Testing Thermostat on 1992 Single Element American Water Heater


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Old 03-24-11, 04:56 PM
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Testing Thermostat on 1992 Single Element American Water Heater

I was trying to follow some directions I found online to test my thermostat. I have no hot water coming out of the tank. Both pipes coming out of the water heater are cold to the touch. The reset button is not popped out and no breakers have been tripped. I tried checking voltage across the red and black connections coming in and can not find any voltage. However by putting one multimeter lead on the green ground wire screw and the other lead on either red or black connection I see 120V. I was pretty sure this was a 220V appliance. Maybe since it's just a single element it's only 120? The model number is E1F40RS055V and the company website is waterheat.com. The only thing I can think of is I recently had to shut off power to the entire house so I could replace a dryer outlet and breaker. It was running solid for 19 years. Maybe flipping the power off like that just popped the thermostat?
 
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Old 03-24-11, 07:06 PM
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That you have a red and black tells me it is 240v. If it were 120 you would have a black and white. Are you sure you reset the breakers properly? If that is a 240v heater, you should show 240 when checking across the red and black. If you test either one and it shows 120, but not 240 tested together you have a bad breaker.
 
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Old 03-24-11, 07:17 PM
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SSK is correct sounds like a bad breaker.

Or some homes have this small double breakers. Make sure you flip the breaker off then on. Sometimes they dont look tripped, and possibly only one half the double breaker is tripped. Again it may not look tripped, but give a good off and on and recheck power.

Post back.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-24-11, 07:32 PM
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When I was working on the electric for the dryer outlet over the weekend I had turned all the breakers completely off then went outside and turned off the mains just to be double sure. In reverse everything was turned back on so I know the breakers have all been reset properly.

Earlier this evening I was thinking I could test the thermostat like I did the ones for the dryer so I had turned off what was labeled "heat" on the fuse box but discovered while poking around on the thermostat there was still power so it will take a little fiddling to find the right one that turns it off.

Before I go back let me just reiterate that I had the red lead of the multimeter on the red connector of the thermostat (top right slot) and the black lead of the multimeter on the black connector of the thermostat (top left slot) and got no voltage. But putting the black lead on the ground screw and the red lead on the red connector I get 120v. Leave the black lead on the ground screw and the red lead on the black connector I get 120v. Same story on the connectors on the element. 120v across connector and ground on either side but nothing when putting the leads on the red and black connectors. Same thing on the top connectors on the thermostat. No voltage when touching the red and black connectors but 120v if I touch the ground screw and either red or black connector.

I'll go track down the correct set of breakers. Odds are it's in the same neighborhood as the one for the dryer that fried because of a loose outlet connection.

Thanks for the responses!
 
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Old 03-24-11, 07:46 PM
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Yes its the breaker.

Mike NJ
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Old 03-25-11, 04:14 PM
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Found the breaker

I found the right set of breakers and flipped it again. This time I get 240v across the red and black connections. However as of this afternoon still no hot water. I can feel the hot water pipe coming out the top of the water heater is not completely cool like the cold water pipe coming in so I feel like it's trying to heat up. But after 24 hrs it should be hot by now. I did raise the thermostat a few degrees off the factory 125 degrees just to see if it would help but it hasn't. Could it be now that since everything was off for so long that the element itself has now failed? I guess I could turn it off at the breaker, remove the wires from the element connection, and test for resistance right?
 
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Old 03-25-11, 04:55 PM
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Did you give the heater time to heat up? It take 2 hours or so.

If you did wait some time, then yes you can remove power and remove one lead. I test using the continuity test on the meter.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 03-25-11, 05:18 PM
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2 hrs? lol I gave it 24.

I just checked the resistance and got 11.1 ohms on it. I know the elements aren't supposed to zero out but I can't find anywhere on the sticker that indicates what a normal reading is.

Funny thing, when I was turning off the breaker it felt like one of the 30 amp breaker switches had popped back open just a bit. Maybe I just got a bum breaker last weekend and it's just slipping back out enough to cause the water heater to not turn on. Kind of like my 120v on each side issue but nothing across the red and black themselves.
 
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Old 03-25-11, 05:59 PM
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when I was turning off the breaker it felt like one of the 30 amp breaker switches had popped back open just a bit.
Is this one 2 pole breaker or two separate 30 amp single pole breakers. It sounds to me like your problem is in your electric panel and hot the water heater. If you have two separate breakers, replace them with one 30 amp 2 pole breaker.
 
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Old 03-25-11, 06:04 PM
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That you have a red and black tells me it is 240v. If it were 120 you would have a black and white.
Typically, residential 240 volt electric water heaters are wired with 10-2 romex with one black conductor and one white conductor. The wires inside the water heater's wiring compartment would be red and black.
 
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Old 03-26-11, 01:11 PM
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I was starting to think the breaker was really at fault because it looked like one of the 30's was slipping out of the on position but as I was watching it today it actually flipped. It's because it's a tandem handle with another 30 that it's only getting halfway to off. This leads me back to thinking that the element has gone out. After 19 years who could blame it? Resistance checked out to 11 ohms but I can't find anything saying that is a normal reading. I know they aren't supposed to zero out entirely. I put the model number of the water heater in the first post of this thread if anyone else knows where to look that up at. Thanks again for all the help.
 
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Old 03-26-11, 04:25 PM
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I think the next thing I would do is reset the breaker and check the amp draw at the element. The amp draw should be no more than 24 amps, depending on the wattage of the element. If the breaker trips again with no more than a 24 amp draw you have a bad breaker. If the amp draw exceeds 30 amps you probably have a bad element. I'd think long and hard before putting any money into a 19 year old water heater. The best thing would probably be to replace it.
 
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Old 03-26-11, 07:05 PM
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I did the math on a 4500 watt element and the resistance I measured comes out correct. I don't have anything to measure 30 amps of AC. My little digital multimeter caps out at 10A unfused. Guess it's time to go shopping.

Either way when the breaker is on I get 220v as expected. I also get 11 ohms resistance as expected on the element. At this point I'm starting to think that there's something else wrong besides the breaker (which is brand new). Might be when the old breaker blew out it damaged the fuse box connections somehow.
 
 

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