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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I just recently moved into a house which had been a foreclosure. Prior to purchase I had a home inspection done. One of the issues the inspector flagged was that the hot water heater wasn't working. I had resigned myself to purchasing a new one but was surprised to find on my second day in the house that there was hot water. This turn of events only lasted a day unfortunately and now it's not working again.

It's a 40 gallon electric AO Smith manufactured in 2002 (this bit is strange considering the how was built in 2004). My question is whether I should just bite the bullet and have it replaced or look into trying to fix it. Unfortunately, I don't know much about this stuff, but I'm kean to learn. Thanks in advance for any input.

-rs1971
 

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All water heaters are different. Please post model number so i can look up and instruct you how to use it or repair it. The number/label should be on the outside tank. It could be that an older one was installed or it was new but from older stock when purchased and put in. I have seen the close to 2 yr difference before. Having it fixed could be the way to go and at 9 yrs old you would get maybe another 10 yrs depending on what the water quality is like there at your house. Anything can happen but water quality really takes a toll on water heaters. I personally have a "white" that is still going good after 25 yrs but had to replace a few things throughout the yrs. Getting a new one depends how long you plan on staying at current residence. if you plan on staying a long time and want trouble free then I would go with a "marathon" if going new they are expensive but are very efficient and would last a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here's the label

All water heaters are different. Please post model number so i can look up and instruct you how to use it or repair it. The number/label should be on the outside tank. It could be that an older one was installed or it was new but from older stock when purchased and put in. I have seen the close to 2 yr difference before. Having it fixed could be the way to go and at 9 yrs old you would get maybe another 10 yrs depending on what the water quality is like there at your house. Anything can happen but water quality really takes a toll on water heaters. I personally have a "white" that is still going good after 25 yrs but had to replace a few things throughout the yrs. Getting a new one depends how long you plan on staying at current residence. if you plan on staying a long time and want trouble free then I would go with a "marathon" if going new they are expensive but are very efficient and would last a long time.
Thanks Obsidian for taking the time to reply. I had just about talked myself into just replacing it with a new one, but if this one can be repaired easily and cheaply, I'm all for giving it a go. Rather than just transcribing the model number, here is an image of the label with all of the relevant information:



Thanks again.

-rs1971
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bump

I just thought that I'd bump this one more time before I shelled out the money for a new unit. It just seems strange that it started working for a brief period (the water was *really* hot so no doubt that it was working). So, anyone got any troubleshooting ideas?

Thanks

-rs1971
 

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sounds like a bad thermostat or shorted element. that is why the water was really hot then the high limit popped and turned off the power to the unit. if you arent comfortable working with electric hire a plumber or an electrician that is familiar with electric water heaters. there is a red reset button under the upper cover. turn the power off to the water heater before removing the cover. pull the insulation to the side and you should see a red button. you need to push hard to reset it and you will hear it click. then replace the insulation and cover before turning the power back on. if you get hot water again in an hour or so then the problem is what i said at the beginning. the parts to replace both elements and both thermostats is around 50 dollars at lowes.
 

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i just looked again and noticed that you have a single element in your WH so you would only need 1 thermostat and 1 element at about 30 dollars in cost. more then likely its the thermostat tho.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
sounds like a bad thermostat or shorted element. that is why the water was really hot then the high limit popped and turned off the power to the unit. if you arent comfortable working with electric hire a plumber or an electrician that is familiar with electric water heaters. there is a red reset button under the upper cover. turn the power off to the water heater before removing the cover. pull the insulation to the side and you should see a red button. you need to push hard to reset it and you will hear it click. then replace the insulation and cover before turning the power back on. if you get hot water again in an hour or so then the problem is what i said at the beginning. the parts to replace both elements and both thermostats is around 50 dollars at lowes.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply. So, I turned the power off, removed the cover and pressed the reset button. Actually, I pressed it a bunch of times since it really wasn't clear to me whether it had tripped or not. At one point, I'm pretty sure that I did hear it pop. I also turned the temperature down slightly before turning the power back on.

It's an hour later and it does seem that I do have hot (though not quite as hot) water once again. So, it looks like your diagnosis was correct. The one thing that's still not clear to me is how it 'reset' itself the first time since there was no hot water when I had the home inspected prior to purchase and there is no chance that any hit the reset button manually between then and when I moved in and it was briefly working.

In any event, regarding the thermostat / heating elements. Are these generic parts? Or are they unit specific? Are they tough to replace? I'm a complete novice but I'm willing to go slow and research / read instructions carefully.

Thanks again.
 

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Could there be an energy saving timer somewhere close to the WH or the breaker panel that has the clock set wrong or the On time is too short?
 

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the only thing i can think of is that it is heat activated and maybe when it cooled completely down it reset itself. if the same thing happens its probably the thermostat. i think they were 16-17 dollars at lowes. was the water a lot hotter then what the thermostat was set at? the parts arent hard to replace if the new one is identical. there are different brands of thermostats but all do the same thing. there used to be one brand that was wired a little different then the others. the element is the hardest to replace as sometimes they are hard to break loose if they are the screw in kind. they do sell a socket for them tho. the reset is there if for some reason the thermostat doesn't shut off or if an element shorts and is heating all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Could there be an energy saving timer somewhere close to the WH or the breaker panel that has the clock set wrong or the On time is too short?
This was an interesting thought but I had a look around and there were no likely candidates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
the only thing i can think of is that it is heat activated and maybe when it cooled completely down it reset itself. if the same thing happens its probably the thermostat. i think they were 16-17 dollars at lowes. was the water a lot hotter then what the thermostat was set at? the parts arent hard to replace if the new one is identical. there are different brands of thermostats but all do the same thing. there used to be one brand that was wired a little different then the others. the element is the hardest to replace as sometimes they are hard to break loose if they are the screw in kind. they do sell a socket for them tho. the reset is there if for some reason the thermostat doesn't shut off or if an element shorts and is heating all the time.
I can't say whether or not the water was hotter than what the thermostat was set it. The water was pretty hot, but the thermostat was set pretty high. Having turned the thermostat down a bit and reset it, I still have hot water 16 hours later so I'm going to just see what happens. If it goes out again, I'll replace just the thermostat to see if that solves the problem. If not, I'll have a go at the heating element.

The fact that it 'reset' itself automatically is still strange especially since it happened that one time, but not again, even after having been tripped for several days. In any event, some mysteries just weren't meant to be solved.

Thanks again for your input.
 
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