Much to our surprise we were out of hot water Christmas morning 2012. Interestingly enough we purchased this Sears Dual 28 Electric Water Heater in December of 1974. Hot water worked fine until September of 1996.
At that time a thermostat or heating coil went bad . While installing different used hardware I reconfigured the wiring so just one element is on at a time which is more standard.
This Christmas morning I observed 240 volts at the upper element so I open the circuit breaker and removed one lead from the element and measured 40 ohms across the upper element which indicated the element is good. I did notice the wire to the element was slightly discolored due to being warm. I loosened the screw and shortened the wire half an inch and reconnected with everything cleaned. Now with power on the upper element is working fine and we have hot water.
With power on I measured 3/10 amps going to the lower element. With power off I measured infinity across the heating coil which means it is bad. I then remove both leads, and installed wire nuts to protect the wire ends.
This hot water tank is double glass lined, has very little rust on the outside and has lasted so many years I hate to replace it. New tanks seem to only last 10 years at times. So now the question is should I operate with only one element which seems to work just fine. Seems we have enough hot water. This was the biggest tank Sears sold in 1974. It had by far the fastest heat recovery or gallons of hot water per minute due to the fact it had both elements on at the same time. It drew 28 amps which is rather close to the 30 amp circuit breaker. Power was cheap back then and since we had the cheaper all electric rate it seemed smart get the biggest and the best tank for just a few dollars extra. I see it came in 3 sizes 52, 66 and 82 gallons. It might be the biggest. We have never to my knowledge run out of hot water except for the 2 failures.