Help with placement of elecric heater elements

The Tank Help with placement of elecric heater elements

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  • #23905
    regularguy
    Participant

    When I was back in high school, a handy man came to fix our water heater.
    The element had burned out in the electric water heater. I believe it was the lower one due to being surrounded by calcium sediment. He stated the the electric elements, and these were the high density screw in type, should be placed in when screwing them in a certain way. He said that the u-shape in the element should be level and horizontal to the ground. Like when you hold out your hand and extend your thumb and it is level with the ground. He even gave the reason why. He said that if the element was placed vertically, like when you hold your hand out and the thumb is pointing up, the hot water could not rise through the space in the u-shape in the element and would super heat the water and cause heat bubbles to form on the upper surface of the element that was directly above the bottom part of the heating element. When the bubbles hit the upper surface of the element this would simulate dry firing of the tank and burn out the element sooner.

    Now everytime I put in a new high density element of the screw in type, I beleive it takes a 1 & 1/2 inch socket, I try to line up the elements u-shaped hoop horizontally.

    What I would like to know is this: is this some kind of wifes’s tale or is there any truth to this, and also how do you guys do this in the real world as sometimes when tightening the element in place it doesn’t quite come out horizontaly. I would really appreciate an answer on this after all of these years.

    Thanks,

    Mike

    #23907
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello, That’s an interesting theory, but in practice, two things that matter more are that the element be the right tightness when installed, (leaks are bad) and the harder the water, the more scale and sediment will be of concern. Low watt density elements generally are better to use in hard water areas, but the counterpoint to that is that high watt density elements expand and shrink more with heat than low watt density elements. This allows scale that has built up to fall off and sit on the bottom of the tank. It only works until the element gets buried in sediment however 😛

    The orientation of the element is not something I’ve ever seen mentioned in literature or heard of as being important. Convective currents around the element will not flow fast, so the perceived flow obstruction seems to me, more imagined than real 😎

    Yours, Larry

    #23910
    regularguy
    Participant

    Thanks Larry,

    I have been reading in your book: The Water Heater Workbook. It has lots of great tips!

    I agree that getting the elements down tight so they don’t leak is more important than the orientation. An old wive’s tale solved after 40 years!

    Thanks again,

    Mike

    #23911
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Thankyou! A trick with elements is to put a few turns of teflon tape on the threads AND washer before installing the element. This lubricates the threads and helps prevent the rubber washer from getting caught on metal and getting deformed. Also, it makes the element simple to remove later. 😎

    Yours, Larry

    ps, Glad the old wives’ tale is finally put to bed.

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