Burned wire on heating element

The Tank Burned wire on heating element

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  • #20265
    mvintx
    Participant

    Hello and thanks for this great forum.

    When the 20 amp circuit breaker tripped on my U.S. Craftmaster water heater, I found one of the wires on the bottom element shorted out at the connection. The plastic insulator was burned and cracked but the continuity across the terminals checks OK. I plan on replacing both elements and they are labeled 3500W. My question is should I replace them with 3500W elements and leave the breaker as is, or use 4500W elements and replace the 20 amp breaker with a 30 amp? There is ample room in the circuit breaker box to add a conventional two-pole breaker. The label on the water heater says it is rated for 3380W @ 208V and 4500W @ 230V.

    I don’t know how old the water heater is but when I bought this mobile home five years ago, the water heater appeared to be almost new. I flushed out the tank and replaced the plastic drain valve with a brass ball valve. It is flushed every six months religiously.

    #20266
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: A 20 amp breaker is for use with 12 gauge wire. Usually heaters are supplied by 30 amp breakers and 10 gauge wire. The biggest element that could go on a 20 amp circuit is 3840 watts (at 240 volts), but I’ve never seen one. The National Electric Code says you can only use 80% of a circuit’s capacity if it is on for three hours in one use. (NEC 22.13) So if you replace the wire with 10 gauge and install 30 amp breakers, you can install 4500 watt elements, but otherwise you need something more like those 3500 watt at 240 volt elements. Clear as mud? 😉

    Yours, Larry

    #20267
    mvintx
    Participant

    There is 10 AWG running from the 20 amp breaker to the water heater, so in your opinion, would I be better off replacing the breaker with a 30 amp and using 4500W elements, or go the simplest route and use 3500W elements.

    This is a guest house that is only used occasionally. Thanks.

    #20268
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: I think it boils down to use. If one tank of hot water will always take care of the need, just replace elements. The slower re-heating won’t matter. If slightly faster heating might be needed, replacing breakers and elements makes sense.

    Yours, Larry

    #20270
    mvintx
    Participant

    You’re opinion was what I wanted to hear. Thanks very much for your expertise and this forum.

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