electric water heater question

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Thanks for the reply! I did disconnect and replace the two breakers, but indeed, they were two 120v, 30A breakers. So hooked up individually (though I did realize I have them reversed; haven't switched them back as they're both to the same appliance). See my other reply in this thread that I posted about :10 ago, where I included more specifics if you'd like to read more on this odyssey :)
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albee wrote: ...

Have what reversed???
I read the other response; my conclusion is you've got a mucked installation and you have no hope of solving the problem on your own.
If the previous post about having two leads w/ 120V to ground from each but 0V between is indeed correct you _STILL_ have the two connected to the same phase somehow/somewhere; there's simply no other way to do that.
I'm outta' here--this is futile; you need onsite expert help before you make a big mistake.
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My mistake on the two leads with 120v to ground; I was measuring from the thermostat, wherein I wasn't measuring the lead; merely another point in the circuit, so I was measuring the ONE lead both times. When I disconnected the thermostat and measured, only one lead had 120v to ground, the other is 0. I understand not wanting to address it anymore. I truly don't think anything's really mucked up, in that it's always worked and all I've done is replace breakers (and they aren't reversed).
Indeed, it appears that something happened to one of the wires between the panel and the heater, likely at a junction box. Thanks again for the help!
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albee wrote: ...

Sorry, but I don't think you have the requisite knowledge to recognize it if it were (or weren't). :(
That's not intended personally; no reason everybody needs to know NEC, etc. But, just because something may have worked doesn't mean it was ever compliant and proper and the description you gave elsewhere about how/where conductors were going didn't give me any feeling of comfort--it surely sounded like a homeowner-type job rather than professional. I can't think of any reason a water heater circuit would have separate conductors running different directions from the panel.
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*If I understand you correctly the wires on the circuit breaker are not the same wires that come out of the wall and connect to the water heater. If that is the case there may be a junction box somewhere in between and one of the connections has come loose. It is also possible that someone made some sort of hokey splice somewhere and that has failed. Are you able to physically follow the wire as is comes out of the circuit breaker panel?
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On Sat, 15 Aug 2009 10:42:11 -0400, "John Grabowski"

Interesting... First off, particularly with how long and convoluted this thread has become, let me try to set it up anew.
I've replaced both 30A breakers that go from my box, and to my water heater. FWIW, I just realized when I replaced them I reversed them, so that the breaker exiting through the bottom of the panel is on top and the breaker on the bottom exits the panel on the top. But should not matter; both are 30 amp and go to the same appliance. They each measure 120 individually, and measuring between them I get 240. I will look in our Florida non-attic to see if I can find a junction box.
Are the Black and White wires coming into the water heater from the wall both supposed to be the same ones that exited the breaker box, that is, 120 positive (even if the black became white at a junction box)? Therefore, I indeed should be getting 240 v. if I measure between the two wires? I currently have 0; I get 120 from the black one to ground, and 0 from the white to ground.
Those two wires join just above the water heater as Blk to Blk, and the White joins and becomes Red. So, to the upper thermostat, I have Black and Red (formerly White) going to L1 and L3. I still get 120 from the Black, and 0 from the Red (formerly White), but measuring from the screw I get 120, though it's simply measuring the current from the Black, as it's part of the circuit. And so obviously I don't get 240 between them.
It SOUNDS like the junction box theory is what's probably going on. Thanks so much for all the help guys (gals?)!
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Well, I confirmed which breaker is the one that feeds the black wire which apparently becomes white at a junction box. And, unfortunately, it goes outside from the main panel, into where the electric co. meter is, and then a pipe goes down underground from there. So I have no idea where a junction box might be for it? It wouldn't be IN the electric co. meter, would it? It's got their "lock" on it; unsure about trying to undo that, esp. if not needed. The other breaker wire goes up to the attic, so I was going to try to find a junction box up there, but that's the wire that still comes out black and that has 120v, so no problem with that one.
Odd, too, that all (except the range) other 240v circuits (they're all two 120v breakers) have one black and one white wire, but not this one. But, they're definitely the ones, in that they've always been linked and have always worked as such.
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albee wrote: ...

This sounds royally mucked up...
Call an electrician; you obviously aren't experienced enough to fully understand what you have and figure out what should be and the descriptions sound as though somebody else has done a hack job.
Now, it _may_ be there's a rational and Code-compliant reason for all this but surely there's no chance of ever getting it resolved via usenet given the difficulties of communication...
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albee wrote:

This may sound simple, but did anyone happen to turn off the switch for the water heater? I don't know when they started using them but I found one in my house, it looks just like a light switch. I took a permanent marker and labeled it on the cover plate.
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Maybe just turning off one leg of the supply. Letting power still exist at the device. Something for the amateurs to discover the hard way.
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Michael B wrote:

Actually it's a double pole single throw (DPST) switch so it turns off both legs. Years ago I pulled it out to check it, I forget what the current rating is but by the feel of it you can tell it's not a little light switch.
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==========================================================I'm surprised that nobody picked up on this---You are not supposed to have two 30 amp breakers feeding your water heater. You are supposed to have 1 two pole breaker. Are you sure you are checking the right 2 breakers ???
                    RON =======================================================Remove the ZZZ from my E-mail address to send me E-mail.
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On Sat, 15 Aug 2009 16:38:37 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net (Ron in NY) wrote:

Thanks! LOL... yeah, right ones, as when I turn them off the power goes off. All of my "dual" appear to be singles, with the two switches bound by a metal clip so that they switch together. Florida home, built in 1986.
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albee wrote:

That's OK, but _ONLY_ as long as they are "ganged" and were designed by the OEM to so be...
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MYSTER SOLVED:
So, turns out that TECO, Tampa Electric, has a control on my water heater. I knew they did that on my pool pump; didn't know about the heater. So THAT'S the junction where the black turns to white, and where they turned the power to the white off. Well, they do that periodically at peak times, in exchange for a small rebate to us. BUT, their box is malfunctioning, thus shutting down the power to one of the 120 v lines for the last day! Called them, they said it wasn't being controlled (but my box says it is), and so they're coming out to fix it. Arghh... LOL...
Thanks so much for all the help people!
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albee wrote: ...

Ahhhh....ok that's a reason for a water heater circuit to have separate conductors heading off somewhere else.
So, I'll conclude it likely is ok; as for Jeff's question re: switching only one leg, I'm virtually certain that's ok--this isn't a disconnect, it's just a control no different than the thermostat. As long as the disconnect is at one place and ganged correctly, it's not a problem.
That's one I hadn't thought of--never had demand metering/rationing so didn't think of it.
I was concerned first of inexperience by OP and second of some miswired kludge.
The upshot is, though, probably changed out a thermostat and what else for no reason since didn't troubleshoot from beginning to the end to determine where in the circuit the problem arose. So, the object lesson here is to work backwards to actually determine where the failure point is before throwing parts at a problem...
Anyway, glad the mystery is, indeed, solv'uhed.
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dpb wrote:

What bothers me about one of the OP's description (If I got it right) is that he says the wires connected to those two breakers are exiting through two different places in the breaker box. As the OP put it in one of his posts:
*********** I've replaced both 30A breakers that go from my box, and to my water heater. FWIW, I just realized when I replaced them I reversed them, so that the breaker exiting through the bottom of the panel is on top and the breaker on the bottom exits the panel on the top. But should not matter; both are 30 amp and go to the same appliance. They each measure 120 individually, and measuring between them I get 240. ***********
Is it just me, or does this sound weird to anyone else in this thread?
Come to think of it, it'd be pretty funny if we've been the unwitting victims of a very competant troller, wouldn't it?
Jeff
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On Sat, 15 Aug 2009 16:24:04 -0400, jeff_wisnia

helpful. No, not a troll. I (OP) did say that, and have figured it out. The two exit points are because the one leg of it went to a Tampa Electric controlling box outside, the returned as a white wire. But, without power as it's being (incorrectly) controlled. They're on their way out to fix it. All for nought (sp?), save for yet another learning experience :)
Thanks again for all the help.
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albee wrote:

Well, that sure does make sense now, and its suprising that none of the respondents here thought to ask you about what I'll call an "off peak" switching setup.
I'm wondering if contemporary codes allow for breaking just one leg of the 230 volts going to the water heater the way yours is wired.
But it's sure been a learning experience for you and us...
Jeff
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wrote:

When I had one of the load sharing devices hooked to my heater they put a big sticker on the water heater with a phone # to call if there was a problem. When I had a problem and called them they wanted to know if I was a licensed electrician. They would not tell me anything when I told them I wasn't.
Jimmie
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