New Electric Hot Water Heater Trips Breaker

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by safeire, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. safeire

    safeire New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Ohio
    I had an 80 gallon electric unit installed by Lowes. We filled it with water, turned the breaker on, it begins cycling process, and then trips breaker within about 10-15 minutes of starting.

    Since I just bought the house through sheriff's sale, I don't have any history on the house other than the hot water heater that was there when we got access to the house had been there for 17 years using the existing power supply. We've made no changes in the electrical panel that would have supplied power to the old unit and the new unit was the same size as the old.

    Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Call Lowes back. They should guarantee their work. Lowes sells Whirlpool heaters which are generally not rated very high among plumbers on this forum. There are several reason for breakers to trip, it takes someone with electrical knowledge and instruments to determine just what your problem is. It may or may not be the heater itself. Not something to DIY.
  3. safeire

    safeire New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks, Gary. I did try to get Lowes' installer involved but they believe they did everything correctly and won't even come back out to look at it. I've escalated it up to the store manager and the regional guy but until I can get some help from them, I'm on my own with a hot water tank that doesn't work. I agree that this isn't something to do DIY.
  4. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,799
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    One thing you can do safiere, is look at the circuit breaker that is tripping to see its amp rating and then look at the Amp draw that may be on the new water heater's label. In any case, is the KWatt rating the same of the new heater compared to that of the old one? If the old one is gone, then that won't be possible. I know you said that the size (in gallons?) is the same, but maybe the new heater has a faster recovery and draws more power. Or, then again, maybe there is a problem.
    I mentioned the above because you said it was heating for 10-15 minutes before it tripped, and a small overload on a breaker will not trip it fast like a short will. If you try it again, will it still trip the breaker after a few minutes, or right away?
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Maybe check the wire size also. If the wire is too small, this could account of the overload, much the same as described in the previous post regarding the breaker. If the wire is large enough, it would be simple and inexpensive to install a new breaker of proper size. If the wire is too small, then an electrician would be in order.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    What size breaker do you have? I would guess an 80 gallon would have 5500 watt elements, so would draw 22 amps and should be on a 30 amp breaker. The old one was I suppose the same?
  7. lowes is junk

    did you get one of those Whirlpool energy smart heaters from lowes with the control box on the top of the heater....

    if it is that kind of heater, you might as well take it out
    before it shorts out totally and causes a fire....

    [​IMG]

    mark_whirlpool_circuit_boar.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2011
  8. safeire

    safeire New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Ohio
    Many thanks!

    I appreciate all of the feedback and will check out the breaker and the wire and report back out on results.

    Yes, it is one of the smart efficiency models from Whirpool. Are there known issues with this model?
  9. here is someinformation from consumer affairs.com...

    you will find about a thousand complaints about the whirlpool water heater...

    somewhere in those complaints you will find some on the ELECTRIC heater that you have

    and some of them are complaints about them catching on fire in that crappy control box..

    many of the complaints are because they were bad from day one and whirlpool told them to go to hell

    good luck





    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/whirlpool_water_heaters.html


    whirlpool electric water heater complaints



    http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=31932
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  10. safeire

    safeire New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks to all for your feedback and assistance. I wish I had found this Forum BEFORE we purchased the Lowes/Whirlpool HWH. Unfortunately, now my choices are limited.
    Safeire
  11. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Made in Mexico serviced by Libyans. All profits to Loweballs.
  12. Whirlpoolwaterheaterhelp

    Whirlpoolwaterheaterhelp New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    TN
    Sorry to see you're having problems! Can you contact me directly so I can help?
    www.whirlpoolwaterheaters.com/help
    Thanks ~ Chris
    American Water Heater, authorized licensee for Whirlpool Water Heaters
  13. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,517
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    There You go Safeire,

    You have a right for them to make it right.

    Stand up for your rights, and ask why they sold and installed a piece of shit in your home, When they knew that they had problems.

    I hope you have a good outcome.


    Have a happy Holiday.


    DonL
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Chris, you have a hard job - your company sacrifices quality for profit.

    But maybe that gives you a job - but its sad state of affairs.
  15. plumber2011

    plumber2011 Expert Plumber

    Messages:
    70
    Location:
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Hi Chris (whirlpool guy)...

    I don't think that anything has been established here concerning the exact cause of Safeire's problem. In fact, I'm betting that we have a bad breaker or some other issue, but the heater has definitely NOT been shown to be the issue in this case at this time.

    Safeire, there has definitely been some issues with the energy smart whirlpool water heater diagnostic control system, but the problems I have seen do not include issues like you describe here. I would recommend that you call in a qualified electrician to evaluate your issue. If the breaker is bad or there is a junction box with issues, then he can repair/replace as needed. If the wire is undersized then I think lowes has some 'splaining to do as this should have been caught by the plumber at the time of installation. The water heater installation should also have been inspected by a local plumbing inspector (at least in most towns/cities) so this kind of thing can't happen, OK?

    Back to you...
  16. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    We know that PP lurks here, and now we know that Whirlpool does, as well! We would like to here the straight 411 on any issues with that control box
  17. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    You can help and impress us all - go to his house and fix the silly thing.
  18. safeire

    safeire New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Ohio
    UPDATE
    The second electrician was here today. He diagnosed two primary issues-he found that the plumber had some exposed wire around a cap when he opened the thermostat controls on top of the WH. Second, he replaced the existing 20/20 breaker with a 30/30 breaker. Everything is working perfectly now.

    The first professional who was here told me I needed to replace the wire and never tested anything on the WH or the panel. The second looked at the wire and said it was 10/3 and that it was sufficient. I'm glad to have had the feedback from everyone here. It really helped me understand all of the techbical terms to ask the right questions.

    Thanks to all who responded. I'm glad I had the second gentleman do the work rather than the first.

    Safeire
  19. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,267
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Two things would have sped up our diagnosis.

    1.Knowing that it was a 20 amp breaker when the heater had 5500 watt elements,and,

    2. Verifying that it was 10/2 wire, (10/3 was/is unnecessary),and not 12/2 or 12/3
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