DIY Network

Tips on Removing and Replacing a Water Heater

Here are the basics on how to remove your old water heater and install a new one.

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There is nothing worse than discovering those long, hot showers you are used to taking aren’t so hot anymore. Maybe your hot water heater has sprung a leak or it’s just stopped working. Well, it might be time for you to replace your water heater.

The average life span of a water heater is between 8 and 12 years. When it comes time to replace yours, chances are, you’ll pick the same type of unit -- either gas or electric. The key is picking the most efficient water heater large enough to handle your needs. An average family of four with two showers will use a 65 gallon unit, but the experts at your local home center can help you come up with the best size. Also, make sure you check the annual cost of operation for the unit. This should be listed on the sticker on the side of the heater.

Removal

  • Our heater was gas, so we turned off the gas using the cut-off valve.

  • Turn off the water supply and turn on all the hot water faucets in the house. Use a garden hose to drain the tank completely.

  • Pipes will be hard-plumbed, which requires cutting the line, or connection with water heater connector hoses. In our case, we simply unscrewed the connection. Disconnect the pipes and remove the water heater. They can be heavy, so get a helper and be careful.

Installation

  • Put the water heater in place and connect the pipes. Add connector hoses if your old water heater didn’t have them.

  • Make sure the hot water faucets are still open and turn on the water supply. This keeps air from getting trapped in the water lines. Let the water flow from each faucet for one minute before turning them off. Reconnect the wires, turn on the power and wait for the water to heat up.

Tip: Routine upkeep on your water heater is a good idea. Drain the water heater twice a year. This will get rid of sediment and increase its efficiency.

Tip: Look closely at the temperature knob on your water heater and look for the word "vacation." If you are gone for more than five days, turn the water heater setting to "vacation" which means your water and your heating bill will be getting some rest while you are away.

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