a plumber using a wrench to fix a tank style hot water heater in Austin, Texas.

How to Install a Water Heater Yourself (But Why You Shouldn’t)


Disclaimer: After reading this DIY article on how to install a water heater yourself, you may feel confident that this is something you can take on.

However, we NEVER recommend you try to replace your own water heater. What we do recommend is calling a licensed, trained, and insured plumber, just like we have here at Davis Plumbing!
This article is for educational purposes only.


How to Install a Water Heater


1. Turn Off The Utilities Connected to Your Water Heater

The first step is to shut off all utilities connected to your water heater. This includes water and gas or electricity (depending on the type of water heater you have). Typically, you can just shut off the water at a branch-off valve but you may have to shut off the main valve if you have an older home


To turn off electricity, find your circuit breaker and simply flip the breaker that is connected to the water heater. Hopefully, your breakers are labeled…


For gas water heaters, turn off the gas at the shut-off valve nearest the water heater. What if you can’t find the gas shut off valve: call a professional like us at Davis Plumbing


2. Drain Your Water Heater


Paragraph: Attach a water hose to the drain valve closest to the bottom of the water heater. To avoid getting water all over your home or garage, place the other end of the hose outside or in a tub or sink. 


Next, open the drain valve slowly. Opening this valve too quickly can cause any sediment built up in the tank to clog the drain valve. After all the water has drained out, twist the drain valve back to the closed position and remove the hose.


3. Disconnect The Water Lines

This step can be tricky. Some water heaters only require a pipe wrench to disconnect the hot and cold water lines. However, some connections can be soldered. That means you’ll need a tubing cutter.

Why go through the hassle? Contact Davis Plumbing now!


4. Disconnect The Power Source


For electric water heaters, there will be a wire connection panel near the top of the water heater. Check to make sure the circuit is turned off. We recommend using a voltage tester to make 100% sure there is no electricity running through these wires. Now unscrew cable clamp and remove the cable from the connection box.


For gas water heaters, ensure the gas has been shut off. Now just disconnect the gas line from the gas control valve on the water heater. Next, remove the water heater vent. Typically, this can be done with just a screwdriver and you can reuse this vent if needed.


5. Out With The Old and In With The New


Your back might be hurting after this step. But just remember you could’ve called Davis Plumbing to take care of this…


We recommend having help to move the old water heater as these can be heavy. You might need to sweep up where the old water heater was sitting. Once the old water heater is out of the way, place the new water heater in the exact location of the old unit. 


6. The Relief Valve and Other Fittings


Every water heater is going to require a temperature release valve and a discharge pipe to be installed. Depending on your water heater you could have more fittings to be installed.


Confused? Contact the experts at Davis Plumbing for help!


7. Reconnecting Water Lines


Hopefully a pipe wrench was all you needed to disconnect the water lines. If so, you’re going to wrap the treading on the cold water inlet and hot water outlet with plumbers tape and then simply connect the cold water pipe with the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet with the hot water pipe. This step can be very easy or very hard. 

If you had to cut your pipes to disconnect your water heater, you’ll need to solder to get your new water heater installed…


8. Reconnecting The Utilities


For electrical water heaters, clamp the wires into the wire connection box. Then, using wire connectors, connect the circuit wires to the water heater leads. Place cover plate back on the wire connection box.


For gas water heaters, connect the gas line to the gas control valve. To ensure there are no leaks, turn on the gas and brush the connection with soapy water, if you see bubbles the connection is leaking and needs to be tightened. If you can’t get it tight enough, it’s time to call your local plumbing professionals at Davis Plumbing. 


Now you’ll reattach the vent hood and if your new water heater is a different height you’ll need a new draft hood. 


9. Finish the Install


Turn on the hot water tap somewhere in your home. Then turn on the cold water tap somewhere else in your home. You’ll know the water heater is full when water starts flowing at the hot water tap. 


For electrical water heaters, flip the breaker switch back on to get the water heater working. For gas water heaters, open the main gas valve and make sure your pilot ignition is working. 


Final Thoughts


After reading this blog, you might be thinking, “I could do that. Why do I need to hire a plumber?” 

We’ll be the first to tell you water heater installations can be difficult for an untrained person. We know you might be thinking it’s cheaper if you do it yourself. But what if something goes wrong during your DIY project?


When you hire Davis Plumbing, you’re getting licensed, trained, and INSURED experts to install your water heater. Plumbing is our specialty and you can trust we will get your new water installed properly at a fair price. 


Don’t wait!  Call Davis Plumbing today for your water heater replacement and installation!