Question about Rheem 81VP15S Point-of-Use Electric Water Heater, 15 Gallon, 120v

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How does the reset work? I am helping a friend troubleshoot his water heater. One of the wires that connected the pig tail to the power block fried inside the water heater cover. I decided to remove the burnt wire and restrip them down to fresh clean wiring before reconnecting them and plugging in unit. Did the element possibly fail and cause the burnt wires? I can't tell how the reset button works. The heater will not heat up

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The reset button is set up to open the circuit if excess current is drawn by a failed Element. It works by getting hot and switching off due to current above its rating. The burnt wiring more llikely happened over a period of time because of a resistive joint in the block getting hot due to the high current that water heaters consume. It seems that the element has failed if the reset button does not get the system working.

Posted on Sep 17, 2010

  • mcfarland964 Nov 30, 2010

    can you tell me where the reset button is ?? , mines just packed up ...

    cheers shaun

  • Mike Roberts Dec 01, 2010

    The small red reset button should be near where the power inlet cable is attached to the water heater. If not readily visible on the outside of the unit, it may be under the access cover to the terminal block where the mains wires wires are attached.
    If the reset has popped due to a voltage surge, then it should give an audible click as it resets the bi-metallic switch and the unit should start heating again. If it pops almost immediately, then it is probably caused by the heating element having shorted to ground. If after clicking the reset and no heat is produced then it would mean that the heating element has burnt out and will need to be replaced or the thermostat has failed and is open circuit.

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The water heater (Reliance Elec 501) does not turn on, This happened on the same day that our whole apartment lost power due to tripped main switch.n I reset main but water heater does not respond,...


Two-element water heater is 240Volts.
No hot water means: ECO reset button tripped, upper element bad, upper thermostat bad, or 240Volts is not reaching water heater.
Circuit breaker can be delivering power on one leg of the 240V circuit, so water heater appears to have electricity but is only receiving 120V.
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Push in reset button real hard.
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http://waterheatertimer.org/B220C.html
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I replaced all parts but water heated won't get hot


You have electric water heater.
You replaced elements and thermostats but heater still won't work.
And tank was completely full of water, and water was running out of a faucet before turning power ON.
If elements are not fully immersed in water, they will instantly burn out.
If upper element is burned out, then tank will have NO hot water.
If lower element is burned out, and upper element is not burned out, then tank will have some hot water.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-test-water-heater-element.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-it-works.html

If elements did not burn out, then that leaves 1 main suspect: the electricity.

1) Push in ECO red reset button on upper thermostat. If ECO is tripped out, then heater will not work.

2) Click circuit breaker all the way one direction and then back the other direction to make sure breaker is latched.

3) If tank has 2 elements, then it is 240volt.
If 1 leg of 240Volt circuit is not working, then 240V appliance will not work.
240Volt circuit needs both hot wires to complete the circuit:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-wire-EH40-hot-water-heater-timer.html#120-240

Buy cheap multimeter from Home Center and set dial to 240-250-277VAC
Tape tester leads to woods sticks to keep hands away from power.
Power is ON
Test across top 2 screws on upper element should show 220-240 volts.
If you have 240 at top two screws, then skip down to step 6.
If no reading across top two screws, then move to top of tank.

4) Open connection point where wire connects to heater.
Test across both insulated wires should get reading of 220-240 volts.
If no reading, move to circuit breaker box.

5) Mark water heater breaker.
Turn off all breakers except water heater breaker and main breaker. (and breaker to light fixture where box is located)
Do not hold or touch or lean against anything metal.
Stand on dry boards and wear dry clothes.
If main breaker is OFF, the big wires that connect to main breaker are still HOT.

Remove box cover.
240Volt breaker has 2 wires connected with screws.
Test across both screws for 240Volt.
See if wires are loose.
If there is no reading, then breaker is not working on one leg.
To double check, move water heater wires to another same-size 240V breaker and then put ear against water heater to listen for bubbly-fizzing sound.

6) If you are getting 240 to water heater, then wire inside tank could be loose.
Do 30 minute troubleshoot:
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-troubleshoot-electric-problems-with-water-heater.html

Add a comment for more free help.
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Rheem 83xr52-2 50 gal residential water heater. Water temp was low. I cut power at electric panel, removed upper panel on water heater, turned up thermostat, replaced panel and switched power back on at...


You can open the top up again. I would not turn the temp higher than 130 degrees, maximum. However, there should be above the thermostat a red button. This is where the power wires connect to the thermostats and heating elements. Sometimes this button needs to be reset, press it and discern if you hear a click sound. This means that the high temperature safety switch has tripped open and you had to manually "reset" it. There are two thermostats by the way. The water heater usually works this way. There are two thermostats and two heaters. The upper tank heater turns on first and it heats the top half of the tank. Then when the thermostat above is satisfied it then allows the bottom heater to come on and heat the bottom half of the tank. You might want to set the bottom heater thermostat as well. This is made this way because it is actually faster and more efficient to heat the top half first and the bottom half secondly. Try this first with the reset button. We could check voltages, but that requires a level of knowledge and safety that I am not sure that you are comfortable with. Pictures of the upper and lower thermostats and connections will help if the "reset" does not do the trick. By the way, not meaning or implying anything, but did you move the thermostat in the right direction? Sometimes the dials can be confusing.

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1 Answer

Good Day,


Most dual element water heaters do not run both elements at once, so it is common to get 0 VAC at the bottom. It will not kick in untill the upper thermostat tells it to. The most common cause for a new element to blow like you describe is dry fire. Make sure you open the tap and or t&p and bleed all the air out of the tank before hitting the power. Hope this helps.

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The wires going to the upper heating thermostat in our water heater smoked and the unit no longer works. We want to try replacing the thermostat and wires. Do we have to remove the outer shell to change...


If you're talking about the wire leads on the thermostat, they will not pull out -- there built into the thermostat.

The wires fried because of loose connections which cause arcing -- I've seen this many times. The thermostat may still be good -- I'd suggest not replacing it unless it's proven bad or is obviously burned/smoke/charred.

There should be a cover with one or two screws holding it. Remove this to access the connections of the breaker box wires to the thermostat. This is 10 AWG wire and difficult to work with -- just make sure all connections including wire nuts are as tight as you can get them.

And you may only need to cut the burned end of the (breaker box) wires off and reconnect -- depends on how far back they are burned.

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