Whirlpool electric water heater: Lukewarm after main breaker replaced


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Old 03-15-13, 07:33 AM
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Whirlpool electric water heater: Lukewarm after main breaker replaced

I have an 8 year old Whirlpool Electric 2-Element Water Heater. Worked great until yesterday morning, woke up to COLD water.

Saw that circuit breaker was tripped, reset breaker so mother in law could take shower. 20 minutes after breaker reset, I felt that the breaker itself was hot, so I flipped it off. Even so, mother in Law was then able to take a normal HOT shower.

Last night I pulled the breaker panel, both wires for the water heater had been inserted into the breaker, but the screws had never been tightened! White wire had an inch of semi-melted insulation. 8 year old house!!

Anyway I trimmed/cleaned checked everything, reinstalled/reset breaker, and had WARM water in 10 minutes, didn't wait to see if it got HOT. Breaker is 100% ever since, so AssuMEd I was good to go.

Problem (Finally): This morning water was lukewarm. Breaker still good, so I took long shower and water remained lukewarm for 20 minutes. Mother in law called it "cold"

The owners manual indicates the only "Reset" type thing on the heater is the red "High Limit Control" button, so I'm afraid the shenanigans of the past 2 days might have fried something.

From other posts here I see I should probably run a shower, wait 30 minutes, run another, or do some kind of "cycling" like that to get more info, but I'm at work and more family will be here tonight, so any help is appreciated!

I don't know much about water heaters (except what I just read here today) but am good with a multimeter and basic plumbing and fixing things with a hammer.

Any advice? Fried upper or lower thermostat maybe? Element? What would you check first? Maybe a cheap part I can go ahead and buy on my lunchbreak just in case?

Sorry for the long post, and Thanks!!
 
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Old 03-15-13, 08:21 AM
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It is possible that the breaker tripped from the heat of the wiring.

However..... it sounds more like a water heater issue.
If you have some hot water then the problem is most likely an upper thermostat or element problem.

It may be that the top thermostat is stuck internally in the transfer position and only the bottom element is being activated.

It's going to take a volt ohmmeter to diagnose the problem. You will need it to check for 240 VAC on the element(s) and to check the elements for an open or "leak" (short) to ground.

I've attached a typical wiring diagram.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 09:30 AM
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Many thanks for the advice and the wiring diagram!!! For sure I have plenty of lukewarm water, so what you are saying is making sense somewhere in my thick skull


It's going to take a volt ohmmeter to diagnose the problem. You will need it to check for 240 VAC on the element(s) and to check the elements for an open or "leak" (short) to ground.
No problem there, will do tonight and once it's hot I'll reply with what the problem was.



One more (bonus? maybe dumb?) question if anyone has the time..

>Should the top thermostat ALWAYS pass electricity (transfer?) through to the bottom thermostat/element?
>Or is the top thermostat designed to only transfer to the bottom when it isn't powering it's own top element? To prevent both elements from pulling amps at the same time I guess?
 
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Old 03-15-13, 10:16 AM
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>Should the top thermostat ALWAYS pass electricity (transfer?) through to the bottom thermostat/element?
On most water heaters, no*. It passes current to the lower element only when the top element is off. Both elements on at the same time would likely trip the breaker.

*There are heaters that use both elements at once but they are rare and breaker would probably be greater than 30 amps
 
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Old 03-18-13, 06:46 AM
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Many many thanks PJ!!!

Upper thermostat was the problem as you suspected. Even better, I had my wife run get an upper thermostat and one element right after your post because we had a full house of family from out of town showing up that same evening.

So after work I crawled under the house with the multimeter, your wiring diagram, and parts and was in the (HOT) shower myself 30 minutes later! Also got HUGE points with wife and in-laws

I owe you one, if you need any expert advice in my areas let me know! I am great at skydiving, thermoforming plastics (PVC, Kydex, polycarbonate; make your own sheaths, holsters, whatever) and crashing motorcycles.

Blue Skies!!
 
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Old 03-18-13, 10:05 AM
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You're welcome. Thanks for stopping back and updating us
 
 

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