What is a Dry-Fired element?

Answer

Heating elements are designed to operate in water. An element is Dry-Fired when power is applied to the element with inadequate or no water in the water heater. Dry-Firing an element raises the temperature on copper elements to a destructive point.

The expected life of a dry-fired copper element will be reduced to a point that it may fail completely in 30 to 45 seconds, or it may last several months and fail at that point. Operating in water, the tubing temperature of the element will not exceed the temperature of the water by more than 2 degrees F.; however in a dry tank the tubing temperatures may reach 1900 to 2000 degrees F.

Dry-fired elements can be recognized in three ways:

  1. The zinc plating will have melted or completely burned off, leaving exposed copper.
  2. The tubing of the element will be completely annealed (soft) to a point that it can be easily bent in the straight sections of the tube.
  3. The terminal block may show signs of melting at the base next to the screw plug.

Note: only number 3 would be evident on Sandhog Elements.

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