Quite interesting! You see, there must be a difference of potential for electrons to flow ( thus causing amperage draw). If what you say is true, it's a 110v water heater, and my guess would be that the heating elements were partially grounded ( thus giving you a diff of potential). This is a very unsafe situtation. Was the ground wire hooked to the unit? Or, maybe hooked to the other side of the heating elements? Either way, you really got problems there. Try reading your elements to ground to see if there if continuity ( with the power off of corse, and the other side of the element disconnected) Good luck with your endeavor!