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Serving The Greater
Coeur D’Alene & Spokane Area

Serving The Greater Coeur D’Alene & Spokane Area


ACI Northwest Blog

How to Install a New Electric Water Heater

Has your water heater tank simply become a water tank? If you need to install a new electric water heater on the fly, don’t panic. Even if you just need to replace an old tank, the process of getting a new water heater tank installed isn’t as difficult or draining as you may believe. Let’s discuss how to remove your old tank and install your new water heater.

Removing Your Old Heater

Before you can even think about installing a new heater, you have to dispose of the old tank. You probably aren’t looking forward to this, but luckily, a professional will have no issues removing your old water heater. By shutting the circuit off that powers your water heater, your service professional can drain the old heater tank, and open up the faucet for your hot water. This will allow air to enter the system and will drain tank rapidly.

Once drained, your handyman will remove the heater from its connections to your water pipes. While some heaters come with pipes which are connected with a removable and threaded fitting, others are not and will require a hacksaw to remove your pipes. Once they have undone your fittings or sawn your pipes, they will need to completely drain your pipes. At this point, feel free to take your old heater tank to your local recycling center.

Installing Your New Heater

With nothing but space to work with, you’re primed to install your new heater tank. Your technician will grab a dolly and carefully set your new tank next to the installation location. Then, they will place your tank near your piping to make it easier to connect them later.

Once your heater has been positioned in place, you’re ready for the hot and cold water connections. Most technicians will use flexible connectors – they’re easier to manipulate and make it much easier to connect when ready. You may need to a specialty fitting based upon the pipe which is fitted in your home, so make sure your technician knows what type of connection to grab ahead of time. No matter the material or pipe size, you will need to fit your heater tank with a cold water gate valve. This will be placed in your water pipe so as to prevent any debris from clogging your pipe.

If you have threaded pipes to attach to your heater tank, your service professional will use removable, threaded fitting atop your water lines – both hot and cold – and make sure to replace your old fittings. Next, they will install new nipples atop your tank, but the right nipple length will vary depending on the location of your fittings in regards to your water lines. So, if it seems like your technician is installing new nipples that are too small or too big, don’t worry; they know what they’re doing.

If you’re working with plastic piping, you’ll use transition fittings and place them between your pipes and the water heater threadings. It’s recommended that you use threaded steel nipples that are at least one foot long to connect between the water heater and transition fittings, as this will allow the heat to disperse more effectively. If your technician tries to use a shorter steel nipple, ask him about the nipples heat dispersion abilities compared to a longer alternative.

If you’re purchasing new piping, please take note that ABS, PE, and PVC plastic piping does not work with hot water, and these plastics will deteriorate, leaving you with another project to attend to when your pipes deteriorate.

Added Relief

Once your heater tank is securely in place, it’s equally important that your technician installs a temperature relief valve and another valve to release pressure in the tank. These relief systems will release heat and pressure from your system automatically once their respective indicators determine you’ve gone past their thresholds. After installing your plumbing for your new water heater, your technician will close the tank’s drain valve and turn open your cold water inlet valve – allowing your tank to fill with water. They will then turn open your hot water faucet to release any air remaining in the top of your tank, close the faucet, and inspect for leaks.

Powering Up

Now that your water heater and its system are installed properly, it’s time to connect the power to your tank. First, your technician needs to make certain that the wires that power your tank are the right size, while providing ample voltage and amperage to your heater. The electrical work involved is not an easy task that anyone can tackle. If you don’t have proper training or experience with electrical wiring, please do not attempt this on your own. You can cause serious damage to yourself and your home.

Lastly, turn on your circuit which powers your heater and make sure to inspect your electrical meter. If you see the dials spinning, this is a great indication that your heater is wired properly and that your technician completed a successful installation. Now, tell everyone in the family they can take a hot shower and enjoy hot water at every faucet in your home.

Rachael Jones is a blogger for DIYMother, where women aren’t afraid to use power tools in a dress.

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