TOM NEALE: I’ve never seen a relay
switch between the circuit breaker and
hot-water heater, but you could have one.
Carefully tracing the electric line will give
you that answer. Before replacing the element, carefully trace the wiring first, to be
sure you don’t have a faulty connection. Also
look for burned or overheated insulation,
indicating a fault inside.
It’s possible you could have a bad element. These are easy to change and you
can get another one from a home-supply
store. Be sure the water is cool in the tank,
all power is off, and the tank is drained. It’s
good to drain the tank periodically, anyway.
Some tanks, such as Raritan’s, have zinc
anodes. Failure to replace the anodes (or
have them as part of the tank) can result
in problems such as leaks and premature
failure of heating elements.
If you have no continuity between
AC-supply thermostat terminals and AC-out
thermostat terminals, when the water is
cold, you probably have a bad thermostat.
Replacing a thermostat should not be dif-
ficult or expensive if you have the skills and
are familiar with the issues. Don’t do any of
this unless you depower the boat, including
any inverter power. Working on water heat-
ers and with electricity, especially on boats,
can be very dangerous.
TRUST YOUR DETECTOR!
I have a Sea Ray 320 Sundancer with a Firebox-Xintex CMD-3M model carbon-monoxide detector hooked up to the battery system. The other
day it went off and I didn’t have the engines or
the generator running. I brought a home unit to
the boat and it also went off, so the boat detector
must be functioning. I ventilated the boat with all
the window hatches open and still can’t get the
detector to go off. Can humidity or other causes
besides CO gas cause a “false positive?”
Grand Island, NY
JOHN ADEY: The second detector was
a brilliant choice! Often the problem is
another boat in your area. A boat tied up to
the same bulkhead three boats down running its generator, for instance, could cause
a buildup of CO. I recall a test where a refrigerated truck’s generator across the marina
parking lot set off our equipment!
These detectors are built and tested to a
very rigid UL standard. There are provisions
for false positives, contaminants, shock,
vibration, etc. There is a specific marine por-
tion of the standard to which your Fireboy
unit was built. The short answer is that
I have not experienced false positives in
marine units used on boats.
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