Rheem Water Heater Not Turning On

This guide on Rheem Water Heater Not Turning will shed light on those culprits that prevent the water heater from turning on, including: 

  • Electric supply may be off
  • A fuse is blown or the circuit breaker gets tripped
  • Bad Heating Element
  • Improper wiring
  • ECO button gets tripped

Below, I will break down each troubleshooting step to resolve those issues. So, keep an eye on those corrective actions I mentioned below and make the unit ready to heat water again. 

Table of Contents

1. Electric Supply May Be Off

Insufficient power or electric supply to the unit is off, which is the most common caveat that prevents the unit from coming on. 

Electric supply to the unit could be interrupted due to: 

  • You may forget to plug the power cord into the electric outlet.
  • If you used a switch to power on the water heater, it’s on the Off position.
  • There is a problem with your home’s electric wiring. 

How To Fix: 

Continuous flow of electric supply to the water heater is a must to turn on the water heater. In this case, ensure: 

  • Plug the power cord into a properly grounded electric outlet. Of course, verify the outlet you used to connect your water heater is functional.
  • Turn the switch (If used) to the On position 
  • Hire a certified electrician to inspect the electric wiring of your home 

2. A Fuse Is Blown or The Circuit Breaker Gets Tripped

Your water heater will never get enough juice to turn on itself if the fuse goes blow out. Generally, the fuse gets blown out if:  

  • The wire connections are loose
  • You may have too many things plugged into the same connection as the water heater like a cloth dryer, the load could blow the fuse.
  • There might be problems with heating elements, drawing way too much power and it will blow out the fuse. 
  • A water leak on the wiring could also short out the fuse

How To Fix: 

Failing to tighten up the wire connections of your water heater is the main reason that causes the fuse to burst. To resolve this issue, check every wire connection and make the connection secure & tight if needed. 

If you are not electrically inclined, hire a certified electrician to have the wire connection checked professionally. 

In addition, never plug other appliances into the outlet you used to power up your water heater. 

Next, a shorted or burn out heating element is another common water heater issue that can also throw a wrench into work. Fortunately, you can easily resolve this issue by replacing the heating element.  

I will discuss further in the ‘Bad Heating Element’ section in this article. So, keep reading.

Moreover, a water leak dripping down on the top of the wiring could cause electric shorts and blow out the fuse in results. 

Apart from these, if the circuit breaker for the water heater gets tripped, the unit will receive no electric supply. Go to the circuit breaker panel and ensure the breaker for the unit is in the On position. If not, just flip the circuit breaker to the up position. 

3. Bad Heating Element

Bad heating element

A defective or burn out heating element is another culprit that prevents the unit from turning on. 

Typically, an electric water heater has two elements- upper and lower. If one heating element goes bad, it draws extra power running the remaining one more often- until that one burns out too. 

Luckily, replacing the heating element is simple. Check out this guide on Rheem Water Heater Element Replacement to learn how to replace elements like a pro. 

4. Improper Wiring

Wiring the water heater improperly can keep the water heater from turning on. Unfortunately, this is not the task you can resolve by yourself. 

A qualified electrician must provide a separate branch circuit with copper conductors, overcurrent protective device, and suitable disconnecting means. 

Of course, all electrical wiring must conform to local codes or the latest edition of National Electrical Code ANSI/NFPA 70. 

5. ECO or Reset Button Gets Tripped

Reset button gets tripped

Every electric water heater has a safety feature named ECO. It’s typically located on the upper thermostat. When the water temperature gets excessively hot, this ECO or reset button cuts electric supply off to the unit by tripping itself. 

And guess what, how can you expect the unit to come on if there is no electric supply flowing back to the water heater? 

Before resetting the ECO or reset button, you must discover the culprit that causes the unit to get too hot. Generally, a burnout heating element is the main caveat behind too hot temperature. 

Once you resolve the main culprit, reset the unit. In this case, you can read this article on Rheem Water Heater Reset Button to learn how to reset the water heater. 


Rheem Water Heater is reliable but it’s not beyond malfunction. If you fail to turn on your water heater, I bet those culprits I mentioned are responsible for that. 

To resolve this water heater issue, follow the instructions I mentioned above. If you fail to activate the unit after following this troubleshooting guide, don’t hesitate to call the Rheem Customer Support Team or a certified plumber. 

Happy Plumbing!

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