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Try This Effortless DIY: Electric Water Heater Reset Button

4 min read • January 23rd, 2023

Heil Plumbing

There’s nothing like an unexpected cold shower to spoil your morning routine. Thankfully, resetting your heater with the electric water heater reset button is an easy job for any homeowner. All it takes is the press of a button, and in moments, you can have steamy showers once again. 

Get your day back on track with this simple electric water heater reset button DIY. Check out the short video below, or read more to learn if your water heater malfunction requires professional help.

Why Did My Water Heater Turn Off?

Power Surge Malfunction

Your chilly morning surprise probably has you thinking: Why did my water heater turn off? A power surge or storm could cause your water heater to shut down. If this is the issue, you can reset it yourself and take care of the issue without needing professional help. 

Electrical Malfunction

If your water heater turns off regularly for no discernible reason, there’s likely an underlying electrical or mechanical problem that requires expert attention. You could be dealing with a short circuit, loose wiring connections, or faulty thermostat settings.

If this is the case, the built-in reset function (i.e., emergency limit switch) might trip to protect your family from scalding water. Acting like an internal circuit breaker, the emergency limit switch will turn your water heater off when temperatures exceed 180 degrees. 

Although losing your hot water is frustrating, your heater’s reset function is designed to protect you and your family.

Should I Reset My Water Heater?

Before resetting your water heater, there are a few things you should check: 

  • First, inspect your water heater for any leaks that need professional attention. 
  • Next, see if your circuit breaker connected to the water heater has tripped. If it’s off, turn it back on, and see if your water heater revives.  

If you’re not experiencing these problems, resetting your electric water heater button could do the trick. See our step-by-step guide below for easy reference.

Where Is My Electric Water Heater Reset Button?

All water heaters should have an electric water heater reset button, which could be the solution to restoring your hot showers. Most tanks feature a red button (also referred to as an emergency limit switch, emergency cut-off, or high-limit safety thermostat). 

The button will either be on the outside of the unit near the thermometer or inside the metal access panel on the side of the water heater. If your heater has two access panels, the button should be inside the top panel.

Red electric water heater reset button inside access panel, surrounded by insulation

How Do I Reset My Electric Water Heater? 

Step 1: Turn off the power supply to your electric water heater

Before resetting your heater with the electric water reset button, remember safety first. Locate the circuit breaker, which should be in a metal box off of your wall (likely in the basement, garage, or utility closet). 

If you find one labeled for the water heater, turn it off. If you’re unsure which is connected to the water heater, you’ll need to shut them all off to be safe, so be sure to have a flashlight handy. 

Step 2: Locate and push the water reset button

If the electric water heater reset button is located inside the access panel, you can remove the panel by unscrewing and removing the panel door. Once inside, you’ll notice a layer of insulation, which you can remove. 

The electric water heater reset button should now be exposed. If you notice any moisture in the area, your heater could be on the verge of failure. Get in touch with a plumber right away to diagnose the issue.

Now that the electric water heater reset button is visible, give it a firm push and release. You’ll hear an audible click, indicating success. Simply replace the insulation and screw the panel door back in place.

Step 3: Check your hot water levels

Now it’s time to get your hot water flowing again. Switch on the breaker, then check your water heater for a bubbling noise, which will mean things are heating up. However, it will still take some time for the hot water to reach your faucet (depending on how long your water heater was off).

Once your hot water has returned, run your shower or sink to make sure it lasts. It’s also a good idea to monitor the water temperature, making sure it’s heated — but not overheating. If in doubt as to what temperature a water heater should be set at, the temperature should usually be between 120 F and 140 F. 

Your emergency limit switch tripped for a reason, so a faulty heating element or thermostat could still be an issue that should be checked by a professional. 

Whether your water is getting too hot or your water heater continues turning off, whether you have a simple question about your water heater’s age, or a more in-depth water heater concern, call Heil Plumbing today. Otherwise, check out our 7-step water heater element testing guide.

Have another plumbing need? Contact Heil Plumbing to schedule an appointment with a trustworthy plumber in Baltimore or the surrounding area.  Live closer to D.C.?  Our professional Montgomery County plumbers are here for you. 


Heil Plumbing Team

8177 Mission Rd Jessup, MD, 20794, United States

(410) 799-7727

Schedule Service


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