Hot water heater installation is a process that many people likely think that they can’t handle. However, that isn’t the case at all. A growing number of individuals are understanding the hot water heater installation process and performing it on their own with little difficulty.

The hot water heater installation cost is usually $100-$500. Doing it yourself should keep the price at this level but hiring a professional ensures that installation is done properly and without any mistakes. So, if you decide to do it by yourself, here are some useful tips and steps to follow.

1. Gather Up Your Materials

When starting the hot water heater installation process, it is important to gather up all the necessary materials and tools for the project. For example, you’ll need a variety of tools including a screwdriver, adjustable wrench, electrical tape, a pipe wrench, safety glasses, a soldering torch, tube cutters, voltage testers, wire strippers, and a tape measure.

Other items you’ll need for hot water tank installation include a discharge pipe, the appropriate fittings, a pipe thread compound, solder, pressure relief valve, water and gas piping, and a venting pipe with connectors. Collect all of these items and get ready to begin.

a large electric water heater mounted on a wall

2. Shut Off the System

Locate the gas valve on the hot water heater and turn it a quarter-turn to the right. This action will turn off the heater and protect you from getting injured during the hot water heater installation process. When installing hot water heater replacements, you also need to turn off the main water supply and turn on a faucet on the lowest floor to drain your water lines completely.

After this step, attach a garden hose to the drain valve connected to the hot water heater. Now, open the valve and remove the rest of the water from the tank into a bucket. This vital step is crucial when learning how to install hot water heater items because it ensures you don’t get drenched while opening up the valve or replacing the heater.

Wear gloves when performing this process and other protective items. The water coming out of the heater will be very hot. Direct contact with it could cause severe third-degree burns that could disfigure you for life.

3. Deal with the Water Lines

After completely draining the tank, the next step when installing new hot water heater items is cutting off the water lines. Start by unscrewing the vent pipe from the hood and cutting the hot and cold-water lines. You’ll need your tube cutter for this action. Now, you can carefully move the old hot water heater out of the way before continuing.

After doing this, it is important to wrap the new pressure relief valve with three turns of Teflon tape. This tape helps hold it securely to the tank and avoids leaks. Now, screw the valve directly to the new tank with your pipe wrench and then attach the copper discharge pipe. You’ll need your adjustable wrench for this part of the hot water heater installation process.

4. Attach the Pipes

You’re a fair way through the hot water heater installation process. Now, it is time to start attaching the pipes. Start by soldering copper adapters to the end of your pipe assemblies. These should be about six-inches in length and three-quarters of an inch wide.

They attach directly to the hot water outlet and the cold-water inlets. Make sure to screw them in tightly to ensure that they stay in place. After that, you can add the plastic-lined guards to protect against corrosion. This step is particularly necessary for homes with hard water.

After attaching these pipe assemblies, you can now carefully push the new hot water heater into place. This step of the hot water heater installation process may require two or more people to move the heater.

Once it is in place, solder the tubing together on the copper slip couplings. This step requires a careful eye and a steady hand, so make sure to have somebody there to hold a flashlight for you while you finish.

a small tankless water heater on a wall

5. Putting It Together

At this point, you are near the end of the hot water heater installation process. The next step is to reattach the vent to the heater to ensure it can release steam. Carefully attach it to the heater and shove it against the draft hood. Once it is in place, you need to pre-drill three three-quarter inch holes along the length of the heater vent. Use no. 6 screws to hold the vent down.

Now, use your wrenches to attach the gas line to the pipe joint. Start by coating the threaded ends with compound and press them together. Use a two-wrench screwing method to tighten the hold on the pipes.

Now, fill the tank by closing the drain valve, turning on the main water valve, opening the cold-water valve, turning on a hot water faucet, and watching the heater for leaks. At this point, you just only have cleanup steps left in the hot water installation process.

6. Finishing Up – Checking for Back Drafts

Your hot water heater installation is essentially over. All you have to do is check for back drafts to ensure that your heater won’t spill carbon monoxide in your home. Smoke from the heater should move to the vent inside of the machine. If it doesn’t, turn it off and call a professional right away.

Next, it is time to check for leaks by placing dish washing liquid and water on the joints of the heater. Run your hot water and watch for bubbles. Bubbles indicate a leak and mean that the joints need to be either tightened or reconnected. Let a plumber do this step for you. Now, light the pilot light and your hot water heater is ready to go!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it is fairly easy to get a new hot water heater in a home. The hot water heater installation process is designed to be as streamlined and efficient as possible. So, take your time and call a professional if you end up needing any help.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3

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