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Bradford White Water Heater Model: M165R6DS13

Water temperature very hot, even when I turn the thermostats down. Water is steaming hot.

65 Gal
240 volt
top element 4500 Watts
bottom element 4500 Watts

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Immediately turn off power to heater. One of two things has happened. Either: A. The electrical contacts in one of the thermostats has welded together, necessitating replacement of the thermostat(s). (in this case I would recommend replacing both upper and lower thermos) or B. The lower element has burnt through, and because there is 120 volts to the lower element at all times (it normally only heats when the thermos complete the circuit to give it a path to the other "hot", putting a full 240 volts on it) a section of the element will continue to heat up to the point where the break allows the current to complete it's path to neutral ground via the water in the tank. It can continue to heat until the high limit safety thermo trips out. (the red reset button on the upper thermostat)
If either condition exists, the high limit safety thermo should trip out power to the heater before boiling water, and thus steam, is produced. Even if the safety thermo should fail to cut power, the pressure / temperature relief valve should open, releasing excessive pressure. If that should also fail to open, due to corrosion or such, the water heater will create steam and can actually result in explosion, and possible injury or death!
Several years ago I came across one that was boiling and when I turned on a hot water faucet to relieve the pressure it filled the entire basement with steam. (I still shutter to think if I didn't catch that fast enough I or someone else could have been killed)

The most likely cause of your extra hot water is actually the lower element. After you turn off power to the heater, turn off the water supply to the heater, open a hot water faucet to allow air to enter the tank and drain the tank. Remove the lower element. A bad element is usually visually apparent. If it looks good, you would have to test it with an ohm meter. (should be about 20 ohms if it is good) Install new element, turn on water and fill until water flows steadily from the hot water faucet you left open. Now you can turn the faucet off and turn power back on to heater.

Posted on Feb 15, 2009

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