Installing An Electric Water Heater

Plumber pipe tightening attachment on water heater
  • 2 hours
  • Advanced
  • 400-500
What You'll Need
Electric hot water heater
Cinder blocks
Copper tubing with adapter fittings and union connectors
Pipe cutters
Steel wool
Teflon tape
Ball valve
Conduit and connector
Wire nuts

Installing an electric water heater requires a little knowledge about both plumbing and electricity. If you feel comfortable with your skill levels, attempt it alone. However, you might want to use the help of another person moving it into place because it is heavy. Also, the old adage about two sets of hands applies with respect to safely installing an electric hot water heater. Using another set of eyes to recheck connections may prove invaluable, Faulty plumbing leaves to getting wet where faulty electrical connections can be extremely dangerous.

Step 1 - Prepare

You’ll need to purchase an electric hot water heater based on the type of power wired in the building where it is to be installed. Traditional residential units require 220 or 240 volts with 30 to 60 amps. Make sure you check to select the right heater. Also, consult with your local building regulations to seek if there are any compliance issues or need for permits before proceeding.

Step 2 - Build Platform

water heater

After making sure the installation area is completely clean and free of debris, place two cinder blocks to act as a platform for the heater. Using a raised platform on top of cinder blocks will allow for easier draining when performing any maintenance chores. Place the heater on top of the cinder blocks with the help of another person.

Step 3 - Cut Cold Water Supply

Use copper tubing for the cold water supply to the heater. Cut the proper length to reach your inlet supply pipe. After cutting, clean one end with steel wool. Apply flux to the pipe and a “female” adapter then slide the fitting into the ends of the tube.

Step 4 - Solder

Using a solder iron, connect the female adapter to the tube as well as a male end to a union at the other end. Wrap the pipe threads at the top of the heater with Teflon tape. Insert the copper tubing and tighten with a wrench.

Step 5 - Install Ball Valve

water heater relief valve

After adding a short piece of copper tubing to the union, solder it and then install a ball valve. Unscrew the temperature and pressure relief valve and add Teflon tape clockwise around the threads. The valve openings need to point to the floor. Solder a piece of copper tubing to the relief valve leaving it four inches above the floor.

Step 6 - Add Electric Wiring

After removing the electric cover plate at the top of the heater, take out the knockout plate and place the threaded end of the wire conduit connector into the hole and tighten the locking nut.

Step 7 - Wire the Unit

Power source wires need to be fed through a piece of conduit and through the connector reaching the terminal ends on the heater. Connect same color wires – black to black, white to white, along with the ground wire. Check all connections. Turn on the water and electrical supply.