WH troubleshooting


  #1  
Old 10-07-15, 03:47 PM
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WH troubleshooting

Moved daughter into her first house last weekend and she just called to ask about hot water; lukewarm at best she says right now. When we were moving her in wife noticed water very hot, so I checked the WH and it was set @ 150 (top & bottom). Reset both to the factory 120 setting and didn't give it another thought.
Talked her through bumping up the lower element, but I'm waiting to see if it is heating. Nothing done to upper one. After she switched the breaker back on I told her to listen at the unit for any sounds and she couldn't hear anything, so I'm not sure it's operating. Had a late thought about a tripped reset on the thermostat so called her back, but she says there is no button of any kind on the thermostat. I thought that was pretty standard. This is a State Industries model #ES640DORTG (at least that's the number she read me from the data sticker).

She's going to call back in an hour to report progress, but am I missing anything here?
 
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Old 10-07-15, 03:50 PM
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Did you have her remove the upper cover and look for the reset or did she only look under the lower cover?
 

Last edited by Furd; 10-07-15 at 03:55 PM. Reason: added missed word
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Old 10-07-15, 03:56 PM
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I didn't have her pop the upper cover. Maybe there's a reset up there? She has the manual and did a browse but saw nothing mentioning the reset.

She set the lower one tick higher, probably 130 degrees. Waiting to see if it gets warmer.

Side note: The house has a jacuzzi tub in the guest/hall bath, so I'm guessing the previous owner had the WH @ 150 degrees because of that. Seemed like an awfully high setting to me.
 
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Old 10-07-15, 04:15 PM
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No word back yet, but my brain is running in thinking mode. Maybe the lower element is dead and the previous hot water (before I lowered both stats) was all upper element with both stats set @ 150? Make any sense or match the symptoms?

BTW, I think the unit is 8-9 years old, so nowhere near new.
 
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Old 10-07-15, 05:07 PM
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The high temperature cut out is ALWAYS located above the upper element thermostat. I have never seen an electric water heater that has a high temperature cut out on the lower thermostat.

The operation of an electric water heater is to first energize the upper element to heat the water in the upper third of the tank. Once the upper thermostat is satisfied it opens the circuit to the upper element and closes the circuit to the lower thermostat. The lower element is then energized to heat the water in the lower section which through thermal currents eventually warms the water from the bottom to the top. When the lower thermostat is satisfied all power to the elements is off.

Under normal conditions the upper element never is energized after the initial heating. Only when the amount of hot water used is so much as to trigger the upper thermostat is the upper element energized. If this happens too often the user will likely have the situation of "running out of hot water" and this is a signal that a larger heater would be desired. Note well that a larger heater does not automatically use more electricity because the tanks are very well insulated and the standby losses quite low. The larger heaters simply allow you to use more hot water without it going cold. The cost of operation is entirely dependent upon how much hot water you actually use. This is why I always recommend 80 gallon electric water heaters if you have the room to install them.

Raising the temperature setting of the thermostats will in effect give you a greater supply of hot water. The reason why is that you will need to blend in more cold with the hot to lower it to a usable temperature. Something else to consider is that 120[SUP]o[/SUP] is a dandy temperature for breeding bacteria, including Legionella. Raising the temperature to 140[SUP]o[/SUP] will kill almost all bacteria. However, the higher temperatures are definitely a safety hazard, especially to children and older adults. For this reason some jurisdictions require a "tempering valve" to be installed at the heater outlet. This valve automatically mixes cold water with the hot and sends the mixture to the house faucets.
 
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Old 10-07-15, 06:32 PM
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Thanks, Furd. A lot of that I already knew or USED to know before my aged brain started to dump old data. I DID think the thermostats were generic, so thought there would be a reset button regardless of which was being looked at. Had her pull the upper panel earlier after you asked whether we had opened the upper panel, and TA-DA, there was the reset. When she pushed it I had her pay attention to whether it clicked or had a sensation of resetting and she said no. Will see tomorrow if back to temp, but she said toward the end of her rather cool shower she thought she could feel a bit of warmth in the water.

I notice factory settings tend to be 120. Regarding your remarks on bacteria, etc, that temp seems counter-productive.

No children or older adults (unless you count me), so we could set it a bit higher; she's watching her budget and I thought the 150 it was set at was wasteful.
 
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Old 10-08-15, 06:16 AM
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Maybe the lower element is dead and the previous hot water (before I lowered both stats) was all upper element with both stats set @ 150
The easiest way to troubleshoot is from a cold start. From a cold start the upper thermostat MUST be satisfied before the lower element will come on. If that lower element is bad, you can have nice hot water, but for a short period of time. You can start a nice hot shower and the water will be cold before you can finish the shower.
 
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Old 10-08-15, 07:40 AM
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Right. After giving it some thought I figure somehow it's completely dead, otherwise she would have had at least short period of hot water before it went cold. From her description it was cold from the start. Not sure what could have happened with simply dialing down the temp on the two stats on Saturday. Heading over Saturday with my multimeter and plumbing tools. Was okay having her pull breaker and fiddle with settings over the the phone, but she has no way to do electrical checks. Will post back what I find. Told her this was The Joy of Home Ownership 101.
 
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Old 10-12-15, 04:39 AM
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Well, that was a non-event. Got over there Friday night and after getting a bite to eat took a quick look. First thing I found was breaker off (oops). Apparently the last time I had her turn it off and fiddle with stat setting she didn't flip the breaker back on and I didn't think to say, "Are you sure you turned the breaker back on?". Not a wasted trip, had to take her a lawn mower anyway and she got a pretty good lesson in the bargain. Looks like when I made the initial temp setting change the previous weekend I didn't look close enough at the scale on the stat and moved it to where the pointer pointed at 120. Unfortunately the "120" was BELOW the actual tick mark for that temp, so I probably had it down to about 110 or lower.
 
 

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