Tips on Water Heater Replacement – Storage Tank

Tips on Water Heater Replacement – Storage Tank
September 27, 2012 Lorelie

A water heater is very convenient to have, particularly if you live in an area that is cold.  However, at some point, your water heater is bound to stop working.  This can be troublesome as often your water heater unit stops working when you need heater water the most.  The truth is, water heater units needs to undergo regular maintenance.  Sadly, many homeowners neglect this and only remember about it when their water heater unit stops working properly.  Oftentimes though, due to neglect, it is not longer advisable to have the water heater repaired but instead have it replaced.

The easiest and convenient way to replace your water heating unit is to have a professional do it for you.  However, should you prefer to perform the replacing yourself, possibly because you are confident with your DIY skills, then you should know the steps to follow on water heater replacement.

Choosing Your New Water Heater Unit

When choosing your new water heater unit, it would be easier for you to install the new one if you choose the same fuel type your previous water heater had – whether gas or electric. This is because choosing a new fuel source will lead to additional sets of reworks and installation in your system.  The tips involved in this post are under the presumption that you will be replacing your water heater unit with the same type of fuel source.  Should you want to replace your tank unit with a bigger tank, then this would not pose any problem as long as there is enough clearance between the tank and the wall.

Installation Preparation

  1. Check the Plumbing – try to ensure that the cold and hot water pipes have the same dimensions as your new water heater.  This will help to make the plumbing task much easier later on.  Before disconnecting the old water heater, be sure to check the plumbings that are connected to it.  If it is a gas-type water heater, make sure it has a gas union in the gas line.  Also, make sure it has a shutoff valve for the cold water inlet pipe and a union connector on the hot water outlet pipe.  If these are missing, then your plumbing work will more difficult as you will need to cut off the old piping so as to be able to remove the old water heater unit.  In addition, you will need to install a shut off valve and a union connector.  This will make you wish your previous contractor has done the job properly so you will be able to install the new unit much faster.
  2. Turn off the Utility – before starting any work on you old water heating unit, be sure that you have all utilities turned off.  Turn off the shutoff valve of the cold water supply on the unit.  If it does not have that, turn off the main water shutoff valve for the home.  If you have an electric storage tank water heater, turn off the circuit breaker, or if it is a fuse type, turn off the switch.  If you have a gas storage tank water heater, turn off the gas supply valve for the home.  To ensure that no gas is entering the equipment, look at the pilot light if it has went out.
  3. Drain the Tank – after turning off all the utilities, you need to drain the tank of water.  This can be accomplished simply by turning on the hot water tap.  If you want to do a more direct but strenuous approach, you can open the drain valve of the unit.  Just make sure you have a hose connected to it with its other end connected to the floor drain.  Be sure to open the drain valve slowly so sediments does not come rushing through the opening and clogging it.
  4. Disconnect Utility Lines – disconnect the hot water and cold water pipes along with the gas line or electrical line.  Taking a picture of the connections can make good references.  If you have a gas unit, make sure that the gas line is turned off before disconnecting it from the heating unit.  If you have an electrical unit, make sure that the circuit breaker for the unit is disconnected before undoing any electrical connections.  When removing the piping, it is recommended that you have a pipe wrench or a slip joint adjustable plier. Disconnect the cold water line at the shut off valve.  Disconnect the hot water line at the union connection.  Disconnect the flue from the unit.  Once all of these have been disconnected, you can remove the water heater.
  5. Removing the Old Water Heater Unit – after fully disconnecting and fully draining the old water heater, you are ready to remove it.  Make sure to have an assistant to help you lift, remove, and place the old unit to a dolly or some temporary location.  Clean the area on where the old unit was located before installing the new storage tank water heating unit.

Installing the New Water Heater Unit

  1. Level the Unit – move the new unit to the position of the old unit and lineup the existing plumbing to the plumbing connections of the new unit.  Then using a level, level the unit to make sure that it is standing straight up.
  2. Install Fittings – install the fittings that came with the unit.  This will involve the temperature and pressure relief valve and discharge drain pipe.  Install the other fittings following the direction of the manufacturer.
  3. Connect the Water Lines – install the cold water and hot water lines to the unit.  Should the old lines not line up properly with the new unit, use a flexible copper supply line.  If there is no shutoff valve in the cold water supply line, then this is the right time to add one.  Connect the pipes using dielectric unions to prevent damage to the connections due to electrolysis.
  4. Reconnect Gas or Electric Lines – if you have a gas unit, reconnect the gas line onto the gas burner control valve. Use a flexible hose or line in case the line don’t lineup.  Check for leaks by brushing soapy water on the connections when the gas is turned on.  If for some reason you cannot get a good seal on the connections, then you should seek professional assistance. If you have an electric unit, reconnect the power and ground wire on the junction box of the unit.
  5. Attach the Flue – if your water heating unit is a gas type, then you must attach the flue for the exhaust created by the gas unit.

Once you have successfully installed the new unit, turn on the water along with the gas or electricity, allow the tank to fill, and after a few minutes, check one of the hot water taps to see if you now have hot water.  Set your thermostat to 110 to 130 degrees.

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