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Mike the plumber
Mike the plumber, Plumber
Category: Plumbing
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Experience:  Fifteen years in the residential service industry and new construction
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a water line into my water heater recently sprung a leak. the

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a water line into my water heater recently sprung a leak. the leak puddled ontop of the water heater and ran down over the electrical thermostat and caused a small fire melting the upper thermostat. I fixed the leak and replaced the thermostat but the thermostat safety breaker keeps tripping. I have since replaced the new (upper) thermostat, lower thermostat, both electrodes (both of which were good) but the water heater still heats up and trips the circuit at the heater. I am stumped as to what is causing it to trip. the house was built in the earlier 60's. any ideas?

Hi Scott
Sometimes when this happens the wires from the thermostat to the elements overheats and leaves an exposed piece of wire. You cant always see this because off the wires running from the top thermostat to the bottom of the heater. I would re wire from the top to the bottom. Just make a diagram before you start. If this doesn't work then I would have an electrician check the breaker.
Thanks, Mike
I would also check the wires coming from the top of the heater where the Power comes in. Check those wires from there to the top thermostat and those connections at the top.
Thanks, Mike
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I should have mentioned that I also replaced all the wiring from where it comes into the heater to the bottom element.
Is it a circuit breaker or a fuse in the panel?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
circuit breakers. the breaker at the box has never tripped, even with the fire.
Just the reset button on the heater is tripping? How many volts do you have at the top thermostat?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

yes, the reset button is tripping. I need to go down and see what the voltage is, I'm not sure. I have a digital multimeter...not real sure how to even use it. it has a VOLT portion on the dial with 1000,200,20,2,200m. what should I put it on?


does it have a selector with a v next to it?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
sorry, not sure what you mean by selector. do you mean the dial or the red and black electrodes?
the dial
Did you make a wire diagram before you re wired the heater?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

yes I took a photo of it and connected accordingly


it has OHM/VOLT/AMP/FARAD. each with multiple numirical amounts to select from. inbetween there is an hFE and also an arrow with a +

What is the name brand on the heater?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
its a rheem and the voltage is fluctuating...
cam you send me a picture of the upper thermostat and lower thermostat
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
yeah, give me just a moment
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
You need to switch the black and white wires. Put the white wire where the black one is and the black one where the white one is. That will solve the problem.
Thanks, Mike
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

ok....that will be great if that fixes it. I wish I didn't delete the pics I took of the fried thermostat. I guess I couldn't tell the difference or somehow or another mixed them up. thanks again for your patience and help!