My water heater stopped working today.

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The same thing happened to me a number of years ago--extremely hot water and then no hot water with the reset button on the upper thermostat popped out. It turned out to be a lower element that had grounded itself out. The lower element has 120 volts applied to each end of the element all the time, for a total voltage of 240, unless the water has gotten so cold that the upper thermostat closes to heat up the upper part of the tank and disconnects power to the lower element. What is now happening is the lower element is heating the water until the upper thermostat pops on safety sensing extremely hot water. The current in the lower element is not flowing from one end of the element to the other end, but it is flowing from one end to ground and is constantly heating the water without regard to the lower thermostat. Disconnect all power th the unit, and disconnect the 2 wires to the lower element. Measure the resistance from each screw of the lower element to the bare metal around the hole where the element is installed. The resistance should be infinite---You will find that 1 screw is grounded to the tank due to the element being shorted internally. Replace the lower element and your problem will be solved.
RON =======================================================Remove the ZZZ from my E-mail address to send me E-mail.
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On Sun, 07 Feb 2010 17:00:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net (Ron in NY) wrote:

A "grounded" lower element is virtually the ONLY thing that can cause the described sequence of events - the only thing that would cause uncontrolled heating, which would then trigger the safety shotoff.
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