Water heater installation requires working with gas and electricity, both of which present safety risks. While this is a doable project for many homeowners, most call in a professional to ensure the job is done correctly. For professional assistance, you can call Plumbers In Cleveland OH.
First, disconnect the old water pipes using pipe wrenches and remove the access plates. Water lines may be flexible or connected with compression or union fittings. Some require sweat-soldering with a torch to make a connection.
1. Determine your needs.
Getting your new water heater up and running is a big job. Unless you’re an experienced plumber, this is a project best left to professionals. A licensed plumber can help you choose the right heater for your home and ensure it will meet all code requirements.
The first step is to determine your needs. You need to know how many fixtures in your house use hot water and their gallons per minute (GPM) flow rates. This information will help you decide what size tank or tankless unit is a good fit for your home.
Start by turning off the power at the circuit breaker and draining the old water heater. Next, remove the access plate covering the wire connections at the top of the tank and disconnect the electrical wires. Reinstall the access plates and reconnect the electrical wiring to the terminals of the new water heater, following its manufacturer’s guidelines. You may need to mount a metal electrical box if the existing wires don’t reach the new water heater.
You also need to replace or install a temperature and pressure relief valve. Make sure you buy a new valve rated the same as your heater and that it has a large opening to attach a copper tube. You’ll need a tubing cutter, pipe adapters, and a soldering iron to get the job done.
Finally, you’ll need to install a vent line from the new heater to your home’s piping. This is usually a double-chambered vent pipe that allows exhaust gas to escape while fresh air is drawn in. Building codes may require you to change from a simple atmospheric vent to a powered direct vent system, which requires a more complex installation.
2. Plan Your Route
A water heater is heavy, and the installation process requires careful planning to avoid back injuries. A professional technician can help you choose the right spot for your new tank, ensuring that it is in a safe and accessible location. They can also perform preventative maintenance on the unit, which is essential to keeping it working properly and efficiently.
For tank-style units, the most important factor in proper installation is locating them in an area that will allow for adequate ventilation. These tanks emit carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly if insufficient ventilation is present. For this reason, it is necessary to install the unit in a space that will provide at least two feet of clearance around it and at least four feet of clearance overhead.
It is recommended that the water heater be installed in a garage, laundry room, basement, or other indoor area. A water heater can also be installed outdoors, but it must be in a secure “closet” to prevent weather and other elements from damaging it.
Ensure that the gas and water line shutoff valves are closed. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and drain the water from the tank. Be sure to use extreme caution, as the water will be scalding hot. Once the tank is drained, disconnect the gas line at the nearby utility and remove the old water heater.
Check the data plate on the water heater to ensure that the home’s voltage, wiring size, and circuit breaker are correct for this unit. Turn the electrical power off at the circuit breaker to reduce the risk of fire or electric shock.
Ensure that the water heater location has at least 6 inches of clearance on all sides for ventilation. It should also be located away from combustible materials, such as wood framing and gas piping. Check the local code for minimum clearance requirements. If possible, locate the water heater at a lower floor level for easier access and maintenance.
Check your home’s water pipe connections and the water heater’s inlet and outlet ports for compatibility. Installation kits often include flexible stainless steel connectors that can be cut to the required length and connected without soldering. Some also have built-in dielectric unions that protect against leaks. Copper or PEX piping is best, but many kits can be used with other types of pipes.
Determine your household’s peak hour demand (the number of gallons used during one single, 1-hour period in the day for showers, washing machines, dishwashers, etc.). If you are considering a tankless or on-demand water heater, refer to the manufacturer’s website to estimate this. For example, if your family typically takes two showers in the morning and runs a load of laundry, you may need a water heater with a first-hour rating equal to or higher than 66 gallons.
Install a temperature and pressure relief valve per the manufacturer’s instructions. This protects the house from water pressure building up inside the water heater. This is especially important if your water heater has a gas burner. In addition, a gas water heater requires a venting system to release excess flue gases outside the house to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Unless your local code requires otherwise, it is recommended that you use a system known as “direct venting,” in which a special double-chambered vent pipe carries the exhaust gases out the side of the house.
4. Choose the Right Water Heater
Water heaters seem like simple enough appliances. After all, most of us have seen them—big metal cylinders stuffed with a wooly insulating blanket in the garage or utility room. But they’re actually quite ingenious on the inside, exploiting the natural law of hot water rising to heat your faucets.
Choosing the right water heater for your home depends on more than just size and fuel type. The upfront cost, heating method, and maintenance complexity all play a role in determining your best choice.
Tank water heaters use gas, electricity, or oil to heat water stored within a built-in tank. This can be any size, from 40 to 60 gallons (151 to 227 liters) or more, depending on your household needs. They’re easy to install in most homes, with a simple gas line and venting system for exhaust. They also take up less space than most other types of water heaters and can be located in areas with low or high temperatures.
The most important factor in determining the efficiency of your new water heater is its first-hour rating (FHR). This gives a good estimate of how much hot water the unit can deliver during peak demand, such as a morning shower or washing machine cycle. Plumbers calculate the FHR by multiplying your family’s peak-hour demand by a factor of two or more.
If your water heater is electric, make sure it’s plugged into an appropriately sized breaker panel. Larger units require a dedicated breaker or subpanel, which can add a few hundred dollars to the installation costs and may need to be upgraded with thicker wire. In addition, most gas-powered units will require a carbon monoxide alarm and proper venting, which your smelly plumber can handle.
In the case of gas heaters, you must also install the new vent pipe and make any necessary plumbing connections. This can be a complicated job and is best left to the professionals. If you’re changing from an atmospheric vent to a powered direct vent, the project becomes even more complex. Consult your local plumbing codes before attempting it yourself.
If the new water heater is to be installed in a different room, make sure that it can be easily accessed for maintenance. It is important that the hot and cold water pipes will be able to reach it and that you can easily access the panel on the tank for any repairs or replacement of parts. A room that can be insulated to keep the temperature of the water constant is ideal.
Start by shutting off the electricity to the water heater using a circuit breaker or fuse box. Then drain the old water heater by opening the pressure relief valve located at the top of the tank and then disconnecting the nipples from the bottom of the tank (using a pipe wrench).
Remove any insulation covering the access plate on the heater, and pull back the cover on the thermostat to expose the thermocouple screw. Once you’ve found this, turn the screw clockwise to raise the thermocouple and open the valve at the bottom of the tank to drain the tank.
Remove the junction box cover and connect the circuit wires to the water heater, following the label tags or a picture you took of the wiring connections in Step 3. Replace the junction box cover. Reconnect the nipples to the water heater, making sure that you don’t accidentally connect the hot and cold lines together. Then attach a new temperature and pressure relief valve to the water heater, wrapping the threads of the new valve with Teflon tape and screwing it on tightly. Finally, connect a copper discharge pipe from the new valve to the tank.