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Old 04-05-2008, 07:29 PM   #1
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electric element leaks

we installed a 10 gallon suburban water heater with the gas/electric option last fall. I hadn't installed the breaker for the electric until today because I didn't have water in the system and didn't want to chance dry firing the element and burning it out.

while polishing today I went ahead and put the breaker in and hooked up the hose, filled the water heater tank so I could try the electric side out (had already tested the gas side). About 30 minutes after turning it on, when I shut the polisher off I heard water spraying and some drips coming out the belly pan. I ran inside and found the beginning of a puddle forming in the closet behind the water heater. I quicky got out towels and started searching for the leak.

Unplugged the trailer, shut off the water and figured out after some looking that the leak was coming from between the element face and the rubber gasket. I don't have a big enough socket (looks to be 1 1/2") to remove it yet but it is spraying out one spot in the gasket (no more than an 1/8 of an inch wide). I can only assume that when element got hot, the gasket or something expanded/shrunk or there is a piece of debris on the gasket mating surface that is causing a void that water found.

Has anyone encountered this type of leak before? Is there any reason I can't reinstall with telthon tape or pipe dope?
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:56 PM   #2
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back out the element and reinstall with a new gasket. An element wrench is avilable at any mom and pop hardware. Maybe six bucks--cheaper at HD or lowe's if you can find it on your own because I do believe the help at these big box stores are at the very least--inept--problem is they know just enough to steer you wrong. Go to the water heater section and find the replacement electric elements. You will find a element wrench and a gasket in that area. good luck!
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goransons

Has anyone encountered this type of leak before? Is there any reason I can't reinstall with telthon tape or pipe dope?
Bummer,
Sounds like the old gasket was pinched. Remove the element, lube the new gasket with a little silicone grease and re-install the element.
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:13 PM   #4
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should I keep the threads dry or use tape or pipe dope with it in conjunction with the gasket?
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goransons
should I keep the threads dry or use tape or pipe dope with it in conjunction with the gasket?
Tape or dope could "break" away and enter the plumbing system and cause problems with faucet valves.
I would keep the threads dry.
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:57 PM   #6
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Anytime you have a gasket, the gasket is what seals. Pipe threads would require sealant/dope/teflon tape.
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goransons
should I keep the threads dry or use tape or pipe dope with it in conjunction with the gasket?
according to lewster...

no tape on metal2metal threadings WITH a gasket that provides the seal...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/514315-post5.html

cheers
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goransons
should I keep the threads dry or use tape or pipe dope with it in conjunction with the gasket?
Dave is correct!

Any time your connection has a gasket, sealing bulb or rubber washer, this is what creates the seal and one should never use anything on the threads as it will impede the clamping action of the threads on the gasket.

This includes water heater elements, compression fittings, flair fittings, water hoses and most water fittings that use a 'saniprene seal' usually found inside the threaded side of the water fitting.

Hope this helps!

PS: I have found that a tiny bit of teflon paste applied to the threads of your water heater element will quarantee that you will be able to remove it again, and it will not fuse to the threads of the tank. I have encountered this sitation more than once, and I always warn the client that there is a distinct possibility of strippng out the threaded fitting from the water tank and thus destroying the tank if the element's threads have bonded to the tank!
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