01-12-18, 03:23 PM   #6 (permalink)  
The water can stay hot for a long time and it will be at the top of the tank.
It's so hard to troubleshoot anything electrical without a meter.

You may have an issue with the 240v power in your home. Is there anything else that operates on 240v and is it working ok ?


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01-12-18, 03:29 PM   #7 (permalink)  
I did turn the circuit off and on today a couple times for maybe 30 minutes at a time. I don't know. What else runs on 240 volts and I'll check

 
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01-12-18, 03:42 PM   #8 (permalink)  
Clothes dryer, A/C, range....... if electric.


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01-12-18, 03:58 PM   #9 (permalink)  
You really need someone to check the voltage coming into your panel to see that you have 120V across each leg. When you mentioned the issue with GD opener and lights I'm wondering if you have a feeder problem to the house.

 
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01-12-18, 04:11 PM   #10 (permalink)  
Clothes Dryer, HVAC, kitchen range, microwave, refrigerator, desktop PC power supply, garage door opener....................all ok.

Either way, I have to install same or new upper water heater thermostat anyway. So to be on the safe side, I undid the wire nut connections on water heater junction box. I'll have to do the 'cold water express' again tonight for showering.

The thermostat access cubby holes weren't warm earlier today. So I don't see how turning on water heater briefly could warm it up that much. I don't know. It just seems that circuit breaker is turning on and off by itself. I might be wrong.

What if I just replace the water heater circuit switches? It's not that complicated is it?

It might help to know that I hear none of the typical water heater tank sounds that start shortly after turning on power.

 
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01-12-18, 07:54 PM   #11 (permalink)  
I believe you are chasing your tail. A meter is needed to check the voltage and the thermostats and the heater elements.

 
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01-12-18, 08:12 PM   #12 (permalink)  
It's very rare for anything to go bad in the water heater in two years.
Much more likely to be a 240v supply problem.


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01-13-18, 11:40 AM   #13 (permalink)  
I tried switching the water heater circuit breaker ON and OFF a few times. The water heater won't even turn on. The thermostats and wiring connections look ok and correct.

How long did you leave the circuit breaker on? How do you know the water heater never turned on? From a cold start this time of year it could take almost an hour to start getting hot water from an electric heater, did you give it a full hour to heat?

 
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01-13-18, 01:28 PM   #14 (permalink)  
I think your right, Patten. For awhile there I was chasing my tail. But I think I'm on the right track now.
And I'm not afraid to admit that a couple of my earlier observations were probably wrong. I no longer believe my water heater circuit breaker malfunctioned. And I must have turned the power on long enough while testing to heat the water.

And now I learned how to safely change a circuit breaker if I ever need to.

I have a flushed out tank and new elements. So maybe that helps the water heat a little faster?

I'm reading about multi meter now. I won't use one till I learn more about it. I'd rather buy a moderately priced model and not a cheap one.

Water heater tank is up and running now. I had a lightly used upper thermostat with ECO button from before. So I swapped that out on the current tank. Let me run it a for a few days, and I'll report back

 
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01-13-18, 01:48 PM   #15 (permalink)  
I'd rather buy a moderately priced model and not a cheap one
slkdfj
A cheap analog one will do everything you need. While a moderately priced model will look cooler and may have a few bells and whistles, it will not perform any better then the cheap analog meter. If you want to drop some money on a good "pro" meter I would recommend these which are not affected by phantom voltage and have built in protection:

True RMS digital multimeter for any toolbox | Fluke 113

Ideal Industries - 660 Amp Clamp Meters


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01-13-18, 02:15 PM   #16 (permalink)  
Everyone on this forum knows more about these things than I do.

BUT - I will tell you - we have a tank-less water heater and at some point in 2017 we no longer were getting hot water. The problem started over time. Sometimes in the daytime we would get hot water- but never first thing in the morning (cold sowers). Turns out the problem was - we needed to replace 2 D batteries !

Are batteries even in the picture in your scenario ?

 
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01-13-18, 08:06 PM   #17 (permalink)  
Checked out those product links you both sent. Thanks

No my model does not use batteries. Seems unusual.

Speaking of cold showers...................Some years ago I had to do what I call the 'cold water express' for more than a week during winter. Try to explain this one.................I actually started liking it.

I don't know, maybe something to do with embracing adverse circumstances or making the best of a situation.

 
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01-16-18, 12:32 PM   #18 (permalink)  
The water heater has been running fine since I brought it back into operation Saturday. I don't know what caused the hot water failure and electrical anomalies last week. No recurrence since. I might already have a compatible multi meter. I included photos below.

This is a Pro AM multi meter originally issued to me as part of a desktop computer repair class in the early 2000's. The product literature says it can also be used for the maintaining services for industrial and home appliances. I believe I learned enough to do very basic troubleshooting of the circuit electrical panel.

I assume the function dial should be set on ACV 750 for circuit breaker/electrical panel troubleshooting?

Can I use this model for circuit breaker/ electrical panel troubleshooting if needed in the future?

Don't worry. I will still read more about safe multi meter use.

Attached Images
      

Last edited by bluesbreaker; 01-16-18 at 01:15 PM.
 
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01-16-18, 05:44 PM   #19 (permalink)  
The AC and DC scales are pretty self explanatory. Always set the meter to the next scale over what you intend to read. If you don't know..... start at the highest setting and work down. The red section is DC amps. It would be rare for you to use that. The meter should never be set in the red area or the 10A probe port used as the probes are basically dead shorted internally for current measurement. The ohms scale starts at 200 ohms for locating shorts. As you go up in scale towards 2000k..... the meter becomes very sensitive. A high setting would be used to determine leakage if you had a GFI circuit tripping. You don't want the meter in ohms when you are reading voltages.

For testing water heater elements..... 200 ohm. (with no power on)
For testing 240v..... 750vac scale.

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01-16-18, 08:51 PM   #20 (permalink)  
Ok. Thanks very much for the additional explanation. If I have any other questions, I'll either figure out for myself or post a question on the forum. Done.

 
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