Water heater on a timer problem

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Wicksey
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Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:37 am

We've always had our electric water heater on a timer and for the first few years that wasn't a problem. Then one night the power tripped and we traced it to the utility room and found that the timer plug plus the wall socket were seriously hot. We threw out that timer and used another we had (a French make) and that worked OK for quite a while before that started tripping the electricity.

So a couple of months back we bought a more expensive digital one (not from a Chinese bazaar) but then that tripped last week so I moved it to another socket but it tripped again last night. The timer is suitable for appliances up to 3.5kw and the heater is 1.5kw so is not overloading it, plus it never trips when it is actually on (for an hour or so in the mornings), but usually in the evenings. At the moment we are not using anything else high powered when it trips (only the TV plus the fan).

The fact that we are now on our third timer and I have tried a different wall socket (which usually has the washing machine plugged into) has stumped me as to why this keeps happening. We have a freezer in the utility room where the heater is and that particular socket has never tripped the electrics so is it something to do with the fact it is a water heater ... but I really cannot see why that is a problem in itself.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby El Cid » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:45 am

I had a similar problem. We had a digital timer and the trip on the water heater kept tripping. We replaced the thermostat, but that didn't cure it. I changed the timer for an older analogue timer and haven't had any problems since.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:58 am

The first 2 were the mechanical ones with the moving cogs and timer going around, so we thought that maybe that was the problem. That's why we got the digital one without moving parts. We never leave it on when we go away so there's no danger of it tripping everything out or catching fire when we're not here, but it is just the inconvenience of it as at the moment we are not using the timer at all. Very strange!

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Enrique » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:22 pm

Hi Wicksey,
Sounds more like a problem with the circuits. Ok the first one might have caused a trip.

What is your Potencia and what is the Miniature circuit breaker (MCB) that controls it............ :?:

Maybe the main trip is going soft in it's old age and letting go early.............. :idea:

Have been running analogue timers for years on water heaters and Huesos boiler with no problems, only time our 3.3kw trips if we overload it knowingly .

So as you're not using a timer now it shouldn't trip ......but I bet it will.
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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:48 pm

We have 4.4kw which is plenty as the water heater is the only high user at 1.5kw (we have some heaters for the winter but from memory it's not happened when they are on too).

What an MCB .... we have an switch on the circuit board that has the little white tester button besides it, is that it?

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Enrique » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:58 pm

Google Miniature circuit breaker (MCB) and you'll get some nice pictures.......
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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:15 pm

All the switches in our circuit board look like a MCB. We have 9 in all with one that has a little white tester button besides it. We've been through them all and a couple turn off everything and a couple of others control specific areas of the house (including one just for the utility room which is how we traced the problem) but most of them we couldn't find out what, if anything they controlled.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Enrique » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:45 pm

So what is the rating for the Utility room it will be marked up in Amps i.e 10Amp

So its not the main MCB that's tripping then.
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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:09 pm

It is the main one with the tester button that trips but the others stay up and on. We cannot put the main one back on again until we turn the utility one off.

The utility one is slightly different and does not appear to have an amp rating like the others. It is a Terasaki Eco Plus Series.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby gerryh » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:54 pm

"the main one with the tester button" is usually an ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker)
This trips out when an appliance develops a fault causing the current to flow to earth.
This can be intermittent as it appears to be in your case.
You need an electrician with an earth leakage tester to test your water heater.
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Gerry
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Re: Water heater on a timer p

Postby TorreDelAguila » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:43 pm

If the breaker with the Test button (variouly known as an ELCB, RCCD [residual current circuit device], RCD [residual current device], or Differential breaker) trips out, it is because there is a current leak from either live or neutral down to earth, or a short between neutral and earth. This can be caused by a person sticking their finger into a power socket, coming into contact with a live wire, a cat peeing on a power socket, or damp getting into wiring/equipment/sockets/etc. It only takes a tiny current (about 30mA) to ping the trip within a few milliseconds - the idea is that it trips out before giving you a serious shock.

In your case of the water heater causing tripping out:
- unplug the water heater from the timeswitch, but leave the timeswitch in the wall socket and powered up
- if the circuit doesn't trip, then the wall wiring, socket ane timeswitch are OK
- plug in the water heater; if tripping then happens, then there is a fault in the water heater (not uncommon)

If the breaker with the Test button doesn't trip, but one of the individual breakers (MCBs, miniature circuit breakers) pings out, this is a simple "overload" of the circuit in question, eg a short-circuit, or faulty heating element, in the case of a water heater.

Water heaters are notorious for springing leaks at their base, with age, making connections/wiring/thermostat etc damp. Drop the bottom cover off, and investigate - or call in an electrician.
Chris

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby gerryh » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:03 pm

Chris's explanation of the potential fault is just a more in depth, complicated, version of my simple explanation.
A both of us have said, get your water heater checked by a competent electrician with the correct test gear.
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Gerry
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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby RichardCoeurdeLion » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:31 am

Not pertinent to your problem but related.
When we had our house it was let out occasionally.
The tenants used to leave the water heater on when they left. Often for months.
So I bought a "Run down Timer" which replaced the old on off switch. You just pressed a button and it ran for 1 otr 2 hours then cut out. Saved us a fortune.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:25 am

It only ever trips when the heater isn't on so is it likely to be that? If it is plugged into the timer (which is obviously on and working) but the heater is not, could the heater still affect it (I hope you understand what I mean!).

The heater is up on the wall on a bracket set away from the wall itself, and there are no visible leaks although the pipes then disappear into the wall nearer to the first socket I used, but nowhere near the 2nd socket I had used when it tripped more recently.

All the wiring for the utility room presumably comes from the same source as it is in an extension that the previous owners built (I'm not sure how it was connected into the main board but as it has it's own trip switch I hope it was done properly). It is very intermittent so a bit difficult to check, although I could keep the timer in without the heater, to see if it still trips out.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:56 am

Good idea to try it without the timer.

If it trips out with the timer (and water heater) unplugged, then it could be a faulty wall socket.
Or another one - or something - on the same circuit, if there is anything, that is.

If you get tripping with nothing plugged in, then pull the wall socket out, and take a look at the rear of it, and the connections there.

Dampness, corrosion or just muck can cause a tiny amount of current to flow down to earth on the back of (or in) a power socket. Maybe a stray cable strand?

As a further check, with electricity switched off, remove (disconnect) the suspect power point altogether, tape up the cable ends, and then switch back on again. If you get no more tripping, then the socket was faulty, and should be replaced.

If you're not completely confident with doing this, call in an electrician.
Chris

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Wicksey » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:47 pm

We do have a freezer in there and the washing machine, so perhaps we are just presuming it's the water heater again as it was definitely that the first time as the socket was so red hot. It may not trip out for another few months it is so intermittent, but we'll try some of the different options to try to see what the problem is.

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:30 pm

Yes, could be one of the other appliances.

You said the water heater was only 1.5kW. That should mean the plug, socket, timeswitch etc. shouldn't get anything more than a whisker warm.

If getting hot, as you said, then replace both the plug and the wall socket with new ones, and not Chinese.
Chris

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby Chunky Monky » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:25 pm

This is probably a good place to ask. I need a number of Spanish plugs (enchufes), as I was putting in an amazon.es order anyway, I looked for plugs on there, I couldn't find a single one! I have had some Chinese ones in the past but the quality is quite poor.

I know new items come with a molded-on plug these days - has it become illegal to sell individual enchufes?

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby El Cid » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:30 pm

Any Ferretería sells loads of them. Or try the big DIY shops like AKI and Leroy Merlín. Most large supermarkets wil sell them.

Sid

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Re: Water heater on a timer problem

Postby peteroldracer » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:58 pm

do you mean plugs, or sockets? I have always understood the male bit on the appliance cable) is a plug, and the female bit the socket.
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