Question about Water Heaters

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Our water heater is doing the same thing. . Before I replaced the board I checked the elements, both were about 13.5 ohms, after checking I made sure to replace all insulation and closed the access covers and the added insulation blanket around the whole water heater. this did not fix this problem so replaced the board, the new board is doing the same thing. going into overtemp shutdown (flashing 2 times). This started a few weeks after the electric utility installed the new "smart meters" on the house. how can I check the sensors to see if they are reading correct. if the lower sensor is reporting too low a temp the controler will stay on till the upper sensor detects an over temp. or how is an over temp caused?

Posted by Anonymous on


1 Answer


1) You have given good diagnostic information ... except brand and model number of water heater are missing.
Locate this information on label on side of tank.

2) 2 flashes for high temperature indicate you have Whirlpool or Craftmaster Energy Smart.
You have dual element 240V tank-type electric water heater with electronic control board and temperatures sensors.
Sensors can be ordered separately for $30 each.
Sensors seem like best suspect since elements test out and you have new control board.

3) Did you test elements for short to ground through center of element?

4) Energy smart requires 10 gauge wire and 30 amp breaker. If wire or breaker are undersized, then I would expect chronic problems with electronics. I believe the requirement is so element draw or other factors don't starve electronic control board.

5) How it works: Energy smart is non-simultaneous water heater. Non-simultaneous means upper element turns on first. When upper temperature sensor is satisfied, control board cuts power to upper element and sends power to lower temperature sensor and element. So both elements are never ON at same time. Lower element runs until lower temperature sensor is satisfied. I do not know decision tree for how microchip processes the information.

6) I have examined this water heater and read the manual. I wrote following page, but have not conducted electrical testing on unit simply because it is controlled by micro-chip.

7) Sample Energy Smart manual:
Manual does not show how to test temperature sensors, but manufacturer might have more information. Manufacturer might have information how changing meter can affect their electronics.
I would guess undersized wiring would have greater impact than electricity turning off for 1 minute.
Whirlpool 1-877-817-6750

8) 4500 Watt elements should test 12.3 ohms, so your elements check out fine.
Be sure to test for short to ground by setting multimeter to ohms, remove wires from element, and test each screw to bare metal part of heater and to metal base of element.

9) The water heater industry changes very fast, so current manual is best place to start troubleshooting.
If you have different brand than shown above, then open following link to identify manufacturer's website:
Add a comment if you need help finding information

10) Post question on professional water heater forum for more eyes on same question:

Add a comment for more free help.
Also take advantage of fixya phone service.
For a price, expert speaks with you over phone while you work on water heater or any do-it-yourself project.
Fixya is always less expensive than a service call.

Posted on Feb 13, 2011

Testimonial: "Thanks, sorry about the ommision, I thought I was on a page for the whirlpool ee3j50rd045v and that was understood in my post. Thanks again for such "

  • 3 more comments 
  • Anonymous Feb 14, 2011

    You probably were on that page, but when questions arrive in 'hardware' department, we don't always see exact product. Fortunately, I have studied this water heater, and your diagnostic description was very good. I notice that people sometimes post specific computer questions under chain saws. That suggests page headings are confusing. Fixya is continually changing for the better. Stop back for your next DIY project.

  • Anonymous Feb 14, 2011

    I have checked both elements from the control board and they read 13.3

  • Anonymous Feb 14, 2011

    Remove wires from elements when checking ohms. Your reading is low, but both elements test same, and number is close, so my guess is elements are fine. Key point is those elements will produce hot water, but tank is overheating because 1) elements are shorted to ground and heating water with 120V to ground 2) temperature sensor(s) are misreading temperature 3) Control box is misreading sensor information or not turning off elements. Quick element test: remove ground wire from green screw. I would buy 2 sensors, and replace lower sensor. Is this tank under warranty?

  • Anonymous Feb 20, 2011

    Well, still happening so I called Whirlpool customer service, This unit is 6 years old and had been working fine, The old controler did NOT have a reset button on it, the new one does. The board had been redesigned since this unit was installed. it turns out that in the redesign the location of the upper and lower element connection was reversed. I hooked up the new board like the old board. When the control board would turn on the lower element the upper element would heat just the top of the tank till over heat while the lower sensor was still cool! in the installation instructions there is no note about the change in the board, it just says to connect the yellow and orange wires where shown by the markers on the devider. THE MARKER IS PART OF THE MOUNTING AND IS NOT CHANGED WITH THE CONTROL BOARD! I downloaded a new owners manual and their is a drawing that shows the connections and labels the left relay "orange" and the right one "yellow".
    Thanks for all the help.

  • Anonymous Feb 20, 2011

    That is amazing story. Your persistence paid off, and now others visiting fixya will benefit from your experience. I think you should post your story on the Tank forum so water heater professionals can see: It might make a difference:



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1 Answer

Checking water heater elements

[1] Switch power OFF at main board.
[2] Remove cover to electrical of heater
[3] With test-meter on OHMS, check across each element for continuity. Should be low reading.
You will have to temporarily disconnect each if they are parallel connected.
In case its your thermostat, check that too for continuity.
0 ohms or close to it.
When water is cold, thermostat is closed, 0 ohms.
When water is hot enough, thermostat opens, infinity ohms.


Nov 17, 2017 | Water Water Heaters

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Can you wire up the heating element in a hot water heater wrong

you can indeed here are the steps to check you eliment

Turn off the breaker inside your main electric panel providing power to the water heater. Most electric water heaters use a 30-amp double-pole circuit breaker.
2 Look for the panels attached with screws to the side of the water heater. Depending on the size of the water heater, you will have one or two panels. Remove the screws from the panels to release them.
3 Remove the insulation you exposed when removing the side panels. Depending on the age of the water heater, the insulation is fiberglass or closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam. Wear safety goggles and gloves when removing fiberglass insulation.
4 Pull the plastic safety cover from the element face. This cover snaps on and off the element and thermostat.
5 Hold a noncontact voltage detector next to the wires connected to the element face, and next to each wire connected to the thermostat. If electricity still is present in the water heater, the voltage detector emits an audible alarm and its light flashes.
6 Loosen the two element screws. Remove the wires from beneath the screws. Make a note of the element wattage printed on the side of the element face.
7 Turn the dial on a multimeter to Rx1k (resistance times 1,000 ohms). Touch one of the screws on the face of the element with one of the multimeter probes; place the remaining probe on the remaining screw. A 3,500-watt element should register 16 ohms, a 4,500-watt element should register between 12 and 13 ohms, and a 5,500-watt element should register between 10 and 11 ohms. Replace the element if it does not register on the multimeter.
8 Leave one of the probes touching one of the screws on the element face. Touch the other probe to any metal part of the water heater. If the multimeter needle moves, the heater element is grounded, and it must be replaced. Make sure you test both screws on the face of the element.
9 Touch each screw with one of the multimeter probes. Place the remaining probe against the metal base attached to the element where it enters the water heater. The element is bad and must be replaced if the needle on the face of the multimeter moves.
10 Attach the wires back to the face of the water heater element. Snap the plastic cover back over the thermostat and the element. Reinstall the insulation and attach the panels to the side of the water tank. Turn the breaker on to the water heater.

Things You Will Need
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  • Gloves
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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.

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Hot water element

Make sure wires are removed from element when ohm-testing.
Watt and voltage rating of element appears on end of each element.
Volts squared divided by watts = correct ohm testing.
Two-element water heaters are rated for 240Volts, but can be wired for 120Volts.
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1 Answer

Ge electric water heater. 3 years old. keep tripping reset. both elements show 13 ohms, with no gronding out condition. help!

Have you replaced the thermostat they will short out and keep tripping to they go bad. Check the ends of the elements also for any bad places. Ran along this a few times and it ends up being a bad thermostat causing it to trip. You will reset it and it may last a day or more and keep resetting it and eventually it will short out or burnt out. So please check it out and this helps you.

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I have a 50 gallon Rheen 9350-2 Electric water heater and it does not want to heat water very fast or one of the heaters (top or Bottom) is not working. How can I check to make sure that the top or bottom...

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Energy smart hot water heater not giving ample amount of hot water both elements ohm at 12.5

For images and product information
For manual

You checked ohms, did you check for 240V across lower element when lower element is turned on?

Energy smart electric water heater
has a control box on top of unit. Water heater does not have typical thermostats that can be tested and replaced. Temperature sensors located above each element send information to control box through small black and red wires. Temperature sensor sells for about $40, but there is no test listed that shows how to determine when sensors fail.

Potential problems:
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1 Answer

To check the elements hot water hearter stop heating.whirlpool electric

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If the water heater has two elements the top element should be checked first. When a Whirlpool heater has two elements and the top goes out this will cause the water heater not to heat at all.
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Hot water runs hot for afew seconds then goes cold

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Have you done a reset on the board?

The reset function is used to restart the Temperature Control System after an error condition has been detected and
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before normal operations begin. This takes approximately 10 minutes.

Then do the following if the flashes don't stop.

1. Make sure upper and lower access doors and insulation are
properly in place
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