Water Heater Reset Button keeps Tripping - What to Do?

Why the ECO reset button on Rheem electric water heater keeps tripping? 

The red reset button found on the thermostat of the heating element is also known as the Energy Cut Off or ECO, and a High Limit Control and is designed as the safety device. The switch is designed to cut off the energy to the heating elements (and stop further water heating) of the electric water heater in the case of high water temperatures (150 F - 180 F). The ECO tripping protects you from getting scalded or burned when using hot water.

When the ECO reset button trips off, you can reset it easily, but it is recommended to investigate the reasons and how often it happens. When you press the reset button, you can hear a metallic “click” sound. 

Reset button

During the regular operation, the contacts below the reset button allow the current to pass from terminals to terminals, and that can be checked with the voltmeter. During the abnormal operation, the plate which is under the button, as seen on the Rheem electric water heater, will change its shape pushing the pin out, making the ECO trip. In such a case, the voltmeter will measure no current running between terminals and to the heating elements.

The water inside the tank has to cool down before resetting the ECO (tip: run hot water from a nearby faucet to cool the tank).

Note: It will be assumed that the wiring and electric panel with breakers were done correctly and per codes – and if it looks suspicious, have an electrician check the proper size of the wire and breakers.

Why the reset button keeps tripping

If you require professional assistance, contact your local water heater expert! Get FREE estimates here

Thermostat has failed

One of the reasons why the reset button trips is when the thermostat has failed and got locked in the ON position, making one of the heating elements heat water all the time. So when the water reaches the high limit temperature, the reset button trips. The solution is to replace the faulty thermostat.

Loose wire connections

Loose wire connections can generate heat, burned wires, melting and smoke, and are affecting the thermostat and tripping the ECO. The solution to this problem is to replace the loose wire or part with the loose wire, check all other related connections, and make it tight.

Inaccurate temperature reading

Also, the reset button trips when the thermostat does not read water temperature properly, especially if the thermostat is exposed when the insulation and cover are removed.

Heat element shorted to ground

The ECO trips when the heating element is shorted to the ground resulting in constant water heating. In order to fix the problem, disconnect the wires, and take continuity reading. If it says 0.0 on the terminal, you have a shorted element, and it has to be replaced.

Other reasons

  • ECO can also trip if there are frequent and short hot water draws from the tank.
  • Wet conditions and leaking can cause corrosion on the thermostat triggering an improper temperature reading.
  • The malfunctioning high limit switch is another reason for this problem.


In order to prevent or reduce the number of ECO reset tripping occurrences, maintain your electric water heater regularly; making sure there is no leaking, the thermostat is installed correctly – flash and firmly mounted against the heater’s wall with all the wires tightly screwed in and insulation in place.

Find Trusted Plumbers & Get Free Quotes