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Electric Water Heater Keeps Tripping Breaker  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Sep 27th, 2010 10:46 pm
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oldbugnut
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Need some help, I have searched and read various websites and still cannot track down the issue. So I post looking for help.

Electric Water Heater installed in basement on concrete directly with no pan
Well Water, filtered and softened before getting to water heater
From quick look over do not see an anode on the top

From Sticker on Water heater:
Ruud Pacemaker serial # c376117127 model RP52-2
Upper 5000 Lower 5000 total 5000

History:
This unit has worked perfectly for the past 12 years. When we acquired the home. It is original to the house as the plumbing inspection approval sticker is still on it.  I have previously (years ago) replaced either the heating elements or thermostats or both, just do not remember which at this time.

Problem:
The breaker keeps tripping intermittently. In some cases it goes several days without tripping, lately it seems more frequent.

Remedies to date:
I have in the past 4 weeks, drained-but not cleaned the tank.
Checked all electrical parts and first diagnosed a bad lower thermostat, while changing that also changed upper thermostat, then continued on and replaced the heating elements upper and lower. New elements are 5500 watt not 5000 as were the old.

Some times the breaker trips immediately sometimes not, when the heater comes on all works well for a while and then the circuit breaker trips.

Electric-same as installed 35 years ago pushmatic 20amp dual pole


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 Posted: Tue Sep 28th, 2010 01:53 am
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energyexpert
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If you correctly typed 20 amps, therein lies the problem.  5000 watt elements will draw 20.83 amps at 240 volts.  5500 watt elements will draw 22.92 amps at 240 volts.

What size is the WH circuit?  A WH is considered a continuous load so only 16 amps is permitted on #12 AWG.  And #12 is limited to a 20 amp breaker.  If wire size is #10 AWG you are OK for wire size.  But a PushMatic double pole 30 will be hard to find and then pricey.

If #12 AWG you can:
Replace elements to 3800 watts or less.

OR

You can rewire from 240 volts to 120 volts.  Current will be 11.46 amps through one element (output 1375 watts).

OR

You can rewire WH.  Go to The Tank, then Tanklets, then Electric WH Issues.  Reference top thermostat picture:  Turn off power.  Remove blue wire from WH.  Lift black wire from lower right screw and reland on top element screw where blue wire had been.  Turn on power.  Current will be 11.46 amps through both elements (output 2750 watts).  This will give you a sandwich:  whenever the top thermostat is satisfied WH turns off.  Temperature between elements will be somewhere between inlet temperature and top thermostat setting.

David

Last edited on Tue Sep 28th, 2010 01:56 am by energyexpert

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 Posted: Sun Oct 3rd, 2010 12:41 pm
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oldbugnut
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Thanks for the reply. The old breaker is a 20amp and wired with 12/2. A couple days ago I replaced the 20 with a 30 amp breaker and wired with 10/2. Seems to have solved the issue. Thanks for the help. PS the dept of the treasury is happy we saved $$ and she can now have a hot shower. Woo Hoo:P

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