How To Recognize What's Wrong With Your Cartridge Heater By Familiarizing Yourself With Its Parts

Posted on: 27 April 2016


Sometimes the best way to fix a broken item is to look at a duplicate item that is not broken. When you become familiar with the parts of an unbroken item, like a cartridge heater, then you know what it is supposed to look like when you look at one that might need repair or a complete replacement. The following describes the parts of a cartridge heater, what the parts do, and what they should look like when they are not damaged or broken.

The Metal Cartridge Tube

The metal cartridge tube, for which these heaters are named, may cover the entire length of the interior components or may stop after an inch or less on the bottom of the unit. It just depends on the style and type of cartridge heater. One thing is certain; it is metallic and almost always silver in color. When it is not plugged into any furnace or heating machines, the cartridge body is the part you touch and by which you pick up and handle the unit.

The Heating Coil

Inside the metal cartridge tube, there is a metal wire coil, usually wrapped around a ceramic core. When the coil is activated, it heats up and transfers the heat to the ceramic core. This tiny metal coil closely resembles a very small spring, and may be silvery to rust brown in color.

The Ceramic Core

The ceramic core will be white or off-white in color. It is almost never seen unless you manage to take a cartridge heater completely apart or you have a severely damaged core that falls out of the cartridge in bits and pieces.

The Insulation

The buffer between the heating coil and the cartridge is the insulation. Because these two parts are both metal, the energy could transfer to the cartridge case, creating potential shock injuries. Ergo, the companies that manufacture the heaters line the interiors of the heaters with a special insulation that is so thin you may not see it unless you cut open the casing of the heater to look. However, the insulation can be silver, white, black or clear in color.

The Lead Wires

The lead wires are perhaps the most obvious parts of any cartridge heater. They can be any color and any thickness, ranging from thread-wrapped silver wires to plastic insulated wires in red, white, yellow, blue, black or green. These lead wires should not have any nicks, cuts, fraying or chipping of the insulation wrapped around them. If they do have any of these visible flaws, the lead wires will need to be removed and replaced.