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Barony

breaker issue

29 posts in this topic

Finally got the geothermal unit in and running two weeks ago. One of the options that came with the unit is the ability for it to produce hot water and back feed the water heater which now serves as a storage unit.

When I took a shower this AM, it was cold. I went down stairs and took a look, the breaker had popped. I looked a little longer and noticed that my well, softener and water heater are all on the same breaker. It's a 30 amp double. It's popped 3 times tonight. I have no idea how old the water heater is. We've been here 6 years, so it's at least that old. The well I only use during the summer and have the water shut off to the outside. The softener is an old culligan that looks to be original to the house (1986).

I have a suspicion that the water heater is on borrowed time. How do I check that? Could that be a reason why the breaker keeps popping or do I have other issues? Do I have a short someplace? Just looking for a place to start I guess and work from there.

Thanks

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Your water heater should be on it's own 30 amp breaker. No exceptions! Where I live

Is the water heater line voltage, or does it have a plug in transformer that is

plugged in to a out let?

Check the amps at each of the elements on the water heater.

You may have a element out or going out. Most elements have a rating tag written

on the side. You amps check should not exceed the rating tag.

You pump/well should also be on it's own breaker. Is the pump 115

or 230 volts? If it is 115 that means it's on one leg of your 230v water heater.

Thats not good, and would definitely pop you water heater breaker. my opinion.

Fix that to.

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Just got off the phone w/ my brother who is an elec. engineer and he said the same thing, get them split asap. Looks like I get to call my favorite sparky and have him come out and fix it. His comment was that it is reaching the thresh hold and causing it to pop. I scratch my head with the stuff I find around this place. No idea how anyone signed off on that.

The other thing that I think I saw was that the 30 amp 240 breaker is going to a junction box in the utility room from my main box, and then wire is run to my water heater from the breaker box (I think). I'll have to pull some sheet rock down to get a better look. I'm tired of doing that too (pulling sheet rock down).

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Let you sparky look for the circuit/wire, he should have a beeper.

No drywall removal that way.

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Who put the Geo unit on that breaker? If you paid a company for a complete system, call them back.

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I scratch my head with the stuff I find around this place. No idea how anyone signed off on that.

Probably no permit. It's amazing isn't it?...I have a house similar. Finding things all the time. It's from the famous DIY'ers. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff we see.

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The problem with having no permit and then not having a inspection is if it is determined to be the cause of a fire in your house your insurance company will not pay a cent.I found this out in a class that was taught by a state electrical inspector.

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The geo stuff was hooked up and inspected by a sparky and inspector. That is all good.

There's some other stuff that was done before we moved in that makes me shake my head. Construction stuff, some wiring stuff, just shortcuts that may have saved $50-60, but it's just not right and will cost a lot more than that to fix not.

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When you say the Geo stuff was hooked up by a sparky and inspected, it's all good, well no, it's not all good.

Who tied the electrical into the water heater?

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When you say the Geo stuff was hooked up by a sparky and inspected, it's all good, well no, it's not all good.

Who tied the electrical into the water heater?

Inspected by whom? If it was a state inspector, I'd question his license credentials.

Bob

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All I can say is if I where to hire an electrical contractor and this happened, I'd be one P.O. dude. Sounds more like the heating contractor might have done it, and it got inspected by that inspector.

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You said you were taking a shower and the water was cold.

If the breaker popped and the well and water heater are on the same breaker then you wouldn't have running water.

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I know that and depending on the size tank that could be 10 seconds to a couple minutes tops. Either way it be a very quick shower.

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Nice catch Frank. If the water was cold then that would mean that the heater had been off for several hours.

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Should have clarified. I'm now on city water, so the well is for outside uses only. I never use my well, except to water the dogs and wash the car. The lawn can die. The box has a 30 amp double pole that is run to a service box in the laundry room. That service box has the old breaker box with screw in fuses. The wires are nutted to another wire (I'm assuming it's the power for the heater). The wire from the main box to the utility box looks to be 6 ga. aluminum wire.

The whole well/water heater issue was something that was already done when we bought the house. All the electricians did was wire the unit to the main box and hook up the pumps on the unit. The plumbers ran the lines to fill and back fill the water heater. I don't think anyone had any idea that there was another problem, until now. The contractors didn't do anything that they weren't supposed to do.

If an inspector comes into the house, do they have a responsibility to also inspect other things or do they just inspect what they were called to inspect?

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Quote:
If an inspector comes into the house, do they have a responsibility to also inspect other things or do they just inspect what they were called to inspect?

The reason the inspector would come back is that you have pulled a permit and there was electrical work on that permit that he needs to inspect. When that work is done and up to code he will sign off on it.

I think what you want is a electrical inspection off all your wires to be sure that they are up to code and what ever failed then you would be responsible to fix or get a electrician to repair.

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Without knowing exactly what the requirements are for your system I can't say exactly what you need, but whoever wired it should have ran the wires back to the main panel and put your Geo unit on it's own breaker.

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By well, I mean the well that used to bring water into the house. It is now capped off inside the house and is for outside purposes only. The well for the geo unit is a closed system and has 3 double pole breakers in the main breaker box. That has been hooked up properly.

The well that is hooked to the hot water heater is the standard water well, not the goethermal unit closed loop system wells. Sorry about not clarifying that.

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So the issue here is that the 30 2 pole breaker trips, and on this you have a well that's not working now, a water softner and a water heater.

First off, are you sure the softner is hooked up to the 2 pole breaker? I have to asume that most house units are rated for 120volts, not 240 but I could be wrong.

A place to start would be to ohm the two heating elements in the water tank. Zero or infinity would be bad. Infinity (the symbol looks like the number "8" on it's side) would indicate an open and you would get no heat out of that element.

Zero would indicate that the element has shorted itself out (not likely, but possible). That would pop your breaker when the heater calls for more heat.

If you are certain the softner is on the same circuit (it shouldn't be) turn it off and see if anything different happens.

Hope that helps.

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If you have a way of turning the power off to that well pump that is out of use I'd do that. Just to be sure its not running because it lost its prime or something weird. Eventually that will go on its own circuit.

Are you getting any hot water? If so does it seem normal or has there been a change in temp or less hot water?

Test the elements like mentioned.

After running hot water for a shower I'd probably next listen at my panel for buzzing and smell for arcing. Heck listen to the hot water heater too for buzzing.

Might even switch the breaker out for a new one just to eliminate that as the cause. You might want to have an electrician do that for you.

I'd have that that junction box cover off for a look around.

If you feel unqualified to do any of the above have an electrician look at it.

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I did swap the breaker out tonight. It did the trick. Not sure if it's the problem or a bandaid. I'm leaning towards a bandaid.

I need to figure out how to shut the well off for the winter so it's not drawing anything.

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Barony breakers will go bad or in your case get weak. It is better to be weak then to never trip and have motors fry. My friend who is a master electrician told me he will take a fuse over a breaker any day just because he is sure the fuse will blow but he can't say the same about a breaker tripping. Your well pump motor should not be drawing any juice as long as it is not running.

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Yep breakers go bad. If it doesn't trip its not a bandaid.

That junction box in the utility room. Are you sure its a junction box and not a sub panel?

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This is why I hesitate to offer very much electrical advise over an internet forum. Notice how the information regarding the questionable circuit(s) keep changing. The original poster provides what he thinks is adequate information but as more questions are asked, he provides more details that not only change the scope of the project but introduces more potential issues as well, requiring more questions and more information.

It's just too risky. I would say your best bet is to hire an electrician to come out and look over your situation and give you an accurate asseesment and quotation for repair.

Bob

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