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  1. #1
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    water heater change out electrical question

    Just got a used 8 yo 50 gallon Rheem water heater and want to put it in my house ( double wide m/h ) to replace the existing 19 yo Rheem 40 gallon wh. The old one is a single heating element 3500 watt unit, the newer unit is a double element 4500 watt unit, both 220v.

    My question is; does the extra 1000 watts mean I'll have to upgrade the wiring/breaker?, there is no amperage given on the labels. I could do this my self but need to know if I should be concerned about the existing wiring.

    Many thanks, Carroll

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    #2
    I have been out of the plumbing world a few years, but you should be fine. I dont ever remember the breaker ever being an issue - only 110 vs 220. And I am 95% sure both elements dont come on at same time any way. I would do it.

  4. Member Clif Kincaid's Avatar
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    #3
    If your breaker is 30amps you will be fine. 2 pole 30

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  5. Member RangerBoats198vx's Avatar
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    #4
    4500watts/240volts= 18.75 amps. The breaker shouldn't trip but the breaker and wire are rated at 80% of max load. If it were me I would use #10 wire and a 30 amp breaker.

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    #5
    I imagine they might both come on during heavy usage but that might not happen very often.

  7. Member
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    #6
    As for the electrical, you need a 30 amp double pole breaker wired with 10 gauge wire, which you should already have with the current water heater. Since the water heater is used, I would go ahead and take a few extra steps before installing. I would check the dip tube and make sure is in good condition (lack of corrosion and/or not disintegrating). There was a huge problem with this several years ago due to a faulty batch having been used by multiple manufacturers, but that problem has since been resolved. However, I would check it just to make sure. The tube is located on the inlet side under the nipple. I would also check/replace the sacrificial anode. It should be located under one of the screw heads on top of the heater but some manufacturers like to hide their location. Should be easy enough to find its' exact location on-line. Other than that, once its' hooked up, just check each thermostat is pulling proper amperage (between 14-19) using a clamp meter and you should be fine.
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    #7
    I think the wire is 14 game but with each hot carrying 15 amps equaling 30 amps then I should be good. With the existing wiring.

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    #8
    I would buy a new water heater. Life expectancy is 10 yrs on them. Double pole 30amp 10 guage wire and your fine.

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    #9
    If that wire is 14 gauge, it will burn the house down. 14 gauge wire is only rated for about 15 amps, regardless of whether it is a 2 or 3 wire. I have seen houses burn down from too small a wire for the application more than once. Basic building code requires 10 gauge wire on a 30 amp double pole breaker for a water heater. What color is the wire? I can't say for sure when they changed, but many years ago they started color coding the wire, however in mobile homes this may not apply. 10 gauge wire is orange, 12 is yellow and 14 is white. Now, that's in my area and can't speak for everywhere else. I think they did that so the inspectors can simply glance at the wire to determine if it is the proper gauge for the application.
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  11. Member
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    #10
    Given that the mobile home is 20 years old that puts the wiring into the suspect category. 14 is not enough for a water heater. The other thing is it Copper or Aluminum? Some older mobile homes are aluminum. You definitely don't want to tax that stuff.

    I would also not trust an 8 year old water heater. It's at the age where it's lifespan has been met.

  12. Member Clif Kincaid's Avatar
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kudzu'67 View Post
    I think the wire is 14 game but with each hot carrying 15 amps equaling 30 amps then I should be good. With the existing wiring.
    Go take a pic of your panel and point to the breaker that's powering your Hot water tank. Post on here or call your local sparky!

    This stays to remind Rude of the Hawkemness

    Officially BluewaterLED pimped

  13. Member
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    #12
    Oh geeez... Breaker is 20 amp double and wire is 14 gauge, will have to change both in addition to the plumbing issues. Fast becoming more trouble than it'll be worth. Wire is copper though.

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    #13
    Unfortunately, being that you have a 20 amp breaker with 14 gauge wire, that will have to change regardless of the water heater you use. That is a definite. It's not just a code issue, but also a safety one. Changing the wire from the circuit panel is not very difficult - somewhat dangerous if you're not exactly sure what you are doing and time consuming but not difficult. And, believe it or not, with proper maintenance and care, a water heater can last almost a lifetime.
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    #14
    Don't do it. The wire is marginal at best. Do it correctly up front..

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    #15
    Aw shoot.. abandoning the project for now, maybe at a later date with a new unit. Anyone want to buy a water heater?.