Install a Hot Water Heater

Can I install a water heater by myself?

Hot water heaters can be a bit tricky to install. The most serious issues you may run into will invariably be the connection between the water heater and your pipes and/or possibly the electrical connection. If this is your first time, or if you are an amateur with any type of home repair you might want to consider calling a professional to handle the installation. Take a look through our instructional information and you be the judge. We have links throughout the site to "Chat with a pro" if you find yourself in a bind and need some expert advice. Remember, Always follow local building codes when installing plumbing fixtures, electrical and appliances.

You will need to determine if you need to replace your water heater or if maintenance will suffice. If you are not receiving hot water, it could be due to the heating element or another maintenance issue. Take a quick assessment of the situation before deciding on a full replacement.
If water is on the floor or on top of the unit, a new water heater will likely be needed. The data plate on the current tank has size and energy specifications that will help when purchasing a comparable unit. If your family's water needs have increased, you may need to upgrade to a larger unit.
Before beginning any installation, always check local building codes for compliance. If you do not feel comfortable attempting a water heater installation, it is always best to call a professional.

Installing an electric hot water heater

Removing the Old Water Heater

The old water heater will need to be removed in order to install the new one.
First, shut off the power to the water heater. Next, drain the water heater by attaching a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and running the hose to a drain or outside. Once the water heater is drained, disconnect the water lines. Finally, disconnect the electrical wiring, being careful not to damage the wires. With the water heater now disconnected, you can remove it.

Drain water heater

Installing A New Water Heater

1. The new water heater must be placed in a drain pan. Routing a pipe from the drain pan to a drain or outdoors will prevent possible flooding.

2. Install Pressure Relief Valve on Hot Water Heater: If your water heater did not come with a new pressure relief valve (T&P) installed, you can twist in the new valve now. The T&P valve will automatically open if the temperature or pressure becomes too high for the tank.

Pressure Relief Valve (T&P)

3. Run a Pressure Relief Line from hot water heater: Position the discharge pipe from the T&P relief valve in a downward direction towards a floor drain. If there is no drain available run the pipe to the outside of the building.

4. Connect water lines to the hot water heater: There are a few ways to connect the water lines to the water heater: soldering copper fittings and pipe, CPVC or using a flexible hose kit such as the ones manufactured by "Sharkbite" Make sure to apply Teflon paste or tape to the threads of all fittings and heater nipples, then attach the hoses.
In some areas, dielectric fittings are required to reduce corrosion between two different metals (electrolysis). Local codes and ordinances in your area should detail the specifics of installation.

Water Heater connections

5. Fill the tank: Once the water lines are connected to the hot water heater, slowly turn on the water supply and check the connections around the water heater for leaks. If the system is leak-free, fill the tank. If there are leaks, shut off the water supply and gently tighten the connections.
It's always a good idea to allow the water to flow for five minutes or so to empty air and debris from the tank. First remove the aerator from the faucet and let the water run for a few minutes to clear any loose sediment. Rinse the aerator and replace it.

6. Connect the wiring: Unscrew and remove the junction box cover. Locate the green ground screw, and attach the ground wire to it. Refer to your masking tape connection notes for guidance, and twist the wires together using wire connectors.
Replace the junction box cover and turn on the power at the circuit. If your new water heater does not have power, turn the circuit off and check the connections. Before turning the power on follow the manufacturer’s instructions manual and make sure the temperature is safely set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Once complete go ahead and turn the power on to the water heater.

water heater wiring

7. Check the Pressure Relief Valve: After the hot water heater has been on for a few hours, check the discharge pipe for the pressure relief valve. A dripping pipe usually means the pressure is too high. Turn the pressure down below 80-PSI.

Before beginning any installation, always check local building codes for compliance. If you do not feel comfortable attempting a water heater installation, it is always best to call a professional.

Preventive Maintenance on a hot water heater includes:

What regular maintenance should be done on a water heater?

1. Test the TPR Valve: Shut off the power and the cold-water supply valve. Then, place a bucket under the pipe connected to the pressure release (TPR) valve on the top or side of the tank. (This valve opens if the tank pressure gets too high.) To release some water, lift the valve's tab and then let go. If water keeps flowing, partially drain the tank, unscrew the old valve and install a new one.

2. Drain the Tank/ Wash Out Sediment: Connect a hose to the valve on the bottom of the take and drain the remaining water in the tank. Then, stir up the sediment on the tank's bottom by briefly opening the cold-water supply valve. Drain and repeat until clean water comes out of the hose. Close the drain cock. Refill the tank and turn its power back on.

Before beginning any installation, always check local building codes for compliance. If you do not feel comfortable attempting a water heater installation, it is always best to call a professional.

How Long Should your Hot Water Heater Last?

Typically, a residential hot water heater lasts between 6 and 13 years. Beyond 12 years, you are on borrowed time! However, if your water heater is only a few years old, repair may be the way to go.
Here are some signs that you may be ready for a new hot water heater:
1. Your system is old: On average, your hot water heater should last anywhere between 6 to 13 years.
2. Strange color or tint to your water: When you use your hot water, does the water look a bit tinted? If so, there may be rust in your water
heater, this is likely an indicator that your water heater is showing signs of wear and may begin leaking.
3. Loud gurgling or popping sounds: These noises are caused by the
buildup of hard water sediment heating up inside your water heater tank.
4. Water pooling around the unit: Look around the base of your hot water heater for dampness, this may be a symptom of a slow or intermittent leak.
5. Lack of hot water: An unexpected cold shower is not only a bad way to
start your day, it’s an indicator that your hot water heater needs to be checked out by a professional.
6. Puddles of water near the unit: It’s time to look into replacing your water heater ASAP!

water heater life

How Much Does a Typical Hot Water Heater Cost?

You’ll pay $500 to $1,500 to purchase and install a new conventional storage unit. A high-efficiency model that meets Energy Star standards saves up to 20% in energy costs. The good news is that new models are up to 20% more efficient and can save up to $700 in energy costs over the life of the unit. Manufacturers now inject foam insulation between the tank and its outer shell, resulting in higher heat retention. New glass liners make tanks less prone to corrosion.
Tankless, heat pump, and solar water heaters offer even bigger savings and also qualify for a federal tax credit. These products could cost three to five times more to buy and install, so consider payback carefully.

What Size Hot Water Heater Do I Need?

You can estimate the necessary tank capacity (in gallons) based on the number of people in the house:
1 or 2 people—23 to 36 gallons.
2 to 4 people—36 to 46 gallons.
3 to 5 people—46 to 56 gallons.
5 or more people—over 56 gallons (add 10 gallons per additional person)

Before beginning any installation, always check local building codes for compliance. If you do not feel comfortable attempting a water heater installation, it is always best to call a professional.