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Water Heater Replacement and Installation Information - DIY
Installing or replacing a water heater - detailed step by step procedure about how to install or replace a residential water heater.
Water Heater Replacement
Replacing your old water heater or installing a new water heater is not a difficult job. This article will take you step by step through the processes of replacing your gas or electric storage type (has a tank), water heater.
Removing Your Old Water Heater
Begin heater removal by turning off the gas or electricity to the water heater, and then drain the tank.
If the water heater is gas, check to make sure the pilot light is out. Disconnect the gas line at the heater and cap it Now separate the vent pipe from the draft hood. If there is a sheet metal screw that holds it in place, remove the screw.
If it is an electric water heater remove the cover plate where the wires go into the water heater. Use a tester or voltmeter to make sure the circuit is not live. First check a good outlet so you know your tester is working. Check between the two supply wires and the green ground wire as well as between the two supply wires. If any combination shows a live wire, don't proceed. Only proceed once all wires are dead.
Remove the screw that holds the cover plate for the electrical access in place. Remove the cover and unscrew the wire nuts. Pull the wires out of the water heater. If there is conduit hooked to the heater remove it as well.
Attach a garden hose to the drain valve on your water heater. Place the other end of the hose where it is save to discharge hot water. Be sure it is not accessible to young children during the draining process.
Now turn off the cold water inlet to the water heater and open a hot water tap to allow air to enter so the water can drain out. Now open the drain valve and allow the hot water to drain out through the garden hose. Be sure the outlet end of the hose is lower than the water heater tank bottom.
Once all of the water has drained from the water heater, remove the garden hose from the drain valve.Next, remove water piping from the heater . If connected with unions--removable threaded fittings--take them apart with a pair of pipe wrenches. If the pipes are soldered in place they will have to be cut. A pipe/tubing cutter or a hacksaw will do the job. Cut the pipes off as near the water heater as possible or at an appropriate place if you have copper flex connectors for the new heater. The old heater can now be taken away and disposed of at a dumpsite.
Installing the New Water Heater
Place your new water heater for easy hook up of the piping. If it is a gas water heater be sure the heater is located for easy alignment of the vent piping.
If it is a gas water heater, install the heater's new draft hood. Many have legs that insert into holes on the heater's top.
Gas water heaters needs proper venting .The vent pipe should be no smaller than the draft hood collar of the new heater. Inspect the old vent pipe. If it is corroded replace it with new pipe. The vent should go straight up as far as possible. Then any horizontal run should slope upward at least 1/4 inch per foot.
Connect the vent pipe with short sheet metal screws.
The easiest way to connect the hot and cold water lines to the water heater is to use copper flex-connectors. Flex-connectors are easily bent to reach where you wish. If you had to cut off your copper pipes to remove your old water heater then you can solder copper flex connectors to the cut off pipes and re-hook them to the water heater inlet and outlet. Hook the water heater inlet to the cold water shut off valve.
A vital part of water heater installation is the provision of a temperature and pressure relief valve and relief line. The relief system is designed to let off excess heat and pressure automatically. Be sure the water heater has a pressure temperature relief valve installed. Typically you will want to run a pipe from the relief valve to within 6 inches of the floor, or some safe discharge place where no one can get hurt if the valve suddenly discharges hot water. It is a good idea to check with your local building department to make sure you comply with local building codes.
With all the plumbing connected, you can close the heater's drain valve and open the cold water inlet valve to fill the storage tank. Opening a hot water faucet will release trapped air in the top of the tank. Check for leaks.
The very last thing to do is connect the gas or electric lines to your heater.
Gas water heater
Install a 1/2 inch male flare adapter into the inlet opening of the heater's gas valve. Connect the gas flex-connector collar to the flare adapter (no dope or tape) and tighten with an adjustable open-end wrench. Check to see that the thermostat is in the off position. Now you can turn the gas on.
Check for leaks with a dish detergent solution on all gas connections you've either made or disturbed. Never test for gas leaks with a flame. If any leaks are found, turn off the gas right away and fix them.
Now you can turn the gas on. Read and carefully follow the manufacturer's lighting instructions to light the pilot light.
It may take some time for air to be purged from the gas lines, and a flame should be kept at the pilot orifice until the pilot lights.
See that the main burner flame settles down, does not burn yellow but basically bluish, and doesn't smoke. Some sizzling is okay with a cold storage tank. That's caused by condensed water dripping onto the hot burner. But if a puddle of water forms under the heater, it's from a leak.
Electric water heater:
Follow the instructions that came with the water heater to make the electrical connections. Unless you know how to work with wiring, a qualified electrician should be hired to wire the heater.
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