Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Electric Water Heater Problems

calijen818
calijen818 Member Posts: 2
My electric water heater went out in my rental condo about 10 days ago, and it was replaced with a 50-gallon Bradford White electric water heater (model # M250S6DS-1NCWW).  Since it was installed, my tenant has been getting intermittent hot water and, for last 4 days, no hot water at all.  I have had the plumber out 3 times as well as an electrician -- they have confirmed the water heater is properly installed and the heater is receiving electricity.  The manufacturer will not replace the water heater, and sent out a technician last evening who said it was a faulty breaker -- he actually told me to replace the 30 amp with a 140 amp which is obvious he didn't know what he was talking about.  Regardless, I had the breaker replaced with a new 30 amp (though it was working properly and registering voltage) and still no hot water.  The manufacturer now wants to send a second technician to troubleshoot.  In the meantime I have to compensate my tenant for each day she is stuck without water.  I am getting to point of desperation and contemplating getting a new heater altogether, even though this one is a mere 10 days old.  Here is what we've tried so far:



- Verify connections and piping properly installed

- Verify electricity coming to upper heating element (cannot verify lower heating element, I am told they will not be on at the same time)

- Adjust thermostat on both upper and lower heating elements

- Replace 30 amp breaker with a new 30 amp breaker and verified voltage (240 volt at both the breaker and the water heater)



We have 2 plumbers coming back out this afternoon along with the manufacturer's technician.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time!

Comments

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,446
    Amp Clamp

    After the correct voltage is verified, that's 120 hot to ground on both legs and 240 hot to hot. I would check the amperage on each leg. It should match the wattage output of the element. From there you can take it apart and check the resistance of the element and the continuity of the thermostat.

    My guess is that the plumber turned on the power before the heater was filled and smoked the element(s).

    I know a guy that did that once.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,099
    edited May 2014
    I second Zman's

    guess -- first place I'd look having found power to the unit would be a burned out element.  It doesn't take long with no water... less time than it does to fill the heater.  If it has two elements, look at the top one first.  Also check the thermostats on the elements.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • A.J.
    A.J. Member Posts: 257
    weak element

    It could be a weak element, maybe it wasn't filled completely before he turned it on . 1 turn off the power and disconnect one of the leads on the top element

            2 turn the power back on and see if you have 240 volts between the wires

            3 take the one lead off the wire still on the element and put it on the other 

               end of the element with out the wire, if the element is 100% OK you should

                see the same voltage as before

    Hopes this helps  
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    edited May 2014
    sounds familiar...

    The instinct to turn away the tech with the 140 amp breaker advise was Good.

    Look on your water heater , get the model # voltage and Watts , seriously consider what has been stated here , and also consider the elements price and availability . do the tests . if it is not "Happening" turn off the power check the wiring push the red reset button ...if it still no mojo .



    Get the elements . do not turn power on until you have run water out of your faucets, thru the water heater and removed any air.



    that is the way to ensure that you have removed a second go round with the same result.



    i hope you have a blending or anti scald valve.

    ....

    Weezbo.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    WTC (What The Cluck)

    This doesn't require an advanced degree in electrical engineering. Who sent this rookie to TS it? Was he driving the Clown Car and wearing a clown suit with a Bozo nose?

    And the ELECTRICIAN!! WTC?

    All you need is a 'Wiggy" and an amp clamp. You can even use a "Tick Tracer"

    Take off the top cover. Hit the wires with a tick tracer, after being sure that it is tracing by sticking it in a wall outlet. If it sounds, put on the amp clamp. If the amp clamp shows any amperage dray (17+ amps for 4500 watt elements, 15+ for 3500 watt elements) but it must show at least 15 amps. No amps, and the next step. Put your finger top on the tank. Is it cold? If the tank is cold and there is no amp draw, put the wiggy on the top two terminals. If you don't have 220, you don't have power. You don't need no stinkin' ohm meter when there is water in the tank.

    The top of the top thermostat usually has two wires of the same color. One goes to the upper element, the other goes to the bottom. The other color on the top element is one side of a 3-way switch. the other color goes to the bottom as the other side of the switch. Put the Wiggy on the top. A hard vibration says that there is 220 volts. If the Amp Clamp reads zero, the element is bad. Switch the two right bottom wire with the left bottom wire. The thermostat should now be controlling the bottom element. If the wire that now goes down to the bottom is showing amperage, the bottom element is good but the top element is burned out.

    Did anyone think to check to see if the thermodisk on the HTC is tripped?

    If the bottom element is working but not the top, the tank wasn't properly filled when the power was turned on.

    I never let my RMS Multi-meter EVER touch water heater elements, no matter what. Its too easy to forget to switch the scale and burn it up. Too often, I've seen the core of the element blow out and the internal wire is burned off. And I could get a decent resistance through the water and the remaining metal of the element. I always dealt with 4500 watt elements. If they were way low of 17.5 amps, the element was bad. If they are way high of 17.5 amps, the element was bad. Usually, there were NO amps if the heater wasn't working.

    By switching the wires on the top to check the bottom element, you avoid that taking off the bottom cover and having to lie on the floor to get the screws in the cover.
  • calijen818
    calijen818 Member Posts: 2
    ** RESOLVED **

    Thanks everyone for the advice -- it turned out to be a bad upper heating element, which our 5th plumber was finally able to diagnose.  I was able to buy a replacement parts at Lowe's and we are back in business!



    The interesting/perplexing thing to me is the condition of the heating element.  The water heater was only installed for about 10 days, yet the damaged heating element looks rusty and corroded.  Any thoughts on what may have happened?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,099
    Amazin'

    what overheating an element will do, isn't it?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Burned out element:

    The element was toasted when the tank wasn't filled upon installation and the power was switched on. The coil overheated and became weak in those spots next to the flange. Over a short period of time, water gets through the outside metal of the jacket. And while the heater is off, water soaks into the inside space. The insulation between the element wire is OK, but the insulation space is wet. When the element comes on, the water heats up and turns to steam. The steam expansion blows the hole in the side of the element. If it was just the element blew from no water, period, the element usually looks like a flaccid male member when it comes out of the tank and the metal is a multi-colored blue and gray.
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Dumb mistake

    Dumb mistake, dumb installer, dumber repairmen! I can't believe that you had to go out and buy your own element to fix the problem. I have made plenty of mistakes in my time but dry firing a water heater was never one of them. When I was a helper my boss warned me about it ONCE! Always open all of the hot taps in the home to remove air from the lines until water runs (that way you will never burn out an element and the missus of the home won't crap her nickers when she gets an explosive burst of compressed air out of the faucet).
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,446
    edited May 2014
    Fifth?

    The good news is you now know four guys NOT to call next time.

    Thanks for the follow up.

    Carl
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Fifth plumber

    I'm wondering what the fifth guy was doing driving around without an element in his truck. 



    Rob