How to Reset a Water Heater: In-Detail Instructions

So often we take hot water for granted and when there suddenly isn’t any coming from the tap, we can get very frustrated. Nobody likes to take a cold shower, and not having hot water simply isn’t an option. If this happens to you, it’s important to know how to reset water heater in your home. The good news is that you can usually do it yourself, without having to call and wait for a repair person to come. Whether you need to know how to reset a gas water heater or an electric water heater, we’ll let you know the important steps to take. In just a few minutes, you should be able to experience the blissful warmth of hot water.

How to reset an electric water heater?

Let’s take a look at the steps to take when resetting a water heater.

Unplug your heater

First, make sure you unplug your water heater. There are some technical steps you need to take so unplugging your electric water heater is paramount. While some water heaters have a simple plug, others may have a knob or cable that needs to be unscrewed.

The other scenario is that your hot water heater may be wired directly into the wall. If this is the case, locate the correct breaker and turn it off from the breaker box. Even small units, such as the Rheam water heater, need to be unplugged.

Remove the metal cover plate

On the side of your water heater, you will find a metal cover plate that is held in place with some screws. Take a screwdriver and unscrew them, before removing the cover plate.

There may be a further cover plate which is where the reset button is housed. Look around until you find what you are looking for.

Take the insulation pad out

Under the cover plate, around where the reset button is, there should be an insulation pad. This is a small piece of foam and it needs to be removed. It should be easy, though, and you can just use your hands.

Check to see if the insulation pad is damp. If it is, this is a sign that an element gasket has a leak in it, and in which case, it will then need to be fixed before you can proceed.

Press the reset button till you hear it click

Finally, you should be able to see a red reset button. Sometime water heaters make it easy for you and will even label the button.

Press down on the reset button firmly. It might take more effort thank you think, but this is normal, as the button is not pressed very often.

Hold down on the reset button until you hear a click. This is a sign that your water heater has successfully been reset.

What if it doesn’t click?

If, after all this effort, the reset button doesn’t click, don’t panic just yet. First, check the wiring to see if there is anything loose. Sometimes a home’s natural vibrations can move things around, including these small parts.

If nothing seems loose, then you might have to replace the controller.

Even if you didn’t hear a click, try out your water heater anyway. Because every model is different, there is still a chance that you successfully reset your water heater. Test it out before you call a repair person or pay for new parts.

Do the above steps in reverse order

Hopefully, the reset was successful. In this case, it’s time to put everything back together. Replace the insulation pad next to the reset button. Then, gently screw in the panel lid.

Finally, don’t forget to plug in your water heater, or turn the breaker back on. You’d be surprised at how many people forget this important step!

How to reset a gas water heater?

If you have a gas water heater, such as the Rheam tankless water heater, instead of an electrical unit, there is still a way to reset everything. In most cases this involves resetting the pilot light that powers the water heater.

First, find the pilot light dial and move it to the pilot position. In the same area, there should be a button that has either a fire image on it, or simply a red color. This controls the flame.

Press down on this button until you hear it click. Then, while holding down the button, push the igniter switch. Listen for a clicking sound.

You may have to repeat this step a few times, but it should work. If it doesn’t, then you will have to call in a professional.

Why might you need to reset your water heater?

There are many reasons why you may need to reset your water heater.

Faulty electrics – Over time, wires can become loose, which in turn breaks the connection to your water heater.

Poor breaker – We often forget about breakers but sometimes they take on too much and can malfunction.

Broken high-limit switch – Intended to stop the heater from working at too high temperatures, sometime this malfunctions and overheats the system.

Malfunctioning thermostat – If this is faulty, the heater won’t heat water to the right temperature, which can cause the unit to stop working.

Final thoughts

While having an icy cold shower is certainly unpleasant, the good news is that if this happens, there is usually a quick fix for it. Unfortunately, whether it is an electric water heater or a gas water heater, there are times when they need to be reset. This can be because of faulty wiring, a broken thermostat, or even a broken breaker. After diagnosing the problem, it is then time to get your hot water back and running. The trick to understanding how to reset water heater in your home is to follow each step and remember that safety should always come first. Hopefully, these steps are all you need and you can have that relaxing hot shower in no time.


  1. Water Heater Buying Guide – Consumer Reports

If your water heater is nearing the end of its useful life and you’re thinking of replacing it before disaster strikes, you’ll be happy to know that you have better choices, thanks to federal regulations that require water heaters to be more energy-efficient. New storage tank water heaters are required to operate more efficiently, and tankless (on-demand) water heaters are even more efficient than that.

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