Electric water heater problem?????

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OK folks I have repaired many electric water heaters in my 18 years as a handyman and have never ran into one that I couldn't fix. The best part is I am doing this for free for a friend that is out of work.
First I replaced both elements and upper/lower thermostats and flushed the water heater because it would not make hot water. It still didn't heat the water. I went back over today and changed them all out again and it still doesn't work. Yes it has power to it , right up to the top element. What am I missing?
Thanks
cm
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Most electric hot water heaters are 220, are both 110 legs providing power? I have seen it where one 110 leg trips and the other is still hot. You could try jumping the thermostat and see if you have hot water. If you do, then it is a thermostat issue, if not it is power. How is the continuity of the heater elements?
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komobu,
I have 220 volts at the thermostat and at the upper element so I assume 1/2 the breaker is not tripped. I will try jumping the thermostat.
Thanks,
cm
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I know this sounds like I am questioning your ability, but if you disconnect the line (coming from the panel) from the heater, are you definitely getting 208/240?
Just a suggestion.....

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Dr.
I have not tested the power with the wires disconnected, only at the thermostat and at the upper element and I get 220 volts. I did not think it to test the wires while disconnected. Is that necessary??
You question my abilities/ - ha ha - Right now I question my abilities.
cm

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I'm not trying to beat on you either, but the first part of a repair is to determine what's broken. As the others have said, you need to verify 240 volts across the two upper element terminals. My guess is that you've got a dead leg feeding the heater, which may have been the original problem. If you do have 240 volts across the upper element, it'll heat or you have a bad element, which is unlikely

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On Wed, 09 Jan 2008 23:22:32 GMT, "Dr. Hardcrab"

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A slab leak is a possibility, which should not be that hard to determine. If large enough to cause the problem, you should probably be able to hear water running through the pipes and tank. Otherwise, see if the water meter is turning with everything off, or the pump cycling if it is on a well. I ran into a similar situation some years ago with a friend's gas WH. Turned out the Moen cartridge at the bathtub was bad. The water would take the path of least resistance, so any time a hot water faucet was opened, the water would feed through that cartridge rather than the WH. He had already bought a new WH, and I was going to install it for him. I turned the valve off in the cold water inlet to the WH and opened the drain valve. Not only was the water in the tank hot, but the pressure in it never dropped. Finally took the hot water line loose at the WH, and water was coming out of the line, but not out of the WH. He took the new WH back and got a refund on it. Good luck Larry
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Hmmmmm.......so that's why my wife laughs and points and.......nevermind.......
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RBM,
I have 220 volts at the t-stat and the upper element. I removed the upper element earlier today to check its condition and continuity and it was fine.
Thanks,
Craig

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Forget the thermostat. There are two terminals on the element. When you test across those two terminals, do you get 240 volts?

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Yup.
cm

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It would be good if you had an ammeter, which would tell you if there is any current flowing. I had a situation one time very similar to yours. The wires in the heater go from the junction box on top of the heater through foam insulation to the upper thermostat. One of the two wires burned in half imbedded in the foam insulation. Through the moisture and carbonized copper I got a 240 volt reading at the upper thermostat and element, but the element of course wouldn't heat. Barring a bad meter, I would try to physically check the condition of the wires inside the heater

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RBM,
I will check them in the morning.
I just got off the phone with the home owner and she says there is a warm spot on the vinyl covered concrete floor near her kitchen sink. I think she may have a leaking hot water pipe under the slab. I'll check all this out in the morning.
Thanks so much,
cm

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Another thing CM, we out here in the ether, have no idea of how you are testing . Like Dr. Hardcrab said. you could be testing each terminal to ground and getting 120 volts on each, multiply that time 2, you get 240

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I am testing across the terminal - not to ground so I am getting 220 volts on my digital meter. I will also take a back up meter tomorrow.
If it is fact an under slab leak the water could just be running through the water heater and not sitting long enough to heat. Should be easy to check.
cm

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A leak under the slab is a common cause of all of your symptoms. The warm spot on the floor is a sure sign. If at all feasible, replace under-slab plumbing with plumbing above the slab.
Don Young
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When you check the voltage, what kind of meter are you using? Are you testing it with it connected to the heating element and with the thermostat calling for heat?
Have you checked power to the lower thermostat?
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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Joseph,
I am using a Greenlee multimeter (digital) and have only tested voltage with the wires connected to the element as well as the thermostat and it shows 220 volts at the upper thermostat and the upper heating element and no power to the lower thermostat or lower element. I assume the upper thermostat is calling for heat since the tank is not hot. The top thermostat is not sending power to the lower since upper thermostat is not satisfied.
I am going to check the voltage coming into the water heater with the wires disconnected tomorrow and will do the same to the wires that go to the upper element. I will also check the water meter and see if it is spinning with all faucets shut off to see if there is a possibility of an under slab pipe leak.
Thanks for your help on this,
Craig
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