Circuit breaker issue - please save me

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Old 01-17-19, 01:23 AM
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Exclamation Circuit breaker issue - please save me

Newbie here, and I am hoping someone can help or point me in the right direction. I am so confused and frustrated with this issue I am having. This specific task I did is something I have done several times over the years. By no means am I even close to an expert when it comes to electricity/wires/breakers... Anyway I recently moved in to a new place. The hot water in the house started to run out extremely fast and just didn't seem to be performing well. After investigating I saw that it was the original hot water heater and this house was built in 2006 (so approx. 12-13 years old). The anode rod (AKA "sacrificial rod") had never been replaced. The water in this area is not great and fairly hard. So I wanted to do the basic maintenance of replacing the anode rod and both heating elements. I looked up the model number info so I could get OEM replacement parts. The instructions said to turn off the power to the hot water heater. I found the outside breaker box/panel, and it was already properly labeled H/W heater. The breaker is a Cutler-Hammer 2-pole circuit breaker (not sure that matters). Anyway I clicked it over to the "off" position, went back inside and verified with a multi-meter that it was safe to do my work. After draining the H/W heater and swapping out both heating elements, refill the tank, I went back outside and clicked the circuit breaker back to "on"....here is where all the confusion and frustration starts to happen. Almost immediately the breaker clicks back over to "off" position. I try it once more just in case but with the same result. I could only assume I messed something up on one or both of the heating elements, but there are only two wires and two places they go. I read that the wires can go on either screw on the elements. I tried switching just in case, again same results. I wanted to try and isolate the issue. I disconnected one heating element to see if it was the culprit, same result. I disconnected both heating elements, same result. I started thinking maybe it was just bad luck or timing and that maybe one of the thermostats went out.... I went to GOOGLE and found recommended test for continuity for each thermostat and both showed good. At the top of the hot water heater I saw where the romex wire was tied in. I figured I would start at the source, I disconnected all three wires. I thought with them all disconnected and separated not touching anything that there should not be a "load" and that I could click the breaker back to "on" and go from there, but I be damned if the breaker didn't click back over to "off". So now I put myself in a bad position. I took a hot water heater that may not of been producing the best hot water but now I have it producing no hot water. I am taking off work because we still have 2 days in this week and if my wife does not get to take a warm shower, well lets just say that won't end well for me...Please tell me what I can do, try or something... Any recommendations. I can take any pictures you think will help. Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 01-17-19, 02:30 AM
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Gee and not a single paragraph to make it easy to read. Tried to read it. Does the breaker hold with the wires connected to it disconnected?
 
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Old 01-17-19, 02:57 AM
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The breaker trips with nothing connected.
 
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Old 01-17-19, 03:59 AM
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The problem is in the wires between the breaker and H/W heater. Disconnect the 2 hot wires at H/W heater and breaker panel. Using a multimeter, verify infinite resistance between 2 hot wires and each hot wire to ground. You mention going outside to operate the breaker. Is the breaker in a waterproof cabinet?
 
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Old 01-17-19, 05:23 AM
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Sorry the paragraph structure was so run together ☺️. I typed it up on notepad and pasted it in webpage message box.

Yes the outside panel is weather proof. When it gets light out and the rain/drizzle letís up I will try posting a video or a YouTube link that shows what it is doing with the wires on H/W heater side disconnected.

Then check the resistance you mentioned.
 
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Old 01-17-19, 05:49 AM
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It's not likely you have a problem with the wiring and could be something as simple as a bad breaker. I would try disconnecting the wiring at the breaker and then try to reset the circuit breaker. If it still trips you have a bad breaker. Did you actually reset the breaker by pushing it firmly into the "OFF" position till you heard and felt it reset before turning it back on?
 
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Old 01-20-19, 11:40 AM
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Thank you everyone for your help and recommendations. After all the troubleshooting it did turn out to be the breaker. In the end I turned off the MAIN and clicked the breaker back and forth from ON/OFF. After that it stayed ON. I went ahead and ordered a replacement since I figured it would just be a matter of time.
 
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Old 01-21-19, 04:23 AM
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Was the hot water heater load connected to the suspect breaker when you got it to stay in the ON position?
 
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