hot water headache


Old 11-25-04, 06:07 AM
The Learner
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hot water headache

I have a 50 gallon eletric hot water heater that was installed new by a friend 2 years ago. It never worked properly.
It would require reseting of the high temperature shut off system daily
About a week ago the switch didn't need resetting- but the water was only lukewarm. I suppose one heating element burned out? This morning both elements are non functioning and the breaker is tripped.

Repeated attempts to enlist the local repairmen have been futile.

Shame on me for:
1) Not knowing all about hot water heaters
2) Not fixing it sooner.

Could someone help me undrestand how this thing works so I can Repair/Replace it.

Thanks for your time
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Old 11-25-04, 06:23 AM
majakdragon's Avatar
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The Learner, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
Normally the lower element is the "Worker" element. It does the majority of the heating. The upper assists when needed such as when the tank is used continually.
Setting the thermostat should not be a daily or even weekly task.
The breaker being tripped tells me that a short occured and if you are not electricly inclined it is best being left to a qualified person. 220 doesn't forgive.
The elements can be replaced and a new thermostat also. You have to decide if the price of these items is more than it is worth.
Please have the electric checked. This is not something to be left unattended.Good luck.
Old 11-25-04, 06:27 AM
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Sounds like a bad upper thermostat and maybe a loose wire. If one tstat goes bad, I always just replace both, and you can easily replace both yourself.
1. Turn OFF the breaker to the water heater. It will be a 20 or 30 amp double breaker. If you're not certain, test the water heater connections with a voltage meter before touching.
2. Check the wire connections at the top of the heater and make sure that they're wire-nutted tight. The bare wire goes to the green ground screw, and it doesn't matter which insulated wire from the panel goes to which wire on the water heater...both are 110 volt HOT. (There is no neutral, even though one wire from the panel may be white.)
3. Remove the upper and lower side panels, and get a good look at the layout and number of screws on the tstats (make a sketch if necessary).
Go to a store and get two just like them (does not have to be same brand).
4. Remove the wires ONE AT A TIME from the old tstats and put them on the same screw on the new one. Tighten the screws down on the wires as tight as possible.
5. Adjust both tstats to the desired temp, replace the covers, and turn the breaker back on.
You should have hot water in a little while. If you're still having a problem, come back on this same thread and we'll go to Plan B with the elements, but I think that the tstats might do it.
Good Luck!
Edit: Happy Thanksgiving, majak! Here we go again. LOL
Old 12-03-04, 01:53 PM
The Learner
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Hot Water Headache

My Headache is gone!

I went to the circuit box to kill the juice to the water heater and found out that the circuit breaker had been tripped once too often. Upon replacing it and fixing the short in the water heater that I assume caused it- we're in buisness. Thanks for helping me. you all are awesome.
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