Running out of hot water

The Tank Running out of hot water

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  • #7692
    mustache
    Participant

    I have a 52 gallon electric heater. I recently replaced the top element because water got cold at the end of one shower and there was no voltage across the terminals of the top element(the bottom one tested OK). The hot water still runs out and the top element shows no voltage across the terminals.
    The yellow wire terminal gets voltage when I cross it to the bottom screw on the right of the thermostat, and the black wire terminal gets voltage across the top 3 screws on the left side.

    Shouldn’t the top element show voltage when hot water is in use? What are the possibile corrections to my problem.

    #7695
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: Under tanklets at the top of this board you will find info on how to check out elements using a volt/ohm meter. If you test and find the elements are OK, the thermostat/s must be misbehiving. There should be a wiring diagram with the heater, either in the heater booklet or under a hatch cover. Good to make sure wires are going where they should. If the upper element were bad, once it called for heat, you would not be able to get the heater to work at all; so I suspect there is more to discover 😉

    Yours, Larry

    #7696
    mustache
    Participant

    Thanks, Larry. I read through the Tanklets guide and decided to turn off the water heater and run hot water out. Then I turned it back on and tested the top element and found that there was indeed power through it. I understand now that the top heats, then the bottom.

    Does that mean that the problem must be the dip tube? Any other possibilities?

    #7700
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: I suppose it’s my job to play nanny. So, don’t ever turn on power to a tank when it isn’t full of water. The upper element can burn out in seconds and there is some risk of a nasty shock 😯 Testing is done with a meter, which puts a tiny (safe) current through the element to check for continuity.

    OK, I can put my usual hat back on. Insufficient hot water can happen various ways. It may be the dip tube, but since you know the lower element is burned out, replace it first, fill the tank and see if things are back to normal. There will likely be sediment that needs to be removed as well. This is probably why the element failed. If things are not back to normal, the dip tube or a cross connection in the plumbing are both possibilities.

    Yours, Nanny 😎

    #7702
    mustache
    Participant

    Both elements seem to work as they should. I ran the hot water out of a faucet with the current off so i could check the top element when I turned the current back on. The top element tested OK. I have never had current on without a full tank. The bottom element comes on in turn like it should, but I still run out of hot water at the end of one brief shower. I am sure the wiring is correct.

    So the dip tube is probably at fault, right?

    #7706
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: Let’s eliminate assumptions and start over, just to be sure. Turn off power and unhook one wire from each element. Test using ohms times one thousand (or two thousand) between each screw on the element and ground. You should get no continuity. If there is ANY, the element is leaking to ground and needs to be replaced. Next set the meter to one ohm and test between screws, on the element. You should see the needle swing most of the way over, suggesting good continuity. This tells you the element is still intact. If the needle moves only a little or not at all in ohms times one setting, the element is burned out.

    If both elements are good, check the dip tube next… or thermostats, but best to be sure about the electrical side of things first 😉

    Yours, Larry

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