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How to Reset an Electric Water Heater? – Follow 4 Step Solution

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how to reset an electric water heater

Do you feel like your water heater is messing around with you sometimes? You often notice that it is not operating accordingly; It’s either your supposedly steamy shower becomes abnormally hot or inadequately hot.

The common culprits of hot water issues are excess voltage and defective thermostats. Most of the time, resetting water heater would fix these annoying problems. So the question is, how to reset an electric water heater?

You just have to locate the reset button and press it. Below I have provided the safety equipment and steps you need to reboot your water heater. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What Will You Need in This Tutorial

To reset button on hot water heater, there is no need for specialized tools. Just prepare the following tools and protective equipment to gain access to the reset button without compromising safety:

  • Screwdriver – You need to use a flathead screwdriver or a Phillips screwdriver to help you open the removable access panel held in place by screws. This panel houses the reset button.
  • Rubber Gloves – Generally, it is safe to press the electric water heater reset button alone. However, you still need to be cautious because wires surround it. Any possible contact can give you electric shocks. Remember, water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Hence, it is always wise to wear gloves when working with high-voltage appliances like your electric water heater.
  • Multimeter – You would need a multimeter to measure the continuity of the thermostats and the heating elements after resetting the button trips.

Step By Step Instruction


Hitting a reset button on a hot water heater sounds easy. You don’t have to think about the technical aspects because this task is the same as switching on/off the lights of your house as needed.

Follow these four quick and simple steps to reset hot water heater correctly :

Step 1: Turn off the circuit breaker of your electric water heater.

Head out to the electric panel/circuit breaker box of your home, which is usually located in the basement, garage, or utility room.

Open the breaker box, then choose the breaker labeled as “water heater”. Now, flip it to the “OFF” position.

Pro tip: If you don’t see the service panel in the said locations, check the outside walls of your house. The service panel is mounted into the wall in older buildings and apartments.

Step 2: Locate the reset button and press it.

Where is the reset button on a hot water heater?

Typically, you can spot the reset button near the thermostat, concealed by the metal access panel.

If you cannot locate the reset button, consult the user’s manual for reference. Go to the labeled diagram section of your water heater, and you should be able to find it.

Using the screwdriver, remove the screws that secure the panel. Some small electric water heaters usually have one thermostat.

But suppose you have a dual-element electric water heater. In that case, you will find two reset buttons—one from the upper thermostat and another from the lower thermostat. You have to access both of them.

You may find an insulation pad shielding the reset button. If wires are getting in the way, fold them back carefully and pull the insulation out of the way. Don’t forget to wear your rubber gloves.

Finally, press the red button (sometimes black, depending on your model) firmly until it clicks. The clicking sound indicates that your water heater reset was successful. If you don’t hear it click, or if the button pops out, push the button for five seconds before you release it.

If the problem persists, inspect the wiring connections of your water heater. For loose wires, retighten the wire nuts. Push the button once more, and if it trips, you might need to buy a new controller.

Pro Tip: If you see nicked wires, you can use electric tape to cover them up, but it is not a long-term fix. Different types of electrical insulation tape survive temperatures in areas containing control circuitry.

But we don’t know if the same adhesive can withstand your water heater. Hence, it would be best to call a professional to repair it. Only then you’ll know if the wires need a more appropriate insulator or replacement.

Step 3: Reassemble the metal access panel.

Put the metal panel cover back in its place. First, reinsert the foam insulation and bend the wires around it (if you see any in the previous step.)

Secure the metal plate in its place and get the screws you detached earlier. Using the screwdriver, screw the access cover back in place.

Step 4: Turn the circuit breaker back on.

After reassembling the metal panel, switch the water heater breaker back to the “ON” position. You should be able to get hot water within two to three hours.

What to Do if Resetting Does Not Work


Test the electrical continuity

Suppose you still don’t have hot water after a few hours. In that case, you might want to test the electrical continuity of the two thermostats and the two heating elements.

  • First, shut off the power supply of your water heater by turning off the breaker once again. You may also unplug your water heater from the outlet for added security.
  • Next, check if you have a good heating element. Remove the cover panel and the insulation of the upper thermostat. Then, you will see two screws and two wires coupled through them. Grab your screwdriver. Loosen the screws and pull out the wires underneath them.
  • Get your multimeter and put it in the least resistance setting. Then touch two probes on each screw. If you get a reading between 10 and 16 ohms, then there’s continuity. Otherwise, if you get zero, it indicates that you have a bad heating element.
  • For the thermostat continuity, you will repeat the same procedure as above. You will notice four sets of screws on your thermostat, two on the left and two on the right. Touch the two probes of your multimeter on the two screws on the left side and check the reading.

Remember that the upper thermostat controls both the upper and lower elements. Hence, if you detect a problem with the upper thermostat, chances are, the lower thermostat undergoes the same thing.

Otherwise, call an electrician / licensed journeyman

If you followed all of the steps and found out that your water heater might need internal replacements, please leave it to a professional electrician. Let them repair the damaged components of your water heater back on service immediately.

Before calling an electrician, ensure that your water heater is turned off completely to prevent electrical hazards.


Learning how to reset an electric water heater is beneficial for homeowners like you. A hot water heater reset button cuts off the power supply from your water heater when there are inevitable malfunction events. It ensures that our home is safe from scalding hot water.

Now that you know the straightforward procedures to activate this safety device, it would be easier for you to restore the service of your electric unit if a problem occurs. How was today’s tutorial? Don’t forget to scatter your thoughts in the comment box!

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