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Thread: Electric water heater manufacturing element quality going bad?

  1. #1
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Default Electric water heater manufacturing element quality going bad?

    I have some water heaters with heavy useage. The well water quality is good by tests and within norms.

    I have used several brands of elements, usually 3500 and 4500 watt, of all density types. I used to get about 2 or 3 years + from an element. Lately, I am changing elements like batteries in a kids toy.

    Heaters are drained regularly and I recently vacuumed out the calcium debri in the bottom of one. Installed a Camco mfg. lime life ripple super low watt density element. Blew out at one of the sharp bends in 2 months. Looks like the metal was stretched too thin there. Almost no calcium-lime build up on the element. Quiet in operation. Another went zonkers and blew out in a few areas and bent itself up into a pretzel.

    NO dry firing. A mediuim density fold back element also blew in 6 months.

    Do anode rods protect the heating element as well as the tank? Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    I don't know what to tell you. I have used many of the Camco Lime Life elements without problems like you are facing. I would say given the number of failures you have had the problem is unique to you.

  3. #3
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Another Camco "lifetime" element blew its nichrome wire through the casing within 3 months. Hardly any lime on the element. Maybe Camco moved its MFG. to china or bangladesh.

    Customer NO-service from Camco, and the store too. Guess I'll go back to Graingers who send out new ones with a single phone call.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I have used low watt density fold back elements, and/or lifetime ones for all my replacements, and seldom have to replace them for YEARS.

  5. #5
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    So have I with good results. Its only in the past year or less that these Camco's explode.

  6. #6
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    I haven't seen it myself...
    I use quite a few of them I carry them on my truck for use.

    I'd suspect something else is causing your problem...

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Some things I'd check:
    - Make sure that the power inlet wires are tight and the proper gauge.
    - Make sure you have a good ground lead
    - See if you have an a/c potential between the pipes and the ground wire
    - at the panel, see if you have a potential between the ground and the neutral
    - if your meter has a peak hold or an 'instantaneous' reading, check to see if there are any excessive peaks or dropouts.
    - make sure that the leads are tight at the CB
    - pull the CB and look to see if there is any evidence of overheating, or poor contacts on both the CB and the bus bar; if old, consider replacing the CB. If the bus bar is burnt, move to another slot, or replace the panel.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    NONE of those would cause an element to deteriorate, but an electrical leakage to the tank could cause it to start leaking sooner than it should.

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