What are the Best Tips for Water Heater Installation?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 January 2020
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Water heater installation is a relatively challenging task that requires only a few tools. Water heaters can be run by gas or electricity. When installing or replacing an old water heater, it is important to consider the kind of service that is available in the home and which kind makes the best sense economically. Other factors to consider before purchasing the water heater itself are whether a large capacity water heater is necessary for appliances such as a dishwasher or jetted bathtub or whether the home electrical system can handle additional wattage of a larger water heater.

Electric water heater installation can take anywhere from two hours to 45 minutes — depending on the skill level of the installer. The first step before beginning the process is to turn off the electricity. After the old water heater is removed, set the new water heater in place. A carpenter’s level will be useful to ensure that it is level. Shims, either plastic or wooden, are a great way to level it.

Next, at the end of the cold water supply pipe, sweat solder the shutoff valve. This can be done with a propane torch. A block of wood is sometimes helpful to support the shutoff valve while it is being soldered. It is essential that the valve is in the open position when soldering. In essence, the propane torch melts the metal so that the two pieces become firmly attached.


Then, take the cold and hot water heater heat trap fittings and wrap the threads with Teflon® tape or coat the threads with pipe compound. Once this step is completed, it is possible to attach the fitting to the cold and hot water inlets — the blue fitting goes on the cold water inlet and the red fitting goes on the hot water inlet. After the fittings are in place, they should be tightened with a wrench.

The water supply must be installed next — flexible ones are usually required by code, particularly in areas that have earthquakes. Simple connect the water supply pipe from the pipe run to the water heater. Then, turn on the main shutoff and open the valves. Run water from all the faucets in the house until the water flows without spurting. Next, turn the faucets off again in the house.

Lastly, remove the electrical access plate and connect the electrical supply pursuant to the water heater instructions. Set the thermostat of the electric water heater to 120° to 125° Fahrenheit (48.8° to 51.6° Celsius). Fill the tank until the faucet is flowing. It is very important to have the tank full of water before the power is turned on because the elements will burn out and ruin the unit if they are exposed to air. Once the tank is full, turn the power on and press the reset button on the panel. Electric water heater installation is complete.

Gas water heater installation can be a moderately challenging task. However, it can be very dangerous. If installed incorrectly, carbon monoxide can leak into the home and silently kill everyone as they sleep. In general, gas water heater installation requires a gas supply, a cold water supply, and a flue to remove deadly gases. For those individuals who feel they are up to the task, it can anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to complete installation.

Once the old water heater has been removed and the water lines and gas exhaust vent have been removed, it is time to set the new gas water heater levelly in place. As with the electric water heater, wrap the heat trap fitting threads with Teflon® tape and attach them to the cold and hot water inlets. The pipe lengths must then be connected to the unit and the water supply — these can be precut at most home improvement stores. Lastly, connect the gas supply line. After the gas has been connected and the pipes have been tightened, the gas supply valve can be turned on and the burner must be turned on — either with a match or barbecue lighter or a new pilotless ignition push button system. Gas water heater installation is finished.



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