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Old 06-27-2011, 04:34 PM   #1
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Suburban Water heater breaker keeps tripping

The breaker would trip after it seemed the water would get hot.

Running on gas and electricity the breaker did not trip. But turn off the gas switch and use hot water, the breaker would trip after approximately 4 minutes. After the water was hot and just left it alone...used just cold water the breaker did not trip, it would cycle on/off to maintain temp.

Any clues? Bad element? Thermostat?

Thanks HC
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Old 06-27-2011, 05:10 PM   #2
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Some things to check:

Since the gas and 120VAC systems are completely separate, they have different "ON" temperature settings as well (even if they tried to make them the same variations would make a few degrees inevitable).

If the Gas system keeps the water temp above the VAC temp "on" setting then the VAC system would NEVER come on with both systems running. If there was a short in the VAC system you would never know.

Shut off the gas system and the VAC system would get it's "ON" command when the water cooled enough to need heat. Pop goes the breaker.

The good news is the computer that runs things is not the short. I would look at the hot wire from the computer to the element for rat teeth marks or a shorted element internally. Elements are pretty cheap.
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:50 PM   #3
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Herk I will look for a bare wire. As long as the just electrical element was used just to maintain the temp the breaker never threw. Only when we used hot water...maybe a gallon, would the breaker throw after 3 or 4 minutes.
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:25 PM   #4
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If your camper has 30 amp service, you are running the Air Conditioning, and much other stuff, you may be overloading the 30 amp. Also, your electric element may be on the way out, and shorting out in the water once it starts to get hot. Replacing the element is fairly cheap, might try that.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiCab View Post
Herk I will look for a bare wire. As long as the just electrical element was used just to maintain the temp the breaker never threw. Only when we used hot water...maybe a gallon, would the breaker throw after 3 or 4 minutes.
I assumed the breaker was the breaker for the water heater and not the main 30 amp. Is that right?

If it was the water heater breaker; the trouble is in the water heater. (most likely a bad wire or element)

If it was the main circuit breaker it is load related.
Reduce the load and try again like Windrider said.
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:59 AM   #6
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You can buy elements and the special socket to unscrew the element
at Home Depot or Lowes.
If it was mine, the first thing I'd do is drain it and unscrew the element
and visually inspect it.
It will be obvious if it's bad.

I know some guys are gonna say check it with a meter but yours is working
sort of so I'm not sure what a meter would tell you.

My 2˘ is that it's time for a visual inspection of the element.

Good luck!
(If you buy the element at HD or Lowes be sure you get one for
120 VAC and not 240 VAC.)
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:59 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone!

It is the WH breaker that is tripping.

I will be buying a new element and get it installed in the next couple of weeks and let you know. It is in storage so I am not able to check for bare wire spots at the moment but at less than $20 having a spare is not a bad idea.

Now if I could only build that "spare" parts garage next week I could let my wife park in the regular garage again!
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:11 AM   #8
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Well the new element is in and the breaker keeps tripping, any ideas? I have looked for bare wires but found none.

We have kept resetting the breaker to the point we have hot water at normal temp. Just as soon as we turn in the hot water faucet and get hot water, breaker trips.

HC
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:19 AM   #9
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Bad breaker?
try switch with another of the same size.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiCab View Post
Well the new element is in and the breaker keeps tripping, any ideas? I have looked for bare wires but found none.

We have kept resetting the breaker to the point we have hot water at normal temp. Just as soon as we turn in the hot water faucet and get hot water, breaker trips.

HC
Resetting breakers that continue to pop is VERY dangerous.
Highly NOT recommended. Something is causing the breakers to pop.
There are plenty of photos of RV fires. Lets not add to the archive.
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