Water heater over heated melting wires/insulation

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Old 12-21-18, 06:23 PM
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Water heater over heated melting wires/insulation

I just bought this house and everything was fine with the water then I noticed I could only take a shower for 10 minutes before the water would start turning cold. I read online that it can either be cause by a cracked or broken drip tube or a burned out element.

And because I'm a genius I decided to test the hot water elements by leaving the top element at 120 degrees and I changed the bottom element from 120 degrees to 130 degrees. My reasoning was that if it was the bottom element that was broken the water wouldn't get hotter than normal. After 24 hours the water did get hotter so I assumed that it wasn't the bottom element only to go down stairs and find a plastic burning smell.

I turned off the power to the water heater. Where do I go from here? It looks like I need to replace the top wire and the thermostat. Any help is appreciated, thank you!
 
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Old 12-21-18, 08:14 PM
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Did you unhook any of the wires inside the water heater?

A loose connection can produce enough heat to deform plastic parts as you have shown. This could have charred various parts inside the water heater while drawing only a small fraction of the amperes needed to trip the breaker.
 
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Old 12-21-18, 08:48 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Not an uncommon problem with a high current appliance. A loose connection creates intense heat.
You can replace the wiring with #10 THWN solid wire. The wiring inside now is a smaller gauge but the insulation has a higher heat rating.
 
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Old 12-21-18, 08:52 PM
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I did change the thermostat back in October if that is what you mean by unhooking wires. The black wire that seems to have over heated is still securely in place. Here is what it looked like before I replace it with the new thermostat if that helps.
 
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Old 12-21-18, 09:02 PM
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Okay how exactly would I go about replacing the wire. I tried to look up videos but haven't found any. Is it as simple as pulling the old one out and pushing new wire through the insulation. Or is some disassembly required? Thank you!
 
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Old 12-21-18, 09:02 PM
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I'm a little confused..... in your first picture of the top thermostat..... it's the feed wire that burned.
Your second picture is of the lower thermostat. There's no problem there.... is there ?

We replied at the same time.

You need to attach a new piece of wire to the burned one and pull it out of the top of the water heater thru the wiring access cover.
 
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Old 12-21-18, 09:27 PM
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There is no problem with the lower thermostat that I know of. That was a picture from back in October of the old thermostat before I replaced it. Okay I'll stop at a home depot tomorrow to pick up some #10 THWN solid wire. I'll post if I have anymore questions or trouble. Thank you so much!
 
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Old 12-23-18, 02:11 PM
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I could not pull the feed wire through the insulation so I just hooked the wires up outside the water heater. Now it doesn't seem to be functioning at all.

This is the wiring of the top thermostat
Upper Thermostat

And this is what the bottom looks like
Lower Thermostat
 

Last edited by mysto; 12-23-18 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 12-24-18, 07:05 AM
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You didn't mention the make of your heater but on my Sears heater I only have a hi-temp limit switch on the upper one, your last pictures show the limit switch on upper and lower.

Maybe some are made that way?
 
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Old 12-24-18, 09:52 AM
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That confused me too but I did more research and it looks like the thermostats of my water heater are wired as "Off -peak water heater thermostats"

How to wire water heater thermostats (its the third one down)

I have double and triple checked the wiring and neither of the thermostats are working. I am using 2 different thermostats because I'm waiting for a new one from amazon but I don't see why that would cause it to not work. Any ideas?
 
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Old 12-24-18, 10:02 AM
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I'm waiting for a new one from amazon but I don't see why that would cause it to not work.

The thermostat in the first picture is an Apcom and the other picture looks nearly the same. The best electric water heater thermostats are from a company by the name of Therm O Disc and are marked TOD.
 
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Old 12-24-18, 10:21 AM
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Typically the power is brought in to the top thermostat where it is sent to the top element or the bottom thermostat. It looks like yours is not wired like that. That means your water heater can have both elements on at the same time. That requires a much larger circuit unless those are smaller than normal elements. I'm guessing there are four wires in the connection area at the top rather than the customary two.
 
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Old 12-24-18, 11:45 AM
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I've never seen nor heard of anything like this, I don't get out much.


http://waterheatertimer.org/images/O...uence-1400.jpg



Apparently you can't attach a photo bigger than a dime now.


mysto, have you ever checked to see if you have 240 V anywhere?
 
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Old 12-24-18, 01:29 PM
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Sorry..... that attachment system has an issue. It may be a few days til it's fixed.
 
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Old 12-24-18, 01:37 PM
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@Baldwin dumb question how do I check to see if I have 240 V?

@PJmax There are only 2 hot wires in the connection area at the top I think what you are referring to is https://imgur.com/a/QWGlixw (Simultaneous water heater thermostats)
This is how my thermostats are wired https://imgur.com/a/6FPYoUW (Off -peak water heater thermostats)

I tested the elements with a multi-meter and the top one was 15 ohms and the bottom one was about 12 ohms so they seem to be fine

I've also tested to see if power was coming to the thermostats and it was coming to both of the hot wires on the top thermostat and the one hot wire on the bottom thermostat. I don't know if this is a valid way to test it though.
https://imgur.com/a/wweENEn
 
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Old 12-25-18, 04:29 AM
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@Baldwin dumb question how do I check to see if I have 240 V?
... it was coming to both of the hot wires on the top thermostat ...

Sounds like you do. Put one probe on L1 and the other on L3 it should show 240V.
My peanut brain tells me you'd have to also use a ground but you don't. Don't ask, I have no idea.

I'm guessing that top thermostat is bad, not sure if that'd melt the wires though.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
 
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Old 12-25-18, 01:18 PM
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Yes you are right I tried L1 and L3 and it didn't work I probably need a ground. I ordered 2 new thermostats so I'm going to replace the top and bottom one and report back when I have. Merry Christmas!
 
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Old 12-30-18, 12:42 PM
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So I replaced both thermostats with new ones and unfortunately it still doesn't work. I even tested both screws on the heating element to see if it is getting power and it looks like both the upper and lower heating elements are getting power. I'm not really sure if that is a valid way to test them though. The only other thing I can think to do is replace the heating elements. Any thoughts?
 
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