Electric water heater ongoing nightmare

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Old 11-16-19, 08:55 AM
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Electric water heater ongoing nightmare

Whirlpool E2F40RD045V 40 gallon water heater. Undetermined age.

Recently moved into an older house in need of serious renovation. Redid most of the plumbing and drains. Original water heater remains.

Issue began with water not getting hot enough. Heater provided a steady amount of lukewarm water, warm enough for a shower with just the hot water turned on. Then it stopped providing warm water.

Ran tests on the thermostats and elements (unit has upper and lower). Found upper element to be bad. Replaced it, which brought the lukewarm water back for a day, then cold water again. Replaced upper thermostat, and though the old one tested good, it brought back the lukewarm water for a day. Today, it's cold again.

Voltage tests at 244V. No leaks. Thermostats and elements currently test good, but water is cold. I'm at a loss as to what could be causing the issues.

Any help is appreciated, as always.

az in SC
 
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Old 11-16-19, 09:53 AM
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There are only four components. Two thermostats and two heating elements. Either they are working or they're not.

Only one heating element can be on at a time. When everything is cold and the heater is turned on the upper thermostat sends power to the upper heating element and no power is sent to the lower thermostat or element. When the upper thermostat reaches the set temperature it turns off the upper heating element and power is sent to the lower thermostat. When cold the lower thermostat will turn on and send power to the lower heating element and turn off when it reaches it's set temperature.
 
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Old 11-16-19, 10:02 AM
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Top thermostat and element are new (this week) and pass impedance test. Bottom thermostat and element are old but also pass the tests. Replace the bottom thermostat and element?

Why would the unit stop working the day after replacing a part?
 
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Old 11-16-19, 01:05 PM
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Is the water completely cold or does it just get cold very quickly? If the latter, you may have a broken dipstick. The long plastic tube that pushes the incoming cold water down to the bottom of the tank so it does not quickly cool down the nice hot water at the top, that you are using.
 
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Old 11-16-19, 01:55 PM
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It may be time for a complete replacement.
There should be a date on the ID sticker. If not..... post the serial number and I'll tell you how old it is.
 
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Old 11-16-19, 03:20 PM
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Water was lukewarn for a day. Then cold the next.

serial # 0903T403770
 

Last edited by allenzachary; 11-16-19 at 03:50 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-16-19, 04:27 PM
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0903 = manufactured January 2009
 
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Old 11-17-19, 05:25 AM
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You said the top thermostat and element "pass impedance test". Switch your meter to check for AC voltage. When the heater is running test to see if 240 volts is getting to the screws on the top heating element. If not, then see if 240 v is getting to the top thermostat. If it is then you can check the outputs of the thermostat to see if it's sending power out.
 
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Old 11-28-19, 12:10 PM
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Update

Voltage tested at 246 Volts. All components passed impedance tests (measured at 12-13 ohms).

Had a plumber visit, replaced the water heater (myself) at his suggestion.

Same issue.

Had a second (different ) plumber visit, who suggested I needed an electrician.

Electrician visited. He said breaker panel and water heater were new, other 240V appliances worked (stove, AC, furnace) so 240 was working through breaker box. The only old part left was the drop, so it was replaced. Still getting 240V at water heater, still lukewarm water.

There are no single stem faucets in the house. There are two handle faucets on the bathroom and kitchen sinks as well as the shower. There is a separate feed to the washing machine. Also we have a second, newly designed bathroom which is still under renovation, with stub outs for a double sink, toilet and a single stem shower (although there is no faucet installed).

Today I made discovery quite accidentally. The shower gets steaming hot and stays hot *IF* the bathroom sink is running cold water. Maybe that is a big hint?

Any ideas?

Scratching my head.

az in SC
 
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Old 11-28-19, 12:33 PM
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Oh, one more detail. When (brand new) shut off valve is shut off at the water heater, cold water runs from the shower (tub) spout when the hot faucet is opened. It should not have any flow at all as I understand.
 
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Old 11-29-19, 07:33 AM
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Maybe you answered this question already, but do you get hot water in other fixtures, like the bathroom sink, kitchen etc?

I assume from your question that you have a single handle shower valve. All the ones I had would not provide any water when one side is shut off. You said you got very hot water when the cold water in the bathroom was on. That alone tells me that your hot water tank is heating water OK so you can stop testing elements. You could let out a little from the hot water tanks drain to confirm this, if you haven't done that already.

My weak understanding of single handle valves is that when one sides pressure is reduced, it shuts down the flow on the other side to prevent scalding. In your case you reduced the flow of cold water to your shower (by turning on the cold at the sink) and got hotter water at the shower. I can't get my head around that but it sounds like the incoming flow to the shower valve might be reversed (hot to cold, cold to hot). Not sure if that can be done by inserting the cartridge wrong or if the pipes coming to it would need to be reversed. Perhaps others can chime in on that.

Anyway, confirm to the board if you get hot water anywhere else in the house and as I said, that observation alone will help determine if this is a hot water tank problem or a plumbing problem.
 
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Old 11-29-19, 08:19 AM
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Sounds like a mixing valve issue.. cold water is crossing over into the hot side somehow.Either a failed thermostatic shower valve or some other point of crossover.
 
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Old 11-29-19, 09:21 AM
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You said that you redid the plumbing so I would go back and check everything to be sure that you did not make a mistake.

Also if there were valves that you shut off during the upgrade make sure that you reopened them.

And yes if you shut off the cold supply to the hot water tank nothing should come out the hot water taps after the pressure in the tank drops which is usually less than a minute.This is assuming the tank is in the basement and the taps are upstairs.
 
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