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Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Kenyon, May 11, 2006.
Does anyone know how to tell if an element is going bad on a hot water heater?
Most water heaters have two elements. Kill the power at the breaker box. On the water heater, start with the lower element (it's usually the first to go), disconect the two wires and use a multi-meter to determine if there is continuity. If not, you have a bad element.
As a matter of fact, we just replaced the element in our water heater today. We knew it was going because it starting taking 2 and 3 times as long to heat up the tank. Then, whenever the tank would turn on it would trip the breaker.
When making the continuity test as suggest by Bare also check to see if either side of the element is shorted to ground. Put one lead of the meter on the element screw head and the other to the ground screw on the heater. Repeat with the other screw. If either has continuity then the element is shorted to ground. Obviously the element will need to be replaced if shorted in this manner or open as stated above. The shorted to ground condition can create excessively hot water and also unseat the safety valve.
Water is conductive so you cannot check continuity. Use an amp meter and check the current draw. I suppose you might check the resistance thru a good element and compare that to the suspect one. I have never tried. Ken
thanks everybody! one more question...does anyone know how much it will cost to replace the element???
joken, I do not think you are aware of how a heating element is constructed. You can determine if the element is either open within itself or if it is shorted to the outer covering, both with a multimeter!
They come in all different dressings... just make sure watts/amps are the same and it should be no more than 20.00 per element. (that's the high side)
Kenyon, I have switched the upper good unit to the position of the lower bad unit when a replacement element was not available. Hardly any awareness will exist that you made the switch. If the top unit is defective I doubt that you would know it.