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dhudson1984

join:2008-01-04
Charleston, WV
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

[Electrical] Electrical problem

Just wondering if any electricians out there might know anything about this issue my grandpa is having... he had some people with Weatherization come in a couple weeks ago that did some improvements such as repairing the floor in his trailer, sealing around the windows and doors, wrapping the hot water tank with insulation, and also adding a ventilation fan. Ever since the ventilation system was installed with a breaker added to the breaker box, the breaker to the hot water tank has been kicking off. There has been a couple of occasions that the main has kicked along with it as well. Someone was telling me it could be the heating elements, but those wouldn't cause the breaker to kick at all and I already know that they aren't the issue, because his water heats back up as long as the breaker stays in long enough.

Any idea on what in the world is going on? I was thinking the panel just can't handle that extra 15A breaker that was put in and he needs an upgrade, but I noticed his main switch is labeled 200A already, so I assume he already has a 200A drop installed to allow more voltage? It's that or the 30A breaker for the hot water tank might have gone bad?

Edit: The breaker seems to not want to stay in any longer than about 20-30 min. now.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

2 recommendations

[Electrical] Re: Electrical problem

So the breaker to the water heater trips, and occasionally the main breaker trips as well?

Turn water heater breaker off and leave it off until you get an electrician to investigate!

The fact that both the water heater breaker AND the main breaker are tripping indicates you likely have a very serious intermittent fault (dead short).

If the heater is a dual-element type, perhaps one of the elements or its associated wiring is shorted to ground, and thus the breakers trip every time the thermostat turns on that element (both elements in such a water heater never come on at the same time).

Hopefully it's a problem at the heater itself, and not the circuit wiring shorting out in a wall somewhere!

dhudson1984

join:2008-01-04
Charleston, WV
Reviews:
·Suddenlink
reply to dhudson1984
It is a duel element tank. It's never had this problem before. It somehow just started after they got finished with their work. The tank is a good 13-15 years old as well, so I guess it's possible something has gone wrong with it.

I have since just left the breaker off after the main ended up kicking again along with it earlier this evening. He really doesn't have the money for an electrician atm, so hopefully we can get someone who can just come to take a look and test the voltage at the tank and the panel and at least give some estimate on the cost to do whatever repair is needed.

dhudson1984

join:2008-01-04
Charleston, WV
reply to dhudson1984
We gave those guys a call, but they aren't allowed to mess with any thing else on their time once the work is completed.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel
reply to dhudson1984
said by dhudson1984:

It's never had this problem before. It somehow just started after they got finished with their work.

Also check the electrical connections to the water heater. If the wiring was jostled around while they were installing the insulation it is possible something came loose and is occasionally shorting inside the junction box on the water heater.


leibold
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to dhudson1984
You can't afford not to have this checked out immediately. This is a dangerous situation.

You should not turn on the water heater breaker until the problem is fixed.

The problem may not be internal to the water heater, it could be anywhere the weatherization folks have worked. There might be a nail or screw somewhere that is penetrating the power line somewhere between the panel and the water heater (creating intermittent short-circuits).

Another possibility since you mention that the water heater is older and that it also was wrapped in extra insulation: the power cable may have been moved in the process of installing the thermal insulation. The old electrical insulation of the cable may have failed (the aging process may have been accelerated by the heat from the water heater itself) and exposed bare wires in the process.
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dhudson1984

join:2008-01-04
Charleston, WV
reply to dhudson1984
Thanks for the replies! We're going to see if we can get someone to come check things out and test it and at least give an estimate if heavier work needs to be done since money is an issue by it being pretty close to the end of the month.


leibold
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
Check with your local utility company to see what services they provide. Clearly anything inside your home is your own responsibility and they will not perform any repairs for you but some utility companies are willing to assist with troubleshooting safety related issues (it makes business sense from them keep their customers alive).
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nunya
LXI 483
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join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to dhudson1984
You need an electrician to do a leakage (megger) test on the WH circuit from multiple points - starting at the panel.

It could be something the weatherization people did inadvertently, or it could be a simple coincidence. You'd be surprised how many times a customer has insisted to me that X was causing a problem, but the culprit was actually Y. Even when you show them, they don't want to believe it. Keep an open mind.
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older dog
Premium
join:2005-06-09
reply to dhudson1984
Depending on you fathers income he may be eligible for an emergency Heap benefit to pay part or all of the repairs. Contact the local DSS

He may also be able to get help through one of the share programs run by the Red Cross.

dhudson1984

join:2008-01-04
Charleston, WV
Reviews:
·Suddenlink
reply to dhudson1984
Thanks for the advice! I am working evening shift and haven't been able to deal with it right now, but I did turn the breaker off for him until we get it straightened out. I had someone else tell me that it could still be just a burned element that is causing it to short out since it has two. I am just going to get up earlier to get the elements ready to pull out and check them first before we get someone to test the wiring.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
said by dhudson1984:

I am just going to get up earlier to get the elements ready to pull out and check them first before we get someone to test the wiring.

All you need to check them is an Ohmmeter. No need to do anything else to check them. No need to pull them to check them electrically.

A 4500 watt element operating on 240 volts should have about 12.8 ohms resistance and "0" ohms to ground (metal).


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
said by Jack_in_VA:

A 4500 watt element operating on 240 volts should have about 12.8 ohms resistance and "0" ohms to ground (metal).

That is incorrect - the resistance to ground should be infinite, a "0" would indicate a short-circuit.
On the other side if the main breaker trips as well it is a clear sign of a serious fault. Leave the heater off and investigate at once - before the fire dept does.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
said by cowboyro:

That is incorrect - the resistance to ground should be infinite, a "0" would indicate a short-circuit.

How is zero ohms to ground incorrect? No reading is zero ohms. Actually one may read a resistance on a heating element but a very high value. Use a megger on it an see what you get.
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cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT

3 recommendations

reply to Jack_in_VA

Re: [Electrical] Re: Electrical problem

said by Jack_in_VA:

said by cowboyro:

That is incorrect - the resistance to ground should be infinite, a "0" would indicate a short-circuit.

How is zero ohms to ground incorrect? No reading is zero ohms.

No reading is "infinite" ohms. Above the maximum reading of the meter.
Zero ohms is short circuit. Put a "zero ohms" resistor between the lines and see what happens.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Whatever you say. Infinite ohms is zero ohms i.e. no reading of ohms value.


OldCableGuy2

@communications.net

3 recommendations

How many ohms would you say when you connect the two probes together (dead short)??

That is zero (0) ohms.

Infinite ohms is the opposite of zero ohms.

Getting basic facts straight is important when working with electricity.


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
reply to Jack_in_VA
said by Jack_in_VA:

Whatever you say. Infinite ohms is zero ohms i.e. no reading of ohms value.

So zero is the same as infinite... interesting... so what is 0.0000001 ohms then? Slightly less than infinite???


stevek1949
We're not in Kansas anymore
Premium
join:2002-11-13
Virginia Beach, VA
said by cowboyro:


So zero is the same as infinite... interesting... so what is 0.0000001 ohms then? Slightly less than infinite???

Just the same, just infinitely smaller. :>)


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to OldCableGuy2
I agree. Get the terminology correct. No reading is zero ohms regardless of the scale used on the measuring meter. Usually with a good meter one can get a reading. Evidently people not used to equipment other than water heaters have a problem with measuring resistance and High voltage cable and equipment leakage.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to stevek1949
said by stevek1949:

said by cowboyro:


So zero is the same as infinite... interesting... so what is 0.0000001 ohms then? Slightly less than infinite???

Just the same, just infinitely smaller. :>)

Small but not "O" as on the meter
Expand your moderator at work


SparkChaser
Premium
join:2000-06-06
Downingtown, PA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

2 recommendations

reply to dhudson1984

Re: [Electrical] Electrical problem

Let's try this

Switch closed - zero ohms
Switch open - infinite ohms




mackey
Premium
join:2007-08-20
kudos:12
reply to Jack_in_VA

Re: [Electrical] Re: Electrical problem

said by Jack_in_VA:

No reading is zero ohms regardless of the scale used on the measuring meter.

My meter shows "no reading" as a dash. Zero ohms is a dead short.

/M


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom

3 edits
reply to SparkChaser

Re: [Electrical] Electrical problem



If you close your switch and put an ohmmeter in place of the battery will you get "O" ohms? I don't hardly think so. The wire and lamp both have resistance that will read.

But

If you open the switch the ohmmeter will not read any ohms so the value is zero.


UHF
All static, all day, Forever
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join:2002-05-24
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·Mediacom
·Callcentric
·Dish Network

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reply to dhudson1984
Zero ohms is a direct short. Infinite ohms is an "open". Always has been, always will be.

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistivit···aterials