How to Reset a Water Heater

plumber with a thumb up depicting how easy resetting a water heater is

It's so uncomfortable to go without a functioning hot water heater in the winter. What do you do if your hot water heater isn't working? Often, the solution is as simple as resetting the system. Choose one of the following methods for fixing your problem, depending on the type of water heater (gas, electric, or even tankless).

How to Reset an Electric Water Heater

What happened to create the issue is the switch was tripped, and it just needs to be reset. If you do not know how to reset a water heater, it's pretty easy to do. All it requires is a little know-how, no skill necessary. The first place to look is the reset button!

Where Is the Water Heater Reset Button?

Do you know where your water heater is (attic, garage, basement)? Once you've found the water heater, the reset button is typically located on the upper thermostat. If it's not there, it's likely somewhere on the lower part of the water heater. Some units have a button in each location. If you need further direction, try this helpful Homeowner Repair video.

Reset Button on Water Heater Doesn't Click

What do you do if the water heater reset button doesn't reset? You might have a faulty thermostat. If the hot water heater keeps tripping the reset button, the cause may be the high limit switch. What's happening is that the thermostat is not properly managing the heat. The high limit switch trips when the faulty thermostat allows the temperature to get to a dangerous level. You don't want your kid to wash his/her hands with boiling water, so this feature is a must. The switch will keep getting tripped until you get a new thermostat. It's also possible that you have a grounded element causing the water to overheat. Learn how to test a water heater element.

infographic showing how to reset a water heater

Other Causes of the Issue

Although a bad thermostat is the most common cause, it's not the only one. It's possible that your wiring is loose or compromised in some way. You also might have a short in one or both of the heating elements. Last but not least likely, you may just be having electrical problems with the home itself, and the problem isn't specific to the water heater.

How to Reset a Gas Water Heater

Relight water heater pilot, and with newer models, there is a thermal switch to reset.

How Long for Hot Water Heater to Heat After Reset?

Once you've reset the system, you have to wait for hot water (unless you have an on-demand water heater), but for how long? It depends on the size of the tank, but with any unit, you should be able to get in a hot shower with gas water heaters within 30-40 minutes and with electric tanks, about 60-90 minutes.

How to Reset Tankless Water Heater

On-demand solutions also have thermal safety reset features too. If you need to reset your tankless water heater, it's probably a safe bet that you'll have to remove the cover to access it. Each manufacturer is going to have different instructions, so we recommend that you dust off your owner's manual to address this problem.

Turn to the Plumbing Experts

Thanks for visiting us here at If you have any questions remaining about your project or related products, please don't hesitate to contact us. Remember, we carry the best names in the business, including Bradford White, Takagi, Stiebel Eltron, and more. Shop around for discount water heater parts, as well as accessories.

Related resources:
How to Light a Hot Water Heater
How to Turn Off a Water Heater
Tips to Drain a Water Heater
Turning on a Water Heater
How to Turn Up Water Heater
What Temperature Should Water Heater Be?

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