Friday, July 27, 2018

RATS! No Hot Water! => Easy Fix! <=

As I was making the first mug of Joe for the day, I noticed the water was taking a looong time to come to a boil in the microwave. I always use water from the hot spigot when I rinse out the glass carafe for my fancy, high falootin' French Press coffee pot. Then I put my measuring cup under the spigot and fill it, and put the water in the microwave.

Right about this time my wife comes downstairs and announces "We Have No Hot Water". This puts me in Fix-It-NOW mode, as an ample supply of running, HOT water is something SWMBO insists on, and after taking a cold shower before starting on this project, I agree rather strongly that hot water is quite nice.

The water heater is down in the basement (aka "The Dungeon"), and it's all the way in the back of a storage closet that was built when they finished off the basement, and made it usable living space. SO.....the first thing I had to do was lift out the storage shelves, which are made of some density of particle board that's heavy. The manual for the water heater was on the top shelf, so after I pulled the shelves, and the "earthquake barrel" full of emergency supplies, I sat down to read the manual.

Right there, in the troubleshooting guide, under "NO Hot Water", the number 1 cause was the "High Temperature Limit Switch Open. Push To Reset and Reconnect Power".

Naaaaa....it couldn't that simple, could it? I turned the breaker off, and then pulled the cover for the top thermostat and element off. I pushed the red "RESET" button, and it clicked. Turned the breaker back on, and after about 15 minutes we had hot water again.

I can replace both elements, and the thermostats, for under $75, which is a whole lot better than the cost of an entire new water heater. I'll watch this, and if it trips again, I'll just replace all of it.

12 comments:

  1. Yay! Now next time don't block the water heater access with heavy objects.

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    1. Rolling shelves are nice, by the way. You can get those metal shelves like you like and get wheel kits for them.

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    2. If we needed the storage space I'd do that, but we don't. The "Earthquake Barrels", which were my wife's "preps" before we met, go in there nicely, and those are really the only 'awkward' items we have.

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  2. The only thing I put in there was the barrel, and it has rollers.

    Put I agree, I'm leaving the shelves out!

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  3. Might check sediment once a year. Quick drain is all that is needed.

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    1. One of the things I did was move a garden hose down the the water heater closet.

      I used to help my Dad do all kinds of home maintenance stuff when I was little, and he'd drain our water heater every year or so. Never got much stuff out, but he said it was worth the cost of the lost water just to know the tank was clean.

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  4. ... and it made you look like a electromechanical genius hero. Srsly glad it was so easy.

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    1. Yeah, I'm stunned it was something that simple.

      Some days the bear eats you, and some days YOU eat the bear!

      I checked the hot water TWICE this morning, and it's still hot.

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  5. It's rare to get that lucky, but glad you did.

    Now let me sow doubt: breakers don't break by themselves for no reason. Beware of it happening again.

    Says the guy in the middle of troubleshooting a pair of Ground Fault Interrupter outlets that take turns popping for no apparent reason.

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    1. The breaker is fine. Runs cool, cycles properly.

      The "High Temperature Limit Switch" is part of the thermostat on the water heater. It looks like it's a "God Save All" kind of protection circuit that opens the 240VAC to the heating elements if it trips. Probably a latching bi-metal device of some sort.

      I got out my clamp-on ammeter and checked the current draw, and it's "in spec" for 4500W heating elements. And I see no unexplained voltage drops measuring the 240V from the incomer to all exposed points. All connections are clean, shiny, and tight, with no signs of overheating.

      So, for now, I'm just going to write it off as a device that needed cycling, and keep watching it. If it trips again, I'll do a preemptive strike and swap out both heaters and thermostats.

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  6. Replies
    1. Yep. For now.

      And unless the tank rots out and starts spewing, if it takes a dump I'll just replace all the maintenance parts!

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