How to Install a Hybrid Water Heater

Hybrid water heater.
What You'll Need
Water heater drain pan
T20 Torx screwdriver
Slot screwdriver
Socket wrench
Socket extension 12"
1 1/16" socket
Thread pipe sealant
Flexible or rigid drain condensate line ¾"
¾" NPT union fittings
¾" FNPT fitting for drain line
Shut off valves, hot and cold water

Getting rid of the old water heater and replacing it with a new hybrid one? Smart move. You'll be saving energy and money in the first month you use it. You may be concerned, though, about the installation since just the name implies it's trickier to install than the old ones. However, it's actually not all that difficult as long as you're already handy and were able to install the older heaters.

The new heater can usually be plumbed right into the spot the old one was in and most plumbing and electrical fittings should all still work or only need some very slight adjustments. The only addition will be that of a condensate line, but that is explained in our tutorial as well as in your hybrid water heater manufacturer's directions, and shouldn't be very difficult to add on.

Before You Install Your New Hybrid Water Heater

Prior to installation, you need to check the following things to be sure that it's going to work in your home.

Location: There must be a 7" clearance around your water heater and any objects, including walls or other appliances. The water heater has to be in a dry indoor area, which could be a garage, utility room, attic, or closet. Do not place the heater in an area that it is unprotected from freezing temperatures. The room should be at least 10' x 10' x 7' or have louvered doors installed so that air can be pulled in from other areas. It's also preferable to have a drain for the condensate line, however, if there is no drain you can run this line outside or add a pump.

Note: Wherever you place this water heater, you'll want to have it somewhere that you don't mind being cold. It removes all the hot air around it, (it's part of how it works) and the rooms nearest it will as a result be quite cool.

Step 1 - Remove the Old Water Heater

A water heater.

Shut the power and water supply off to the old water heater and leave it off until the new water heater is installed. Once power is off you'll need to drain the water from the old water heater. Next, disconnect the water heater's electric connections. When you disconnect the wires, label them so that you can have them easily ready for the new water heater. Finally, disconnect the heater from the cold and hot water pipes and once it's cool, you can remove it out of the way so that you can install the new water heater.

Step 2 - Shut Off the Valves

A water heater water supply lines.

If you do not already have shut off valves on your hot and cold water supply pipes, they should be installed now.

Step 3 - Set the Water Heater in Place

A hybrid water heater.

Place the drain pain (that's at least two inches larger than the base of the water heater) where the water heater will be sitting. Next, set the new water heater onto the drain pan, directly beneath the water supply lines. Make sure the water heater is level before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4 - Connect the Fittings

Connecting the water fittings is next. You may be able to use the old configuration, and therefore skip this section. If the new water heater won't fit with the old way the water supply is set up, you'll need to re-do it so that it will. To do so, solder on the copper fittings, which should be ¾" NPT fittings to the pipes in the new setup. Use thread sealant with both the hot and cold unions, at new thread sealant if you're reusing old fittings and pipes. Using unions is highly recommended on both the hot and cold water connections so that you can easily disconnect if servicing is needed later.

Step 5 - Connect the Water Supply

Connect (or reconnect) your water heater to the shut off valves on both the hot and cold water supply lines.

Step 6 - Install the Condensation Drain Line

Install a ¾" FNPT fitting onto a rigid or flexible drain line to the condensate drain overflow port. Ensure that the drain line maintains a downward slope to allow for proper drainage through gravity so that it will drain properly and not clog, or if no drain is available in the room, a condensate pump can be installed. Be sure to route the drain line away from any live electrical parts.

Step 7 - Fill the tank

Make sure the drain valve is completely closed and then open the shut off valve to the cold water supply line. Next, open each hot water faucet slowly to allow the air to vent from the water heater and piping.

Step 8 - Reconnect Power

Now it's time to reconnect your power to the new water heater. Connect to the existing electrical cables that you labeled earlier. During this process, it's important to follow any manufacturer's directions that come with your new hybrid water heater so that you do not void your warranty. It is highly recommended that you do not use any power management devices (also known as peak load reduction switches) with your hybrid water heater as they can damage the unit.

Step 9 - Turn the Power On

Turn the power back on to the water heater and watch for any codes on your control panel. The water heater tank should have filled. If it did not for some reason, you should see a code telling you the that it's not filled and should be immediately powered off. Once you ensure it is indeed full with water, turn it back on. Running the water heater without the tank full of water will damage the water heater.

Step 10 - Final Set Up

Install your new water heater's air filter according to the manufacturer's directions and adjust your water temperature and other settings as you wish through the control panel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average water heater in a residential home is set to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Choosing a lower temperature can save you energy and money, and since it's now so easy to change your water heater temperature settings, it's a good time to experiment with it to see what you and your family can be happy with. A setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit is often best so that scalding is avoided in a home with young children or elderly individuals.

Don't forget to look into rebates when purchasing your hybrid heater. There's usually many offered and they can bring the cost close to or at zero dollars when all are used together. You can get them through state, federal and local options, as well as through the manufacturer and utility company.