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Randall, RVIA Certification
Category: RV
Satisfied Customers: 10253
Experience:  RVDA/RVIA Master Certified Technician with many years experience.
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I have a suburban sw10de water heater in my rv. I am quite

Customer Question

I have a suburban sw10de water heater in my rv. I am quite sure the element is burnt out. I had the outside switch on without water in it. I have a switch by my sink, with a red light, to turn it on. The problem is, no mater which way the switch is, or if I un-hook a black wire on the switch, either one, the element still has 115 volt at element. Did a ohms check on element.. It read .1... Believe it is bad. ... I do have 115 volts to element , even with switch turned off.
Yes I know it should not of had power to it with no water. There is a second switch outside on water heater. Switch inside was off. Plugged motor home in to charge batteries. I didn't know, or know how that switch got on. My question is, how can it have 115 volts to element with switches off? Also the gas switch up in the front of the coach had a red light on to reset.2 times . I reset and gas worked. While checking the current at the switch I noticed depending on which wires I was on, bare, white and either of the blacks, I got weird voltages, One was 48 volts, One way was 24 volts. Where else could voltage be coming from? With the switch unhooked, I checked the indoor switch with my beeping ohm meter and it seemed to work off and on.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: RV
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
One or both of the switches are shorted out. I would spend $20 or so and get a regular small digital multimeter like they sell at most hardware stores and use that. Or is that how you got the voltages? You should only have 12-13 VAC at the wall switch where the red light is. Be sure you have the meter (if you are using one) set correctly or the readings will be wrong. Burning up the switch on the outside is common when the element shorts out. Let me know what you find and we can go from there. All follow ups are included in our fee.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I have a digital multi meter. I checked voltage at switch. Between I think blk and white I had 115v
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
Was that on the incoming side or the outgoing side for the load? If the switches are off and still passing current they are bad.
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
Are there one or two switches on the wall? IF only one with the red light next to it then that is for LP only. There will be another sometimes inside that looks like a regular wall switch for the water heater.......besides the one outside on the unit.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
My one in the bathroom is a wall switch like a house with a red light. Have been using it for electric for 15 years. The gas on is up in front of MH and just a little black switch with reset light above.
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
O.K...........they may have used a lighted switch. Most don't. But, regardless of that, IF the element is still getting AC power when both switches are off then one or both are bad. The element should read about 11 ohms after you disconnect the power to it across the terminals and nothing from the terminal to the case of the water heater. IF you get any there it is shorted out. Hope that helps. Get back to me if you need more here.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Will get new switches this afternoon and get back to you
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok, I unhooked the element. Checked ohms across element.. No ohms. Then I hooked voltmeter to 2 wires. With outdoor switch on, had 115v. Turned off the breaker that says water heater, and now it reads 58.6v.. Something seems screwy
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
One of those switches OR the serivce breaker is bad and sometimes passes full voltage and sometimes not.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
what about the 12 v converter off batts. Could it be reversing and sending 115v to element? Think just try a new element?
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
Not a converter issue. Test the element first. That wouldn't change the voltage. It should ohm out about 11 ohms.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Both switches were removed and tested. Both good. Breaker was replaced with another. Smaller voltages have to be back feeding somehow. I am taking it to a rv place. Had enough
Expert:  Randall replied 5 months ago.
Good idea or give a mobile tech a call for some assistance.