A Guide to Water Heater Installation

Having no hot water can turn your day sour fast. Over 8% of households need to replace their water heaters each year. This guide will take you through the types, installation tips, and considerations for choosing the right water heater for your needs.

Let’s dive in!

Types of Water Heaters

Understanding the variety of water heaters available can significantly influence your choice of an energy-efficient home. Each type offers distinct benefits and fits different household needs.

Conventional Water Heater

A conventional water heater operates by storing water in a tank and heating it through gas or electricity. The tank’s capacity can vary, accommodating different household sizes and hot water needs.

This type of heater continuously heats the stored water, ensuring hot water is always available from the tap.

Installation involves connecting the unit to the water supply and either a gas line or an electrical connection, depending on the energy source used for heating. Key components include pipes for cold-water intake and hot-water output and safety devices like drain valves and pressure-reducing valves to manage excess pressure.

Regular maintenance is vital to prolong its lifespan, involving checking for leaks, flushing out sediment build-up in the tank, and inspecting its heating element.

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters heat water directly without using a storage tank, leading to less energy wastage and more efficient use of electricity or gas. These systems activate only when a hot water tap is turned on, ensuring that hot water flows instantly and continuously.

With their compact size, tankless models save significant space compared to bulky traditional hot water heaters. They can be installed in small closets, under cabinets, or in a basement corner.

Installation costs for tankless heaters tend to be higher than those for conventional units due to the need for electrical upgrades, such as adding dedicated circuits from your breaker box or modifying ventilation.

Despite these initial expenses ranging between $90 and $900, the long-term savings on utility bills make them an attractive choice for many homeowners. Companies like A.O. Smith offer comprehensive guides that detail the installation process step by step, from managing electrical connections to fitting pipe fittings securely with soldering paste and plumber tape.

Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat pump water heaters pull heat from the air around them to warm up water, making them highly energy-efficient. These systems need a good flow of air and plenty of space to operate effectively.

They come in various types, some designed to connect with an outdoor unit. Installing them in a location with sufficient airflow is crucial for optimal performance.

While the initial cost of heat pump water heaters can be higher than other types, they offer significant savings on energy bills over time. Homeowners should weigh these potential long-term benefits against the upfront expenses.

Considering their specific installation requirements is essential before making a decision.

Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters harness the sun’s energy to generate hot water for homes and businesses. These systems, split into passive and active types, use solar panels to collect sunlight.

The energy collected then heats the water in a storage tank. Passive systems, known for their reliability and longevity, include direct circulation and integral collector-storage systems.

They often outperform active ones in terms of cost efficiency and durability.

Choosing the right solar water heater involves understanding your climate and solar resources since these factors influence performance. Indirect models efficiently transfer heat from a fluid inside a heat exchanger to warm water.

This process makes them an effective solution for generating hot water while significantly reducing electricity bills. Whether installed in domestic or commercial settings, these heaters are eco-friendly options that tap into renewable energy sources without compromising hot water supply needs.

Condensing Water Heater

Condensing water heaters stand out for their ability to capture and recycle heat from combustion, making them a beacon of efficiency. This innovative approach not only ensures that less energy goes to waste but also leads to significant savings on operating costs over time.

Both tank and tankless models harness this technology, offering flexibility to meet various household needs.

These units are particularly noted for their ultra-high efficiency among tankless options, presenting a sustainable choice for those seeking to reduce their carbon footprint while enjoying continuous hot water supply.

Their design allows maximum heat extraction before venting it out, effectively lowering gas bills and contributing positively to environmental conservation efforts.

Choosing the Right Water Heater

Selecting the ideal water heater for your home hinges on understanding the different types available. Each kind, from tankless to solar, caters to varied needs and energy efficiencies.

You must consider your household’s demands to avoid overpaying on bills. A large, efficient model will be the best choice for families that consume a lot of hot water.

Efficiency and size play crucial roles in this decision-making process. Consulting a comprehensive guide can illuminate which water heaters fit your home’s requirements perfectly. Remember that specific models might necessitate professional installation for safety reasons, highlighting the importance of making an informed choice tailored to both needs and regulations.

DIY vs. Professional Water Heater Installation

Deciding between DIY and professional water heater installation involves weighing several risks and benefits. Here’s a comparison in HTML table format.


Aspect DIY Installation Professional Installation
Cost May seem less upfront but can incur additional expenses due to errors. Higher initial cost but includes expertise and guarantees.
Risks High risk of improper installation and dangerous mistakes. Low risk as professionals adhere to safety standards.
Compliance Potential non-compliance with local codes. Ensures compliance with all relevant regulations.
Time and Effort Requires significant time and effort to learn and execute. Minimal effort from the homeowner’s side.
Outcome Potential for leaks and incorrect fitting. Professional fitting with less likelihood of errors.
Peace of Mind Uncertainty about the quality and safety of installation. Guarantees peace of mind with warranties and expert work.

This table summarises key differences, showing that DIY might appear cost-effective but involves substantial risks and complexities. In contrast, hiring professionals ensure safety, compliance, and reliability.

Preparation for Water Heater Installation

Preparing for water heater installation requires careful planning and the right setup. Clear the area where you’ll place the new heater, ensuring it’s free from any obstructions.

  • Choose the correct water heater size to prevent energy waste and ensure a steady hot water supply.
  • Gather all necessary tools beforehand to streamline the installation process. This includes wrenches, screwdrivers, soldering equipment, and safety gear.
  • Turn off the power at the circuit breaker to eliminate any risk of electric shock when installing an electric water heater.
  • Shut off the water supply using the main valve to prevent water from flowing into your work area.
  • When disconnecting the old unit, place a bucket under the pipe connections to catch any residual water.
  • Use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other recommended materials for areas that need new plumbing lines installed.
  • Measure twice and cut once when adjusting water pipes to fit the new heater. This avoids unnecessary leaks or rework.
  • Apply soldering flux meticulously when fitting copper pipes together, ensuring a strong bond without leaks.
  • Install thermostatic mixing valves per the manufacturer’s instructions to regulate water temperature effectively and prevent scalding.
  • Check for mould or dampness in the installation area. Clean up any found before setting up the new heater to maintain a healthy environment.
  • Confirm that all electrical connections, including sockets and wires, are properly insulated and securely attached, adhering strictly to safety standards.

Step-by-Step Guide to Water Heater Installation

Installing a new water heater involves several crucial steps to ensure it operates safely and efficiently. Each phase demands attention to detail for a successful setup, from disconnecting power sources to carefully connecting electrical wires.

Disconnecting Power

Before starting the installation of your electric water heater, it’s crucial to switch off the power. Head to your circuit breaker and locate the switch that controls electricity to the water heater.

Flip this switch or pull out the moulded case circuit breaker to ensure safety during installation. Marking each electrical wire before disconnecting helps avoid confusion when you connect them again.

Next, go over to where your water heater is installed and unplug it from its power source if it uses a standard plug. For systems hardwired into your home’s electrical setup, verify that no current flows by using a non-contact voltage tester near the wires.

This step prevents electrical accidents and prepares your space to safely remove the old unit.

Draining the Tank

Turning off the power supply marks the beginning of draining a water heater. You then need to locate the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and attach a hose. Ensure you direct this hose to an area where water can safely flow away, like a floor drain or outside your home.

Open a hot water faucet nearby; this aids in venting pressure and allows for quicker draining. Releasing the water from the tank clears out any sediment that may have built up over time, ensuring clean hot water is available for future use.

This process is crucial for maintaining your water heater’s efficiency and longevity.

Removing the Old Water Heater

Firstly, ensure the water heater is completely turned off. This includes shutting down the main gas supply valve and breaking the gas line for gas heaters. For those with electric heating, shutting off the water supply to avoid leaks during removal is crucial.

Always drain all valves thoroughly before proceeding to detach any parts.

Next, disconnect and remove the overflow pipe and pressure release valve from your old water heater unit. These steps are essential to safely disengage your current system without causing damage or risking water leaking into your home.

Make sure all connections have been securely closed off before moving on to prepare plumbing lines for your new installation.

Preparing the Plumbing Lines

Preparing the plumbing lines involves disconnecting all supply lines, as indicated in the installation process. This step requires attention to detail and accuracy to avoid future issues.

It’s advisable to check all connections for wear or damage and replace components like washers if necessary.

Following the manufacturer’s setup documentation is extremely helpful in mitigating potential plumbing-related problems. If you’re not entirely confident with your skills, consider hiring a professional plumber.

They can ensure everything is plumbed correctly and securely, providing peace of mind throughout your water heater installation project.

Connecting the Electrical Wiring

Ensure the water and electricity are shut off before starting. This critical step is important for safety. Test for power to confirm all energy sources are disconnected. Following the instruction manual, connect the electrical wiring carefully.

Use a double pole miniature circuit breaker for added protection during this process.

Drain the tank completely to avoid any water damage or accidents. Then, connect wires according to the colour-coded instructions in the manual provided with your heater.

Solder fittings may be required if your system uses them, ensuring a secure connection without leaks. Always refer to the instruction manual, which contains precise steps tailored specifically to your model’s installation and operation requirements.

Final Thoughts on Water Heater Installation

Selecting the right water heater for your home or business requires careful consideration. Various options exist, each with its own benefits and installation processes. Expert advice often makes the task less daunting, guiding you through cost calculations and DIY steps if you choose not to hire a professional.

Remember, proper installation promises years of reliable hot water supply. This guide aims to simplify that journey, helping you make informed decisions about your hot water needs.


Water heater installation is crucial in securing a continuous hot water supply for your home or business. Considering the type, cost, and whether to go DIY or seek professional help are key steps.

Preparation and understanding of the installation process ensure efficiency and reliability in your system. This guide aims to empower you with knowledge for a smooth transition into using your new water heater.

Remember, making informed decisions will lead to long-term satisfaction with your hot water needs.


1. What tools do I need to install a water heater?

If you’re dealing with certain water connections, you will need various tools for installing a water heater, including wrenches, screwdrivers, and potentially a spigot.

2. Is it important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation?

Following the manufacturer’s instructions is crucial when installing your water heater. This ensures the safety and proper functioning of the device in compliance with its design specifications.

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