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Old 08-07-2012, 09:22 PM   #21
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Anacortes, WA
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There's one other piece in the puzzle, and that's the thermostat on the electric side of the water heater. Check that it hasn't failed open circuit. It isn't a very rugged item and if it has failed, no power gets to the element.

Also, be aware that when the heating element is cold, it will have a lower resistance than Herk's arithmetic suggests. As it warms up, the resistance gets higher, and it's the element in hot water that the rating is based on.

It might be worth taking the element out of the heater and just checking resistance (ohms - which isn't an abbreviation for "on Her Majesty's service" but named after a German scientist) across the terminals.

A pet peeve of mine is why the international nomenclature folks took the self explanatory term "cycles per second" and named it after an American car rental company (and it isn't Avis!).

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Old 08-08-2012, 09:01 AM   #22
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From reading the above comments, my two cents:

Tmmar, there are a couple of different things to check there.
1. Is power getting to the element ( checked by testing the voltage across the wires connected to the element leads). If no power to element, then you have to figure out why. Since your breaker was tripping, I'd bet it has power.
2. Is the element intact? (checked by testing the resistance, or ohms through the element, also checked by touching the multimeter leads to the two connection points on the element after disconnecting power supply to the element) The key here being that if the element is not intact, the resistance will be very high.

I hope this helps clarify things.

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Old 08-08-2012, 09:10 AM   #23
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A suspect element can easily be visually checked.
If it's bad it will look bad. Typically they are misshapen with obvious black
burn pits in them. You can purchase the socket to un-screw it from
Home Depot, Lowes or any decent hard ware store.
It's the same size socket as needed for home hot water heaters
with screw in elements.
Dan & Rita D
2004 5.3L Silverado 1500 ext. cab 2WD
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:18 PM   #24
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After getting readings that were very strange when checking my old element with an ohm meter, I decided that for less than $10 I would replace the element as a matter of course. I went to Home Depot and bought the new element. I removed the old element and checked the new one before installing it and got a reading of about 13.4 ohms. I checked the old one and was getting the readings of 1. Here is what the old one looks like. Probably a good move.
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:34 PM   #25
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As mentioned you can usually find them at Home Depot or Lowes or
your local plumbing supply shop.

Be SURE and get the 120v element.
Most home heater elements are 240v but there are 120v elements out
there, you just have to be sure and get the right one.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:31 PM   #26
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OMG you have Calcium in your camping water! Good move!

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