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Why Is My Water Heater Reset Button Tripping?

Water heaters are a fabulous piece of equipment that has completely changed our modern lives. But sadly, we often take this modern miracle for granted until it begins to act up. It only takes a few trips from your shower to push the reset button to become thoroughly annoyed with this otherwise unsung hero of your home. And as you trudge back to the shower, you start to wonder what is causing this sudden and unsetting event.

The Water Heater ECO

Most water heaters are set at 120 degrees. This is considered the ideal temperature to prevent harmful bacteria’s growth while not being hot enough to scald. The fail-safe for the temperature setting is a device called an emergency cut-off or ECO. This device shuts down the appliance completely when the water in the tank exceeds the predetermined temperature. And to turn the unit back on, you must push the red button on the ECO that you, unfortunately, have become well acquainted with over the last few days or weeks. But the critical information you need to understand is that these frequent trips of the ECO are not typical and will require a licensed plumber’s attention.

The Good News

While you might be concerned about the diagnosis, the good news is that a licensed and reputable plumber should be able to repair your water heater rather than replace it. There are a few components that could be causing the ECO to trip. But if corrected quickly, there should be no damage to the holding tank from excessively hot water. And your cost should be only a fraction of the cost of a new water heater installation.

A Bad Thermostat

The issue could be as simple as one or both of your water heater’s thermostats being worn out or faulty. Most homeowners are not aware that there is a thermostat at the top of the tank and one at the bottom. And the issue could be one or both of them. But this is a simple fix for a licensed plumber and one that is very cost-effective for you.

A Bad Heating Element

Your water heater’s heating element could also be to blame for the constant treks to the reset button. Most heating elements stop heating when they fail. But once in a while, it fails due to an electrical short and never turns off. This will quickly cause the water in the tank to overheat and trip the ECO. Again, this is not a costly repair as compared to replacing the entire water heater.


The ECO is another component that can fail and create your constant resetting issue. It might signify a more significant issue, or it could be just a stand-alone failure. Your licensed plumber will inspect all of the water heater’s components to determine if something else is at fault for the early demise of the ECO or if it is the only problem. And at that point, you will know which parts should be replaced to get your hot water flowing correctly and safely.

If all of the water heater components are tested and operating correctly, the last culprit could be bad wiring. Your licensed plumber will inspect the connections to determine if an electrical problem is causing the Eco to trip. These are serious issues and should only be investigated by a licensed plumber. Call (937) 749-7097 when you have problems with your water heater reset tripping to avoid a potential electrical fire or scalding hazards. The pros at Buckeye Plumbing & Property Solutions offer 24/7 emergency service and complete warranties on all repairs.