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My Reliance water heater suddenly produced only luke warmwarm water. I checked for power to the elements. Top one had nothing, bottom one had 110. I replaced the top element (which looked ok.) (power off, drained tank, pulled and replaced it, refilled tank, power on.) No change. Read up on water heaters, found I would have only a third tank of hot water if the bottom element was out, likely from sediment reaching it. Flushed the tank for an hour, pulled the bottom element (which had a big spot of corrosion 3/4 through the metal) and replaced it with old top element that looked good. I turned the power on for 15 minutes before remembering that I hadn't turned the water back on. Power off, filled tank, power on. (Hope that didn't hurt something.) No hot water at all. Replaced both thermostats. No heat yet, but top element shows 220 and bottom one has no power. What is wrong?

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Lower element will always test 120V to ground since thermostats turn off one hot wire.

Listed below are suspects in order of ease.

1) Check that hot water is not running out of TP valve and down into a drain.
This will cause water heater to run all the time but not be able to keep up.

2) Test elements before replacing anything:

3) Test electricity to water heater:

4) Replace both thermostats.

5) Final thing would be full troubleshoot:

Add a comment for more free help.
Also take advantage of fixya phone service.
For a price, expert speaks with you over phone while you work on water heater or any do-it-yourself project.
Fixya is always less expensive than a service call.

Posted on Jan 30, 2011


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I have a Reliance 606 water heater that no longer provides hot water. Any ideas?

the heating element has most likely burned out (if its electric) if its gas then look to see if it is lightinng. if electric, the element is easy to replace and not very expensive.


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Bought about fours years ago, and water is not getting hot

How many gallon Heater is this?-- Does it have 2 elements-- one at the top and one at the bottom?

Is your water ;HARD'-- so that there may be alot of scale built up around the bottom element?

Have you ever pulled the bottom element, and flushed out the scale?

One more check-- With a clamp around amp meter-- have yo checked to see if the elements are actually drawing current-- This would mean checking the power to the heater, too- If you have voltage at the elements, but no current being drawn, then it is likely the element is burned out.

Do you need any help in figuring out the above trouble shooting checks?
Let me know-
Mack B


1 Answer

I have a Reliance 501 model # 5 30 2srs4. I had to reset the unit after waking up to cold water. The water heated up in no time at all but the water was super hot. So hot it triped the reset button again....

No, the top thermostat will always heat first and then it should dwitch the power to the bottom one after the top of the tank heats...this is to get you hot water faster...
The top thermostat is bad and is not shutting off or switching....
Replace the top thermostat/reset combination and you''l be good!!

Check out this tip..

How to replace the Thermostat and Element for
Electric Hot Water Heater


Jan 03, 2011 | Reliance & Lowboy& Electric Water Heater

1 Answer

1992 Reliance electric water heater model 501 has two 4500 watt heating elements , there is no hot water.

Check the breaker and top thermostat and make sure they are not tripped. Move onto replacing elements if above is not the problem.
Turn water and power off to heater and attach a water hose to bottom of heater to drain down tank. May have to open hot side on a facuet to get it to drain.
Once drained remove elements with 1 1/2" found at local hardware stores. once elements removed and new ones in place. Turn water on and get the air out of the system. Once water is flowing from the hot side from all of facuet's in house.
Once all air is out now yaou are resady to turn power onto heater.


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We had no hot water so we check the elements with a voltage meter and found the bottom element to be bad. We replaced it. Now there is still no hot water. When we test the voltage again there is continuity...

The elements never run at the same time, it would take to much energy for a standard residential heater. Instead, they rotate powering up back and forth depending on the hot water demand. If you getting 208 to 240 volts on the top element and nothing is happening, the top element is bad and needs to be replaced. If you can swing 30 bucks, replace both elements and both thermostats at the same time. This way you know that everything is new. Check out this generic water-heater wiring schematic.

Sep 06, 2010 | Reliance & 50gal Electric Water Heater

1 Answer

My water heater--Reliance 501--model 5 52 ZORT6 FW95--stopped heating the water. What is the most common problem causing this?

Thermostat may be tripped out or breaker tripped that would be the first few thing's to check. If they check out maybe the element's are in need of replacement.
The clue with element's is one will go and the other will follow. The top element goes you would get luke warm water till the bottom goes out. The bottom goes out first you will get a blast of very hot water till the top element goes out.

Check out this link for further information on water heater trouble shooting.

Jun 21, 2010 | Reliance & Electric Water Heaters

1 Answer

The heat control valve appears to have stuck, the water is only luke warm

I do not know what heat control valve you are referring to on an electric water heater. On an electric water heater it has two heating elements in most cases. One at the top and one on the bottom. One of these is more than likely defective. Turn the power to the water heater off at the service panel or at a disconnect switch. Now take the covers off both heating elements. Check each one with a ohm meter to see if you have continuity. If your meter reads nothing that heating element is bad and needs replacing. On each heating element is a thermostat to set the temperature. Set the upper element to 120 degrees and the lower element to 130 degrees.

Jan 05, 2010 | Rheem 80 GAL ELEC TALL Water Heater 6YR SC...

1 Answer

50 gal. Reliance electric hot water w/bottom element problems

Willard when you say it throws the reset button,do you mean the breaker on your fuse box of your home?
If you mean that then yes it could be a bad element.The bottom element takes all the abuse on a electric hot water heater. They can short out,and need to be replaced.

Dec 01, 2009 | Reliance & 50gal Electric Water Heater

1 Answer

No hot water just quit suddenly

First, of course, check your breaker in the breaker box. You will need to check to see if the heater is getting power before checking the element(s). Elements go out suddenly, so this could be your problem if you have a smaller one-element heater. Have it checked. Good luck.

Nov 30, 2009 | Reliance Water Heaters

2 Answers

Water Heater Heating Problem

i guess it is electric ,check bottom element reset button .remove bottom cover with power off look for a button on bottom thermostat or limit if find push it to reset ,,then set the thermostats , set top to desired temp and the bottom at least 10 degrees more ex. top 130 bottom 140 this might prevent problem reoccurring if this not problem bottom element could be burned out.replace ele

Nov 30, 2008 | Water Heaters

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