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Old 05-23-2020, 12:47 PM   #1
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Electric water heater issue

This past week we had our first trip of the season to the beach, great time. However, the electric water heater would not work. I did check the breaker and it was not tripped, but flipped it a few times and still no go. The propane water heater worked like a charm? Thoughts on where to start?

PS - not a Truma water heater.
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Old 05-23-2020, 06:57 PM   #2
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it could be a few things but i'd start by checking the easy things. i am assuming a suburban water heater.

- press the reset switch on the water heater.
- flip the electrical on/off switch on the water heater

if this doesn't work then it is time to check the heating element. disconnect the two power leads from the element. then use a multimeter to check:

- that you have 120 volts across the two disconnected power leads
- that the element has continuity across its two terminals

getting this information should point you on how to proceed. having ac power present at the heating element implies a burnt out element. similar with not continuity across the heating element terminals.
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by CHICKDOE View Post
it could be a few things but i'd start by checking the easy things. i am assuming a suburban water heater.

- press the reset switch on the water heater.
- flip the electrical on/off switch on the water heater

if this doesn't work then it is time to check the heating element. disconnect the two power leads from the element. then use a multimeter to check:

- that you have 120 volts across the two disconnected power leads
- that the element has continuity across its two terminals

getting this information should point you on how to proceed. having ac power present at the heating element implies a burnt out element. similar with not continuity across the heating element terminals.
It may be a failure in the on/off switch on the heater’s face that CHICKDOE mentioned. Mine failed this time last year and others here have had the same failure. It’s easier to test this switch than it is to test the element. I turned OFF the water heater breaker inside, pried the switch out of its metal hole and tested it. BAD. So I jumpered across the switch’s wires for hot water until I got a new switch for $5.
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:21 PM   #4
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many don't realize, or even easily forget, that they may have a SWITCH actually ON the water heater, not just one in the RV.
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Old 05-24-2020, 01:14 PM   #5
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many don't realize, or even easily forget, that they may have a SWITCH actually ON the water heater, not just one in the RV.
x2 Switch would be on lower left corner of heater. Hard to see, harder yet to switch.
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Old 05-24-2020, 01:47 PM   #6
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Here's the switch location on the WH:

Click image for larger version

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If you have an "L" model, there will also be a switch for the electric inside. It could be on your control panel like this:

Click image for larger version

Name:	control-panel-rv-water-heater.jpg
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or it may be a stand-alone type panel (older rigs mostly).


Name:   Electric-Gas switches.jpg
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Old 05-24-2020, 02:48 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the responses. The switch on the heater was on and not the problem, nor was the breaker, so I went looking for the reset button. Low and behold, there was the reset, sitting above the on/off switch all black and hiding in plain sight. I have to admit, for the many times that I was in and out of there, I never once saw the reset before today. Gave is a push and all is good, I have hot water.

Thanks again for the help. Now to fix the awning light wire that has pulled out, but that's obvious and easy.
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Old 05-24-2020, 03:01 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the responses. The switch on the heater was on and not the problem, nor was the breaker, so I went looking for the reset button. Low and behold, there was the reset, sitting above the on/off switch all black and hiding in plain sight. I have to admit, for the many times that I was in and out of there, I never once saw the reset before today. Gave is a push and all is good, I have hot water.

Thanks again for the help. Now to fix the awning light wire that has pulled out, but that's obvious and easy.

Thanks for reporting your resolution.
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