Rheem Water Heater Tripping Breaker [3 Easy Solutions]

A bad or electrically shorted heating element is the number 1 reason that causes your Rheem water heater to keep tripping the breaker. Replacing the heating element will fix this water heater issue. 

Besides, loose wiring and bad breaker can also cause the Rheem hot water to trip the breaker. Below, I will break down everything so that you can fix this problem like a pro to bring the unit back into its normal operating condition. 

So, let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

Why Is My Rheem Water Heater Tripping Breaker?

Your Rheem water heater keeps tripping the circuit breaker because of either a shorted wire or bad heating element. In rare cases, installing a wrong size breaker or cheap one can also cause the water heater to trip the breaker. 

And this chapter will walk you through a step-by-step troubleshooting guide to figure out the main culprit behind this issue. 

01. Bad Heating Element

A defective heating element is the main caveat that causes your Rheem water heater to trip continuously. 99.9% of the time your water heater will keep tripping the breaker because of a bad heating element. In the ‘How To Fix’ section below, I will show you how to inspect the heating element. 

How To Fix: 

First off, turn off the electric supply to your water heater at the circuit breaker. Then, remove both the upper and the lower access panel using a flat head screwdriver. 

Once you pull out those panels and expose the thermostat wires, turn the electric supply back to the unit by flipping the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker trips immediately, I bet either the heating element or the electric wires are at fault. 

Let me start with testing the heating element. 

Ensure you turn the circuit breaker to the off position. Next, get a multimeter and set it to Ohm setting. After that, detach the two wires from the screw terminals. And then, place the probes of your multimeter to one on the left and the other one to the right on the element. 

Testing Heating Element
*Testing Heating Element*

If the heating element is healthy, you can hear an audible beep. Otherwise, the element gets faulty and you need to replace it. 

Do this one additional task if you hear an audible sound. Just place one probe to the screw terminal and set the other one to the tank metal casing. In this case, you shouldn’t hear a sound. Repeat the same thing to the other screw terminal. 

Don’t hesitate to replace the heating element if you find the multimeter to make an audible noise. 

Repeat the same test for the lower element. If you don’t know how to replace a heating element, check out this video: 

02. Loose Wiring

If you inspect both heating elements and they are fine, the next thing you should check is the wiring system of the heater. When there is a problem with the shorted wires somewhere in the water heater wiring system, it will trip the breaker. 

Most often loose wiring is to blame if your water heater keeps tripping the breaker. In this case, the wire heats up and moves slightly when the current flows for a while. As a result, the wire touches something it shouldn’t, causes an earth fault and trips the breaker. 

How To Fix: 

Remove the access panel and the insulation to access the wiring of the thermostat. Visually inspect the condition of the wires. If the wiring comes loose, tighten it up. If you don’t see any sign of visual damage to the wiring, I highly suggest you hire a certified electrician to track down the issue. 

03. Breaker Itself Is Bad

A breaker can also be the culprit behind this issue. Not every circuit breaker in the market is created equally. Turns out, if you install the wrong size breaker, it may draw unusual current that may cause your water heater to trip the breaker. 

How To Fix: 

Ensure you use the right size and high-quality breaker for the water heater. It will always be best to get a circuit breaker that can draw the right amount of electricity. 


Check the heating element at first if your Rheem water heater keeps tripping the breaker. In this case, follow the steps I mentioned to inspect the elements electrically. If you find the elements are at fault, replace it and it will solve this issue. 

Next, inspect the wiring system of your water heater. Ensure all the wirings are connected properly and they don’t come loose. If needed, take help from a qualified electrician. 

And lastly, reset the breaker or install the right size of breaker according to your water heater manual recommendation. I hope you can solve this issue by yourself. Good luck!

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