Water heater installation is an easy do-it-yourself project. Anyone can do it and it only takes a few hours. Installing a larger heater can make mornings much less stressful. You will no longer have to fight over who gets the first and only hot shower. Now, everyone can have a hot shower. When installing a new heater, it is best to have some help to remove the old one. Get a friend or a buddy to help with your water heater installation.
You will need a few tools before you can get started with the installation. Water heaters are heavy so you will need a dolly to move both the old and new one. You will need a hose to drain the water from the old heater. Tongue and groove pliers, a pipe wrench and split joint pliers are good tools to use for disconnecting and reconnecting pipes. A level will be needed once the new heater is in place. Finally, you will need Teflon tape if you have copper pipes and joint compound if you have galvanized pipes. Go and collect all of the supplies before you get started. If you don't have the right tools, you may purchase them using the links below. Water heater installation will be much quicker when you do not have to go searching for tools every step.
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The first step to water heater installation is getting local building permits. To find out if a local building permit is needed and how to apply, visit the county courthouse in your area. They will be happy to let you know what permits and inspections you will need. Most likely, you will just need to get an inspection after the heater has been installed. Once you receive the correct permits, you can continue to step two.
Measure the area where your new heater will be installed. Water heater installation requires that you have a minimum of a two-foot clearance surrounding the water heater. You will also need thirty inches above the water heater. Write down the measurements on a piece of paper and don't lose it. You will need to take these measurements will you when you go to the hardware store to buy a new water heater.
Figure out what type of water heater you will need. If you have a large family, you will need a larger heater. Look and see if you need an electric water heater or a propane water heater. Water heater installation can be complicated if you are trying to hook up an electric heater to a propane tank. Do not try it. Make notes of your decisions as you go. Jot down where the pipes and plumbing connections are located on your current water heater.
Take your notes and measurements and head to the hardware store to buy a new water heater. Getting the right water heater will make installation easier. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them. Hardware store employees are very knowledgeable and will be able to give you advice on which water heater to purchase.
Bring your water heater home and set it aside. You don't need it yet. Find the water shutoff valve at the old water heater and turn off the water. Turn off the electric to an electric water heater by shutting off the circuit breaker. If it is a propane heater, shut off the gas supply. Water heater installation needs to be safe and shutting off the fuel source will prevent an explosion or electrocution.
Get a hose and hook it up to the drain valve. Place the open end of the hose outside, in a sink or over a floor drain. Open the hot water spigot and slowly open the drain valve. Opening the drain valve too quickly during water heater installation will cause sediments to block the hose.
Once the water heater has been drained, it is time to disconnect the water pipes. This can be completed with a pipe wrench. The gas pipe and flue can now be removed. If it is an electric water heater, remove the electrical service connection. You are now half way complete with your water heater installation.
With a friend, remove the old water heater. It can be taken to the city dump. They may charge to get rid of it but do you really want an old water heater sitting around and taking up space? Wash the floor where the new water heater will be installed. Move the new water heater into place and line up the plumbing connections. Use a level and shims to make sure the water heater is level. A big mistake with water heater installation is not leveling the water heater.
Connect the new water heater to the plumbing connections. Use Teflon tape to create a watertight seal on copper joints. A joint compound can be used on galvanized fittings. Fill up the new water tank. Stop and listen to it fill. Isn't it a beautiful sound? You are almost done with your water heater installation!
You made it to the last step of water heater installation! All you have left to do is reconnect the electrical wiring. If it is a gas water heater, reconnect the gas pipe and the flue. Set the heater to the desired temperature. Between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Turn on the new water heater and celebrate. You did it! Wait an hour and go take a hot celebration shower to clean off the sweat from all your hard work.
Tips and Warnings
Even if you do everything right, you may run into some problems. If the pipe connections do not line up exactly right, you may use flexible copper supply lines to solve this problem. Always have one hot water spigot open when filling the water heater. This will prevent air bubbles being tapped in the water lines. Do not try to convert from electric to gas or vice versa. If you need to do that, call a professional. I do not want you blowing up your house. On the same note, always turn off electricity and make sure it is turned off before working. Use gloves and wear protective goggles while working. Lastly, if your county required an inspection after the water heater has been installed, call up the county and have someone come out and inspect your water heater installation.