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Old 12-30-2018, 12:06 AM   #1
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Heating element


Blew a 3800 watt element on my water heater. According to the chart on the heater it says the lower one can be 3800(factory) or can go up to a 5500 watt. I need to also take into consideration the wire size used correct? Iím not sure what size was used when it was installed. Will it be ok if it is 12 gauge wire to have one element up to 5500 watts?
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Old 12-30-2018, 12:55 AM   #2
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Re: Heating element


NO !
5500W @ 240V =22.9A
#12 is rated for 20A
You will need #10.
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Old 12-30-2018, 04:36 AM   #3
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Re: Heating element


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Originally Posted by Ryanmalott View Post
I’m not sure what size was used when it was installed.
Then confirm what was used. Get help if needed.
(10ga for 30A/240V is most common)
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Old 12-30-2018, 05:30 AM   #4
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Re: Heating element


Check the amperage of the circuit breaker. 3800 watt water heaters often use 20 amp breakers with #12 wire. If that is what you have, you must replace with a 3800 watt element.

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Old 12-30-2018, 08:39 AM   #5
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Re: Heating element


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Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
NO !
5500W @ 240V =22.9A
#12 is rated for 20A
You will need #10.


Isnít it 5500 x 1.25 / 240 for 28.6A?


10 AWG plus [email protected] breaker....


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Old 12-30-2018, 10:00 AM   #6
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Re: Heating element


The breakers for the water heater are 30 amp. So how can I verify they used 10 gauge wire?
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:32 AM   #7
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Re: Heating element


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The breakers for the water heater are 30 amp. So how can I verify they used 10 gauge wire?
Measure it (0.1019") if you can't see any markings.


Back in the dark ages ALL romex covering was white.
Now 12ga has Yellow and 10ga has orange
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:34 AM   #8
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Re: Heating element


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Measure it (0.1019") if you can't see any markings.


Back in the dark ages ALL romex covering was white.
Now 12ga has Yellow and 10ga has orange
I will try that and see. The house was built in 81. The Romex is white, Iíll double check again and see if I see any markings.
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:45 AM   #9
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Re: Heating element


Ok I looked and I was not able to figure out how to measure the wire but did confirm that the romex is a larger gauge than what the water heater is plumbed with.

Now if I don’t go all the way to 5500 watt. Can I do a 4500?
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Heating element-36a0248e-0f2d-4f11-a050-263e44593024.jpg   Heating element-cdb7d305-b3a1-4d41-a764-a487c8dcdae3.jpg   Heating element-b370a2e5-665d-4ba1-bdef-183433f0a86d.jpg  

Last edited by Ryanmalott; 12-30-2018 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:47 AM   #10
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Re: Heating element


Use wire strippers as a measurement gauge if you don't have a dial gauge.
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:09 PM   #11
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Re: Heating element


I was able to confirm it is 10 gauge running to hot water heater. Also on a 30 amp breaker.

Am I good to go with the 5500 watt? What benefits will I get, just quicker hot water?
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:29 PM   #12
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Re: Heating element


Quicker reheat is the only benefit. Verify the thermostat has a high enough rating or it will burn out.
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:37 PM   #13
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Re: Heating element


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Originally Posted by Ryanmalott View Post
I was able to confirm it is 10 gauge running to hot water heater. Also on a 30 amp breaker.

Am I good to go with the 5500 watt? What benefits will I get, just quicker hot water?



yes.....BUT I think I'd try to understand why the wires are so charred at 3500W before going to 5500W. It will only get worse and potentially be a risk... Maybe it was just a loose screw at the junction point but tread carefully here...



The benefits would be faster tank recovery. You won't notice that if you seldom run out of hot water though.
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Old 12-30-2018, 02:12 PM   #14
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Re: Heating element


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yes.....BUT I think I'd try to understand why the wires are so charred at 3500W before going to 5500W. It will only get worse and potentially be a risk... Maybe it was just a loose screw at the junction point but tread carefully here...



The benefits would be faster tank recovery. You won't notice that if you seldom run out of hot water though.
What do you mean by the wires charred? Are you referring to the above set of photos? That’s the faulty heating element NOT the wiring.


How do I verify if the thermostat will handle the 5500?

Last edited by Ryanmalott; 12-30-2018 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 12-30-2018, 02:52 PM   #15
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Re: Heating element


The label says you can use a 5500 watt element, the t-stats are good for it.

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