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Old 04-21-2009, 10:31 AM   #1
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Water Heater/Fridge Circuit Breaker

In checking out a problem with the electric side of my water heater not working, I found out the water heater and fridge are both on the same 15a circuit breaker. Since the water heater has a 1440 watt element (12 amps), and the info that I can find on the fridge states that it needs 3.5 amps, that seems to be a possible problem there.

Anyone else have the water heater and fridge on the same circuit??
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Old 04-21-2009, 11:13 AM   #2
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They should not be on the same circuit.
For 2 reasons--
1- as you stated, the total amps is close to or over the max breaker rating.
2- you have to go outside to shut off the electric side of your water heater.

On my trailer the water heater is separate.
I can flip the breaker inside to shut off the electric water heater outside.

I don't know what your recourse would be at this time. If Forest River built it
that way they might think it's OK or it might have been a lazy day for the electrician
and he just took a bad shortcut when wiring your trailer.
Call Forest River and talk to someone in the service or engineering dept.
I'd be curious to hear what their response is.

Good Luck!
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:41 PM   #3
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Dan, I will check it out with my dealer, then call Forest River if I don't get satisfaction from my dealer.

In doing all of the checks that were mentioned in the thread you did on your nonfunctioning electric water heater, I have narrowed it down to a bad outside rocker switch.
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Old 04-21-2009, 02:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnguy View Post
Dan, I will check it out with my dealer, then call Forest River if I don't get satisfaction from my dealer.

In doing all of the checks that were mentioned in the thread you did on your nonfunctioning electric water heater, I have narrowed it down to a bad outside rocker switch.
That would be my last guess.
Switches do go bad but heater elements go bad much more often.
Also my thermostat was burned out.
Have you looked at yours???
Did you check your heating element with an ohm meter?
Should be 20 ohms or less.
If it's in the K ohms or more it's a bad element.
They are relatively cheap.
If your meter goes all over the place when you try to check the element
it's bad.
Remove it and you can usually tell just by looking if they are burned out.

Good luck!
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:51 PM   #5
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I have electricity to the junction box. The thermostat fusible links are intact. I have continuity across the element, but didn't check the ohms. I do not have electricity to the element. I pulled the rocker switch, and do not have continuity across the poles in the on (or off) position. The rocker switch feels "sloppy".

I learned a lot from your thread.....can you tell ???
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:18 PM   #6
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Sounds like you found the problem.
If it were me, I'd just tie those two wires together and use the
circuit breaker inside to turn it off and on.
But it's always good to have that "hidden" switch so you can disable the electric
heat while you're winterized so it doesn't get turned on by accident.
I donno where you'll get a new switch that is a drop in replacement.
Maybe your dealer has one or you can order one.
You shouldn't pay a lot for a simple switch but I've got a feeling they might just
try to make a few bucks off that one.
I'm curious so let us know how you finish the job!

PS. my heater has a hidden receptacle above it, which I can access via my
storage door. I can simply unplug mine and it's not gonna get turned on until
I want it on!
You could hard wire across your switch and maybe do the same?

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Old 04-22-2009, 12:14 AM   #7
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Mtnguy,

Check the gauge of Romex they used to wire the outlets for the fridge and to the water heater. In our rig they used 12 gauge throughout which by the national electrical code is rated for 20amp use. I agree that the two should never have been put on the same cirucit however if there is no way to separate them and put in another breaker and IF they used 12 gauge romex then I would install a 20amp breaker. I would never advise this if the romex was 14 gauge as it is only rated to 15amps.
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
Sounds like you found the problem.
If it were me, I'd just tie those two wires together and use the
circuit breaker inside to turn it off and on.
But it's always good to have that "hidden" switch so you can disable the electric
heat while you're winterized so it doesn't get turned on by accident.
I donno where you'll get a new switch that is a drop in replacement.
Maybe your dealer has one or you can order one.
You shouldn't pay a lot for a simple switch but I've got a feeling they might just
try to make a few bucks off that one.
I'm curious so let us know how you finish the job!
KyDan, I found a replacement switch for $8.89 from RVdealership.com....but the shipping from Texas was almost as much as the switch.

Even though my camper is still under warranty, this fix will save me about $30 in gas, and a day taking care of the problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
PS. my heater has a hidden receptacle above it, which I can access via my
storage door. I can simply unplug mine and it's not gonna get turned on until
I want it on!
You could hard wire across your switch and maybe do the same?

Peace!
KyDan
I don't have a way to unplug my water heater, and since the same circuit breaker also works the fridge, that is probably not an option of mine.
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWJeeper View Post
Mtnguy,

Check the gauge of Romex they used to wire the outlets for the fridge and to the water heater. In our rig they used 12 gauge throughout which by the national electrical code is rated for 20amp use. I agree that the two should never have been put on the same cirucit however if there is no way to separate them and put in another breaker and IF they used 12 gauge romex then I would install a 20amp breaker. I would never advise this if the romex was 14 gauge as it is only rated to 15amps.
I will check out the wire gauge on both appliances, but off hand, it didn't look like very substantial wire. When I get my new rocker switch in, I intend to fire up the electric side of the water heater and the fridge at the same time, and see if the breaker will handle the load. I would think that these 2 appliances should be wired seperately, and will check with the dealer about doing that the next time I take it for warranty service.
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Old 04-22-2009, 11:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWJeeper View Post
Mtnguy,

I agree that the two should never have been put on the same cirucit however if there is no way to separate them and put in another breaker and IF they used 12 gauge romex then I would install a 20amp breaker. I would never advise this if the romex was 14 gauge as it is only rated to 15amps.
NWJeeper, it is 14/2 wire.
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