How to test electric water heater?

Page 1 of 2  
A few months ago I replaced both heating elements in our electric water heater. I checked the dip tube at the same time, and it was OK. (Thanks to the people here who helped.)
Now for the last couple of weeks sometimes there is plenty of hot water for bath/shower and sometimes not. There either is or isn't - with not much in between. This is NOT right after using hot water for washing dishes or clothes.
I have a volt/ohm/amp meter, but I don't know how to test these A/C things. How can I (with only a little experience) test the water heater elements and thermostat?
Thanks in advance.
--
Replace you know what by j to email

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sounds like your thermostats are acting up. Heaters either are good or they aren't, but the thermostats can cause the problems your reporting.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They are probably as old as the house - 7 years. Is there a way I can test them, or should I replace them?
--
Replace you know what by j to email

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jud,
Be careful while you do this : Snap the jaws of the ammeter around one of the wires that goes to the top element. Then...turn the top thermostat up as high as it will go. You should get a reading. THen, turn the upper thermostat to its lowest setting -- you should see the reading drop out. (leave it at this setting while you test the bottom element now )
Snap the jaws on the lower element. Then, turn the lower thermostat to its highest setting. You should get a reading. Then...turn the lower thermostat back to where it was.
Then,..return the 'upper' thermostat to where it was.
If both elements are working, then, you are either depleting the hot water which then turns to cold ...which means you need to allow more time for recovery in between usages. AND/OR...you have alot of sediment in the tank which is making the tank heat up slower.
Be careful when working around electricity. If you fry yourself...i hope to see you in heaven one day if you know The Lord personally.
Dave
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 7 Jun 2004 22:03:15 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (HVAC IsFun) wrote:

I forgot to mention that I don't have the "jaws" type of meter. My meter is the kind with the two leads. Can it be done with that type of meter? (I know how to be safe.)
--
Replace you know what by j to email

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
No. The "two leads" will measure just about anything except AC amperage.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 10 Jun 2004 21:02:58 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

There's a switch setting labeled "AC mA" with a ~ under it, for AC. Does that mean that it can measure something in the miliamp range, but not higher?
--
Replace you know what by j to email

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
'There's a switch setting labeled "AC mA" with a ~ under it, for AC. Does that mean that it can measure something in the miliamp range, but not higher?'
ME: Correct.
"Hey....have you hugged your Guage-Manifold today ?!"
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
'I forgot to mention that I don't have the "jaws" type of meter. My meter is the kind with the two leads. Can it be done with that type of meter? (I know how to be safe.)
--

ME: Jud, You cant measure amperage with two lead meters...but, you can
still tell if the elements are working or not. Heres how :
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Umm...yes you can...since you know so much, you might want to tell UEI, and Fluke that they are mistaken on the instructions that come with the standard DMM.

Umm...no. Wrong again Dave...that wont tell him anything, and depending on how the units wired, he will have voltage AT the elements at all times. You dont really work in the trade now do you?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload


I think this is a matter of interpretation. You cannot test amperage with a two lead meter _unless_ you interrupt the circuit and place the meter in series with the load. Which is what everybody tries to avoid. Hence clamp-on meters etc.
Secondly, many DMMs can't do AC amps high enough anyway. Especially the units that most DIYers buy from Radio Shack et. al.
For example, mine's limited to 10A DC, and you have to move the test probes to different plugs on the meter. Doesn't do AC amps above 1A.
If I had to make one AC amp measurement, I'd stick in a shunt resister and measure the AC voltage across it.
Ie: If you stick a .01 ohm resister in series with the load and measure the voltage across it, you'll get .01 AC volts per AC amp. With a .1 ohm, you get .1 AC volts per AC amp.
[Do take into account power dissipation of the resistor. Running 10A across a .1 ohm resister means you have to use at least a 10W resistor. With a .01 ohm resistor, it only needs to be 1W.]
If I had to do a lot, I'd buy a clampon ammeter. Don't have to disturb the circuit at all.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi HVAC, hope you are having a nice day
On 10-Jun-04 At About 12:46:29, HVAC IsFun wrote to All Subject: Re: How to test electric water heater?
HI> From: snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (HVAC IsFun)
HI> Hold each lead on the screws of the top element (one lead per screw) HI> ; then with them still there...turn up the top stat. You should HI> get a voltage reading. Then, turn the top stat to the lowest HI> setting. This should drop the reading out. Leaving the top stat at HI> this lowest setting....put each lead on the screws of the lower HI> element. Then, turn up the lower stat to its highest position. HI> You should get a reading. Now , turn it back to where it was HI> initially. Then finally, return the top stat to where it was HI> initially.
Sorry to burst your bubble here but this will not tell you if the element is working. this will only tell you if it is getting voltage.
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. I think you should get that checked out... - TEC
___ TagDude 0.92+[DM] +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ spam protection measure, Please remove the 33 to send e-mail
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
'Hi HVAC, hope you are having a nice day '
ME: Ill let you know after the day starts.
If the HO gets voltage at the element , then he can "shut off the power" to the water heater and feel the tank (right next to the element) with his hand to see if its hot; if it is then its fine.
Will you be having a nice day today #2 ???!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi HVAC, hope you are having a nice day
On 10-Jun-04 At About 21:17:22, HVAC IsFun wrote to All Subject: Re: How to test electric water heater?
HI> From: snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (HVAC IsFun)
HI> 'Hi HVAC, hope you are having a nice day '
HI> ME: Ill let you know after the day starts.
HI> If the HO gets voltage at the element , then he can "shut off the HI> power" to the water heater and feel the tank (right next to the HI> element) with his hand to see if its hot; if it is then its fine.
You are totally clueless here. You can't be in the trade as you don't seem to know a thing about it.
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. Do what you will with this tagline, just don't bother me about it!
___ TagDude 0.92+[DM] +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ spam protection measure, Please remove the 33 to send e-mail
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
(HVAC IsFun)

to
Hes not, at least as far as his home states concerned. We ask him a while back to at least post SOME qualifications, and he hides behind his webtv. He has nothing listed with his home state, nada...therefore, while he may OWN something he likes to consider legit, hes not.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi CBHVAC, hope you are having a nice day
On 11-Jun-04 At About 11:03:05, CBHVAC wrote to All Subject: Re: How to test electric water heater?
>> You are totally clueless here. You can't be in the trade as you don't >> seem C> to >> know a thing about it.
C> Hes not, at least as far as his home states concerned. We ask him a C> while back to at least post SOME qualifications, and he hides behind C> his webtv. He has nothing listed with his home state, C> nada...therefore, while he may OWN something he likes to consider C> legit, hes not.
I have been following in both groups and I have to say that between stormin mormon and davey it can get pretty dangerous for homeowners trying to follow their advice. Please, anyone reading their advice disregard it!!
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. Heredity: Everyone believes in it until their children act like fools!
___ TagDude 0.92+[DM] +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ spam protection measure, Please remove the 33 to send e-mail
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

stormin
follow
Yup...the Vette guys are tired of him as well....so far, hes been run out of every group hes joined, and not to mention the WEbTV ones he is banned from for his views, and advice.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In the fine newsgroup "alt.home.repair", Jud McCranie
within <

My electric water heater is as old as the house - 15 years old - and is just now starting to exhibit signs of aging. It will start to cool off after a single shower so I'm planning on replacing it and not worry about trying to replace heating elements. This is the same for any appliances in my home that go bad. They make them so much more efficient these days.
--
Cheryl

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Cheryl wrote:

Sounds like a good plan if you don't like to mess with things. But many new electric appliances are no more efficient that 15 year old ones. Examples, water heater, stove, fans, incandescent and fluorescent light, etc. Improved efficiency will be most evident in refrigeration equipment, i.e., refrigerators and ACs.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In the fine newsgroup "alt.home.repair", "George E. Cawthon"
within < on 07 Jun 2004:

Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I'm just a "don't like to mess with things kinda gal". I like the features I read/know about things like stoves (self cleaning; mine isn't) but I didn't know water heaters haven't changed. The plumber who looked at mine said the problems were just "age". 15 years old. He wasn't even trying to sell me one since he doesn't do hot water heaters anymore. I'm starting to think that a 11-15 year old house is not the right age to buy one. Everything is "getting old" that was in there from new.
--
Cheryl

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.