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Old 11-23-2010, 09:53 AM   #1
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Water Heater Element Failure

Don't do what I do. To help you with that, I thought I would relay my experience with water fill and heating. I was camping with full hookups but we were going to move to a dry spot in a couple of days. So, I decided to fill up the water tank immediately. I went through my normal full hook up routine though. As a result I turned on the electric side of the water heater before the tank was full and pump turned on. The element overheated and failed. I always assumed the limit switch would stop this event but you know what they say about assuming. Luckily, the gas part of the heater worked so no problem.

To test out the problem, I disconnected the leads to the heater element and checked for power with the switch on. I didn't want to do any more burning up. Sure enough I had 110V A.C at the element so I ordered a new part and the inch and a half socket required to install. Everything works great now. Don't do what I did, do what I say.

For your enjoyment, here's a picture of the burned out element.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:28 PM   #2
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That's good advice; and a very enjoyable pic, too. ! !/2 inch socket? WOW, almost no one keeps one of those around the house! Randy
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:44 PM   #3
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FYI you can get a special water heater wrench at Home Debit and Lowes. It's not a full blown lug removing socket but it's stamped
out of heavy sheet metal.
It gets the job done. There are home water heaters that use the
same socket and in fact you can sometimes find the 120v screw
in heater element there also.
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:39 PM   #4
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Water Heater Element Socket

I went to Home Depot and none of their sockets were big enough. Plus all they had were socket kits for plumbers with 5 or so of increasing sizes up to about an inch. I wound up getting it at a plumbing supply house for about $8. In the mail I found a brochure from Camping World offering a water heater inspection for something like $69.95.

Hmmm, element ordered on line $10, socket $8, knowledge of water heater - priceless.
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:25 PM   #5
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I never drain mine....so if I just happen to power it up without hooking up the water yet, it doesn't matter. Incidentally, I've done just that 2 or 3 times, and worried that I may have popped the element. But it was just fine. Randy
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Old 11-24-2010, 07:47 AM   #6
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Steel Water Heater Element Wrench - 15493 at The Home Depot Water heater socket at HD $7.27
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Old 11-25-2010, 12:56 AM   #7
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Wrench

Kydan, you found it. Unfortunately, they didn't have it in stock at my local Home Depot and I didn't have time to order one.

08flagvlite, I didn't drain my heater either for the first few months I owned the rig. Then I pulled the anode rod just inspecting things. Yikes. Rather than a one inch thick rod I had slim chop stick left. Next, I would have had heater wall corrosion. I now drain it every time I button up. I don't want to have to replace the whole heater. I just installed a new anode rod with its own drain valve so I don't even have to use a socket wrench. I just twist it open and stand back from the hot water. By the time I put a few other things away, I'm drained and ready to leave. You can find pictures and details on my experience on this site. Just search for anode rod. Good luck and good water!
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Old 11-26-2010, 01:22 AM   #8
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If you did need to replace your water heater would you shell out the $1000 for the tankless variety? I'd love to have one of these. Most of my friends have installed tankless water heaters in their houses and they all love them.

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Old 11-26-2010, 07:11 PM   #9
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Tankless

Yes, a friend has one in his super duper 44 footer along with marble floors, granite countertops and drawer mounted grill in the basement. I on the other hand have a smaller budget for my toys. Like about a decimal place smaller. So, would I go tankless? Yeah I think so not having done any research nor cost comparisons. Though I have to admit the Suburban unit in my 391 does what its supposed to despite my screwups.

We did some remodelling in the house and installed a second water heater for a small demand spot and I should have gone tankless there. The architect screwed that one up and I didn't even know about the option at the time. Let me know if you do it.
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