Question about Water Heaters
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
SOURCE: no hot water
If the water does not heat, then you have to troubleshoot to find the problem. With a voltmeter determine if 240VAC is actually getting to the water heater. Take care here - a defective circuit breaker can give a false 240 volt reading - check for the 240 volts across the upper element (i.e. when the 240 volts has a live load on it, not just an open circuit test).
Also, remember, the upper element has priority over the lower element, and if the water is cold, the upper element will try to turn on and this locks out the lower element (only one element is allowed to heat at any given time). The lower element comes on ONLY after the upper thermostat is satisfied. Therefore if the upper heating element is burned out you will never get any hot water. If you suspect this, TURN OFF THE POWER TO THE HEATER and take a resistance check of the upper element.
Posted on Nov 17, 2008
SOURCE: limited hot water
Some checks are surely possible but PLEASE make sure that the 220VAC is absolutely shut down.
In a home we built in 1977, circuit breakers were improperly marked and I, with decades of experience, believed I had turned off the power to our water heater only to find that it was still 'hot' and blew away a screwdriver tip before thinking to check across terminals to see if the voltage was in fact OFF.
You may have the same problem I had twice over ~30 years; that the lower heating element is open/failed. These typically will gather a coating of mineral deposits and eventually be unable to transfer their heat to water fast enough to avoid overheating and failing.
The limited hot water comes from the fact that the thermostat is checking for temperature at the exit point of the heater; the top. The thermostat turns on both elements but with only the top one still working it heats 10-15% of the tank capacity and then shuts off.
With your meter set to the lowest Ohms scale (typically 200 Ohms), measure across the element terminals. You should measure pretty much a short since the elements have an extremely low resistance; on the order of 10-20 ohms, if you measure anything that goes 'off-scale' on the 200 ohm range (normally blinking), the element is shot.
Don't forget to drain the tank before pulling out the element!
If you are in the US, near any city, check your white pages for: Johnstone Supply or check their website to see if one is near you.You will pay 1/3-1/2 hardware store prices for the replacement element - buy two, store the second one. They are 'wholesale' to the trade but have never been refused.
If you don't feel like wading through their extensive website, you can take the element with you and they can give you what you need.
Posted on Jan 25, 2009
Sounds like you have a faulty thermostat. This is the unit that detects the water temperature, and if it is not where it is set, will kick the switch to allow electricity to flow to the elements you replaced. The thermostats are relatively cheap and if you have the knowledge to change the elements, changing these thermostats should not be a problem.
Posted on Mar 07, 2009
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