Burned out elements in GE Smart water 80 gallon electric water heater

petec

Premium Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
53
Location
ellington, ct
Model Number
SE89T12AA01
Brand
GE
Age
1-5 years
I bought it on CL. The seller bought it from someone else who used it 1 year and replaced w/gas. He was going to install in his house, but decided not too. Seemed like an honest enough guy.

Everything looks like new. It holds water. The elements look fine on the outside, but I guess that doesn't mean anything.

I did have to reset the round red button above the terminal. I have 220VAC to the top element, no voltage to the lower, but I believe that is normal for a cold heater. Both elements measure open.

I've had good luck in the past buying used stuff, but looks like I struck out this time.

How difficult is it to replace the elements? Are they expensive?

I have emailed the seller. Hopefully he'll do something for me.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
37,664
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
He was going to install in his house, but decided not too. Seemed like an honest enough guy.
LOL...They all do. He bought it, it didn't work, so what else is going to say?
Nothing comes up with that number. I can't look up any parts but the elements can be expensive and they are a PITA sometimes to replace. You can buy a 30 gal electric water heater for $300 and up.
 

petec

Premium Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
53
Location
ellington, ct
Bought 2 new elements this morning. Installed them and all is well.

I am baffled however. When I pulled the bad elements out, I was expecting to find something ugly. What I found was 1 (lower) element which had very minor corrosion and an upper element which literally looked as though it had been installed last week. I drained the tank below the upper element and inspected the inside of the tank through the element opening. It looks like brand new!

The seller was very nice. He apologized and agreed to send me a check for 50 bucks to pay for the new elements.

The history on this tank was he bought it from a contractor who removed it after a year of use, when the customer switched to gas. He had plans on installing it as he was adding a solar PV system to his home, but recently decided to hold off because he is selling his home and moving to another.

After seeing the condition of the inside of the tank, I am happy I bought it. I have a good quality water heater that appears to be in near new condition, with 2 new elements, for 150 bucks.

The question I have is, what the hell happened to these near new looking elements. Could the system have experienced a sustained high voltage spike? Could sitting dry in a basement for 4 years have caused it?

See the pic of the bad elements. I have seen far worse looking that still worked.
 

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petec

Premium Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2011
Messages
53
Location
ellington, ct
One other question. The elements I removed are the ones that are folded over because they would otherwise be too long to fit. I believe the term is low density.

The replacements I found at Ace Hardware are, for lack of a better term, high density. They are straight, with no bend, but half as long as the ones the replaced.

I assume low density may be a bit more efficient and heat more quickly, as they have more surface area.

Is this the case? They were only about 14 bucks each, so it wouldn't kill me to replace them.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
37,664
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
Again, without being able to look it up I can't tell you much. Sorry. Most appliance techs don't do HWH. It's more along the lines for a plumber or HVAC.
 
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