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Old 01-31-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
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Default Any electrician's here?

Can you tell me why my water heater keeps tripping the breaker?
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:36 PM   #2
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has it always happened? if not it's probably a problem with the water heater that it's making the line over load and tripping the breaker
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:40 PM   #3
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has it always happened? if not it's probably a problem with the water heater that it's making the line over load and tripping the breaker
Yea, it's been happening for several months now. Sometimes it will go days without tripping and then sometimes it will trip it constantly.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:43 PM   #4
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anything else on the circuit? I'd stick a clamp-on amp meter on that breaker feed and see what it's drawing. Could be a worn out breaker or could be a faulty water heater. The amp meter will tell you.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:54 PM   #5
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anything else on the circuit? I'd stick a clamp-on amp meter on that breaker feed and see what it's drawing. Could be a worn out breaker or could be a faulty water heater. The amp meter will tell you.


Nope, nothing else on it. Where would I clamp the amp meter to, the breaker itself?
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:36 PM   #6
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we had a bad breaker, similar issue, instead of it measuring and being activated at overload over 15 amps, it would activate lower as it gets old so when i turn on my microwave it would pop it once in a while, then few months after it started becoming more common to where we couldnt use the microwave as you'd turn it on and it would pop a sec later. Changed it with a new one and havent had issues since, i'd say start cheap.
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:16 PM   #7
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Could be a heater element has corroded and is leaking current to ground (will trip GFCI type breakers). Unplug the leads to the elements and check element to ground resistance - old school analog meters are the best for this... Check all conductors (wires) to make sure nothing is chafed, rubbed, arc marks, soot, & terminations are tight - and be sure the power is off and confirm before starting the job!

If everthing else checks out, (3rd thymer & triple88a's thoughts) probably just the breaker is flaking out...sh*t happens. I had a 200a main breaker tripping without anything going on with the small distribution breakers - it was old (and the most expensive!).

I would lean toward the weak breaker since the problem is intermittent (a ground fault should not be...)

Last edited by secretsquirrel; 01-31-2010 at 10:41 PM. Reason: Ninja edit for clarification - Tito's Vodka is hampering the diag skills...
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:22 PM   #8
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Could be the heater element has corroded and is leaking current to ground (will trip GFCI type breakers). Unplug the leads to the element and check element to ground resistance - old school analog meters are the best for this (of course after turning off breaker and confirming there is no voltage!). Or maybe just the breaker is flaking out...sh*t happens. I had a 200a main breaker tripping without anything going on with the small distribution breakers - it was old (and the most expensive!).
i would bet on it being this hows your hot water? does it get cold fast? down here in the south we have ALOT OF LIME it builds up and shorts out the lower water heater element causing the top one to work over time. it would trip the breaker every time.
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:40 PM   #9
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The easy check would be to replace the breaker ($10-$15?). If it still happens I would buy two new elements and replace them (not sure what that costs). 95% chance that you will be good to go after that.
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:53 PM   #10
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If an element/s is bad, sears.com has a great parts site with exploded diagrams, part #'s etc. (for all kinds of appliances). Once you get the part number, google is your friend (read - super cheap). I did find a water heater element in stock at the local hardware store (Lowes, HomoDepot, Sears Service Ctr - don't remember) when I needed one NOW for the mother-in-law. GL
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:10 PM   #11
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The easy check would be to replace the breaker ($10-$15?). If it still happens I would buy two new elements and replace them (not sure what that costs). 95% chance that you will be good to go after that.
they are like $4 a piece very cheap the big pain is draining the water heater then cleaning out all the lime
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:13 AM   #12
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and if you're going to drain the water heater, check your dip tube and anode rod and change your drain valve for a nice ball valve.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:05 AM   #13
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Nope, nothing else on it. Where would I clamp the amp meter to, the breaker itself?
Clamp around the hot wire.
Doesn't matter where in the circuit amperage is the same.
Easiet would be where the wire comes off the breaker.
Breakers are set to trip at 80-85% there rating.
If the new breaker trips,call a plumber.
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:43 AM   #14
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Leave it off, your from Florida you don't need it.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eadohcturbo View Post
Clamp around the hot wire.
And note that electric heaters tend to be 220v, so they have two hot wires, typically one red and one black. Current flow through these two wires is equal buy opposite (they are essentially a differential pair) so you need only clamp around one of the two. If you clamp over both, you'll read zero.

Easiest place depends on your specific layout. You can pull the cover off the breaker panel, you can open the wiring cover at the heater, there may be an easily accessible J-box, etc.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:14 PM   #16
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Thanks fellas, I'll work on it this weekend and update ya'll.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:47 PM   #17
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Thanks fellas, I'll work on it this weekend and update ya'll.
Be careful in that panel, lots of exposed bus bars that will **** you up.
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:13 PM   #18
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Good new fellas, I replaced the elements and it's good to go. The old ones were really nasty and over kill according to the dude at the local plumbing store. The old ones were 5500 watts at 240 volts. So I went with 4500 watt.

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Old 02-07-2010, 07:54 PM   #19
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FYI, I typed that and attached the pic from my iPhone. I love this thing. That's all lol.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:05 AM   #20
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How did you attached it from from your iPhone? Photobucket?
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