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Thread: water heater wiring

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member reed50's Avatar
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    Default water heater wiring

    Plumber came out and worked on electric water heater (plumbing issues). Said there were 2 issues with the round 10 gauge wire going to the water heater. Recommended an electrician (friend of his) who would come take a look for $350. Here are his issues:

    1. Where the wire goes into the connector and into the junction box on top of the water heater, there is a dent in the wire. Does not look cut through, just a dent. This connector has been used for at least 10 years.

    2. There is a hole in the floor where the wire comes up (we're in a doublewide home) to the water heater. The wire is pushed up against one side of the hole by the bottom of the water heater. It doesn't look smushed; it's not movable. You can't tell if anything has rubbed through. Apparently it has been this way since this WH was put in a year ago.

    I know it's hard for you guys to tell much without pictures. I don't have a way to post any. But before I spend $350 on an electrician, is there any way to tell me if these are fire hazards that need to be addressed. If so, is $350 reasonable, or is this the case of I look like a female that can be taken advantage of?

    Thank you so much.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    This is an instance where you'd really need to see what's there, either good pictures or being there to see if it is a problem. The clamp can put a dent in the insulation and not affect operation, but if the insulation is actually cut, that is a problem. In many situations, the wire is supposed to be anchored, so the fact that it can't move is not necessarily an indication of any problem. As to price, also hard to say. 10g wire is expensive, and some of the material costs would depend on how far they had to go if it was determined it needed to be replaced. What size circuit breaker is used for the WH and what does the data plate on the WH say it requires in amps or wattage? 10g may or may not be the right size. If it isn't, then it should be replaced, regardless.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Forget the $350 dollars. Absurd. Doctors are cheaper.

    10 years? sounds ok to me, perhaps add some silicone caulk around the suspect areas.

    Plumbers troubleshooting water heaters for their buddies are not trustworthy. Or try the retired handyman contractor for 15 bucks an hour.

    For $350 bucks you can get it looked at, a full body massage, dinner at a great restaurant, and gasoline for a week.

    If its mobile home water heater, 10 gauge is fine and typical. You could post back what the amp rating is on the breaker that controls the heater - 30 amps?
    Last edited by ballvalve; 04-20-2011 at 09:02 AM.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member reed50's Avatar
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    The circuit breaker is 25 amp. The problem with the wire coming through the hole in the floor was the plumber felt it shouldn't be pushed up against the edge of the hole by the water heater. Something about the wood rubbing a hole through the outer insulation of the wire. It's in there tight; you can't move it at all. This has been this way for about a year.

    The $350 was to come out and look--not to fix. I appreciate the responses. I know it's hard to tell without pictures.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the insulation isn't damaged, and if it was, the circuit breaker probably would have tripped, I think you're okay. But, that's not a definite since I can't see it. The WH isn't going to move unless you pull it down the road. If you were really worried about it being tight against the wire, you could shut the water off, drain the thing, then it would move a 1/4" or so and not impact the water connections (it's probably too heavy to move without draining). Just make sure to refill the thing and purge the air (open your hot valves at sinks, etc.) before you turn the circuit breaker back on again, or you'll burn up the heating elements (they must be covered in water before you turn them on!).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6

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    $350 for an estimate?

    1. There are undobtedly electricians that will give you an estimate for a third of that price. We usually estimate for free unless the person calling has wasted our time or is a known PITA.
    2. Its hard to say without seeing it, but if the wire is pinched between the heater and the wall you might want to get someone to look at it. If its just tight in the hole I wouldn't worry about it.
    3. $350 should be enough to pay someone to rerun the wire if needed.

    -rick

  7. #7
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    I would get a new plumber if he suggested his friend to steal $350 for a look see! Bad joke in this bad economy.

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    How much of the $350.00 is the plumber getting, because what you describe does NOT seen to be a problem and should not cost $350.00 to fix if it were. Is the water heater moving around to cause the wire to abrade? Because it will not happen if the wire is just pressed against the wood by the water heater. Hwever, that is why the inspectors here require the exposed wire to be encased in metallic flex or conduit, to prevent damage to it.

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    DIY Junior Member reed50's Avatar
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    I appreciate everyone's help. I don't know much about electrical wiring, add being a female with that, and I seem to be a walking target.
    The water heater doesn't move, and the wire is so tight between the WH and the edge of the hole that it can't move. The plumber said "these manufactured homes flex and move and that wood is going to rub on that wire and cause a fire".
    It's hard to know who to trust these days. That's why I appreciate the help on here.
    I'm going to try to take some pictures and post this weekend.
    Thanks again everyone!

  10. #10
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Hello reed50 and the group,

    reed, I would not let that guy or any of his friends around my house.

    It is a shame that females are taken advantage of, Males are to when they let it happen.

    I would make sure that your smoke detectors are working and have good batteries, just a good idea
    no mater where you live.

    I think he is trying to scare you, to make money. If your home moves that much then you would have other problems
    with sewage and pluming.

    Good luck on your project, don't let them take advantage of you.

    The people on this forum will help you, for free.

    Have a Happy Easter Holiday.

    DonL.

  11. #11
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    From what you have described, the wiring should be fixed.

    If I were you, I would get estimates from electricians who are not friends of your plumber.

  12. #12
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    That may be a good idea.

    A Picture is worth a thousand words.

  13. #13
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    You have a 25 amp breaker that will protect you. Better, brighter and cheaper than the parasitic "experts"

    Follow the advice of others and move the heater over a bit. Put a few screws in the floor so it does'nt move back, if this house is so "MOBILE"

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; The plumber said "these manufactured homes flex and move and that wood is going to rub on that wire and cause a fire".

    HE was using "scare tactics" to get you to do some unnecessary work. IF the coach flexes, everything will move with it as a unit. Write that plumber's phone number somewhere you will not forget it, so when you need a plumber again, you can make sure you DO NOT accidently call him.

  15. #15
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Water weighs about 8#/gallon, so say it is a typical 40-gallon tank, it has 320# of water in it, then add the tank itself, and just under #400. But, if you do as I suggested, shut it off and drain it, it will only weight 50-70# or so, and should be able to be moved enough to 'unpinch' the wire. Full, unless you are a linebacker, you probably can't move it. Empty, most people can. Just be sure to refill and run hot taps to let all of the air out before you turn it back on.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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