How To Install A Water Heater

water heater
  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-800
What You'll Need
A dolly
Water hose
Pipe wrench
Slip joint pliers
Torpedo level
Teflon tape
Joint compound
Masking tape

Learning to install a water heater can save you a great deal of money. Instead of calling a plumber and spending a large sum, install it yourself. The plumber will not only charge you for the installation labor, but will tack on a nice profit when charging you for the new heater. With the proper tools, an afternoon set aside for the project, and the proper guidance, you can install a water heater when the old one finally no longer runs.

Step 1 - Select a Water Heater

If you are installing a new water heater, you have a number of choices for type, size, and power source. Depending upon the area where you live, your power options may be limited to either gas or electric heaters, if you’re looking to go green, you might wish to consider a solar heater. Do a little research by surfing the net so you can gain a little self-education and the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. Also, be sure to check your local building codes for any regulations or needed permits before purchasing a new water heater.

Step 2 - Prepare

hand on water heater valve

Assuming you are either installing a new tank style water heater, or replacing a broken water heater, make sure all electric, gas, and water operating switches and valves are turned off. It’s imperative to turn off any electrical circuits at the breaker box panel and once in the off position, place a piece of masking tape over the switch so no one turns it on during installation operations. Make sure you determine the space where the installation takes place has the required clearances for two feet around and 30 inches above the water heater. If replacing a water heater, measure the present plumbing connections for intake and outflow pipes so you can match to the new piping.

Step 3 - Place the New Tank

Always make sure the installation area is clean and dry. Using a dolly, you and a helper maneuver the tank to the installation area setting it into place. Make sure to line up all your plumbing connections and make sure the unit is straight, using a torpedo level.

Step 4 - PRV and Water

Once you’ve set the tank in place, install the PRV (pressure relief valve) and connect the water lines using Teflon tape on copper connections and joint compound on any galvanized ones. Fill your tank.

Step 5 - Connect Electric, Set Thermostat

adjusting the temperature on a water heater

Connect all your electrical wiring making sure it is tightly secured. Set the water heater thermostat between 110 to 130 degrees. Turn the electric back on. Wait 30 to 60 minutes and test the water temperature by checking it at a faucet outflow.

Tips to Remember

You may need to use flexible copper supply lines if you cannot line up your inlet and outlet openings on the new water heater with your available plumbing.

Always have one hot water spigot somewhere open when filling the tank so you avoid trapping air in the water lines.