Water Heater Installation Basics

Work on a water heater requires close attention to safety. Use a voltage tester to check that the unit is not plugged into any electrical wires.

Shut off the water supply valve on the tank, if there is one, and open a nearby hot water faucet to drain the tank and its pipes. Remove the junction box cover on the top of the tank to expose the electrical wiring. Visit https://www.plungerplumberllc.com/ before you get started.

water heater installationInstallation Location

Ideally, a new water heater will be located in an interior space where it won’t be seen, but also where it’s easily accessible for maintenance. A small service closet is a good choice for this purpose. You’ll also want to position the unit so it’s close to the points of use — your kitchen, laundry, and most-used bathrooms. This will make the water travel a shorter distance, which can reduce energy costs. In addition, the location should be close to the main electrical panel. If you can’t find a suitable space within your home, consider installing a new water heater in the garage or a shed on your property.

Before you start any work on a water heater, turn off the electricity to it. Also, shut off the gas supply line if you have a gas model. This will protect you against serious injury or death should a gas leak develop while you’re working on the unit.

Next, drain the water heater. This is done by opening a faucet in the upstairs part of your home (this allows air to escape as you empty the tank) and by connecting a hose to the drain valve on the bottom of the tank. It’s important to drain the unit thoroughly, as you don’t want to leave any rust or sediment behind in your plumbing system.

Now you can disconnect the piping from the water heater, using a wrench or pipe cutter to loosen the nuts that hold them in place. Cut the old pipes just below the water heater shutoff valves, making sure to mark them so you’ll know not to hook up the new ones backward. Be careful not to cut any copper or galvanized pipe. You should also remove the seismic restraining straps from the storage tank.

Before connecting the electrical wires, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific make and model you have. You should also check the voltage to ensure it’s safe. Once you’re satisfied that all of the wiring is complete, replace the cover on the water heater and switch the breaker to ON.

Inlet And Outlet Pipes

Unlike an electric water heater, gas units must have an inlet and outlet pipe to work. These pipes are necessary for connecting the heater to your home’s water supply and the drain line. It’s also essential to have a vent pipe for the gas. You can find these parts at a hardware store, though the gas water heater may come with the vent already installed. To prepare the new pipe connections, first remove the old pipe by unscrewing the unions or loosening the nuts on the pipes. If you’re using copper, apply pipe dope to the new fittings. This helps prevent corrosion of the metal pipes and joints.

Once the old pipes are removed, cut a length of copper pipe to size with a tube cutter. If you’re using a PVC system, use a transition coupling to join the new and existing pipes. It’s best to keep the plumbing as short as possible because this reduces the risk of hot water leaking from the pipes. You should also install a pressure relief valve on the discharge pipe. This relieves excessive pressure and protects your water heater from exploding.

If your house is prone to freezing temperatures, you should install insulation on the water pipes near the water heater. This improves energy efficiency and may even save you money. It’s also important to insulate the vent pipe. If you’re a homeowner who has more than one water heater, install a flow-balancing valve in the pipes to ensure that each water cylinder provides equal amounts of hot water.

Once the new gas water heater is in place, follow your manual’s instructions to light the pilot. You’ll probably need to open all the hot water outlets in your home for a few minutes, which helps get rid of air in the lines and makes sure that all the systems are working properly. Once the system is ready, turn on the water and test for leaks. It’s always better to catch small plumbing issues before they become bigger ones.

Electrical Connections

You’ll need to make some electrical connections when installing a new water heater. You should shut off the power to your current tank, and you may need to run a wire from the circuit breaker box to the location of your new electric water heater. You should also drain the water lines in your home by opening hot and cold faucets near the system’s lowest point. This will help you get rid of any trapped air and help the new water heater perform optimally.

Most gas and electric water heaters are powered by a 240-volt circuit. This voltage is dangerous and can cause severe injuries or death if it comes into contact with you. Switch off the breaker for the electrical supply to your current water heater, and remove the junction box cover to inspect the wiring connections. If the breaker is off, you should use an electrical voltage tester to ensure that no electricity flows through it.

If there is no existing 240-volt circuit running to the water heater location, you’ll need to have an electrician run a line from the breaker box to the water heater’s location. If there is an existing circuit, you should identify it by looking at the junction box cover and removing one screw to uncover two lead wires and a ground screw. You should also note whether a white circuit wire is caped off on both ends (at the water heater and the breaker box) to indicate that it is not a neutral wire.

Once you’ve disconnected all the wires from your old water heater, remove the junction box cover and mark each wire with a piece of tape so that you can reconnect them to your new water heater in the same way. You must follow your marks, or the pictures that you took of the wire connections, as doing otherwise can result in unsafe wiring.

When reconnecting the electrical connections, remember to attach a bonding wire between the hot and cold water pipes serving your new water heater and your home’s main fuses or circuit breaker. These bonds are necessary to prevent the possibility of an unintended short between the hot and cold water lines, which could cause the fuses or breaker to blow. The bonding wire usually consists of a 6 AWG bare copper wire connected to a ground clamp on each of the pipe ends.


While it may seem like a daunting project, installing a new water heater is a reasonably simple DIY task for anyone with the right tools and know-how. With a few safety precautions, the process can be done safely and quickly.

Before starting any work, it’s always a good idea to consult your product manual or a professional to ensure that you follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines. Also, before doing any plumbing or electrical work on your water heater, you should shut it off at the circuit breaker and use a voltage tester to make sure that the power is completely cut off. Next, open every hot water outlet in your home to let the air out of the system (this is called bleeding). This helps to prevent scalding or other damage to your new water heater when you’re ready to turn it on.

If you’re replacing an old gas-powered water heater, first shut off the gas by turning off the valve at the tank and the main gas line at the meter. Then remove the existing piping and install a new gas supply tee, sediment trap, and shut-off valve. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect them all. If you’re using a gas-powered water heater, you’ll need to install a new temperature and pressure relief valve as well.

When it’s time to install the new water heater, you can use a wrench to loosen the nuts on the new piping where they meet with the old one. If you have copper piping that was soldered, you’ll need to unsolder the unions and re-solder them. Before you disconnect the piping, sand down any rough areas with sandpaper to prevent corrosion on the new piping and make it easier to connect the new pipes.

To connect the electrical wires, you’ll need to remove the covering plate on the top of the tank and locate the two black and white wires. You’ll then need to fish the cable through a conduit connector that is secured in place with a connector screw, then tighten the connector nut. Once the connections are complete, you can replace the covering plate, and your installation is finished.