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Old 10-17-2018, 09:29 PM   #1
Travelling Three
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Hot Water Heater Down

We full time in our 2017 Montana 3661RL and last night the 50 amp breaker on the camper distribution panel tripped. First time this has ever happened in any camper weve had, kind of scary esp late at night. Last night after the breaker tripped I couldn't tell what could have tripped it. Today we discovered the hot water heater is broke and this is probably what tripped the breaker. I've got lots of reading to do on this forum and a Heartland provided water heater troubleshooting manual I down loaded. I'm also going to call Suburban tomorrow. During the installation of the hot water heater the sticky label got destroyed so I cant determine the part number of the heater. The Installation and Operations manual are for a SW4DEL, SW6DEL, SW10DEL, SW12DEL and a SW16DEL water heater. Tonight I'm going to assume the number in the part number is the gallon size of the heater. My question is, is there any serviceable parts for this heater? Any suggestions as to what went bad causing the 50 amp breaker to trip? Thanks for any information!
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Old 10-18-2018, 08:50 AM   #2
BB_TX
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The water heater should not have tripped the 50 amp breaker. There should be a 20 amp breaker specifically for the water heater that would trip well before the 50 amp main breaker. I am thinking you have something going on besides a water heater issue.

Did you reset the 50 amp breaker? And did it trip again afterward? I would leave the 120 vac turned off to the water heater and run it on propane only. And see if the breaker trips again.
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:23 AM   #3
BuilderBob
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X2 with BB TX the water heater has it's own breaker in the house fuss panel. you would need a heck of a over load to blow the 50 amp if you did not have to much running at the same time. You may have other problems than a hot water heater do like Bill said and see what happens. does ever thing else work as it should?
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Old 10-18-2018, 10:16 PM   #4
Travelling Three
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Hot water heater down

I agree with you guys, the HWH shouldn't have tripped the 50 amp breaker in the camper but it did. I have a 15 amp breaker for the HWH. Anyway, after much work I finally got to the ac power junction box on top of the HWH and found the 120vac neutral wire had fried and the black 120vac wire had definitely over heated. I cut off the fried ends, attached extender wires using wire nuts and got everything back together. Extremely difficult getting to the junction box. I will fire up the electrical feed to the HWH tomorrow. The HWH worked fine using propane. More later.
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Old 10-19-2018, 08:59 AM   #5
BB_TX
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I would look at how the loads are connected to your 120 vac load center. The only reason I can think that a shorted water heater would trip the main 50 amp breaker without tripping its own breaker is that if there were too many high amp items connected to one hot leg of the main breaker. If, for example, both A/Cs, the microwave, the converter, other things, AND the water heater were all on one leg, then high amps from the water heater could cause the main breaker to trip before its own breaker.

Of course, there is also the possibility the water heater breaker is bad and did not trip properly.
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Old 10-19-2018, 09:21 AM   #6
awheeler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travelling Three View Post
I agree with you guys, the HWH shouldn't have tripped the 50 amp breaker in the camper but it did. I have a 15 amp breaker for the HWH. Anyway, after much work I finally got to the ac power junction box on top of the HWH and found the 120vac neutral wire had fried and the black 120vac wire had definitely over heated. I cut off the fried ends, attached extender wires using wire nuts and got everything back together. Extremely difficult getting to the junction box. I will fire up the electrical feed to the HWH tomorrow. The HWH worked fine using propane. More later.

This may be exactly what is going on with my hot water heater. We have been dealing with this now for months. I have the the propane working (again) but not the electric (module board went out twice). I have changed out every part possible. NOW - I need to work backwards from the switch inside the 5'er to the hot water heater - not an easy task due to very limited space. I KNOW I have a fried wire somewhere - I could smell the wire burning.


I look forward to hearing how went about finding your issue and if it works. Where exactly is the junction box?
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Old 10-19-2018, 02:37 PM   #7
Travelling Three
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Hot water heater down

Now for the rest for the story. This morning I applied power to the HWH and it works, lots of hot water. Thank goodness I don't have a bad HWH. While repairing the wires in the HWH electrical, j box, I had the 15 amp breaker turned off. I looked around to see if any appliance, TV, microwave and fireplace were also off but everything is operating fine. So it appears there are no additional loads on the 15 amp HWH breaker. I think had there been additional loads the breaker would have tripped, we've been full timing in this camper for two years. So for now everything is back to normal.
BUILDER BOB: my HWH is located in in the bottom portion of the kitchen cabinet. The electrical j box is on top of the HWH. I had to cut a hole in the cabinet above the HWH to access the top of the HWH. Even after cutting the hole this it is still difficult work. Getting a flashlight and two hands into this space plus trying see is very difficult.

Thanks to all who responded to my HWH issue.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:55 PM   #8
awheeler
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Thank you for the information. I am going to follow suite and look for the junction box. The only items I have seen on top of the HWH is the module board and I have replaced it twice now. So, another project as soon as possible.
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travelling Three View Post
Now for the rest for the story. This morning I applied power to the HWH and it works, lots of hot water. Thank goodness I don't have a bad HWH. While repairing the wires in the HWH electrical, j box, I had the 15 amp breaker turned off. I looked around to see if any appliance, TV, microwave and fireplace were also off but everything is operating fine. So it appears there are no additional loads on the 15 amp HWH breaker. I think had there been additional loads the breaker would have tripped, we've been full timing in this camper for two years. So for now everything is back to normal.
BUILDER BOB: my HWH is located in in the bottom portion of the kitchen cabinet. The electrical j box is on top of the HWH. I had to cut a hole in the cabinet above the HWH to access the top of the HWH. Even after cutting the hole this it is still difficult work. Getting a flashlight and two hands into this space plus trying see is very difficult.

Thanks to all who responded to my HWH issue.
Hope it all work out for you guy's! They don't make it easy to work on some things sounds like your water heater is one of them. You know what the say 10LB's in a 5LB bucket.
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Old 10-19-2018, 09:49 PM   #10
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Glad to hear all is working now. Just really strange it tripped the 50 amp breaker rather than the 15 amp. Hopefully just some freak occurrence.
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Old 10-19-2018, 10:07 PM   #11
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There are a couple of potential reasons that the main would trip. It would probably result in more confusion than it is worth. However I will suggest that since you probably don't have the means to test the existing HWH circuit breaker I would suggest replacing it. They are about $5 and it would be the best $5 you ever spent even if it turns out the original was fine. You will just have a spare.
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Old 10-19-2018, 10:35 PM   #12
Dmcgrew
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Check your ground and neutral wire connections. Strange things happen when they are loose!!
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Old 10-20-2018, 10:13 AM   #13
jeffba
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I have seen it where a surge will trip the main breaker and not the smaller breaker. It all depends on which breaker responds quicker.
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