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How to Reset an Electric Water Heater? – Only 4 Steps

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

how to reset an electric water heater

Did your water heater just shut off? Are you clueless about how to reset an electric water heater? Water heaters have a safety feature for shutting them off if the water temperature goes higher than the dialed value. It can also happen due to a faulty thermostat, loose wiring, or shorted heating elements.

A water heater’s reset button allows you to avoid potentially catastrophic problems while retaining the appliance’s full functionality. This article shows you how to reset your electric water heater and explains why the reset button trips.

Table of Contents

Things You Need for This Tutorial


You do not need special tools to reset a water heater. A simple flat-tip or Philips screwdriver is sufficient to access the water heater’s reset button. Of course, it will also help if you have the following.

Owner’s Manual

Not everyone knows where a water heater’s reset button is, and not all water heaters have their reset button in the same location. That is why it is crucial to check the owner’s manual to determine the reset button’s placement, including how to reset the water heater.

Knowledge of Why Water Heater Reset Buttons Trip

Manufacturers put a reset button as a safety mechanism protecting your water heater from potentially catastrophic damage. This component shuts off power to the hot water heater if the water temperature exceeds the preset limit.

For example, if the water heater can only withstand a maximum of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it automatically shuts itself off if the water reaches 181 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Four reasons can cause a water heater reset button to trip.

  • Faulty thermostat

Each heating element has a thermostat that monitors the water temperature. It shuts off the water heating element if it senses the water temperature is already at its desired level.

If the thermostat fails, it does not switch off the heating element, further heating the water and tripping the reset button. The solution is to replace the defective thermostat.

  • Shorted heating element

A shorted heating element can cause the component to continue heating the water even if the thermostat already shuts it off. A continuous rise in water temperature will trip the reset button once it breaches the maximum water temperature.

You might need an electrician to check where the short circuit lies. In most cases, you might have to replace the wirings or the heating element altogether.

  • Loose electrical connections

Loose wiring can generate sufficient heat in the water heater’s electrical system. The reset button’s built-in thermometer can sense the heat from the loose electrical wire if it is close enough, tripping the reset button.

  • Failing reset button

No matter how many times you reset the electric hot water heater, it will never power on if the problem is the reset button itself. It will continue tripping unless you replace the reset button.

Unfortunately, you might have to replace the thermostat because the reset button is an integral component of the thermostat.

Steps for Resetting the Electric Water Heater


Step 1. Shut off the water heater’s power supply.

Unplug the electric water heater from the outlet. If your water heater is hardwired to the house’s electric power supply, you must turn the power off from the electric circuit breaker panel.

Locate the circuit breaker panel and look for the section labeled ‘water heater.’ Flip the water heater circuit breaker to the OFF position.

Step 2. Access the reset button.

Read the water heater owner’s manual to determine the reset button’s location. Most products have a reset button on each heating element. Hence, if your electric water heater has two heating elements – one upper and one lower – you must access both.

The heating element compartment has a metal plate covering secured in place by screws. Use a screwdriver to loosen the fasteners and access the electric water heater reset button.

Many electric water heaters also have an insulating layer underneath the metal plate covering the thermostat and heating element. You might need to remove the insulation, too.

Step 3. Reset the water heater.

You should see a red button labeled ‘reset.’ Some products might have the label ‘reset button’. Read your manual for directions on how long you must press and hold the button to reset a water heater.

If you want to reset Rheem electric water heater, press the reset button until you hear a click. The sound you hear indicates that the water heater is ready to serve your water heating needs.

If you do not hear the click after pressing and holding the reset button for five seconds, you might want to release the button anyway.

Check the electrical wiring for loose connections, including loose nuts and wire nicks. Tighten the loose wire nuts and press the button again. If it still fails, you might need to replace the controller.

Unfortunately, you have few options left. You must return the insulation and metal cover plate before calling a professional electrician to look at your unit.

Step 4. Test the water heater.

Check the reset button to see if it stays in place after pressing it. You might want to call a professional if it pops back out. If not, you can replace the insulation and metal plate cover.

Head to the electric circuit breaker panel and switch on the water heater breaker. Wait a few hours to heat the water. If the water is not hot after two to three hours, switch off the water heater breaker and call an electrician.

If the water heater seems to be working but trips the reset button again, switch the water heater breaker into the OFF position and call a professional.

I found an excellent video on resetting an electric water heater by Homeowner Repair you might want to view.


Now you know how to reset an electric water heater. The process could not be simpler than switching off the power supply to the unit, accessing the reset button, and pressing it until it clicks. Unfortunately, you might need a professional electrician to look at your water heater if it fails to reset.

Do you think other people will also find this guide beneficial in helping them reset their water heaters? If yes, I encourage you to share this article with them. Moreover, you can send me questions or comments about this tutorial, and I will look into them as thoughtfully as possible.

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