How To Replace or Repair A Water Heater Yourself
If your water heater begins to leak, this is the time to replace it. This needs to be done sooner than later as more damage could be the result of waiting to long. We recommend replacing every 8-12 Years. Replacing yourself is not extremely hard, but if you are hesitant, call the pros! We will be discussing gas water heaters.
Tools & Parts Required:
Soldering Torch (Only if soldering fittings)
Plumbers Tape (Gas and Pipe)
Sharkbite Couples (If not using hoses)
Sharkbite Hoses (If not using Couples)
Pressure Gauge (If not equipped, Optional)
Expansion Tank (If not equipped, Optional)
Vent Piping (If not reusing old)
Start by checking the labels on your current tank. Here you will find the size, gallons, and energy specifications to help you pick out the correct unit.
Next Check to make sure your water heaters venting is working. Close all the windows and door in your home, then turn on all the gas appliances and exhaust fans in the home. Turn up the water heater tank temperature for a few minutes. Next you will hold an extinguished match near the vent hood. The vent hood is the product in the photo. It will have a pipe leading into it. You will want to hold the extinguished match under the lip and make sure that the smoke from the match is being pulled up the chimney pipe.
If the smoke from the match blows back the chimney pipe. You have a venting issue and it will need to be replaced. At this stage you will need to call a professional for assistance.
Next you will want to check the homes water pressure with the pressure gauge. Hook a short garden hose up to the hose spigot. Install the gauge on the other end of the hose. You will need an adapter to do this, one of our associates can assist you with this. Your water pressure should be between 50-60 psi. This is the ideal pressure for mostly all homes. If your pressure goes above 80psi, you will need a pressure reducing valve added to the water line. Note: Make sure the main water is turned off before adding a pressure relief valve.
At this time you would also want to add an expansion tank. This will help relief excess pressure in the lines.
The pressure relief valve should be installed right after the main water shut off leading to the water heater. The expansion tank in line after the pressure relief valve. The expansion tank can easily be installed with shark bite push connect fittings, using a Shark bite Tee and a Shark bite couple. If you want to solder it, make sure to de-burr and clean the pipe and fittings before soldering. For the beginner we recommend the Shark Bite fittings for the ease of use and less worry about leaks.
Make sure the expansion tank pressure is the same as the main water pressure. If it is not you can increase pressure by adding air to the tank with a air pump, or decrease it by letting air out of the tank valve.
To start with turn off the gas. Use your pipe wrench to disconnect the gas pipe from the control valve. If you ae uncomfortable at anytime during these steps, reach out to the pros.
Next you will want to detach the water heater venting using a screwdriver, be careful with this step as the metal can be sharp and have burrs. Inspect the pipe for cracks and clogs at this time. If good, set aside. If the pipe has wear, replace it.
Now you will want to go to the nearest faucet. Turn it on hot until the water turns cold. Then shut off the cold water supply. Connect your short garden hose to the drain valve. Open the valve and empty the water into buckets of the drain if you have one. Check the tank is empty by opening the faucet at the sink.
Once the tank is empty, remove the discharge pipe from the temperature and pressure relief valve. Note: You can remove the discharge pipe. You CANNOT reuse the temperature and pressure relief valve. Failure to due this could result in tank explosion.
Disconnect the water supply pipes, if the need to be cut off leave them as long as you can. Now you can remove the old tank.
When installing the new tank, it is recommend to use a drain pan. Make sure you leave enough room for tank maintenance. To avoid the possibility of flooding, route the pan to a drain using PVC pipe and fittings.
Next install the discharge pipe on the T&P relief valve. The valve will open if temperature or pressure are to high. Without it, the tank would explode if temperature and pressure became to much.
If your home does not have a floor drain, place a bucket under the discharge pipe at this time.
Keep in no more than 5 inches above the bucket, you will thank us later for this tip!
The water line hookup is made very easy thanks to Shark Bite Quick Connect Hoses.
Connect the SB hose to the tank by pushing the hose over the pipes. Start at the bottom. Next hold your SB hoses up against your copper piping from the water line. Cut the copper pipe where the bottom of the SB hose lands against it.
Do this with both sides and connect your SB hoses to the water lines. Flex lines can also be used, as can copper fittings if you wish to solder the fittings in place. To learn about soldering and sweating pipe see this video:
Next, remove the aerator from the nearest faucet and turn on the hot water side. Turn on the cold water side and check your connections for any leaks. If no leaks are present, keep filling the tank. You will see water running from the faucet when the tank is full. Let the faucet run about 4 minutes to empty any air left in the tank.
Next, put on the venting pipe on the exhaust hood and secure with screws.
To connect the gas, first make sure the tanks control know is turned to the "off" position. The wrap each of the gas line hose fittings with gas plumbers tape( yellow), Insert one flare nut into the control valve. Screw the other flare nut into the gas line making sure not to overtighten either of them. Next connect the hose to the flare nut fittings. Turn the gas line on. it is recommend to use leak detection solution on the flare nut fittings to make sure there are no leaks. It will bubble if leaks are detected.
Next, light the heater. Turn the control unit to pilot and press in the knob while pressing ignitor. The indicator light will let you know it is on. 120 degrees is the normal temperature to set the heater at.
Re-do the vent test again, if there is a problem, contact a professional. Its is recommended to also install a carbon monoxide detector near the heater.
After a few hours check the discharge pipe. If it is dripping, turn down the pressure below 80psi.
If after installation any of the faucets become clogged, remove the aerator and allow to run hot water out for a few minutes to dislodge any particles left in the lines.
If you run into any problems, visit one of our Ace-fix-it Hardware locations near you and ask one of our associates for help, there are very few problems we have not come across.
How to know if you water heater is leaking:
What to check for if your water heater is not working: