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Water Heater Reset Buttons Explained: What You Should Know

Atlanta Heating & Air Solutions Mabelton
HVAC Water Heater

When inspecting your water heater, you may discover a reset button. Most water heaters have a reset button. Also known as an emergency shutoff switch, it’s typically found near the thermostat. If something goes awry, you may need to press the reset button to restore your water heater’s functionality. 

The Purpose of the Reset Button

The reset button on your water heater is designed to interrupt the flow of electricity. Most water heaters are powered partially or entirely by electricity. If there’s a problem with your water heater, you can try to reset it. The reset button will interrupt the flow of electricity to your water heater, which may resolve certain issues.

How the Reset Button Works

You can activate the reset button manually by pressing it. When pressed, electricity will stop flowing to your water heater. Releasing the reset button will then resume the flow of electricity, thereby “resetting” your water heater.

In addition to manual activation, the reset button may be activated automatically. It’s essentially a safety device. If the water gets too hot inside of your water heater, it may automatically activate the reset button as a failsafe mechanism.

What Causes the Reset Button to Trip?

One of the most common reasons the reset button activates or trips automatically is the water is too hot. Water heaters, of course, are designed to warm the water coming into homes or buildings. They use burners or a heating element to raise the temperature of the incoming water. If the water gets too hot, though, it may pose a safety hazard. 

Most water heaters are designed to operate at a temperature of about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. As the water temperature creeps above this limit, it may damage the water heater or even cause the tank to explode. The reset button will typically trip if the water gets too hot to prevent problems such as these.

A malfunctioning thermostat can cause the reset button to trip as well. All water heaters have at least one thermostat. Thermostats are designed to sense the temperature of the water. If the thermostat in your water heater fails, it may sense an incorrect temperature. The thermostat may think the water is hotter than what it really is, in which case your water heater may trip the reset button.

A faulty heating element may result in a tripped reset button. Heating elements can experience shorts. When a short occurs, the heating element will continue to draw electricity – even after warming the water to the appropriate temperature.

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