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Old 03-30-2017, 12:02 PM   #1
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Water Heater Troubleshooting

Looking for some help in troubleshooting our 2-way water heater. The electric heat has stopped working. Things I've tried so far: turn switch on water heater itself off then back on; pushed on dual reset buttons on water heater (no perceptible movement, so I don't think they were tripped); turned breaker all the way off then back on; and I even went so far as to turn it all off then drain and flush the tank. No change after any of this when operating under shore power. Propane heat works fine. Ideas?
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Old 03-30-2017, 12:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
Looking for some help in troubleshooting our 2-way water heater. The electric heat has stopped working. Things I've tried so far: turn switch on water heater itself off then back on; pushed on dual reset buttons on water heater (no perceptible movement, so I don't think they were tripped); turned breaker all the way off then back on; and I even went so far as to turn it all off then drain and flush the tank. No change after any of this when operating under shore power. Propane heat works fine. Ideas?
Hi: sclifrickson... Bin there done that. A new electric element fixed it!!! Cost under 20 bucks and when all's said n done the RVTech said they're supposed to be all in one piece... not two like ours was. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:19 PM   #3
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Scott have you checked for current at the element connection.


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Old 03-30-2017, 01:42 PM   #4
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When I read this, the first thought that came to my mind is that the element failed. Loren
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:58 PM   #5
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Another reason why I have no desire to the dual power set up, too easy to mess up. I can see the benefits for those hooked up all the time and not moved, but each time there is a disconnection there exists the possibility of error.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:18 PM   #6
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From the water heater manual.

a) Check the circuit breaker in the coach to make sure it has not tripped.
b) Check for 120-volt AC to the ONIOFF switch (lower left hand corner of the control pan) on
gadelectric water heater. If voltage is present on one side of the switch and the heater still doesn't
work, replace switch.
c) Press the reset button on the heater. Located in the control pan.
d) If, after pressing the reset button and turning the power back on, the heater still fails to operate,
turn off the power and check all wire connections.
e) After the first four steps have been followed, the heating element should be checked for
continuity with a voltmeter or other testing device. If defective, replace the element.

http://www.waterheatertimer.org/pdf/...ice_Manual.pdf
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Old 03-30-2017, 03:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
From the water heater manual.
...
e) After the first four steps have been followed, the heating element should be checked for
continuity with a voltmeter or other testing device. If defective, replace the element.
...
From the manual - essentially the "e"step. (I added my own personal comments in red).

My "do it quickly comment" is only necessary if the heater has no water in it.

My "disconnect one wire" comment is intended to prevent any other appliance on the water heater circuit from giving a false reading.

And make 110% certain that you have disconnected the trailer from all 115 Volt power before you try taking off a wire from the element, prior to measuring the resistance of the element. This is easy to forget because the first step requires that the power be on. Take your tool kit with the screwdrivers and put it near the trailer power plug so you have to walk over before you can unscrew wires.

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Old 03-30-2017, 04:58 PM   #8
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Scott have you checked for current at the element connection.
If you remove the propane burner tube you can access the black plastic piece that covers the terminals of the electric heating element . The terminal cover is held on by 3 screws .

With a volt meter and the circuit energized check the voltage across the terminal screws of the element
If you read 120 VAC then the element is probably bad
If you read 0 VAC then the thermostat is bad or satisfied, or the high limit is bad or tripped or the unit switch is off or bad or the circuit breaker is off or bad or the interior switch is off or bad or there is a bad splice in the circuit.
If the element is good you should read 10 to 12 ohms resistance
If the element is bad you should read a high resistance or infinity.
( Do the ohms test with the power off or you may burn up your meter)

If the element is bad you will have voltage present but NO current flow . Current will not flow across an open circuit.

It is often easier to troubleshoot a circuit when energized than when it is deenergized. If a switch is good ,turned on and energized then you should read 0 volts across the switch . If the switch is bad or off , you should read 120 VAC across the switch.

ALWAYS ASSUME A CIRCUIT IS ENERGIZED AND ACT ACCORDINGLY !!
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:38 PM   #9
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If you read 120 VAC then the element is probably bad
Steve, I would take (a modest) exception to that statement.
Rather, I would say the voltage across a good working element should be near to 120 VAC. Or to be precise, as close to the voltage coming into the trailer, minus any voltage drop in the circuit. And in a proper circuit that you find in an Escape trailer, this voltage drop should be minimal. My point is that the voltage reading at the element terminals really only tells you that power is present. It may be going through the element, or it may not. The Resistance test, with the element out of the circuit (minimum of one wire disconnected) is a much more positive test regarding the state of the element - short of having hot water.

I am also tempted to say that "all" electrical appliances should have the intended voltage at the plug or terminals when operating - or they will suffer from low voltage operations. An air conditioner should have near to full voltage at the terminals or it will shut down if so protected.

All that said, your statement is still reasonable if you say "probably bad, if you aren't getting hot water after a few minutes".

And this is worth repeating!
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
ALWAYS ASSUME A CIRCUIT IS ENERGIZED AND ACT ACCORDINGLY !!
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
Steve, I would take (a modest) exception to that statement.
Rather, I would say the voltage across a good working element should be near to 120 VAC. Or to be precise, as close to the voltage coming into the trailer, minus any voltage drop in the circuit. And in a proper circuit that you find in an Escape trailer, this voltage drop should be minimal. My point is that the voltage reading at the element terminals really only tells you that power is present. It may be going through the element, or it may not. The Resistance test, with the element out of the circuit (minimum of one wire disconnected) is a much more positive test regarding the state of the element - short of having hot water.

I am also tempted to say that "all" electrical appliances should have the intended voltage at the plug or terminals when operating - or they will suffer from low voltage operations. An air conditioner should have near to full voltage at the terminals or it will shut down if so protected.

All that said, your statement is still reasonable if you say "probably bad, if you aren't getting hot water after a few minutes".

And this is worth repeating!


--
Alan
When I started my electrical apprenticeship the NEC used
110 /220 VAC as the nominal voltage , then it was changed to
115/230 VAC now it's 120/240 VAC
First it was 440 VAC then it changed to 460 VAC and now it's
480 VAC.
They are all nominal voltages .
It is not uncommon to see circuit voltages vary from 114 to 125 VAC or 455 to 490 VAC .They are all referred to as 120 VAC or 480 VAC.
So when I said 120 VAC that does not mean the voltage is exactly 120 VAC . We use the voltage levels stated in the code.
IE: 116 or 117 or 118 or 119 or 120 or 121 or 122 or 123 VAC are all referred to as 120 VAC.
Just like the battery in your trailer is referred to as a 12 VDC battery even though the battery may read 13.0 VDC.
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