Hot water heater circut breaker pops

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wrote:

Because there are two heating elements. One thermostat for each element. If it popped inside the tank, you got a bad element.
Not too hard to fix. Shut off the power, drain the water from tank, and remove the 4 bolts that hold in the element. Of course your guess is as good as mine if its the upper or lower element, so you may as well remove both. Look for holes, cracks, pits corrosion, and other damage to the element. They should be smooth.
You'll likely need a new gasket for the good element that you replace. Or just replace both elements and be done with it. They are not real expsnsive.

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The first time I bought a new heating element, the AOSmith supplier gave me a tip.
Don't bother draining the tank, even for the bottom element. Turn off the power, turn off the main water supply, and open the hot water faucet at the lowest sink in the house. The water will run for a while, and then it will stop. If it doesnt' stop, try to turn off the main water supply again (but mine stopped within a minute or two.)
Then position the new heating element where you can reach it immediately, unscrew the old one and as quickly as possible, remove it and put the new one in, and screw it in. The time when there is nothing in the hole is 3 seconds or less, and I would guess about 2 tablespoons of water fell into the water heater insulation. I left the cover off for a couple weeks to give it time to dry.
Everything went like a charm. I think I have to replace another one this week. If anyone wants to know how it goes this time, ask.
This was a screw-in element, but it might work as well with a bolt-on.
On Sun, 04 Mar 2007 09:40:28 -0600, Gerry Atrick

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There are 2 elements as well, with different roles.
Normally, when you draw some hot water from the top of the tank, cold enters at the bottom. The bottom thermostat detects the drop in temperature and turns on the lower element. This reheats the entire tank, slowly. Hot water rises within the tank from the bottom element, mixing up the tank contents until the entire tank is hot. Because you're heating the whole tank, it takes a while.
If you use a lot of hot water, and the cold water reaches the upper thermostat, then it turns on the upper element. The job of the upper element is to quickly reheat a small volume of water, the water between the upper element and the top of the tank.
Many hot water tanks have the upper thermostat wired to disconnect the lower element when the upper element comes on, to limit the maximum current drawn. So when you draw most of the hot water out of the tank, the upper element heats up just the top part of the tank until it's hot enough, then the lower element takes over until the whole tank is hot, then both are off.
    Dave
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imho:
You might have something that is beyond just a DIY fix. I was told by an electrician, that a water heater breaker kept tripping, and the home owner was mad. So he checked it out, the breaker was the right size, but the wires were undersized, causing localized heatin at the breakers terminal and tripping. Good thing the home owner said something, that sounds like a potential fire problem.
In short, get a quick check by an electrician, the breakers might by 'old' or something.
tom @ www.Consolidated-Loans.info
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Again sorry to forget to put all the information in
It is an electric hot water heater. 50 gallon one. made in 2001 the breakers say 25 on the 2 of them
The tank would only pop once... 'just a single pop'. Like at no particular time just random off the wall times would it pop (the most was 3 in a day). Loud enough to hear in the other room. When the kids take showers, I would sit in the kitchen to listen it fire up and it would work fine, it SEEMS to do this when it isnt really doing anything (probably gets bored and wants attention). I was once sorta close to it today when it did pop and it seemed to be in the middle of the tank but i cannot be sure of it.
You guys are awsome to help me do this and I WILL NOT do anything that is dangerous to me or my family, I REALLY appreciate all your ideas.
I have called the company and they told me to disconnect the bottom element (I wont do it until i get some wire caps tho and when turn the breaker off) to see if it still sets the breaker off. I need to get an OHM meter and check the elements first.
Which I will have no idea if that works because like I said before it trips the breaker when it feels like it and it makes that 1 TIME pop noise just a little more then the breaker.
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A double pole 25 amp is fine. One thing you may try first is a visual check. Kill the power to the unit and confirm it's off, open both panels and clear away any insulation. Check for any visible burned wires or thermostats or terminals on the heating elements

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25 amp seems low. I have a 30 gallon and a 30 amp breaker. Make sure this is the correct size. Go to http://waterheating.rheem.com/Documents/ResourceLibrary/UseAndCare/ManHousing/AP10414-9.pdf to find out what the breaker size needs to be. On the label it should say how many watts the heater is rated for.
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Well I opened the tank up after not working today and opened the panels and found mositure on the tank leading down to the element after opening the panel. Upon further inspection I see that there is a pool of water at the bottom.
I assume I have a crack in the tank? and this is shorting out the breakers?
John
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Try drying off the part of the tank where the thermostats and elements are. The water could be coming through a bad heating element. If so, it should be noticeable

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I did notice that the lower heating element was dripping and I wiped it off, as of now it seems ok, I also noticed a pool of water in the bottom which I am in the process of drying that up.
Problem now is that I am running the hot water and the tank isnt firing up.
I do not have a OHM tester but I did take a black wire off the bottom and touched it back onto the screw and it does show a sign of a spark of life.
time to call the man tomorrow I suppose. But thanks to all you It must be the lower heating element.
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wrote:

Do this with the breaker off, of course.

Do this with the breaker on, or it won't work.

I do crap like this, but not with 220 volts. Get a damn meter. A multimeter that does ohms, volts, and milliamps. Under 20 dollars iirc, even at HD.

I posted further up tonight a little while ago. Read that, and the advantages of not draining the tank are that you don't waste any partially heated water, it takes a bunch of time to drain and to refill. Even then you should turn the water back on and wait before turning the electricity back on. But if you forget to do this, and you only lose a couple tablespoons, the heating elements will still be under water, which is essential when th eelectricty is on.
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