(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: How to tell is water heater elements are ok

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member DavidTu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    229

    Default How to tell is water heater elements are ok

    Is there a way to visually inspect water heater elements to see if they need replacement? Our tank happens to be empty and hasn't been in use recently so before we refill it and hook it up thought we'd look at the elements to see if they need replacement. When I pulled them they are white and partly fuzzy with deposits but tech support at Sears says that's normal. So ids there a way to test them before we refill and turn on?

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,602

    Default

    A continuity test MAY tell you whether they are burned out or not, but the best way to check them is when the tank is full of water and the elements SHOULD be heating.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3

    Default

    x2 for a continuity test

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,602

    Default

    But you have to test for continuity between the terminals, and ALSO between each terminal and the tank itself, (which should be ZERO/infinite).
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  5. #5
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    northfork, california
    Posts
    3,258

    Default

    for 6 or 9 bucks you can get new ones. Also a clamp on ammeter on the wires when running will tell you if they are pulling the right amps.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,602

    Default

    I would NOT waste any money on a $6 or $8 element, ESPECIALLY for the bottom element.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  7. #7
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    northfork, california
    Posts
    3,258

    Default

    I'm not sure what that means, but most all are made by one conglomerate no matter the name.

    After burning up many cork-screw types, and special chromium elements, I found a straight short reliance for 8 bucks that lasts forever - I heat with them - and what I have discovered is that the low watt density elements do not get hot enough to cause the calcium to crack from heat and shed off the element. The expensive low watt ones look like stalagtites, and eventually insulate themselves and thus cause failure in short order.

    Unless you have very low solids in your water, I think this is case where short, hot and cheap is better.

    FWIW my bottom element runs with the top by re-wiring. One 30 gallon rig heats a pretty big house. Essentially I concocted a very cheap flow thru water heater with room for the calcium to settle to the bottom and get cleaned out.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 06-08-2012 at 10:39 AM.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member JerryR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    181

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post

    FWIW my bottom element runs with the top by re-wiring. One 30 gallon rig heats a pretty big house. Essentially I concocted a very cheap flow thru water heater
    What you most likely concocted was a UL violation.
    JR

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    21,374

    Default

    Unless the internal AND external wiring are properly sized...AND the manufacturer allows it (i.e., it was designed so it could), running both elements at the same time is both crazy and illegal. There are some heaters designed to allow both elements to run simultaneously, but most aren't.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

Similar Threads

  1. "Wet" changing electric water heater elements.
    By ballvalve in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 10-08-2010, 11:01 AM
  2. What are these plumbing elements?
    By tintop in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 07-15-2009, 06:19 AM
  3. Water heater elements replaced?
    By Guest in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-03-2008, 10:32 PM
  4. HD W/H Elements
    By Cass in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 68
    Last Post: 12-25-2007, 10:22 AM
  5. water heater elements
    By prd823 in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 07-06-2007, 07:46 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •