Hot Water Heater Reset Button (Where to Find It and What it Does)

You’ve just turned on the hot side of your shower or faucet. You’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity for the water temperature to rise, but it’s not happening. You go into the garage or attic where your hot water tank is to see if you can spot the problem.

You try to find the reset button because the unit appears to be turned off. But you cannot spot it. This is a common problem.

The location of the water heater reset button is determined by a few things.

Access to the button is designed by manufacturers for safety and to prevent inadvertent activation. The location of the button may also be determined by the type of hot water tank you have, whether gas, electric, or tankless.

This article will explain how to locate your water heater’s reset button.

Where is the Reset Button on Water Heater Located?

Hot water reset button on this heater is black. But can also be red. Photo Credit: Homeowner Repair YouTube Channel

Before you begin troubleshooting, go to your electric panel and locate the breaker switch labeled “water heater”. To turn off the power to the unit, flip it to the off position. This keeps you safe while troubleshooting the unit.

On a gas or electric water heater, the reset button is located behind the top metal panel cover on the side of the tank. Remove the screws on the top and bottom sides of the panel cover to enable access to the button. The button will be either red or black, with a diameter of roughly 1 inch.

To see the button clearly, you may need to remove some extra protective layers.

How to Reset Your Water Heater (6 Easy Steps)

Resetting your Water heater is a straightforward process that solves the many common hot water issues.

  1. Go to the electrical panel for your home which is located in the garage or on the exterior walls of the house. Find the breaker that is labeled “water heater”. Flip it to the “off” position
  2. Head to your hot water tank. Remove the top panel cover on the side of the unit by removing the screws that hold it in place. The reset button will be located right inside the panel. There may be some insulation covering the reset button. Remove and keep the insulation.
  3. Press the reset button. You should hear a clicking sound, indicating that the water heater has been reset.
  4. Put the insulation back in to the opening and place the panel cover back on and secure it with the screws.
  5. Return to the electrical panel to flip the breaker switch to the on position.
  6. Wait for about 30 minutes and then try the hot water side of your faucet. Your hot water heater should now be operating properly and water temperatures should be back to normal.

Related: Where is the Honeywell Hot Water Heater Reset Button?

Why is My Water Heater Tripping the Reset Button?

The fact that your reset button trips is actually a good thing. It is a safety feature that prevents more serious problems, such as water heater explosions. In fact, the water heater reset button is sometimes called the high limit switch because it limits how hot the water gets by shutting the system off.

There are five basic reasons why the water heater reset button trips. A malfunctioning thermostat, faulty wiring, a damaged breaker, a faulty heating element, or a faulty reset button

We discuss them below.

Bad Thermostat

The water heater has two thermostats: an upper and a lower one. They control two heating elements. Each thermostat measures the temperature of the water in the tank and sends a signal to the heating element, telling it whether to turn off or on to achieve the correct internal temperature.

A defective thermostat will fail to deliver a signal to the heating element, causing it to continue heating the tank and trip the reset button.

Bad Heating Element

Corrosion around water heater element.

One of two things can go wrong with the heating element.

In the first case, the heating element can crack which disables its heating ability.

In the second scenario, there could be a short in the heating element resulting in excessively hot water. In this case the heating element is unable to read the signal being sent to it from the thermostat.

This scenario will cause the button to trip.

Faulty or Loose Wiring

Wires connect various electrical components in hot water heaters. A faulty wire connection is usually easy to spot visually. Typically, discoloration can be seen in the insulation around terminals.

To detect loose connections, you can gently tug on wires at their termination points in between components, especially around the thermostat and heating elements.

Fixing this will resolve the reset button tripping issue.

Bad Water Heater Circuit Breaker In Electrical Panel

A bad breaker in the electrical panel can cause the reset button in your water heater to trip. This can sometimes be immediately apparent when you go to shut of power to the tank from the panel.

There are a few signs that your breaker may be the cause of the reset button tripping issue.

  1. If the circuit breaker is hot to the touch, it means that there is a significant amount of resistance, causing energy to be converted to heat, instead of powering your hot water tank. Insufficient power to the tank can cause the unit to trip.
  2. If you open the electrical panel and you can smell burning, your circuit breaker may be damaged.
  3. If your breaker cannot stay in the “on” position, it is likely not functioning properly.

Bad Reset Button

The reset button is the last thing I check if all other potential tripping causes have been ruled out. If this is the problem, I recommend calling in a licensed professional to resolve the issue.

Final Thoughts

The water heater reset button is an important tool to solving many home water heating problems. It is typically located behind the top metal plate cover on the side of the tank. Before you push the button, make sure that you take the necessary safety precautions.

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