Electric Water Heater shorting out the breaker

Old 10-27-11, 11:36 PM
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Electric Water Heater shorting out the breaker

I'm a journeyman electrician, and also do all my own plumbing, including replacing several water heaters in my day, but I'm trying to diagnose this one for a friend before condemning it. It is old, the serial number says 1990.

He bought a house, and I've been helping him fix it up to rent it out. So the history of the water heater is unknown. I've rewired the house, and have also tested the wires to the point of connection with the heater. It is a 30- or 40-gallon (based on remembering how big it is) with upper and lower elements as usual. I don't remember the brand at the moment, but it wasn't what I remember as being a popular brand like GE or A.O. Smith.

When everything is connected, the breaker trips immediately upon resetting. If I disconnect the wires at the top of the water heater, the breaker stays on. But, I get "OL" on my meter when I test the resistance of the wires going down into the water heater, both in testing them to each other or either to ground. That's the part that makes no sense to me. How can I have a short with "OL" for resistance?
Old 10-28-11, 05:18 AM
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So, your friend wants to rent out a place with a water heater that's old enough to vote? Has he never been a landlord before? He should save himself a ton of grief and extra expense and replace that relic now while it's convenient.

As for your question, I have one that's almost too painful to ask: What does the meter read when the test leads are shorted to each other?
Old 11-14-11, 02:25 AM
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We had 40 gallon old electric water heater, and had the same problem.After we replaced the old rusted heating elements/rods inside it and a new thermostat.It was working good....

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