New Water Heater Breaker Box

I currently have fuse box with two 30 amp fuses in it. It keeps blowing a fuse [always the right side] and lately, has been blowing them almost weekly. My father-in-law thinks it may be sediment build-up and the bottom element needs to be changed out.
I'm going to try this first. However, I'd like to also upgrade and put a standard breaker box in instead. I have a separate meter/service dedicated to the hot water heater. It's a 50 gallon heater. An electrician said they typically put in a 30 amp breaker for this size water heater.
Does this sound right to you all? Any other advice would be appreciated. I'll have public utility turn off the service before I do the work. I'm also getting estimates on having an electrician do the work. If it's reasonable [so far, between $100 and $150], I'll probably have them do it. Not because I'm not able, but because I'm not as familiar with codes on this sort of work.
TIA,
Ryan
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What is the rating on the water heater? That is what determines the size fuse needed.

If the utility turns the power off, they may want to see the inspection report before it is put back on again. You'll need a permit and inspection.
As for the electrician, it will be $100 to pull up in front of the house.
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Did it ever not blow them? Blowing a fuse is a sign something is wrong. Water heaters don't have surges (like motors) so they should never blow a fuse.

First check the heater nameplate to see how many amps it draws. If it only give watts, divide by 240v. If it is below 30a, a new service will probably be a waste of money. If it is above 30a you have discovered why it is blowing fuses. If you can get your hands on an ampmeter, see how many amps it really draws; if it is more than the rating, there is a problem with it.
Second, check your wiring. It had better be #10 to go with the 30a fuses.
Third, if 1&2 are okay, replace the element as your fil suggested, or the whole heater.

I am not sure I would do it for $150, and I am a lot cheaper than an electrician.

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Toller wrote:

Yes. It had been fine for the 4 years we have lived there. Then, it blew one fuse [my shutoff currently has two, 30 amp fuses in it]. Then, a few months later, it blew another one. Then, a few weeks later, another one. It's always the same side, and it has become more frequent.

I currently have two, 30 amp fuses. If I upgrade the shutoff and put a breaker box in instead, I will check the plate to see what amp breaker I need. Thanks. Do I need to be concerned about how much power is coming from the meter outside with regard to the amperage or is it determined by the water heater itself? Currently, I have two meters. One is for the panel for the house, the other is dedicated to the water heater and comes in directly to the shutoff that I am replacing.

Will do. Thanks for the info.
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The meter has to be for more than 30a; the smallest feed I have ever heard of is 60a (but your utility could tell you for sure). The power used is entirely determined by the heater, as long as the feed is adequate. I don't know how your utility works, but here it would be pretty expensive to have two meters. If you upgrade you might want to look into combining them. It will be expensive but maybe a good long term investment.

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Toller wrote:

The water heater line on my bill usually runs between $10 and $20/month [we're in SW Indiana], so it's pretty cheap. I'm going to start by changing the bottom element and cleaning out the tank. I think it may just have a short. If that doesn't work, I'll move on.
Thanks again, Toller.
Ryan
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By any chance is the fuse block getting hot?
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth] On Sat, 31 Dec 2005 15:33:49 -0000, snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

Fuse blocks do get hot when fuses blow - fuses are thermal devices!
gerry
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Yes, but not _extremely_ hot, as in burn your fingers hot.
The reason why I ask is that there could be poor connections on the fuse block itself causing the fuses to blow, not by overcurrent, but by overheating from the bad connections.
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FWIW, some house built in the 1940's had 30A.
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wrote:

That should be enough for a small house, with nothing electric except lights.
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]

I haven't seen a post by the originator clarifying this but the original post indicated a separate meter for hot water. Such was used on occasion with a timer for off peak rates. The upper element would be powered by the regular service and the lower element (bulk heating) by a timer controlled service feed. We can't know the configuration from here, just guess.
Any water heating with a 30 Amp service would be pretty far fetched. Hard to believe the lights work!
gerry
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gerry wrote:

I have no idea what amperage the feed is. The shut-off I'm replacing currently has two, 30a fuses [an electrician I talked to called it a "double-30" and said it was more of a precaution as most water heaters these days require a 30a breaker.
Ryan
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]
wrote:

The problem is in the water heater.
If 30A fuses blow, a 30A breaker won't help! It will just trip.
It sounds like a bad heater element with a short to ground in the element. That would load one leg more than another unless the short was dead center.
In this case, blowing fuses is a safety issue! That shorted element is feeding current back the safety ground and/or water pipes.
Repeated blowing of fuses or tripping breakers is a sign something is wrong! In this case, it also suggests a safety issue should the safety ground also fail.
Remove the fuses, drain the tank (will solve sediment) and change both elements why you are at it. The labor is such the cost of elements is minimal.
Fill the tank before replacing the fuses.
A defective thermostat can cause fuses/breakers to blow/trip if it fails to disconnect the lower element when powering the upper one. This is used for fast recovery of a little water at the top, then slow heating of the whole tank via the lower element. Higher power elements are used in this case such that the circuit can't power both at the same time.
If it happens to be the thermostat, that can be tested, switch the left and right fuses and see if the same side blows. If the fuses are of different manufacture/vintage the one "that never blows" may just have slower blow characteristics.
One final possibility is someone replaced a heating element with one of too high capacity. Check the elements vs the nameplate.
You need to fix the water heater, not the power entrance.
gerry
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gerry wrote:

Thanks, Gerry. I replaced both elements and it still slowly blows the right fuse. However, when I was shutting off the fuse box again [I was going to replace the thermostat], the right bracket that joins the shut-off arm to the two brass-colored prongs [??] broke. It looks like it was just old and worn. However, now the right prong obviously won't make connection. So, I'm going to upgrade the shut-off box and then, if it continues to trip the new breaker, I'll swap out the thermostat. Good advice. Thanks again.
Ryan
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