Question about RELIANCE ELECTRIC WATER HEATER

# Is the lower element suppose to have two legs of 120 to it? Or do i need to move a wire up top to make it 240? as it is on top element.

Posted by Anonymous on

You have water heater with two elements.
Two-element water heaters are 240Volts.

1) Lets talk about what makes a 240Volt circuit
See basic water heater circuit:
http://waterheatertimer.org/B220C.html

Open link, and illustration at top of page is your water heater circuit

Notice that two insulated wires come from the circuit breaker and go to the water heater.
These two wires are 120volt each. When these two 120Volt wires combine, they create 240Volts
These are called hot wires because they come from the hot busbars.
There is also a bare copper wire that comes from neutral busbar.
The bare copper wire is a safeguard, and is not necessary for the 240V circuit to work.

Inside each circuit breaker box is 1 neutral busbar, and 2 hot busbars.
Open image below, and it shows typical residential breaker box
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Inside-Main-Breaker-Box-420.jpg

In a residential home, each circuit takes two wires to complete the circuit.
For 120Volt circuit, you need 1 neutral wire and 1 hot wire to complete the circuit. These are usually a black and white wire. The bare copper wire is a safeguard.
For 240Volt circuit, you need 2 hot wires to complete the circuit, and each hot wire comes off a different busbar. These can be a black and white wire, and sometimes a black and red wire. The bare copper wire is a safeguard.

With a 240Volt water heater the two hot wires connect to the black and red wires located on top of water heater.

2) Let's talk about wiring inside a water heater.
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/WH-w-combined-530.jpg

Open image on link above, and it shows your 240volt water heater wiring.
The 2 hot wires from breaker box connect to the red and black wires on top of heater.
Inside each water heater, the wires are color-coded and will appear the same, or nearly the same, as shown on link above.
As long as your wiring appears like the image, and the hot wires from breaker box connect correctly, and the circuit breaker is working fine, then your water heater will work.

3) More electric water heater links about water heaters, thermostats and tank wiring:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-electric-water-heater-works.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-water-heater-thermostat-works.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-wire-water-heater-thermostats.html

Posted on Dec 29, 2010

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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## Related Questions:

### Water Heater Issues

An electric water heater contains two elements (usually upper and lower). Normally hot water is maintained at a certain temperature to assure an immediate supply. When hot water is turned on at the fixture, the second element is turned on to boost the temperature. From your description one of the heating elements may be defective or set to incorrect temperature.

Apr 28, 2017 | Water Heaters

### I have a problem with a state 30 gallon hot water heater,the tank states 240 v but there was only 120 running it ,it has one element ,everything was working until the outside water well pump quit since the...

Thermostat is rated 120-208-240-277 volts.
Element will work with any voltage too, no matter rating on label. It will burn at different temperatures at different voltaGES.
Any voltage should run water heater.
http://waterheatertimer.org/Figure-Volts-Amps-Watts-for-water-heater.html

Push in reset button.
Make sure tank was full of water before turning power ON. Or element will instantly burn out.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-electric-problems-with-water-heater.html#new

Are you testing voltage across top two screws on element.
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Upper-thermostat-w-wire-a-2.jpg
Or are you testing each leg to ground?
http://waterheatertimer.org/images/Inside-Main-Breaker-Box-12.jpg

Gene
h

Oct 31, 2013 | Water Heaters

### Not getting 240 volts to lower element- have replaced lower element and both thermostats. get 120 on each leg to ground but no 240

If your top element is bad the the lower element will never turn on be cause the top element completes the 240 circuit. It is like a resister in a circuit. Make sure top element measures out at 13 ohms.

Dec 24, 2012 | Rheem MR50245 Marathon Electric Water...

### POWER PROB: I have an 85 Gal. Marathon water heater and I'm having some power issues. I have 240 Volts coming into the water heater and on the "upper" element but I only have 120 Volts on the...

It sounds like upper or lower thermostat.
Thermostats turn off one leg (or one wire) in the 240Volt circuit, so each elements will test for 120V even when thermostat is off.
When thermostat turns ON, it closes circuit by adding the second leg to 240V circuit, and element turns ON.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-wire-EH40-hot-water-heater-timer.html#120-240
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-water-heater-thermostat-works.html

Take 30 minutes and troubleshoot before replacing parts:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-electric-problems-with-water-heater.html

Jan 11, 2011 | Rheem Water Heaters

### I replaced all parts but water heated won't get hot

You have electric water heater.
You replaced elements and thermostats but heater still won't work.
And tank was completely full of water, and water was running out of a faucet before turning power ON.
If elements are not fully immersed in water, they will instantly burn out.
If upper element is burned out, then tank will have NO hot water.
If lower element is burned out, and upper element is not burned out, then tank will have some hot water.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-test-water-heater-element.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-it-works.html

If elements did not burn out, then that leaves 1 main suspect: the electricity.

1) Push in ECO red reset button on upper thermostat. If ECO is tripped out, then heater will not work.

2) Click circuit breaker all the way one direction and then back the other direction to make sure breaker is latched.

3) If tank has 2 elements, then it is 240volt.
If 1 leg of 240Volt circuit is not working, then 240V appliance will not work.
240Volt circuit needs both hot wires to complete the circuit:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-wire-EH40-hot-water-heater-timer.html#120-240

Buy cheap multimeter from Home Center and set dial to 240-250-277VAC
Tape tester leads to woods sticks to keep hands away from power.
Power is ON
Test across top 2 screws on upper element should show 220-240 volts.
If you have 240 at top two screws, then skip down to step 6.
If no reading across top two screws, then move to top of tank.

4) Open connection point where wire connects to heater.
Test across both insulated wires should get reading of 220-240 volts.
If no reading, move to circuit breaker box.

5) Mark water heater breaker.
Turn off all breakers except water heater breaker and main breaker. (and breaker to light fixture where box is located)
Do not hold or touch or lean against anything metal.
Stand on dry boards and wear dry clothes.
If main breaker is OFF, the big wires that connect to main breaker are still HOT.

Remove box cover.
240Volt breaker has 2 wires connected with screws.
Test across both screws for 240Volt.
See if wires are loose.
If there is no reading, then breaker is not working on one leg.
To double check, move water heater wires to another same-size 240V breaker and then put ear against water heater to listen for bubbly-fizzing sound.

6) If you are getting 240 to water heater, then wire inside tank could be loose.
Do 30 minute troubleshoot:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-electric-problems-with-water-heater.html

Add a comment for more free help.
Also take advantage of fixya phone service.
For a price, fixya expert speaks with you over phone while you work on timer.

Jan 09, 2011 | Rheem 40 GAL ELEC TALL Water Heater 6YR SC...

### I have replaced the bottom element,and now i have no hot water. I check with a meter and have power to the top element but not the bottom one.

First of all, you have 240V water heater because tank has two elements.
You have no hot water, and tank has power to upper element.
Lower element has no power.

Something doesn't sound right.
You're not testing correctly.

Before doing anything, test across top two screws of upper element for 240Volts.
This will eliminate electrical problem as suspect.
Breaker must deliver 120V on both legs to complete the 240V circuit.
Every single-phase household circuit takes 2 wires to complete the circuit.
With 120V you need 1 neutral wire and 1 hot wire to complete circuit.
With 240V you need 2 hot wires, one from each hot busbar, to complete circuit.
Your water heater can appear to have electricity if breaker is delivering power on one leg of the 240V circuit.
To check breaker for sure, move wires to another similar size breaker to see if water heater functions properly.
http://waterheatertimer.org/B220C.html

If 240V circuit is good, then next thing is take 30 minutes and do full test of water heater parts.
This will identify exact problem(s) without guessing.
Buy 5\$ multimeter from Home Depot. Install battery.
When test calls for continuity, rotate dial to Ohms (upside down horseshoe is ohms).
When test calls for testing voltage, rotate dial to 240-250-277 VAC
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-electric-problems-with-water-heater.html

Add a comment for more help.

Dec 28, 2010 | Rheem Water Heaters

### I just bought a 10 yr. old Schult mobile home and after moving it to a new lot, I have no hot water. The heater is an Intertherm. I checked incoming voltage and it is ~120v, and the plate says 240v. My...

The incoming voltage should be 220-240. Check voltage across terminal that power supply is hooked to.Each incoming leg should read 120 to ground and 240 across . Check to see that thermostat is turned up to highest setting,usually 140 degrees,and check reset button to make sure it stays in in position. If you push reset in and it pops right back out you probably have a bad element. Check elements by going across terminals when you know element should be on.Hope this helps you. Thanks

Dec 19, 2010 | Water Heaters

### I TURNED ON POWER TO MY NEW ELECTRIC WATER 40gal MODEL # GEM402 AFTER FILLING WITH WATER. WATER WOULD NOT HEAT UP. CHECKED THREMOSTATS BOTH WERE PRSET AT 120 CHECKED POWER,BOTH HOT WIRES HAVE 124 VOLTS TO...

The controls of electric water heaters are designed so that at no time are both the top and bottom heating elements energized. Nearly all electric water heaters of this capacity in the US & Canada (other places, too) operate on 240 Volts.

When the water in the tank is below the set point of the thermostat (in your case - 120 degrees), the top heating element is expected to be on - (unless there is an issue with the top thermostat or limit switch). The top most control is the "high temperature limit". It is identified by the reset button on it. Make sure this isn't tripped by depressing the button. If it clicks - it was tripped and should start to make hot water at this point. If not tripped, you should check for the presence of 240 Volts between the heating element terminal screws. Do not measure from ground to a terminal screw and believe 120 Volts is "good". To make heat, you need 240 Volts - not 120 Volts measured across the terminals - not to ground. The amount of heat created running at 120 Volts is only 1/4 of what it will do at the correct voltage.

If you don't measure 240 Volts on the top element, check the bottom element in the same manner described for the top element.

If unable to measure 240 volts on any element, either there is a problem with the power source (blown fuse or circuit breaker), high temp limit switch, or thermostat(s).

If 240 Volts is present on either heating element, and water is not warm / hot in 30 minutes or so, a defective heating element is suspect. You can change controls without draining a tank, but replacing elements will require draining the tank first. Do not power the water heater without first filling it.

You can read a very detailed "how to" article about checking water heaters here.

I hope this helps - and good luck!

Nov 04, 2010 | Rheem 40 GAL ELEC TALL Water Heater 6YR SC...

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