Your water heater is one of those appliances in the home that you need to work 24/7/365. Water heaters are equipped with reset buttons to turn the water heater back on when it loses power. However, this button also serves as a safety mechanism to switch the unit off when the temperature of the water gets too hot.

If your water heater is constantly resetting itself, there’s a few different reasons for this particular type of malfunction. Some of these are easy to detect and remedy on your own, whereas others may be a bit more complex and require the help of a professional plumber or electrician even.

If you’re ready to find out what is causing your water heater to reset itself and what steps you can take to get your water heater working again, keep reading.

#1 Check for a Loose Electrical Connection

When it comes to electrical systems, there is no good reason for a wire to be loose. Unfortunately, it happens all the time, and it could be the cause of your water heater resetting itself constantly.

The reason that loose wiring causes your water heater to reset itself is because excess heat is automatically produced when electrical wires are loose. Due to the fact that the reset button is able to directly sense that generated heat from the loose wire, it automatically trips as a safety measure in an effort to prevent a household electrical fire.

The good news with loose wiring is that it is generally a pretty easy fix. The bad news is that it can be somewhat difficult trying to determine if you have a loose connection or faulty wiring.

Locating loose wiring is easy. Simply turn the hot water heater off and start your inspection of all the electrical connections. If you notice anything that feels loose, then there is a very good chance this is the source of your problem.

If you can tighten this connection with ease, go ahead and do so. Your problem is likely to be solved quickly and easily without professional help. However, it is important to keep in mind that there could be an underlying issue that you must deal with.

Adjusting water heater loose electrical connections
Check for loose electrical wiring, sometimes, just tightening the loose connection solves the problem

For instance, the wire may have become loose because it is frayed or otherwise damaged, which means it is best to leave the repair to a professional.

#2 Check for a Bad Thermostat

Electric water heaters are equipped with two thermostats as well as two heating elements. There is an upper pair and a lower pair. The job of the thermostat is to monitor the water temperature within the tank and turn the heating element off once the water has reached the desired temperature.

Once your heater’s thermostat becomes faulty, it will get stuck and not turn the heating element off. As a result, the heating element will continue to heat the water until the point at which the reset button trips because the water has reached a very dangerous level.

If you have a multimeter tool, you can diagnose a bad thermostat on your own. Otherwise, you will need to rely on a professional plumber for assistance.

If you are doing it yourself, turn off the electrical power to the water heater. Take your multimeter tool and connect the probes to the thermostat to gather your reaching. If it reads 0, the thermostat is in good shape. If it reads 1, the thermostat is faulty and needs to be replaced.

#3 Check for a Bad Heating Element

As mentioned, electric water heaters have two heating elements, along with two thermostats. The element is designed to heat the water once it receives a signal from the thermostat to do so. If the heating element is faulty, then the water in the tank is simply not going to warm up.

The great news is that it is relatively easy to determine if you are dealing with a bad heating element. Take a look at your wire terminal. If it is black or burnt, then it is likely the cause of your current issues.

While you may need to go through some of the aforementioned steps to determine if they caused your heating element to fail, this is ultimately the final step to determine that the heating element must be replaced. Ultimately, you may wind up at this point finding a defective heating element even after you have identified some of the aforementioned problems as well.

Replacing the heating element can be a bit difficult and complex. This is primarily because you must drain the water heater, remove wires, and ensure those wires are returned to their original positions. If you don’t feel comfortable performing these steps, a professional will need to be contacted. Keep in mind you will be dealing with both water and electricity at the same time.

A man checking the water heater's heating element
A technician could be the best person to do the heating element replacement because it’s a bit complicated

#4 Check for a Bad Reset Button

Another problem that you must consider if your water heater continues to reset itself is that the water heater reset button itself is faulty. This button is specifically designed to shut off the power to the appliance once the water temperature exceeds a certain temperature, which is normally 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over time, like other parts of an appliance, the reset button switch can wear out. When this happens, it can fail to read the temperature of the water accurately. In the event this happens, the reset button may cut the power to the appliance even if the temperature of the water is lower than 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

As previously mentioned, your water heater is equipped with two thermostats. The reset button is part of the upper thermostat. Therefore, if you have a problem with the reset button, the most likely solution is to replace the upper thermostat.

#5 Consider Overheating Issues

While the main point of having a hot water heater is to heat your water, you don’t want the water to heat up to a dangerous level. This is why water heaters are equipped with safety measures that will turn themselves off when they go beyond a safe temperature.

If you are dealing with an overheating water heater, then there are a few different sources you can look at that are causing the problem. For instance, there may be sediment buildup in the tank. This can generally be solved by flushing the tank.

On the other hand, the pressure relief valve may be acting up. A plumber is often the safest, quickest, and most effective way at remedying this issue, since it can potentially lead to complete unit failure.


One of the most frustrating things can be not having a properly working water heater when you need it most. Hopefully, the aforementioned information has helped you diagnose why your water heater keeps resetting itself and you have now fixed it.

When you run into trouble with your water heater or any other issues in your home, be sure to check out our articles here and allow us to help walk you through the potential causes and solutions.