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Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 13, 2012 08:27PM
I have this electric water heater, installed by previous owner in Jan 2007. I think it's time to look into whether it has one or two sacrificial anodes, and plan for a replacement. I think a sacrificial anode lasts about 6 years, from previous discussion here on this forum.

Now I have another issue. We filled the bathtub with water to wash the kids, and it seemed like we ran out of hot water. Usually we don't run out of hot water, unless maybe multiple appliances are ON or someone took a long shower. But now there was Luke warm water coming out. So kids finished the bath, we rinsed them with little left Luke-warm water and while I cleaned the bathroom, maybe 10-15 minutes later there is now PLENTY of nice HOT water. I left it on for several minutes and seems like there is plenty of hot water.

I took 2 pictures, one shows the label and other the electrical diagram, which as far as I understand, there are 2 separate heaters (upper and lower), each with its own thermostat, but only one heater is active at a time.

Any advice on whether the water heater is defective or not, in other words, is this behavior normal? And, if defective, is it something I can troubleshoot? is one of those 2 heaters dead?

How about anode replacement, is that a DYI job or I need to call a plumber.

Thanks






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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: deckeda
Date: April 13, 2012 08:58PM
Unless electric models are different than gas, don't forget that the pickup tube only reaches down part way into the tank.

If the pickup tube disintegrates, you effectively have a "short" pickup tube that only reaches down into the upper-most portion of the tank, where incoming cold water comes in---it only picks up the resulting lukewarm water, not the hotter water.

I'm not saying that's what happened. And I kinda doubt an anode has gone bad in only 6 years. Once the anode goes bad, corrosion accelerates and you get a rust leak, not loss of hot water per se.

Our gas tank is about 18 years old with no maintenance. A few months ago I thought about the broken pickup tube issue, as the water was lukewarm for part of a day with no apparent increase in hot water usage. And I can't bring myself to drain the tank proactively, as bad karma would then cause the valve to break or something else to break. Gonna just wait it out until it leaks/dies and buy a new tank. Did I mention it's 18 years old?

But like the noisy dishwasher and noisy 'fridge, my lukewarm water situation fixed itself. Appliances sometimes do that, just to freak you out . Give it the weekend and see what happens.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: billb
Date: April 13, 2012 09:06PM
Hang two cloves of garlic over it and see if it happens again.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 13, 2012 09:08PM
Quote
billb
Hang two cloves of garlic over it and see if it happens again.

I hate garlic, otherwise I would do it!
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: GGD
Date: April 13, 2012 09:09PM
From the wiring diagram it looks like there are two thermostats and two heating elements, and both elements cannot be on at the same time. The upper thermostat/element has priority.

So, maybe one of the elements is burned out, most likely the lower one, seems like if the upper one was out, it's thermostat would never reach it's temperature to allow the lower one to come on and you would have no hot water, ever.

Or it might be that everything is working just fine and you're consuming hot water faster than it can heat / store it.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 13, 2012 09:16PM
deckeda,

Thanks, I didn't mean to imply that the anode is related to this lukewarm water issue. I know that I need to replace the anode to avoid corrosion (leaks) and if it's time to repair something else on the heater, I might as well do the anode at the same time so I don't call the plumber back a second time.

I have a gas line for the drier, which is right next to the water heater. I wonder if it's practical to replace the electric heater with a gas model, last time I check gas was cheaper than electric. I guess it's more involved since I would need to install some sort of exhaust, I don't think it's OK to use the drier vent. The furnace is across the hallway, so maybe, just maybe there is a way to use that chimney, need to check with someone familiar with these things. I don't have a clue when it comes to gas appliances.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 13, 2012 09:19PM
GGD, excellent info, if I decide to check something I only need to check the lower element. Thanks!
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: nwyaker
Date: April 13, 2012 09:24PM
Elements are fairly easy to replace and often available at your local hardware store. Draining the tank would be necessary. I'd pull both and take with you.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: lafinfil
Date: April 13, 2012 09:32PM
It sounds like a heating element needs to be replace (I had same issue)

Here is the troubleshooting guide for electric water heaters - [www.waterheaterrescue.com]

FWIW I have a 10 year old electric water heater (Richmond 6 year model) that needed an element at about 8 years of service. Never had to replace the anode because it turns out to have a plastic lined tank.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2012 09:35PM by lafinfil.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: JoeH
Date: April 13, 2012 09:42PM
Hot water running out early can be a sign of too much sediment built up in the bottom or a broken dip tube. When was the last time you drained the sediment off? As for the dip tube, it can be replaced fairly inexpensively if the rest of the tank is okay. A broken dip tube may allow small bits of plastic into your lines, they can be found in faucet aerators.

Bad elements or thermostats can keep one from operating. Some thermostats have a reset button as well, look for one and press it to make sure it set. From my understanding, the bottom element comes on first to heat cold water coming in the bottom. If enough water is used that the upper thermostat gets cold, then the upper element turns on. The elements can be tested to see if they are an open circuit.

Based on the serial number your heater was manufactured in March 2005. So it could have been installed earlier than 2007. That may effect the remaining life, depends on your water supply. As for the maker, State Industries is now owned by A O Smith if you go looking for parts.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 13, 2012 09:46PM
excellent info guys. I never drained the sediments, I guess I need to call the 800 number to get a copy of the manual. I didn't do any maintenance on this things since I bought the ouse in 2009, and the previous owners (single lady, clueless about tech) didn't do anything either. I know the date when it was installed since there is a township approval sticker with Jan 2007.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: lafinfil
Date: April 13, 2012 09:55PM
Sediment isn't really an issue with an electric heater because the heating elements are well above the bottom of the tank. Sediment effects gas heaters because the burner is directly under the bottom of the tank so it insulates the water from the flame making it harder to heat the water.



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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: JoeH
Date: April 13, 2012 09:59PM
Sediment can build up enough to cover the bottom element, especially if it has never been drained for 5+ years. The element usually burns out when that happens.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: lafinfil
Date: April 13, 2012 10:30PM
My bottom element sits about 12" from the bottom of the tank, so that would certainly be a lot of sediment!



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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: Michael
Date: April 14, 2012 05:33AM
Use an multimeter to test the elements' resistance.

TURN OFF THE POWER FIRST. Put the meter into the Ohm's position, and then measure resistance across the screws of the element.

When you find there is no resistance (Ohms), replace the one (probably bottom). The wattage should be written on the element. Buy a second one, as well to have around for the next time. You'll need to buy a (cheap) device to take out the old and put in the new.

This is an easy fix that you can do yourself. Drain the tank and unscrew the bad element and screw in the new one. Refill the tank and turn on the power. Viola!
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: billb
Date: April 14, 2012 06:02AM
Quote
space-time


Now I have another issue. We filled the bathtub with water to wash the kids, and it seemed like we ran out of hot water. Usually we don't run out of hot water, unless maybe multiple appliances are ON or someone took a long shower. But now there was Luke warm water coming out. So kids finished the bath, we rinsed them with little left Luke-warm water and while I cleaned the bathroom, maybe 10-15 minutes later there is now PLENTY of nice HOT water. I left it on for several minutes and seems like there is plenty of hot water.


Unless it happens again you likely just drained the tank.

If it heated back up in 15 minutes you don't have open elements.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: btfc
Date: April 14, 2012 04:17PM
"If it heated back up in 15 minutes you don't have open elements."

Given the description the bottom element or thermostat could be bad.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: srf1957
Date: April 15, 2012 12:48AM
Turn off water and electricity put towel on floor you can pull old element and shove in new one and only spill about a cup of water.
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Re: Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
Posted by: M>B>
Date: April 15, 2012 03:20AM
Since you have gas near by, I would suggest you replace it with a propely sized instintious water heater, such as these...

[www.lowes.com]

[www.homedepot.com]

I have one and my gas Co. can't belive that how little gas I consume. No stand by heating just when you use it. Plus, I could take a 12 hour shower, but I don't.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2012 03:27AM by M>B>.
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