How to Reset a Water Heater with these 5 Simple Steps

Owning a water heater is an excellent decision as it lets you enjoy hot baths anytime you want. However, it can be equally frustrating to come home to a faulty one. Knowing how to reset your water heater will allow you the independence of getting hot water immediately and having to wait for a mechanic to show up, causing further delays.

Now, you don’t have to worry because we’ve got you covered. Following is a simple list of steps on how to reset a water heater along with a list of problems that may have caused your water heater to malfunction.

When Should You Reset a Water Heater

While you can easily reset your water heater, it is always a good idea to figure out the conditions when you need to reset a water heater. Usually, the problems are relatively minor and can be addressed via reset. However, there is a chance that it might be a symptom of a larger wiring problem. This is why we have below a list of conditions that might need resetting your water heater.

1. Faulty Reset Button

The reset button is usually red and fairly easy to locate. It should be near the upper thermostat, most likely covered by a small panel. If the light in this button is on, it means that the heater needs to be reset. This is an easy way to check whether a switch has been tripped without needing to disassemble your water heater. So, this is the first thing you should check when your water heater is not functioning.

2. Faulty Heating Elements

An electric water heater consists of an upper and a lower heating element. When the water fills into the tank, it is heated from both sides. Each of these sides also has a thermostat that controls the individual heating elements. This means, if any of the heating elements is faulty, then you may have some hot water, but it is likely to be quickly replaced with the cold water.

3. Faulty Thermostat

As each of the upper and lower heating elements has a separate thermostat, a malfunction in anyone can call for the need to reset the water heater. The main purpose of a thermostat is to detect the water temperature. If it senses that the water is colder than a specific temperature, it will automatically switch on the heating elements to provide you with hot water. Also, the heating element switches off after the heated water reaches a specific temperature.

However, if any of these thermostats malfunction, it is likely to cause a false high-limit. This means the water heater will keep on heating the water even after crossing the set temperature limit. This can cause the high-limit switch to trip, requiring you to reset your water heater. Another thing you need to check is the temperature set on your thermostat. The trip can also be a result of a pre-set higher temperature.

4. Wiring Issues

If your thermostat seems to be working fine, then there is a chance of loose wiring in the heating element. This can cause the thermostat to work just fine, but the short wire continues the heating process. This means that the water will be overheated and might trip the high-limit switch requiring a reset.

5. A Faulty Breaker

Lastly, if none of the above seems to be the reason behind your water breaker needing a reset, then the fault might be in the electricity set up in your home. This can cause your circuit breaker to trip and cut off the electricity supply from the water heater. While both the breaker as well as the reset should be a fairly straightforward process, if this is a continued problem, it may indicate a larger wiring issue. It is a good idea to consult a professional to check whether there is any fault with the installation so that you can avoid the hassle of constant resetting.

How to Reset an Electric Water Heater

Resetting an electric water heater is a simple process. However, when it comes to working with these pricey appliances, you can never be too safe. This is why we have listed below five easy and detailed steps to ensure that you can reset your water heater with no problems.

1. Disconnect the Water Heater

The first thing you need to do is disconnect the water heater from the power supply. It is always a good idea to switch off any appliance before tinkering with its settings.  Most water heaters are plugged in directly to the wall so you can unplug or switch off the power to it. And, in some instances, the water heater is already wired in. In this case, you can just turn it off at the breaker box.

2. Remove Cover

The reset button, in most cases, is hidden behind a panel. This is to make sure it is protected and safe from being accidentally set off. This panel is likely to be either near the upper thermostat or closer to the bottom. You might need to get a screwdriver to remove the screws. Then, you can lift the plate to locate the insulation pad.

3. Remove the Insulation Pad

In order to prevent unwanted heat loss, water heaters usually consist of an insulation pad underneath the panel. It is most likely a foam pad that covers up the reset button as well as other controls present in your water heater. All you have to do is pull the pad out of the way and the reset button should be visible. Remember to put the insulation pad aside as you will need to put it back when reassembling.

4. Click the Reset Button

The reset button is traditionally red and easy to spot. Some might even label it as the reset button for further simplicity. If you haven’t been using this button frequently, then there is a chance that the switch might be stuck at first. You need to press the button firmly until you hear a definite click. In some models, you might not hear a click. This is why you should keep pressing the reset button for at least five seconds. This should provide ample time for any water heater to restore its settings.

5. Reassemble and Turn On

To reassemble, you only have to retrace your steps backward. First, put the installation pad back in place. Once you have it in its original place, you can put the panel over the pad. Then, get the screws you had previously taken out and put them back in place. Remember to screw them in tightly. After this, plug the water heater back into the power supply. You can now check the water heater as it should be running smoothly.

How to Reset a Gas Water Heater

If your gas heater is not delivering hot water, the most common cause is the pilot light. If you notice that this light has gone out, this could be an indication of a problem with the gas supply. Once you check the supply, you may have to refill your tank and ensure that the gas is flowing properly. If both these things are in order, then the pilot light should start automatically. In case it still isn’t working, you may have to call a professional to check for further wiring issues.

Additional Tips:

  1. If the insulation pad is wet, then pull it out, as it might be an indication of leakage. This is unlikely to be solved with a simple reset and most likely needs a technician.
  1. If in case the reset button still doesn’t work, the problem can most likely be with the internal wiring or due to loose wire nuts.
  1. Always ensure your thermostat temperature is not set too high to prevent it from constantly tripping the high-limit switch.
  1. If the switch is continuously tripping, call a professional and keep the water heater disconnected from the power supply.