Question about Reliance Water Heaters

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The water does not heat, or does not stay hot for long, however if I turn the breaker off and then right back on again it will start to heat. It is a Reliance 501 electric water heater, it has worked great for aprox. 15 years.

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  • Reliance Master
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Hi,
This sounds like a bad electrical connection internally in the heater...
With a heater of this age, I would replace it...

heatman101

Posted on Sep 27, 2010

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There is some ambiguity in your statement. To be safe, it is a good idea to turn the breaker off to an electric hot water tank. However, to give a technical answer; if there is no draw on the system, then the tank will remain full of water, so no damage to the heating element will occur. Again, to be safe, you will certainly do no harm in turning the breaker off.

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It could be element shorted to ground through steel tank, so don't touch tank when breaker is ON.
Or you have undersized 12 gauge wire and 20 amp breaker and the heat has loosened breaker on the busbar. Breaker trips when heat exceeds breaker limit. Jiggle breaker and listen for crackling sound.

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http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-test-water-heater-element.html
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Take off front cover, on the top of the two cylinders in there (the heating system) there will be a small red button. That is the Safety Thermal Cut out, depress that red button. It is similar to a circuit breaker. If the red LED comes on when you turn on hot water at a sink then that was the problem. I have on that trips periodically. Its annoying but not enough to replace the part yet. Good luck.

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