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Old 06-17-2018, 04:38 PM   #1
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Water Heater Electric Heating Element Won't Heat

I have a Suburban SW6DE Water heater in my 2016 RPod 178 (Unit is 2 years old). Propane work's fine, but the electric heating element will not get hot. Here's what I have done to remedy the situation thus far:

Circuit Breaker is on and stays on. No tripping.

When breaker is off, Ohms are good on the electric switch to turn on the element, Ohms are good on the 120v thermostat on the left, and Ohms are good on the heating element itself. It physically looks good as well.

When breaker is on, multi-meter reads 120v on the switch, the t-stat and the element.

I have attempted to press the t-stat reset button on the 120v side and it doesn't seem to be tripped. Still getting 120v on the outgoing side and 120v on the element.

I have replaced the heating element with a brand new one with the same specs (1440 watts, 120v) and having the same issue.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:03 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Thunderstruk808 View Post
I have a Suburban SW6DE Water heater in my 2016 RPod 178 (Unit is 2 years old). Propane work's fine, but the electric heating element will not get hot. Here's what I have done to remedy the situation thus far:

Circuit Breaker is on and stays on. No tripping.

When breaker is off, Ohms are good on the electric switch to turn on the element, Ohms are good on the 120v thermostat on the left, and Ohms are good on the heating element itself. It physically looks good as well.

When breaker is on, multi-meter reads 120v on the switch, the t-stat and the element.

I have attempted to press the t-stat reset button on the 120v side and it doesn't seem to be tripped. Still getting 120v on the outgoing side and 120v on the element.

I have replaced the heating element with a brand new one with the same specs (1440 watts, 120v) and having the same issue.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
You have to measure the ohms on the element with at least one of the wires disconnected. I prefer both disconnected

You are then wanting around 10 ohms for an element to be good, and make the necessary heat. If you aren't getting that, or maybe a 1 or OL, then element is bad.

I was just helping another member with this a few weeks ago, and I took some pics with my cellphone. Let me see if I can upload them.
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:07 PM   #3
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You have to measure the ohms on the element with at least one of the wires disconnected. I prefer both disconnected

You are then wanting around 10 ohms for an element to be good, and make the necessary heat. If you aren't getting that, or maybe a 1 or OL, then element is bad.


I have tested the old element and the new element. Ohms are within parameters without wires connected.
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:15 PM   #4
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It sounds like the only thing left could be a bad neutral, if everything is as you stated and was done/tested correctly.

How exactly are you measuring for voltage at the element itself? What I mean is where are you placing each of the probes to measure the difference in potential (voltage).
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:21 PM   #5
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It sounds like the only thing left could be a bad neutral, if everything is as you stated and was done/tested correctly.

How exactly are you measuring for voltage at the element itself? What I mean is where are you placing each of the probes to measure the difference in potential (voltage).


Iím placing one probe on one terminal of the element and the other probe to the metal on the water heater itself for ground and reading 120v. Then placing one probe on the other terminal of the element and the other probe to the metal on the water heater for ground and still getting 120v. Iím totally scratching my head.
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Old 06-17-2018, 05:51 PM   #6
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OK, I may not explain this correct, but will give it a try. You can get voltage all the way from the beginning at the circuit breaker---along the entire black hot wire (inclusive of closed switches and closed thermostats) to the element, then all the way "from" the element on the white neutral return wire back to the neutral bus bar back at the distribution panel where the circuit breaker is. This is what makes a complete circuit (think circle).


The Alternating Current (AC) operates in a cycle where the current flows one direction, then alternates to the opposite direction. You have to have a complete circuit for this cycle to operate, and thus power the object (heating element in this case).


You can measure voltage on one side (coming from the circuit breaker and utilizing a ground for the black meter probe)) up until you get to a point where the circuit is broken (which can be by design utilizing a switch, thermostat, etc).



Also if the neutral wire is broken (open), you can measure voltage coming from the hot line circuit breaker side....all the way up to the point where the neutral is open...which could be anywhere from the electric element back to the neutral bus bar in the panel. It's should be only on the wire downstream of the open/break that you cannot get a 120 voltage reading.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Thunderstruk808 View Post
I’m placing one probe on one terminal of the element and the other probe to the metal on the water heater itself for ground and reading 120v. Then placing one probe on the other terminal of the element and the other probe to the metal on the water heater for ground and still getting 120v. I’m totally scratching my head.

Try placing your probes simultaneously on both the black hot and white neutral wires on the element, and see if you get 120 volts. If not, this could possibly indicate an open/broke neutral.


You do to make sure the water is cool inside the tank, so the thermostats will close and allow power to the element.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:01 PM   #7
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OK, I may not explain this correct, but will give it a try. You can get voltage all the way from the beginning at the circuit breaker---along the entire black hot wire (inclusive of closed switches and closed thermostats) to the element, then all the way "from" the element on the white neutral return wire back to the neutral bus bar back at the distribution panel where the circuit breaker is. This is what makes a complete circuit (think circle).


The Alternating Current (AC) operates in a cycle where the current flows one direction, then alternates to the opposite direction. You have to have a complete circuit for this cycle to operate, and thus power the object (heating element in this case).


You can measure voltage on one side (coming from the circuit breaker) up until you get to a point where the circuit is broken (which can be by design utilizing a switch, thermostat, etc).



Also if the neutral wire is broken (open), you can measure voltage coming from the hot line circuit breaker side....all the way up to the point where the neutral is open...which could be anywhere from the electric element back to the neutral bus bar in the panel. It's should be only on the wire downstream of the open/break that you cannot get a 120 voltage reading.


I think Iím tracking. So your thought is that there may be a break somewhere on the white wire leaving the element, all the way back to the breaker?
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:07 PM   #8
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I think I’m tracking. So your thought is that there may be a break somewhere on the white wire leaving the element, all the way back to the breaker?

Possibly. I edited my post above with more things, as my original quote and response didn't make it to the final draft. Evidently I had two screens/posting windows open. LOL
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:20 PM   #9
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You may possibly have to remove the white neutral wire from the element. Then touch the red probe to the black hot line and the black probe to the disconnected white neutral wire. This should give you the difference in potential (voltage), the same as touching a ground somewhere.


Have you looked at the neutral bus bar in your RV's electrical distribution panel, to see if there are any loose, burned connections?


That does happen, due to road vibrations, bad connections, etc.


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Old 06-17-2018, 06:41 PM   #10
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I think I’m tracking. So your thought is that there may be a break somewhere on the white wire leaving the element, all the way back to the breaker?
Not trying to interfere but the white wire does not go to the breaker it goes to neutral (ground). With power off use a jumper (could be an extension cord with a 3 prong receptacle) from any AC receptacle neutral (the big hole) socket to one meter lead and the other meter lead to the white wire (disconnected from the element) and the meter should read continuity. If it doesn't the white wire is open somewhere.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:44 PM   #11
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You may possibly have to remove the white neutral wire from the element. Then touch the red probe to the black hot line and the black probe to the disconnected white neutral wire. This should give you the difference in potential (voltage), the same as touching a ground somewhere.


Have you looked at the neutral bus bar in your RV's electrical distribution panel, to see if there are any loose, burned connections?


That does happen, due to road vibrations, bad connections, etc.




I havenít looked yet but I got off work early to do so. Youíve got me excited for a fix!!
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:53 PM   #12
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You may possibly have to remove the white neutral wire from the element. Then touch the red probe to the black hot line and the black probe to the disconnected white neutral wire. This should give you the difference in potential (voltage), the same as touching a ground somewhere.


Have you looked at the neutral bus bar in your RV's electrical distribution panel, to see if there are any loose, burned connections?


That does happen, due to road vibrations, bad connections, etc.




So I got home and popped open the distribution panel and wouldnít you know it... Only one of those white wires were tightened down. The rest were unscrewed all the way. Obviously came from the factory that way which is disappointing. What shocks me even more (pardon the pun) is all my other circuits worked. Regardless, the temperature on my heater is rising as I type this. Thank you so much for the help!
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Old 06-17-2018, 08:31 PM   #13
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Excellent, glad to hear it was such an easy fix. I tend to go long on explanations so that understanding how something works/functions helps troubleshoot the process (or that's how I like to believe). lol

Hopefully you understand it all now, and can pay it forward if you read about a similar problem in the future.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:21 AM   #14
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Just one update to this thread which may be of benefit for other RV'ers doing a search later on, the wiring schematic in the OP is actually to older model Suburban water heaters that had a smaller watt heating element. Any of the recent ones will have a 1440 watt heating element and need 12 amps @120 volts like in the schematic below.



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