Having an adequate supply of hot water is important for every home. It's essential for cooking, cleaning, and showering, and there is nothing worse than running out of hot water mid-shower. A functional water heater should give you continuously running hot water and the peace of mind that comes with it.
Unfortunately, water heaters will encounter problems occasionally, so you’ll need to reset them. This guide will explain how to reset a water heater, gas or electric, and get your hot water running as quickly as possible.
Page Contents (Click Icon To Open/Close)
When To Reset A Water Heater? (Reasons Why & How To Know)
The main reason you know something is wrong with your water heater is that your water starts to run cold. This is usually an indication that the reset function has tripped, causing it to shut down, and to get it working again, you'll have to perform a reset. There are a few key reasons why your water heater may need to be reset:
A Faulty Thermostat
Your thermostat controls the temperature of the water in the water heater and is designed to keep it within safe parameters, usually no hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If this is faulty, then in some cases, it can mean the water is getting too hot and the device automatically stops to prevent any injury to the user. If your thermostat is unable to regulate the temperature, then you may need to fix the issue before you reset it.
High Limit Switch Is Broken
The high limit switch is a safety precaution that prevents your water from getting too hot. If this is broken, your water heater will be continuously triggered to switch off because it thinks there’s a risk to the user. You will need to replace the switch and then reset the water heater to use it again.
Heating Element Issues
If your heating element isn't working correctly, your device will shut down to prevent any damage to the unit. In this instance, you'll likely need to replace the element before resetting the heater again.
Water heaters see a lot of use, and wires can occasionally come loose. As a result, your device will power down, and once you've solved the issue, you'll need to reset it to get it working again. It's important to note that this can happen in gas or electric heaters.
Lack Of Water
If your water supply is turned off, then you may not have enough water in the heater. This means your water heater will start to overheat, and it can cause internal damage. Your device should automatically shut off to prevent this from happening, but you will need to turn the water supply back on before performing the reset.
Faulty Reset Button
In some cases, the reset button itself can be damaged, and it can be shutting the water heater down by mistake. Your reset button is generally connected to your thermostat, and you may need to replace the whole thermostat. We’ll give more guidance on this later in the article.
The other key reason you may need to reset an electric water heater is if there’s been a surge or power outage in your home. This may have caused the device to automatically shut off to prevent electrical damage, and it should hopefully work again once you’ve successfully reset it.
If your water heater needs to be reset, then it is often a sign that something is wrong. If you follow the steps below in this article to reset your water heater, and it still won’t turn on, you should consult a professional for guidance.
How To Reset An Electric Hot Water Heater? (Step-By-Step Guide)
Electric water heaters are increasingly common in homes because they’re more efficient and cheaper to run than gas water heaters. Compared to gas water heaters, they take slightly longer to heat the water and can be more expensive up front, but they are much easier to maintain.
Electric water heaters are more susceptible to surges or outages, though, and anything which impacts your home's electric supply can impact the water heater. This means you may be resetting it more often than a gas water heater.
To reset your electric water heater, you’ll need a Phillips or flathead screwdriver and your user manual.
Then you should follow these steps:
1. Disconnect The Power
Start by unplugging the device from the mains and switching it off at the breaker. This is essential before going anywhere near the electrics.
2. Locate The Cover Plate
Your thermostat and reset button are usually located close together near the base of your water heater. In most cases, there's a cover plate and some insulation covering them, but you should check your specific user manual to see the location.
3. Remove The Cover Plate
Using a Phillip's head or flat head screwdriver (whichever your water heater needs), remove the screws around the cover plate. Make sure you keep them safe because you'll need them to reattach them later.
4. Remove The Insulation Pad
There should be some foam padding just behind the cover plate. Carefully lift this out, and you should see the thermostat and a red reset button.
5. Push Your Reset Button
If your water heater needs to be reset, the button should be sticking out. Push the button in and hold it until you hear a click. This means that the device has been successfully reset. If it won't stay in, it's an indication that there's something wrong with the water heater which needs to be fixed before it can be reset.
6. Check The Lower Water Tank
Most water heaters have an upper and lower tank. Some will require you to reset both for the thermostat to run again. Check for another reset button and consult the user manual to see if there’s another cover plate you need to remove for access.
7. Replace The Cover Plate
Put the insulation back into place and reattach the cover plate. Make sure you screw it securely into place.
8. Turn The Power Back On
Plug the device back in and flick the breaker switch. Your electric water heater will need 45-60 minutes to heat back up, so leave it for a while. Then, turn the power back on, and you should have a good supply of hot running water.
If the hot water still isn't running, or the reset button trips again, then it means there's something wrong with the heater itself. You should look for professional help in solving the issue.
How To Reset A Gas Hot Water Heater? (DIY Guide)
Gas water heaters have been used for years as an effective way to provide hot water in your home. Gas is cheap, reliable, and separate from your electricity, so your water heater isn't impacted by any disruptions or outages. It's also powerful and heats the water much more quickly than electric heaters though it is less efficient and costs more in the long run. There's also a bit more maintenance involved, so gas water heaters aren't for everyone.
To reset a gas hot water heater, you'll need a Phillips or flathead screwdriver, the user manual, and potentially something to ignite your pilot light (though there should be a built-in mechanism for this).
Then, follow these steps:
1. Turn Off The Power Supply
Start by turning the gas supply knob to stop the gas flowing to your water heater. You need to make sure that there’s no power going into the heater, and you can check this by opening the pilot light hatch and making sure it’s turned off. The pilot light is usually easy to find, but you may need to consult the user manual.
2. Locate The Reset Button
This is usually located on or near your thermostat. Look for an access panel and remove it using a screwdriver (usually a Phillips screwdriver, but it can vary). Remove any insulation behind the panel and check for the reset button. Some gas water heaters will have two reset buttons, and you'll need to find them both before moving on to the next step.
3. Reset Your Device
To reset a gas water heater, you'll first need to turn the gas supply back on. Then, locate the pilot light, and there should be a knob that says control. While holding this in to light the pilot light, push the reset button for 30 seconds. Hold the control button until the pilot light ignites and then release it. Keep hold of the reset button until you hear a click. If the reset button stays in, then you've been successful. If not, then you may need to shut it back down and consult a professional.
4. Seal The Water Heater
Replace the insulation and seal up the water heater. Make sure to screw the plate back in properly and don’t leave anything loose.
5. Test The Water
Leave the gas heater for 15-30 minutes to heat up, and then test the water by running a hot tap. You should hopefully now have access to hot water, but if the issue remains, it's likely a problem with the heater itself, which will need to be fixed.
How To Replace The Reset Button Of A Water Heater?
If you've followed the steps above and find that your water heater isn't resetting properly, it could be an issue with the reset switch. This is usually connected to your thermostat, so the most obvious sign that this is the problem is when the thermostat isn't giving you an accurate temperature reading. You can check this by holding a thermometer in your hot water as it runs and seeing if it matches the thermostat setting.
If you’ve determined that you need to replace the reset button, you’ll probably need to replace the whole thermostat. A professional can do this for you fairly easily, but you can also attempt it yourself. The process is similar for gas and electric heaters.
Start by turning off the power to your device at the mains and turning off the gas supply. Make sure no power is reaching the thermostat before you start work. Make sure you've purchased a compatible thermostat from your hardware store (it's usually easiest to get an exact replacement), and then get to work.
Carefully remove the connections from the existing thermostat and don’t move them. Lift the old thermostat away and then connect the new one in the same way. There should be connections into the water heater for power and readings. Once all the connections are made, press the reset button and turn the power back on. Leave it for 10-15 minutes, and your thermostat with new reset button should be working.
Remember, this is only a general guide, and you should follow the instructions in the user manual for your specific model.
Resetting Popular Gas & Electric Water Heater Brands
We’ve provided some general guidance on how to reset your water heater, but every brand is slightly different. We’ve provided some tips to help you reset your individual water heater correctly:
Rheem Tankless Water Heater
Rheem tankless water heaters are pretty easy to reset, and the user manual gives you clear guidance on how to do it properly. The reset button is easy to find and can be located directly behind a panel on the front of your heater. Push and hold the button for 15 seconds to reset the heater.
AO Smith Water Heater
The AO Smith water heater has an access panel on the side of the machine with the thermostat and reset button behind it. Open this up, and you should be able to reset it reasonably quickly. Make sure you check the user manual for more specific details.
Richmond Water Heater
Most Richmond water heaters are gas-powered, and you'll need to hold down the reset button and the pilot light ignition switch simultaneously. These should both be found on the side of the heater next to each other and the thermostat. The Richmond water heater user manual will help you locate them.
Whirlpool Electric Water Heater
Whirlpool electric water heaters can be tripped relatively easily, so it's important to locate the reset button. This is found behind an access panel near the base of the heater and behind the insulation. Most Whirlpool electric water heaters have two reset buttons (you can check in the user manual), and you'll need to press them both at once. Hold them down until you hear it clicking, and it should reset.
Reliance Water Heater
The reset button on a Reliance water heater is located on the upper thermostat. This is typically behind a front panel but easy enough to find. Make sure to turn your circuit breaker full off then on again to complete the reset process. The Reliance user manual provides more details.
Bradford White Water Heater
Bradford White gas water heaters will shut off periodically and may need to be reset if they don't restart properly. A thermal switch button can be found on the interior door, and by holding this down, the whole heater should reset. Make sure there's enough water in the tank for it to start working, and check the user manual to see if there are any specific steps to follow.
State Select Water Heater
The State Select water heater user manual gives full guidance on how to reset the device, but it's very straightforward. They have a clearly labeled reset button found in the center of the control panel, which only needs to be pressed once. Your State Select water heater may take 12 to 24 hours to resume regular operation once reset.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How long do you hold the reset button on a water heater?
It varies slightly between water heaters but between 15 and 30 seconds is right. Most models will click once it’s successfully reset.
How long does it take for water to heat up after a reset?
An electric water heater will take up to 60 minutes to heat up again once reset, but a gas water heater should only take 30 mins. Some water heaters may take longer, so make sure you check the user manual.
How do you reset an RV water heater?
If your RV has a power outage, the water heater may need to be reset. Check the lights on the panel, and if they are flashing, you'll need to go outside and press the reset button. This is usually located behind a panel on the side of your RV. Once reset, the water heater should start working again.
What happens to the hot water heater when water is turned off?
If your water is turned off, your water heater will have nothing to heat. If it continues to run, it can cause damage to the internal mechanism and impact the machine. Many water heaters will automatically shut off, so you'll need to reset them when you turn the water supply back on.
Your water heater is a crucial appliance in your home, and the reset function exists to protect you and the equipment. It's simple to reset your water heater, and hopefully this guide has helped explain how to do it yourself. However, remember that your reset function can often be a sign that something is wrong with the device itself. If the problem persists and you remain unable to access hot water, you should consult a professional who can help you find and solve the issue.