Hot Water Heater & Reset Button

marial1214August 23, 2009

I posted some other places but I think my question should have been in this plumbing forum. Here is my question:

The hot water heater is 3 yrs old. It is making dangerous scalding hot water which automatically shuts it down. Hubby goes into basement and hits the reset and it starts up again. He adjusts the temperature to less hot. I run out of hot water in the shower everyday so he adjusts the temp back to where it was for the past 3 yrs and so it starts making scalding hot water again. Then it shuts down and he has to go press the reset button again. Cyclical problem.

What the heck! Can somebody help us, I'm trying to avoid calling the plumber if we can figure this out.

Any info provided would be helpful.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Probably not the answer you want to hear but basically it sounds like you need a larger capacity HWH. You are flirting with danger in allowing the heater to overheat so much that the reset is popping. One day instead of the reset working you will build up enough pressure to blow the Temperature/Pressure relief valve and then you will be in for a major fix if not worse depending on where the TPR is drained to and possibly ruin the HWH. It maybe a good time to look into the newer instant hot tankless HWH. They can be expensive on installation but long term savings on not having to keep water heated constantly usually results in a payoutand will give you all the hot water you need on demand.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What size is your WH? How much hot water is used before it runs out? Is this a recent problem or has it always been this way?
You may have either a sediment accumulation or dip tube problem.
I would attach a hose to the bottom drain and flush it out, looking to see if a lot of sediment,ect was washed out.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm not sure I completely agree with faucetman... some additional information would be helpful.

How big is the water heater? 40 gal, 50 gal, larger?
Under what conditions does it run out of hot water? Is it when only one of you take a shower? Is it when two of you shower after each other, etc? Is it when you do laundry or some other large demand?

I suspect that something else is going on - I suspect that the bottom element is burned out and shorted out - or possibly the thermostat is malfunctioning. My first guess would be the lower element.

You do need to fix this problem now. The reset button is a safety device - it works when the normal operational controls fail. It is a second-line defense against catastrophic tank failure. You don't want to count on that to continue to prevent serious damage... it's kinda like the emergency brake in your don't want to drive the car knowing that the regular brakes don't work and count on the emergency brake to stop you. As FaucetMan pointed out, you do have one more layer of protection, the TPR valve- that can cause flood/steam damage if it releases but at least it won't level your house like an exploding water heater can.

As I said, I think you will find that the lower element is burned out - but you need to get it fixed now and stop resetting it.

The link below shows what happens when a water heater lets go. It doesn't happen often because of the safety devices, but it's a good reminder of why there are a couple of safety devices on the heater and that we shouldn't ignore a failed operating control.

Here is a link that might be useful: Water heater exploding

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 4:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hubby checked the capacity of the WH. It is 64 gallons. We are only 2 people here.

Yes it is only recent that the scalding water started happening. He lowered the temp & now we run out of hot water on ONE shower. So he set it back where it was and we got the reset problem every few days. I do not take long showers.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 5:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The water heater is malfunctioning. It's not that there is a capacity problem.

Call a plumber or fix it yourself if you feel it's within your abilities... but don't keep resetting it.

The two likely problems are lower element burnt and shorted - which tends to cause overheating regardless of thermostat setting. Or the problem is a defective thermostat.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 7:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've run into this problem many times and I think what jakethewonderdog has offered is most likely your problem. Even though it could be the thermostat, most times it's the lower heating element that causes the problem you describe.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2009 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I absolutely stand corrected and agree with "Jake". A 64 gallon HWH should be sufficient for a 4 person family not just a 2 person family. Obviously the tank is malfunctioning and needs repair and soon. I do still believe that a tankless might be more satisfying and efficient but far more expensive than just repairing the existing unit.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 6:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I replaced the upper and lower elements, I made sure they were exact replacements. Ever since I changed the elements my hot water heater gets very hot and sets off the reset. Can someone tell me what to do I don't like resetting the button too much. by the way the reason I changed the elements was because I had no hot water.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In replacing the elements, it is possible that a thermostat was damaged or that the lower element is wired so as to bypass the thermostat entirely. While the heater is actually quite simple, it is baffling to the inexperienced. The manually-resettable high temperature shutoff operates when the water temperature reaches 180 degrees.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Can someone tell me what to do I don't like resetting the button too much."

Lower the thermostat settings until you get the temperature you desire. The t-stats may be under some insulation, usually requiring a straight bladed screwdriver to adjust. Each element has adjustment.

It will take quite a while to wear out the reset.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My questions may sound some how, but please help me out.

Q1:For what reasons do we reset boiler? Does that in a way help one to reduce monthly gas bill?

Q2: What are the measures i can take to reduce my boiler gas bills?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 5:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"What are the measures i can take to reduce my boiler gas bills? "

Insulate the building and seal it up to reduce infiltration.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 10:29AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Details of a new residential water service
I'm in the planning stages of replacement for my 55...
Do Electric water heaters from plumbing supply differ from home depot
Plumbers I feel rip people off when installing electric...
Water Softener - calling justalurker
Hopefully you are still around. I had reached out a...
softener is not using up salt
I have hard well water (35 gpg, 0.5ppm iron, pH 7.0,...
New Water Softener problem (Fleck 5000 ProFloSXT)
Hello, I recently moved into a home that uses well...
Sponsored Products
Thirstystone Natural Travertine Drink Coasters (Set of 4)
Cottonwood Falls Greenstone Blackened Round Wall Fountain
Lamps Plus
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Kaleen Rugs Habitat Bahama Rose Paprika 5
Home Depot
Aqua Sweet Water Frame
$9.99 | zulily
Florence Knoll Style Sofa-Red Tweed
IFN Modern
Serenity Edison Avenue Cashmere Rectangular: 5 Ft. 3 In. x 7 Ft. 10 In. Rug
$238.40 | Bellacor
Hot & Cold Metal Cross Handles Angle Stop - 5/8" x 1/2" OD Compression
Signature Hardware
Reid Tufted Leather Armchair
$449.99 | Dot & Bo
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™