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How to Install a New Hot Water Heater by Yourself

Water heater Inspection by plumbing technician

Installing a water heater is rarely an easy job. It’s best left to the professionals. However, there’s always an avid DIY’er ready to do it by himself. If you’re one of those, then you should learn as much as possible about the operation before starting.

First, the process will differ between these heaters:


Each makes the installation process unique.

Also, consider local building codes. Throughout Australia, codes are strict for everyone’s safety. Find information from a local source as Brisbane’s code isn’t the same with neighboring areas. This will assure you meet all local building codes during installation.

1. Prepare

Reading this article is a great way to prepare, but there’s more to be done. Foremost, make sure you’ve gathered the best tools for the job. Having the right tools makes any job easier; installing hot water tanks included.

Required installation tools are fairly standard. A regular arsenal of plumbing tools and a joint compound for the pipes are needed. Plumbing tools include:

Channel locks
Pipe wrench
Flex line
T valve if necessary

Also keep a voltmeter or multimeter nearby.

Some compression fittings require soldering and others don’t. Consider:

For a home with copper pipes, find fittings that don’t need soldering.
For plastic pipes, special fittings are required.

Examine your existing pipework to purchase the right kit.

2. Remove the Existing Heater

It’s likely you already have a hot water heater at home. You should remove the existing tank and heater before you can install a new one. Removing one is easier than installing.

Follow these steps:

Shut down power at your circuit breaker.
Test heater output with a voltmeter to ensure power is indeed off.
Once power has been turned off, turn off the water as well.
Check the tub by turning on hot water to make sure the heater isn’t releasing hot water.
Connect a drain or garden hose to the tank’s drain valve.

The garden hose’s other end should be in a drain outside or in a bucket. Once there:

Turn on the existing tank’s drain valve;
Let the water drain.

After water is drained fully, disconnect:

Supply lines
Power lines

Then remove the old heater.

3. Installing New Lines

Installing new hot and cold lines is a tricky process. To prevent damage to the heater, do these:

Solder special threaded adapters with small pipes, instead of directly to the heater.
Solder around 1foot away from the heater’s connections.

Once lines are soldered and connected, test for success by turning on a faucet and observe these:

Air should escape first;
An eventual sputter and water flow should come.

Once water flows, let it run for several minutes to fill the heater tank.
The tank should be entirely full before connecting electricity lines to the unit. Ponder:

Without a full tank prior to returning power;
The heating unit will burn in a matter of minutes.

4. Inspect Your Work

Mistakes can be made but you need to catch them as soon as possible. Leaks may be a common problem but:

Usually not from the tank.
Problems are with outlet or valve connections.

Leaks ignored will lead to serious disaster.

After checking there aren’t leaks, connect the wiring according to your water heater wiring instructions. Manufacturers may use their proprietary wiring scheme or coloring scheme, thus one method isn’t for all.

5. Final Steps

After the wiring has been connected:

a. Set the thermostat
b. Check water pressure

We recommend thermostats be set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turn on the circuit breaker to power up your heater when all the above are in place.

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