electric water heater question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by scaryguyoy, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. scaryguyoy

    scaryguyoy Well-Known Member

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    Today the lower element to my water heater went out.While i was looking at the element i discovered that the previous owner has replaced the element with the wrong wattage.THe side of the tank calls for a 1500 watt 240volt element ,but there is a 3500 watt 240 volt element in there now.When i went to the home depot i discovered they do not carry a 1500 watt 240 volt element but they carry the higher watt element ,which is probable why it is the way it is.I am leaning towards replacing the element like the previous owner did ,is there any reason not to do that again?It seemed to work fine the first time.As an aside ,it would be difficult to get a new water heater into the basement,because of newer duct work. i suspect i may have a hard time finding the proper sized element for this older water heater.
    Frank
     
  2. ChuckinVA

    ChuckinVA Well-Known Member

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    Frank,
    My concern would be if your wiring to the water heater is not sized correctly to carry the load of the 3500 watt element and what ever size element is in the top. I think if I had to drain the tank to change the lower element, I might would change the upper element as well. The combination of the two could be a problem. If they both are 3500, that would be 7000 watts. Check your circuit breaker or fuse that protects the water heater circuit and see what size it is. If it is 30 amps and both elements are 3500 watt you could have a potential problem,7000 watts / 230 volts is just a tadd over 30 amps. Your circuit should not be loaded over 24 amps ( 80%).I would try and find a electrical supply or plumbing supply house nearby that would have the proper element.
     

  3. scaryguyoy

    scaryguyoy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Chuck , you are right the upper element is also 3500 and it is on a 30 amp breaker.The upper element is supposed to be 2500 .I am going to follow your advice,i may even consider getting a new water heater as i suspect that the botttom is full of sediment. i tried to empty it today and the amount of watere that came out makes me believe the sediment may be above the drain valve.Could the amount of wattage on that breaker be the reason the lights will flicker sometimes.Also we have an outrageous electric bill could that also be contributing to that.We have only lived here for 2 years i have been trying unsuccessfully to figure out the causes to both of the above .Again, thank you.
    Frank
     
  4. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Water heaters are wired to where only one element is on at a time. At no time will both elements receive power simoultaneously. You concern still remains to whether the supply and breaker are sized to accept the larger 3500 watt element however.
     
  5. duke3522

    duke3522 Well-Known Member

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    Indiana
    Hi,

    Replace that turkey. Especially if it has any age on it at all. Recently replaced my ancient, limed-up, electric hot water heater with a 50 gallon whirlpool. Lower electric bills and plenty of hot water.

    duke
     
  6. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    To replace or not to replace, that is the question.

    Most all electric water heaters get hard water deposts building up on the bottom of the tank. After removing the element to allow for replacement take a wet or dry shop vac and suck out the flaky material inside. I simply taped a chunk of garden hose into the vac hose to do this, then inserted the garden hose into the tank. Moving it all around repeatedly removed almost all of the deposits. If the deposits are not removed the new element may set in them and burn out shortly.

    Using the drain faucet frequently helps prevent excessive buildups.
     
  7. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Depending on the age of your present water heater, the energy savings from a new heater may pay for itself in lower electric bills in only two or three years. You might also want to consider going to gas. I know it varies from place to place, but here gas is much cheaper to run than electric, although the tank itself will be more expensive.
     
  8. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    One way to lower electric costs is to put the water heater on a timer
    and just heat it once a day. This works especially well if
    you are on a time-of-day meter, where the night rate is only about 30%
    of the day rate.
    Or, I switch the heater off at the circuit breaker, although a lot of
    people would not recommend that. If I heat water once in the morning ,
    it will last me all day (but I am a one person household).
    Time of day meters also have the lower rate on weekends, so you can
    use more hot water then for jobs that you don't need to do daily.
    Ann
     
  9. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    I've noticed our electric bills are a lot larger now that we have a electric hot water heater, versus last year with the gas. I'm also tossing around the idea of buying a new small electric water heater, since there is only 2 of us and the one we have is full size...

    how does one go about draining a water heater...in winter!
     
  10. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    Clarksville TN.
    Yep that will contribute to higher light bill! Heating elements of any kind use lots of power.And the difference between 1500 and 3500 watts would suck some power id think.Bet it doesn't take long to recover though. :D Yep could also cause lights to flicker.Id look high and low for the correct one! I said could cause the lights to flicker.Other things could do that also,as we had the same problem in more than one house,with correct heaters.Thank god this house doesn't do it.

    To clean out the sediment.I turn the water off,open the drain valve (with hose attached) drain the tank.Then turn the water back on to stir up the stuff in the bottom of the tank.Cleans most of the stuff out.The heater i have now is designed to clean it self.Plastic pipe inside swirls the inlet water around the bottom of the tank,stirring any sediment(not letting it settle).That Little pipe made water heater cost a lot more.I worked for State Industries (water heater company) a while back.That all that is in there. :rolleyes: I can also say if you buy a new one.Dont shop around! Get a Kenmore from sears! They go threw lots more Quality control than any other heater they made.Hence the tank are treated better,less chance of dents that cause glass breakage (the liner).They made lots of brands. :rolleyes:

    If your basement isn't heated or even if it is.(I read somewhere)That A cover over it will help insulate it better=Less light bill.They sell the covers at Lowe's.Its just like a big bag that slips over it,from what Ive seen.No i don't have mine covered.Humm maybe i should though.
     
  11. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    Make sure you ask some one that really No's how big you need.I mean if you get one to small the recovery of the heater might still eat up the same amount of power,by it having to try and heat so much cold water coming in.To large and your keeping way more water heated than you need.I think,i read one time that a 40 gallon was the most efficient,under normal use.And I'm sure that would be the best size for a family of two.(Under normal usage).But you may be trying to conserve water.Hum that wouldn't be normal usage if so.But i could be wrong.I no taking a deep bath at the temp i like, would empty a 30 gallon heater.Causing it to have to run for a long time to fully recover.(note we are not very water conservative. :( ) .Its far more efficient to have one large enough one that you don't use up all the hot water in it.

    To drain in the winter.Connect a garden hose to the drain, open drain and let the hot water flow. Its Hot! :D
     
  12. dale

    dale Well-Known Member

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    A good way to clean out the sediment if you dont have the shop vac is to take a curtian rod. pull it apart then open one end and make it like a shovel it will fit into the 1 1/2 inch hole and you can scoop till you have it cleaned out or you hearts content.

    Now we changed over from elec. water heater last fall to a propane water heater. Our elec bill dropped $40.00 per month.
    We are using more propane but the price comparsion is nothing near the same.

    dale
     
  13. Non Sum

    Non Sum Active Member

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    Mar 7, 2003
    I too do an annual shopvac of my electric water heater. But, one thing not mentioned in regards to the lime deposits is that the element itself should be cleaned. The lime encrusts, and insulates itself from the water otherwise. I drop it into a pitcher of water and muriatic acid mixed, and in ten minutes it bubbles itself clean again. I've done this for 13 years now, and the heater and element are like new.