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Old 05-30-2013, 08:21 PM   #1
uberg33k
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Default Q about the Camco ULWD elements

I know the element itself is stainless steel/nickel, but I was told that the base of the element is zinc. Is that true? How would I be able to tell?



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Old 05-31-2013, 03:17 PM   #2
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Yes, the base is not stainless steel and it will rust. I am not sure what it is made of - mild steel??



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Old 05-31-2013, 07:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehaun View Post
Yes, the base is not stainless steel and it will rust. I am not sure what it is made of - mild steel??
Interesting. I don't see many people discussing that fact here. Are there any identified elements that are all stainless steel?
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:40 AM   #4
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Is it interesting? I'm not seeing the interest or concern. Is there a problem?

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Old 06-01-2013, 01:27 PM   #5
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Personally, I don't worry about a little rust from the mild steel because it is such a small area in the entire system. If it is a concern, either coat it with silicone adhesive or put a magnesium anode in the kettle. The elements in my water heater have been going for 12 years now and the rust hasn't been a problem. We had water pipes in our older house that were rusting for over a hundred years and haven't seen any health problems nor heard of any from public water systems with iron pipes.

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Old 06-04-2013, 05:26 PM   #6
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The black heating rods on the Camco 4500W and 5500W ULWD models are made from the highest Grade Nickel and Chromium Incoloy which is high temperature and corrosion resistant. It is essentially a mix of premium grade nickel and stainless steel. Incoloy is about 8 times more expensive, lighter, and more corrosion resistant than standard 304/316 stainless steel.

These heating elements are principally installed in home water heaters used in potable water systems. Tens of thousands are most likely in use worldwide in hot water tanks built by American, A.O. Smith, Bradford White, Craftmaster, General Electric, GS Wood, Kenmore, Lochinvar, Maytag, Mor-Flo, Reliance, Rheem, Richmond, Ruud, Sears, State, and Whirlpool Heaters, to name a few.

The threaded silver base that you ask about is, however, not corrosion resistant. Some rust may form on this base if water is left in the kettle for a prolonged period of time. These heating elements are normally used in electric water heaters that also have a sacrificial anode installed to combat this issue. The anode's sole purpose is to oxidize first, thereby protecting the heating element base from rusting. Brewing kettles do not have an anode so make sure you do not leave water in the kettle for a prolonged period of time. Leaving water in during a typical brewing period is not an issue. In fact, a protective coating will form on the element base in the Boil Kettle after a few uses. It's more of an issue in the Hot Liquor Tank if you leave water standing for extended periods. This may be exasperated if you have hard water. Some brewers will install a magnesium anode in the side of their kettle to combat this issue. See this post for some example installations and instructions.

Good luck!

Kal

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Old 06-04-2013, 05:45 PM   #7
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I'm curious to know why they use a mild steel base and address corrosion problems with an anode, instead of just going with stainless steel.

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Old 06-04-2013, 06:06 PM   #8
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It depends on how hard your water is if you use the sacrificial anode. I installed one and it didn't help at all. I ended up coating it with silicone.

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Old 06-05-2013, 01:41 AM   #9
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I had a camco 5500 ulwd in my kettle, and a magnesium anode, and both the element and the anode rust like there's no tomorrow. There are zero ohms resistance between the element base and the anode. No idea what's going on but my water is not particularly hard. My advice would be to try the element, then if it rusts try an anode, finally just coat with silicone and call it a day.

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Old 06-05-2013, 02:09 AM   #10
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I just let mine rust. I just replaced my HLT elements after > 5 years of use.



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