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 > Testing electric element for water heater

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tmmar

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Posted: 08/07/12 01:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Does anyone know how I can test the electric heating element in my water heater? Had a problem a few days ago and wanted to rule out the heating element.
Thanks.


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old guy

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Posted: 08/07/12 01:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

without a meter, the only way is to fill the water tank with water and turn on the element and wait about an hour and test to see if the water is hot.

tmmar

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Posted: 08/07/12 01:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

without a meter, the only way is to fill the water tank with water and turn on the element and wait about an hour and test to see if the water is hot.

That was my problem, turned it on and no hot water.

I have a meter but when I put the leads on the terminals to the element, all I get is a spark and pop the circuit breaker.

rrupert

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Posted: 08/07/12 01:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You should not be testing the element with power applied. Turn of the breaker and disconnect the wires to the element. With an ohm meter check across the terminals for continuity. If there is no reading on the scale the element is burned out. Did you check the breaker to see if it was tripped?


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tmmar

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Posted: 08/07/12 01:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

rrupert wrote:

You should not be testing the element with power applied. Turn of the breaker and disconnect the wires to the element. With an ohm meter check across the terminals for continuity. If there is no reading on the scale the element is burned out. Did you check the breaker to see if it was tripped?


Yes, I checked the breaker. I was testing with power applied to see if it was getting 110v to the element.

When I touch the leads to the meter the reading goes from 1 to zero. When I touch the leads to the terminals, the reading goes from 1 to -49.5. Don't know why this happens.

* This post was edited 08/07/12 02:04pm by tmmar *

rgatijnet1

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Posted: 08/07/12 02:04pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

With power applied, just use one meter lead on the element and the other lead on a metal ground to check for voltage.

dougrainer

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Posted: 08/07/12 02:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

tmmar wrote:

rrupert wrote:

You should not be testing the element with power applied. Turn of the breaker and disconnect the wires to the element. With an ohm meter check across the terminals for continuity. If there is no reading on the scale the element is burned out. Did you check the breaker to see if it was tripped?


Yes, I checked the breaker. I was testing with power applied to see if it was getting 110v to the element.

When I touch the leads to the meter the reading goes from 1 to zero. When I touch the leads to the terminals, the reading goes from 1 to -49.5. Don't know why this happens.


You don't have your meter set up correctly. There is only neutral and Hot at the element and NONE will cause a problem if your meter is set to 120 volts AC. You should read 120 (line voltage) at those 2 screws. IF you have the Line voltage and after 2 hours no hot water the element is bad. Doug

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Posted: 08/07/12 02:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Make sure you understand what your meter should be set to measure.
If you want to make sure power is getting to the heater, put the meter on VAC, put on lead on the element contact, and the other on a good grounding surface, like the frame.
If you want to see if it's burned out, set your meter to OHMs, and put each of your leads on the two element connections, after disconnecting one, making sure the breaker is off.
If the element is good, it should read pretty much zero resistance, maybe a few ohms at best. If it's bad, then it will read infinity, or "open".

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tony lee

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Posted: 08/07/12 05:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

I have a meter but when I put the leads on the terminals to the element, all I get is a spark and pop the circuit breaker.


If you have tripped the circuit breaker a couple of times through your meter, there is a very good chance your meter is damaged too badly to be reliable.


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Ron8877

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Posted: 08/07/12 06:03pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Check the meter. It should be set to VAC. You should get 120 volts between the lead on the element and a ground. Turn off the power and check the ohms in the element. The resistance should be close to zero. However have false reading with a ohms meter. The best way to see if the element is good is with a amp meter. You put the meter on one of the wires going to the element, turn on the power and see if it is pulling any amps. If it is the element is good. If it isn't pulling any amps then you have to know if power is getting to the element. Thermostats go bad much more often than elements unless you turned the power on to the water heater with no water in it. If you did that the element is shot. It will be bad about 1second after you turn the power on without water in the tank.
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