Reliance 501 Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting

Reliance 501 Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting

This guide on Reliance 501 Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting will break down the following common water heater issues: 

  • No hot water
  • Insufficient hot water or slow hot water recovery
  • Water temperature is too hot
  • T&P Relief Valve Dripping
  • Water smells like rotten egg

So, let’s get started and discover the solutions to those problems. 

Table of Contents

Reliance 501 Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting [ 5 Problems & Solutions]

Over time, you will encounter the following problems with your electric water heater:

1. Getting No Hot Water At All

No hot water is the most common problem for an electric water heater, just you face the warning or check engine light issue for your US car. 

The good news is- you don’t need to learn about more than 200 warning codes to discover the reasons behind this issue as your car requires. 

There are only 5 to 6 reasons that cause the unit to produce no hot water, including: 

  • The unit receives no electric power
  • Burnt out upper heating element 
  • ECO (energy cut-off) switch or reset button gets tripped
  • Inlet and outlet connections get reversed
  • Broken upper thermostat or its wiring comes loose 
  • A leak in the hot water side of the plumbing system

How To Fix: 

Your water heater will get no electric power if there is a problem with the home’s electrical wiring or circuit breakers. 

Follow the below guidelines to learn how to check for power on hot water heater: 

  • Locate the circuit breaker for the water heater and turn it off.
  • Remove the electrical junction box cover from the top of the water heater. 
  • Detect the two power wires.
  • Turn on the circuit breaker for your water heater and test the two power wires with the non-contact circuit tester. 
  • Turn the power off and replace the cover of the electrical junction box. 

If the unit is getting no power, I highly recommend you to call a certified electrician to have your home’s electrical wiring and circuit breakers checked. 

Secondly, your water heater won’t heat the water due to a burned-out upper heating element. Dry fire or turning on the unit without filling it with water is the culprit behind a burn-out heating element. 

In this case, you must replace the heating element to fix the no hot water issue. 

Luckily, I have covered a guide on Reliance Water Heater Element Replacement. In that article, I broke down 7 steps to replace the heating element. So, go and check that article. 

Thirdly, a tripped reset or ECO button will also cause the unit to deliver no hot water. 

And this guide on Reliance Water Heater Reset Button will guide you what you need to do if the ECO button gets triggered. 

For reversed connection, I recommend you check both the inlet and outlet connections and make them right. 

On the other hand, if the thermostat gets broken or defective, replace the thermostat following the instructions mentioned in this article

Finally, it will be better to call a qualified plumber to fix the leak detected in the hot water side of the plumbing system. 

2. Not Enough Hot Water or Slow Hot Water Recovery

Lukewarm water out of your water heater will never comfort your daily activities like showering or washing when the outside temperature is freezy. 

Several reasons are to blame if you get insufficient hot water out of your water heater. They are: 

  • Thermostatic mixing valve in a faucet is at fault
  • One or both of the thermostats set too low
  • Water heater capacity is too small compared to your demands
  • Defective lower heating element 

How To Fix: 

Most shower controls or faucets now have built-in mixing valves. 

If a certain mixing valve gets defective, it can reduce the amount of hot water the shower or faucet delivers even though the water in the tank is hot. 

The recommendation is to check the water temperature at several faucets to verify the problem is not in a faucet or shower control. 

For a too low thermostat setting, just adjust the thermostat to your desired temperature settings. Ensure you don’t set the thermostat over 120. To access the thermostat, you must remove the access panel and fold away the insulation. 

Thirdly, if the water heater capacity is lower than your need, you can replace it with a larger mode especially when the unit is old. 

But, if the condition of the unit is good, it will be best to install thermostatic mixing valves at each-point-of-use. You can also reduce the pressure on your water heater by washing clothes with cold water.  

And last not the least, check the lower heating element with a digital multimeter. If it has no continuity, you must replace it with a new one. 

3. Water Temperature Too Hot

Either a malfunctioning thermostat or a shorted heating element is responsible for the water heater to heat the water excessively. 

If the T&P Valve releases a large amount of hot water, I bet the culprit is the shorted heating element. More rarely, a malfunctioning thermostat can cause this issue. 

Turns out, your Reliance Electric Water Heater can heat the water excessively if the thermostat doesn’t fit snugly against the tank. 

Keep in mind; the ECO or reset button will trip when the water temperature gets too hot. 

How To Fix: 

A shorted heating element is often to blame for too high water temperature. Regarding this, inspect the heating element and replace it if needed. And this guide will help you in checking and replacing the heating element. 

It’s rare that a malfunctioning thermostat can cause too hot water problem. However, reading this guide on Reliance Water Heater Thermostat Replacement will not be invaluable. 

Of course, don’t forget to adjust the thermostat as setting the thermostat too high can also be responsible for this issue. 

4. T&P Relief Valve Drips

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve will drip due to the following reasons: 

  • Home water pressure is too high
  • You may pressurize the thermal expansion tank to a wrong pressure or its internal bladder gets defective
  • Debris stuck into the T&P Relief Valve
  • The T&P Relief Valve gets broken 

How To Fix: 

A small dripping from T&P Relief Valve indicates your home’s water pressure is too high. 

To stop the dripping, install a pressure reducing valve on the main cold water supply line and set the PRV between 50 and 60 PSI. 

If you already installed a thermal expansion tank but the T&P Relief Valve still drips, I bet you set the thermal expansion tank to the wrong pressure. To resolve this issue, check the instructions that come with the thermal expansion tank. 

Sometimes, debris or dirt may get stuck into the T&P Relief Valve and it drips water. In this case, just operate the T&P Relief Valve manually to remove the debris from this valve. 

Lastly, a broken or defective T&P Relief Valve can also cause water drips. And replacing the valve will be a simple fix to this issue. 

I highly recommend you hire a certified plumber to make the replacement for you. 

5. Water Smells Like Rotten Egg

Generally, harmless bacteria present in tap water and they thrive in water heaters and leave a rotten egg smell. Turns out, the standard anode rod that comes with your water heater can also cause the smelly water. 

How To Fix: 

The only sure treatment to get rid of the smelly water issue is to chlorinate the system. 

Besides, you can reduce the water odor by replacing the standard anode rod with a special zinc rod. 

Nonetheless, you can raise the tank temperature to 140 to halt the bacteria growth in the tank. 

How Do You Reset Your Reliance Electric Water Heater?

Resetting your Reliance Electric Water Heater is just a piece of cake. Just follow the below step-by-step procedure and have your water heater reset:

  • Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the upper access panel.
  • Remove the insulation to expose the thermostat and the reset button. 
  • Press the red button on the thermostat, which will reset your water heater.
  • Replace everything like the insulation and the access panel.
  • Turn on the unit and you find the water heater is reset already. 


Where is the reset button on a Reliance Hot Water Heater?

On a Reliance Hot Water Heater, the reset button is located on the upper thermostat. To access the reset button, remove the access panel and the insulation. Once you pull out both the upper access panel and the insulation, you see it in front of your eyes.

Why is my electric hot water heater not working?

Your electric hot water heater is not working if the circuit breaker gets tripped or the fuse gets blown out. Similarly, a malfunctioning thermostat or burnt out heating element can also cause the unit to not work.

Do all electric water heaters have a reset button?

Yes, every electric water heater has a reset button to reset the unit.


A problem with the water heater brings untold sufferings like you can’t do the daily chore such as taking a shower. So, it’s a must to solve the issue. 

And this guide broke down every common water heater problem. 

If the problems you are going through are not mentioned in this article, leave a comment below. I will try my best to provide a solution.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *