Adding another heating element

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Old 08-11-16, 04:43 PM
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Adding another heating element

Can I add a heating element to my exsisting hot water tank? Without having to change the braker in the box. The top element is just blank off. The 6 year warranty just ran out about 3 months ago.
 
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Old 08-11-16, 05:05 PM
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Too many unanswered questions. May not even be worth the hassle.
Sometimes it's not just the warranty.... it's what is safe.

What size is the heating element now ?
What size is the breaker now ?
120 volts or 240 volts ?
What size water heater ?

What size element do you want to add ?
You will have to add a second thermostat to your water heater for the new element.
 
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Old 08-13-16, 07:36 AM
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What do you mean by "blank off"?

Normally a residential water heater runs one element (either top or bottom) at a time, and trying (via rewiring the heater internals) to run both at the same time off of the same power feed for faster water heating will trip the breaker. And you want to run three elements at the same time?
 
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Old 08-14-16, 07:53 AM
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What size is the heating element now ?
I tried to post the pictures but only allowed 50 Kb's which is ridiculous.

Phase 1 1
Volts A.C. 208 240
Upper Element 0 0
Lower Element 2625 3500
Total Connected
Watts 2625 3500

What size is the breaker now ?
20 amp circuit breaker.

What size water heater ?
30 gallon

What size element do you want to add ?
There's only been 2 of us living here for 4.5 years. If I washed a large load of clothes we would have to wait 4 hours for it to fully recharge. Our household just grew by 3 more people and we are going to definitely need more hot water. And this is an understatement.

You will have to add a second thermostat to your water heater for the new element.
Depending on what I have to do, I might be interested in doing this.
 
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Old 08-14-16, 10:54 AM
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I tried to post the pictures but only allowed 50 Kb's which is ridiculous
The threads are hard to maintain with unrestrained picture size. 50k is plenty large for an adequate picture. You can always post it on one of the many picture hosting sites and linking it here. I've posted over 3000 pictures and diagrams here. 600x600 and 50K has worked fine in most cases.
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/electrical-ac-dc/534445-how-insert-pictures.html



Your hot water heater is too small for the load/application.
You can mess around and add a second element but the recovery is still slow.
The idea is to heat the water slowly and have extra reserve.

The current heating element is at the circuit maximum. In order to add a second element and have them both heat at the same time you'd need to increase the size of the existing circuit.
 
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Old 08-14-16, 11:43 AM
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Five people living with a 30 gallon electric water heater? Sounds like Navy showers for all and even then you will run out of hot water on a regular basis.
 
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Old 08-16-16, 03:05 AM
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Yeah it's starting to definetly feel like the Navy around here.

Yeap I'll start looking at new tanks.
There would be way too much stuff to do to make this one better.
ok thank you.
You've been very helpful.
 
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Old 08-16-16, 05:27 AM
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I think that lower (and only) element is failing or calcified . . . . recovery should be far less than 4 hours ?

I think I'd pull and replace the current element first BEFORE replacing the whole tank; and I'd opt for the largest element that is compatible with the current tank . . . . looks like that would be the 3.5 KW (that's nearly 12,000 BTUs per hour) which ought to lift the temperature of a mere 30 gallons of water in a matter of a few minutes to shower temps - not hours !
 
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Old 08-16-16, 11:18 AM
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Even with a new 3500 watt element in a 30 gallon older heater you are going to have troubles keeping hot water for 5 people. I believe you'd be money ahead to go ahead now and get a new modern 40 or 50 gallon 4500 watt water heater and install it along with a new 30A 240V circuit.
 
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Old 08-16-16, 03:03 PM
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Depending on space in your basement and open slots in your breaker panel, you could keep the existing water heater as a preheater for a new water heater. You would have a combined 70 to 80 gallons of hot water.

The new heater would have its own 30 amp circuit.
 
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Old 08-22-16, 03:22 AM
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Oh
I live in a mobile home and do not have a basement or any other extra space. I guess I should have clarified this earlier.

Not to mention how they even got a tiny 30 gallon tank into this inside access crawl space is beyond me.

Assuming I can upgrade to at least a 40 gallon tank.
Your also saying I need to increase the electrical circuit capacity to at least 30 amp.
This alone is another entirely separate project in itself. I usually cut myself off from any electrical projects.

The electrical circuit I have now I'm assuming is what came with the house from the factory.
How the wire was ran I'll have to check. This would be the most time consuming part.
I've crawled under this house many times and remember seeing wires just laying on the ground preventing me from doing repairs & maintenance until I zipped tied or rerouted them.
 
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Old 08-29-16, 05:33 PM
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Can I use the existing wire I'm not sure but I think it was a 3 wire not sure of the gauge though.
 
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Old 08-29-16, 07:57 PM
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If the breaker is currently a 20 amp the wire will likely be only #12 so no. Most water heaters require 30 amps (at 240 volts) which will need #10 wire.
 
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Old 08-31-16, 03:26 AM
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Ok I got in there last night and this is what it said on the wire:
Capex 10/2 with ground type NM -B 600 Volts (UL)
What is the most powerful tank that I can upgrade to with this wire.
 
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Old 08-31-16, 05:44 AM
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Your cable should be fine for 30 amps. The most you can load a 30 amp circuit is 24 amps (80% of 30 amps) or 5760 watts.

Most smaller water heaters come with 4500 watt elements. However looking online I do see ones that have 5500 elements, which both are available separate. It will depend if they will fit in your water heater.

Elements in a water heater only run one at a time. After the top one is satisfied the lower one will kick in. Be sure to install them so yours work in the same way or you will overload the circuit.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 03:27 AM
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I was just going to buy the biggest water heater I could find. Until I measured the hot water tank compartment opening.
w. 19" H. 45 1/2
I'm not worried about the height. The compartment itself has a ceiling height the same as the rest of the house.
The width without the trim. Maybe 20 1/2"
I went to the Lowe's website and I couldn't find any hot water tank bigger than the one we already have. (more or less) Well I could but none that will fit.
So now I'm leaning more towards. One new more powerful element. Until I can figure out how to put an element in the top slot also.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 05:19 AM
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You might consider a small wall hung "flow activated" tankless water heater to boost the temperature of what's exiting the current tank . . . . maybe using Propane or Natural Gas so that you bypass the need to upgrade the wiring altogether. It sounds like you have room above the current tank.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 05:42 AM
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This 40 gallon tall is 20" in diameter. Shop Whirlpool 40-Gallon 240-Volt 6-Year Residential Tall Electric Water Heater at Lowes.com and this 30 gallon is 19" in diameter: Shop Whirlpool 30-Gallon 240-Volt 6-Year Residential Tall Electric Water Heater at Lowes.com which has two 4500 watt elements. They may have to be special ordered.

Changing/adding elements and/or thermostats will be much less expensive then replacing the entire water heater. Elements (4500 - 5000 watt) are $15-$20, and a thermostat is about $15.
 
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Old 09-08-16, 04:15 PM
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I wasn't going to post again until I got the front cover off the breaker box. But of course that has proven to be another problem. When they manufactured this home. If that's what you want to call it. I think I should start referring to it as a trailer.
They ran all the wires and finished the breaker box and then built the closet wall over the 2 mounting screws on the right side of the box :-(.
So I have to cats paw 1 or 2 finish nail out and whole saw through a 2x4. Mentioning this makes me realize I might need to take the entire piece of paneling off so I can have a straight shot at those 2 screws...(we'll see...)
I took the 2 screw out of the left side to see what would happen and now I can't get it pushed back into place. Since 1988 someone bent the front cover to half ass access it and bent the front cover.
I reduced the file size on my pic's this time. I went to Lowe's and bought the 4500 watt element and the wrench.
I went to the electrical section and talked to a guy and he said they have a single spaced 30 amp breaker that will work if my box is compatible with their breakers.
Because I only have one space left.

Ironhand I checked out the Shop Whirlpool 40-Gallon 240-Volt 6-Year Residential Tall Electric Water Heater at Lowes.com

The 40 gallon is not mobile home compatible. Why isn't it mobile home compatible. This is a bunch of crap. I guess because Lowe's says it's not compatible. I bet I could plumb it in and it would work just fine.
The 30 gallon only has a family size of one. But yes it has 2 heating elements. The government regulation are irritating me.
I guess what I'm asking is what makes a hot water tank mobile home compatible?
 
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Old 09-10-16, 02:16 PM
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I guess what I'm asking is what makes a hot water tank mobile home compatible?
I have also wondered about that, but didn't lose any sleep over it. Here is some info:

Replacing Mobile Home Water Heaters
 
 

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