The Burning Question, “What Trips the Reset Button on a Hot Water Heater?”

Your water heater’s reset button is a safety feature that turns off the electricity when the water within it reaches a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. So the burning question is, what trips the reset button on a hot water heater?

What Trips the Reset Button on a Hot Water Heater?

Other names for the reset button include the energy cut-off (ECO) and high limit control. It frequently appears as a red button, usually on the thermostat of an electric water heater. The button is a component of an integrated safety feature that turns off the water heater’s power if the internal water temperature rises above a hazardous 150°F.

If this occurs, you often only need to push the reset button; if the water is sufficiently chilly, the water heater will switch back on.

what trips the reset button on a hot water heater

The water heater reset button may occasionally trip repeatedly. It might indicate a more significant problem like a broken thermostat, unsecured wiring, rusted components, a grounding issue, or a fractured high-limit switch.

The Most Common Reasons for Water Heaters to Trip the Reset Button

There are several possible underlying problems. We’ll show you the 4 most common.

  1. Bad Thermostat

Electric water heaters come with two thermostats and two heating elements. As seen in the picture below, there are upper and lower thermostat/element pairings.

The thermostat is responsible for keeping track of the tank’s water temperature and turning off the heating element when it reaches the desired temperature.

However, when a thermostat malfunctions, it can occasionally become “stuck” and fail to switch off the element it controls. So long as the reset button doesn’t trip, the feature can continue to heat the water. The thermostat will need to be changed if this is the issue.

  1. Loose Electrical Connection

What trips the reset button on a hot water heater? Anywhere they happen, loose electrical connections are dangerous. For example, a flexible wire creates a high resistance that generates heat that might eventually start fires.

Your reset button’s thermometer may trip regardless of the temperature of the water if it takes up heat from a loose electrical connection in your water heater’s system.

  1. Bad Heating Element

A short in one of the heating element causes the element to continue to receive electricity long after the thermometer’s power is turned off. It indicates that the heating element is still operating and will keep raising the water’s temperature until it trips the reset switch.

  1. Bad Reset Button

The reset button will experience wear and tear, like all other water heater components. Due to this, it may operate less efficiently, and the water heater tripped repeatedly, regardless of the water temperature in the tank—actually, a portion of your higher thermostat, the reset button. Therefore, you must entirely replace the thermostat if this is the issue.

So, How Do I Know Which is Causing the Reset Button to Trip?

Because you’re working with 240 volts of electricity, diagnosing this issue is complex and risky. We advise delegating the task of identifying your problem to a professional unless you have previous familiarity with wiring and electrical components. The good news is that your water heater can be tested and repaired by a professional.

A Guide to Resetting an Electric Water Heater

First, check your electrical panel. For example, suppose the electric water heater keeps tripping the reset button. You may want to locate the “water heater” circuit at your electrical panel, typically in the garage, basement, or storage room.

  • Flip the breaker to ON if it is currently in the OFF state. If it stays there, you may conclude that everything that has happened thus far has been an accident and resume your normal activities. But consult an electrician if it quickly or suddenly switches back to OFF.
  • If the breaker’s in the ON position: Flip it to OFF.

Reset the water heater by pressing the reset button. You’ll locate a reset button on your electric water heater somewhere. It is often red and frequently seen close to the thermostat. A detachable metal plate on the appliance may conceal it, followed by some insulation. Push and release the button once you’ve located it.

Check for a second thermostat and a second reset button while the access panel is removed. What trips the reset button on a hot water heater? If you click the button and it trips again immediately, something is wrong, and you should call a professional. If not, replace the access panel and turn the corresponding circuit breaker back on.

Gravatar Image
Heater Technician is a skilled author and water heater expert with years of experience in the field. He has authored several articles and books on various aspects of water heater installation, maintenance, and repair.