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Old 08-02-2016, 11:41 PM   #31
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Will do! Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:23 PM   #32
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Okay, I did replace the upper thermostat today and unfortunately, that did not fix the problem. I'm a bit confused by this. I am able to get 120 volts on the lower thermostat, which would mean I would think that my water heater is getting power and there is no need to mess with testing anything at the breaker. I am not able to get 240 volt readings at the upper thermostat so I would assume that would mean my upper thermostat is bad. I had done ohms readings on both the upper and lower elements and got 17.3 ohms so I would assume the elements are fine. What is going on?

I opened up the J-box, little circular lid on top of the water heater that has the wires in it with the wire nuts, and noticed a lot of rust in there around the wires. I tried getting 240 volts there and could not get a reading either. Maybe something is messed up in there? But still, if something is messed up in there, I would think the lower thermostat would not read 120 volts, correct?

I had assumed it wasn't a power issue since the lower thermostat was able to get 120 volts, but I don't really understand electrical stuff at all so who knows.

Last edited by amodoko; 08-03-2016 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:31 PM   #33
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Disregard the 120 at the bottom stat. The top element heats up first. I explained earlier how to check it. It's very simple if you will follow it. I will try and walk you though it. One step at a time. Don't get sidetracked. Measure the top two screws at the top of the top thermostat. Is that 240 volts?
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:32 PM   #34
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


I had already tested the upper thermostat, it is in my first post I believe in this thread. I can not get 240 volts there at all, which is why I thought the upper thermostat was bad. The top two screws on the upper thermostat give me a reading of -1 to 1 volts. That was one of the first tests I did, so now I'm thinking there is some weird power issue.

Last edited by amodoko; 08-03-2016 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:42 PM   #35
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Most upper thermostats have 7 screws. The very top two above the red button is where I'm asking you to measure. If you don't have 240 there then you have a power issue. Not a hwh issue. First place I would check if there is no 240 is the plate at the top of the hot water heater where your power comes in. Sometimes those wires burn ho
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:52 PM   #36
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Yeah, the top two screws above the reset button on the upper thermostat always gave me between -1 and 1 volts since I started testing the water heater for issues. I initially made the assumption that this would be the result of a bad upper thermostat, and not a power issue, since the lower thermostat was receiving power (120 volts there). But I don't have a clue about electrical stuff so I obviously assumed wrong. When I measure the voltage at the top of the J box with the wire nuts, I can not get a voltage there either. It is super rusty there in there. Here are some pics.
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:55 PM   #37
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


That's looking pretty rough. Turn off your power and pull out those connections. Looks like they need to be redone. Then check for 240 again after you turn your breaker back on
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Old 08-03-2016, 07:50 PM   #38
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Just for future help anytime time you are working with 240 volts and trying to diagnose a problem you have to always measure for 240 volts only. If you measure for 110 you will get fooled pretty easy. The electric will backfeed through the elements and thermostats, a motor, compressor or whatever you are working on and confuse you.

Also I'm guessing that you must have had a water leak at some point and those connections could be the problem. I would cut them off, strip wires and put new wire nuts in there. It looks like they were totally underwater which could be what your problem is related to. Also your breaker could be bad but I'm suggesting to redo those connections first for now. If you don't have wire nuts you can still measure the two wires for the power coming in and see if you are getting 240.
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Old 08-03-2016, 10:29 PM   #39
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Quote:
Originally Posted by amodoko View Post
Yeah, the top two screws above the reset button on the upper thermostat always gave me between -1 and 1 volts since I started testing the water heater for issues.
That means you are not getting power to the thermostat. Do as BayouRunner says. Turn off breakers, pull wires up and out of the connection box so they are not touching anything. Remove wire nuts. Turn breakers on. Check for voltage between the wires.
To check voltage plug your meter leads into the common and AC voltage ports. Turn selector dial to an AC voltage higher than 240 volts. Touch the meter leads to the two wire connections that had the wire nuts on them. You should get about 240 volts. If you do not, you have a problem with the wiring, probably at the breaker.
If you get 240 at the wiring connections, touch the meter leads to terminals 1 and 3 of the upper thermostat. You should get 240 volts here also. If you do not, you have a problem with connections above. The wires connected to terminals 1 and 3 are just the other end of the wires connected above in the connection box.

If you have a problem it will be in the wire connected to terminal 1 which is probably black. We know that because you said you have 120 volts at the lower heating element. The wire coming to terminal 3 has 120 volts on it. Terminal 3 is connected to terminal 4. Terminal 4 is connected to one of the terminals of each heating elements. But that is 120 volts to ground (the tank). What is missing is the 120 volts (in the opposite phase) that is going through the over temperature device and the thermostats.

If you would like you can do a voltage check at each heating element between the wire coming from terminal 4 and the tank. The tank is grounded. That should read 120 volts.

Here is the concept of 240 volts service.
You have two hot cables and a neutral coming into you home. Each hot cable has 120 volts on it but they are in opposite halves of the cycle. When one is positive the other is negative. The difference between those two voltages is 240 volts. When you need 120 volts you connect between one of the hots and the neutral. When you need 240 volts you connect between the two hots. When you plug a double breaker into your breaker box you automatically connect one breaker to one hot and the other breaker to the other hot. You need 240 volts for your water heater.

Last edited by hkstroud; 08-03-2016 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 08-04-2016, 01:04 AM   #40
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Okay, thanks for the replies. I will respond to each of the comments.

First, BayouRunner, thanks again for your help. I turned off the power, pulled the wires out, took out the wire nuts, cut off an inch of wire on all 4 wires, then stripped an additional inch of rubber off the wires to expose newer "metal" from each wire. Tried measuring 240 volts across the wires in a billion ways, and most of the time I was getting 0 volts, but sometimes I would get a fluctuating number between 200 and 450 volts. Pretty weird.

So then I decided to test each wire individually by putting one lead on one wire, and then the other lead on the metal of the water heater for ground. On wire 1 (as you can see from the photos where I labeled each wire), I got 0 volts. On wire 2 I got 123 volts (fluctuated a bit), on wire 3 I got 40 volts (would fluctuate between 20 and 45 volts), on wire 4 I got 0 volts.

Also, BayouRunner, you are right. I did have a water leak twice on top of that water heater. The AC sits right above it and one time water leaked from the AC onto the top of the water heater. And then, last year, the person above me had a leaking water heater, and water from their water heater leaked through the floor and through my ceiling and some of it, once again, landed on top of the water heater.

But anyways, after cutting off some of the wire and stripping some of the rubber, I am still getting weird voltages from the 4 wires.

And thanks hkstroud, as you can tell from this post I am not getting 240 volts from the wires from the J-box. Also you had said that I had said that I am able to get 120 volts from the lower heating element. Let me clarify that though. I can't get any voltage from the lower heating element when I touch the leads across the two screws in the lower element. What I had said earlier was I was able to get 120 volt readings from the lower thermostat. And what I meant was that I would touch one terminal on the lower thermostat with one lead, and then touch the metal of the water heater tank with the other lead, and I could get 120 volt readings from each terminal on the lower thermostat doing that. I can't get a voltage reading from the lower element though when I measure across the two screws on the element. It reads 0 volts when I do that.

Based on these test results, do you think there is an issue with the breaker? Or an issue with the rusted wires in the J-box? I did cut and strip the wires a bit for better connections and got the results I mentioned above, so maybe it is an issue with the breaker? Not really sure
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Last edited by amodoko; 08-04-2016 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 08-04-2016, 05:12 AM   #41
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


If your not getting 240 volts to the hot water heater the next place to check is at the breaker box. You are only getting half the power through or one leg. That is why you are measuring 120 to ground. You need to measure for 240 only. Has anyone worked in the electric box recently? If not I would suspect a bad breaker, but would check before I would purchase one. Get some help if you are not confident in taking the cover off and measuring live voltage in the breaker box. Not worth getting hurt over
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Old 08-04-2016, 07:36 AM   #42
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


I agree with BayouRunner about the safety issues of opening the breaker box with your knowledge and experience with electricity. However, it kind of hard to get to live parts even with the panel cover removed.

If you are comfortable doing so,
Remove the panel cover. If you are more comfortable turn off the main breaker.
With main breaker off, take a good look at how things are done. Do you see anything that looks screwy? Tug on the wires attached to the water heater breaker. Are they firmly attached?
Turn on main breaker and water heater breaker. Touch your meter leads to the screw terminals of the breaker. One lead to one breaker and the other lead to the other. You should get 240 volts. If not, touch one meter lead to the terminal of one breaker and the other lead to the neutral buss (where the white and bare ground wires are attached). You should get 120 volts between each breaker terminal and the neutral buss. If not you have a bad breaker.
It is really unusual for a breaker to go bad. If you get the proper readings at the breaker terminals, go back to the water heater connections and do another voltage check between the connections. If you still don't have 240 volts there you have a bad connection between the wires at the breaker. Turn off the main breaker, turn off the water heater breaker. Loosen screw terminals of each breaker. Remove wires and inspect. If you don't see anything obvious, put wires back under screw terminals and tighten securely. Turn on main breaker and water heater breaker and do another voltage check.
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Old 08-04-2016, 07:50 AM   #43
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Just looked closer at your wires. Number 3 looks white, number 4 looks red. Number 3 (white) will be one of the wire coming from the breaker. Number 4 (red) will be gong to the thermostat. Can't tell which black, number 1 or number 2, is coming from breaker. It will be the black that is in the same cable with the white. You should have 240 volts between the white, number 3, and that black.
When reconnected those wires should be twisted together for a good connection, not just put under the wire nuts.
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Old 08-04-2016, 03:12 PM   #44
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


(sorry, some of my photos have uploaded sideways, not sure why, but hopefully you guys can make sense of them anyways. I apologize)

Hey guys, thanks again for your replies. I am finally getting somewhere I think. I took off the panel at my breaker, I was wearing Salisbury elecrtrical gloves rated at 500 volts for added protection since I'm new to this. Anyways, from the pictures you can see my panel. I don't believe it has a main panel switch, or at least I don't see one here.

I did some tests on the panel. I first tested across the two nuts on the dryer's breaker (a breaker I know is working) and could get like 245 volts or something (which is correct). I then did the same test across the water heater's nuts, and was getting like 149 volts. I then tested the nut with the black wire on the breaker for the water heater across it and the neutral bar on the far right of the panel, and got like 120 volts. I then tested the nut with the white wire on the breaker for the water heater across it and the neutral bar on the far right of the panel, and got like 10 volts or something.

So it looks like I have an issue with the breaker. My first concern is, do I have to work on this without being able to shut off power? I don't see a breaker panel switch for the whole panel. If so, I will have to wear my 500 volt rated electrical gloves the whole time.

Another issue I realized is when I remove the wires from the actual water heater breaker, and then test across them (see last photos), I also get 0 volts. If I then test each wire to the neutral bar, I also get 0 volts. If I put the wires back in the breaker, I can get 120 volts from the black wire (via the metal screw) to the neutral bar. So I'm worried, if I can't get 240 volts across the wires themselves when they are taken out of the breaker, does that mean I have another power issue besides the breaker?

My next question is, do I just buy a new breaker and pop it in? Or is there something else I should do? Thanks, I'm finally getting somewhere now with this due to your guys' help.
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Old 08-04-2016, 04:15 PM   #45
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Re: Electric Hot Water Heater Not Working - No Hot Water - Troubleshooting tips neede


Stop measuring for 120 volts lol. If it doesn't read 240 it's bad. Please don't take this personal, I'm glad you are learning but you don't have a good understanding of electric. I also realize you have to start somewhere. It makes me nervous to recommend you to go further. Is there a main breaker at maybe another box that you can turn the power off? There should be. Then the breaker could be changed. But you may have a bad buss bar or something that you wouldn't recognize after the breaker is out. It may be as simple as just changing the breaker. But I am uncomfortable with you working in that live box. Sorry
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