Cold water from hot tap after cold snap


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Old 01-18-16, 08:21 PM
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Cold water from hot tap after cold snap

I've been searching and haven't found this scenario mentioned previously.

We've had a recent cold snap with temps in the teens and now have plenty of water coming out of all of the hot water taps, but all of the water is ice cold.

This is a new electric water heater installed last spring. The breaker has not been tripped and I've hit the reset button on the water heater (twice) and no change.

We've turned on each of the hot water taps (individually) and 2 at a time for several minutes and still icy water.

Is our new water heater caput?

I'd appreciate any thoughts anyone has on this.
 
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Old 01-18-16, 09:50 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

I'm guessing this is a tankless type water heater..... the type that only heats on demand ?

If it is a tankless type heater it should have a power light and possibly diagnostic LEDs.

A make and model number would be real helpful.
 
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Old 01-18-16, 10:05 PM
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Hi PJmax. No, this is a 40 gallon tank (I believe).

I don't see a power light anywhere on it.

Even though the breaker wasn't tripped I turned it off/on. No change.

When I pressed reset it depressed, but didn't click (so didn't really feel like I was resetting anything). We have insulation on our pipes, but do have an external spigot that we thought was covered that wasn't (is now). We're getting plenty of water from all of the hot water faucets, but all cold.

I was thinking if we had a frozen pipe leading to or from the water heater we would have nothing from the hot water taps?

I'm going to see if I can find the model now.
 
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Old 01-18-16, 10:31 PM
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A 40 gallon tank wouldn't have any lights on it. Be sure to push the breaker all the way into the off position and then back on.

If the water heater was working the hot water line out of the top of the tank would be at least warm.

Make sure there is no service disconnect near the water heater that could be off.
Your next step is to carefully check for 240vac on the upper thermostat. Terminals L1 and L3.

Name:  Water heater wiring.jpg
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Old 01-18-16, 11:05 PM
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It's a whirlpool, but I can't find a model #. I'm guessing the model is on the back near the wall (fairly inaccessible). I wasn't able to find the owners manual, but will hunt it up tomorrow.
 
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Old 01-19-16, 09:54 PM
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Okay, I found the model: e40r6-45 by Whirlpool.

There are two panels and only the top has a reset button.
No part of top of the water heater is warm at all.

I presume I could use a volt meter to check the suggested contacts?
I don't have one, but can borrow or buy one.

I took a look at the connections and it does look like the photo you posted.
I don't see any loose/disconnected wires. I also don't see any other external shut off switch.

Even though it wasn't tripped, I turned the breaker off and back on.
I'll try that once more leaving it in the off position for 10 seconds or so to make sure properly reset.

I appreciate all of your suggestions.
 
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Old 01-19-16, 10:13 PM
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I found this link for troubleshooting this model of water heater.
Electric Water Heater Repair and Troubleshooting | Whirlpool

It also suggests testing with volt meter if the breaker is not tripped.

I note that it also says if getting power the heating element is likely burnt out and that will happen if power is applied when the tank is not full (dry fired). Could a frozen pipe leading to the heater cause that? I' m thinking this couldn't be a coincidence that would happen during an especially cold snap. (Assuming that is the problem.)
 
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Old 01-19-16, 10:15 PM
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Don't just turn it off. Once you turn it off..... push it in the off direction. Some breakers are reset like this.

Yes.... you can use a voltmeter. Make sure it's set to AC and over 240v if it's an analog meter.
Be careful as it's easy to short across the contacts.
 
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Old 01-21-16, 10:14 AM
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It's less than a year old. What is the warranty, surely one year on everything and maybe 6 to 9 years on the tank?
 
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Old 01-21-16, 09:03 PM
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Thanks casualjoe and PJmax.

We finally got a voltmeter today, but got back late so will likely test it tomorrow night. We went ahead and bought a heat element just in case.

Casualjoe, depending what the issue is, especially if it's not easily fixable, we'll pursue the warranty.
 
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Old 01-22-16, 04:24 AM
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If the upper element fails and you draw lots of hot water, the water heater will become stalemated. The lower element will not pick up the slack until the upper half of the tank has been reheated up to switch power back to the lower element.

If y ou make any repairs yourself you may void the warranty.
 
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Old 01-31-16, 12:18 PM
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Okay, we had another deep freeze so were holding off on doing anything (thinking a possible frozen pipe could make matters worse or somesuch). So after a myriad of boiled water bird baths, a trip to get a new battery & a small screwdriver to change the battery in the voltmeter, we finally tested the water heater (upper screws as shown on the posted diagram) and it has power.
We also did this test to test the upper element:
http://youtu.be/q34HJtH30Vs. Which registered on the multimeter under ohms.

So, immediately after doing this, the water heater showed the first sign of life since all if this started. It made that (normal) hissing noise (water running in, maybe?) that water heaters make. So, now we're giving it at least an hour (in case the tank was low or empty due to a freeze??) to see if we have anything approaching hot water. I'm completely stumped on what is going on here?
 
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Old 01-31-16, 12:47 PM
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Now we have warm water coming from the tap.

What in the world?
 
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Old 02-01-16, 07:55 AM
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The top thermostat must be satisfied before the power is directed to the lower thermostat for the lower element. If the top element is bad the top thermostat will never be satisfied and the power will never be directed to the lower themostat; thus, endless cold water from the hot water tap. Your problem could also be a bad top thermostat.

The easiest way to troubleshoot an electric water heater is from a cold start. You should have 240 volts across the top element terminal screws. You will probably hear a slight hiss or rumble as the top element heats the water. When the top thermostat setting is satisfied, the top thermostat redirects power from the top element to the lower thermostat. If the bottom of the tank is cold, the lower thermostat allows the power to flow to the lower element. Once again, you should have 240 volts across the terminal screws on the lower element. The lower element heats the bulk of the water in the tank. You can speed up the troubleshooting process by turning the top thermostat setting down as the top element is heating. When the setting approaches the actual temperature in the top of the tank you'll hear a pop as the top thermostat switches to send power to the lower thermostat.

If you have a bad lower element, you should have nice hot water, but only for a short while.
 
 

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