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rmeador 07-26-2011 09:02 PM

water heater stopped heating
So the other day I was out sailing, having a great time, and my bilge pump comes on. My bilge pump NEVER comes on (it never has in the 9 months I've owned the boat and been living aboard). I immediately knew something seriously wrong, so I went below to investigate. I hear the freshwater pump running at full speed, and come to the conclusion a hose has let go somewhere. I turn off the water pump and stop the flood, but being the idiot that I am, I forgot to turn off the hot water heater breaker. As soon as I got back to the dock and plugged in the shore power, the poor hot water heater was trying to heat an empty* tank. The hot water no longer gets hot, the heater draws no power when its breaker is turned on, and I've also checked the breaker on the heater itself and it hasn't tripped... did I kill the heating element, or is there some other possibility? The tank is a 6 gallon Raritan 1700 series (I don't know the exact model number), so I'm hoping this is the right element for it. Thanks!

*At least, I think it was empty... it was the hot water output hose that let go, so I'm not sure why it would have been empty, but it definitely took a long time to refill when I fixed the hose.

MSter 07-26-2011 09:09 PM

Yes, I would think you now have an open circuit as I am sure the element is fried. It should be easy enough to check with a volt meter across the element terminals (breaker turned off and wires disconnected of course). Infinite resistance would identify an open circuit. Check to see if your meter has a continuity setting as this will also tell you if there is an open in the circuit.

tomperanteau 07-26-2011 10:30 PM

Yep, you killed it. Depending on how old your water heater is, it may be difficult to take the old element out.

When I replaced the element on ours, it took me about 45 minutes and a dock friend's help to get the old one unscrewed. Once out, it was easy to install the new element. I think I paid around $24 for the element off the Net.

rmeador 07-27-2011 09:07 AM

Luckily for me, the heater is essentially brand new. It was installed only a few days before I bought the boat, so it's less than a year old. I guess I'll order a new element. Thanks!

deniseO30 07-27-2011 10:21 AM

You should be able to pick up the element just about anywhere. they are not unique to marine WHs good luck!

BarryL 07-27-2011 10:39 AM


From the Raritan web site (FAQ section):
Raritan Engineering | Water Heaters FAQ

My heater will not heat the water on electrical hookup. What is wrong?

Have an electrician check the reset button on the water heater thermostat then for the availability of power at the connections to the water heater.

Check for power at the heating element with the tank filled with cold water and electrical power to the water heater turned on.

If power is available but the water isn't heating, the heating element has failed; if power is not available at the element, the thermostat has failed. Failure of the heating element is especially prevalent in the spring when the boat is being commissioned for the season.

Should electric power be accidentally applied to the water heater before the tank has been completely filled, the heating element will burn out in a very short time. Always be sure the tank has been filled before applying electric power.

Replacement heating elements are available from Raritan, part #WH1A-S for the screw-in element, part #WH1A for the older flanged bolt-on element. Replacement thermostats are part #WH16, for all Raritan units.

Good luck,

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