Water severely hot after replacing elements - leaking

Old 02-21-12, 07:48 PM
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Water severely hot after replacing elements - leaking

Hey all,

After reading around here for a couple hours I can't seem to find an answer so here's my story. I'm by no means a plumber but I'm handy with a wrench and Ive gotten all my advice from my father who is a plumber. But he's a few hundred miles from me.

Anyway, about a month ago we lost all hot water. On his advice I replaced both elements. At the same time I turned up the temp one notch. I hadn't realized how bad our elements were. We ended up with very hot water. But we were happy to just have any hot water.

Fast forward a couple weeks. Suddenly every time we turn on a hot faucet we get a large rush of air. On top of this the water is severely hot. As in it will burn you if the cold isn't on. So I come to find out the upper element was leaking water. Slightly but enough to start flooding our crawlspace. We're now also experiencing some orange crud water on occasion as well.

So I replaced the elements again. This time with proper replacements. Proper size, watt, etc. The first time I replaced them I bought generic Lowes elements that were NOT the 3800 watt units. I believe they were a little bit higher rated. At this time I spilled water all over the insulation for the two panels and left them off.

Its been a few hours since replacing the elements the second time and the water is back to scalding. Its also still got noticeable air in the hot lines. On my last trip into this hellish crawlspace I also drained the heater completely and dialed down the heat to the coldest setting. But I hear the sump kicking on still which tells me the relief valve is still spilling incredibly hot water into the crawl. Which lately has been spilling condensation into the house. Ugh.

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

-lost all hot water
-replaced upper and lower elements
-element (upper) leaked
-replaced elements again with OEM rated units
-left with scalding hot water, air in the hot side (consistent - does not go away with time or after manually relieving pressure)
Old 02-21-12, 07:58 PM
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The scalding hot water sounds like one of the t stats is bad. Could be upper or lower but I often see the lower one fail.

After you changed the elements did you run the hot water before turning on the electric? This blleds all the air out.

Your relief valve is probably tripping because the water is getting over 150F.

Usually the breaker will trip. But cold water is entering it because of the relief valve and its probably not reaching the breaker trip temp which is I believe like 200+ degrees.

How old is the heater? May be more cost effective to replace the heater if 8-10 yrs old. They run about $300 or so.

You can actually test the parts with a multimeter to find the bad one.

Let me google that for you

Mike NJ
Old 02-21-12, 08:28 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply.
I don't mind throwing a few more bucks at this thing in hopes that I find the fix.
I did bleed the hot after changing the elements but still seem to have air in the system for some reason. If there was no new air being introduced into the system wouldn't we eventually bleed all the air by using the hot faucets?

I'm really not sure how old the heater is. The side has 2004 written on the side of it but who knows why. This is a rental from family and I'm responsible for repairs.

When I get to the point of replacing the heater I plan on hiring someone to just redo all the plumbing. Its just a mess right now.

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