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Thread: is my water heater dying?

  1. #1
    DIY Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    portland, or

    Default is my water heater dying?

    several times over the past few weeks the hot water has not been very hot (maybe 100 instead of 116). we don't use a ton of hot water.
    each time this has happened i've reset the circuit breaker and then the water temp goes back up to 116. neither side of the circuit breaker has appeared tripped.
    this is an electric GE 50 gallon unit, 8-10 years old.
    the circuit breaker is a double-pole. i assume the heater has two elements and that internally it's wired so the two elements draw on the different poles and that the side serving the primary element is tripping.
    does this sound like my water heater is failing, or do folks suspect the breaker?
    my breakers are Pushmatic and i think it'd cost me about $25 to test it (and $75 to replace it) which is why i haven't just up and replaced it.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005


    Sounds like it could be 1 or the other, most likely the element. A good plumber should be able to tell you which it is.

  3. #3


    Youve probably got an element with a crack in it from sediment build up. Replace your elements, clean the sediment out of the tank, and drain and flush the heater about every 3 to 6 months. All should be fine.

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

    Default wh

    The heater should have two elements, but they are both connected to the two poles of the circuit breaker. They just do not operate at the same time. Before you start haphazardly changing things you should test, or have a plumber test, the entire heater to see exactly what the problem is. I had one last week where the circuit breaker wire was loose and causing the breaker to heat up and trip.


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