Many people have had to replace their water heater at some point in their lives.
Most homeowners can expect to shell out around $1,000-$2,000 every decade or two to replace a water heater that has reached its expiration date. You know that has happened when your water heater is making noise when water is off.
This article will give you information about what kind of things you need to consider before replacing your hot-water heater and tips for making the process of replacing one as easy as possible.
Let's dive deep into this topic.
What is a water heater?
A water heater provides hot water for the household and is an insulated steel tank filled with an acid solution called ‘water glass'. This solution heats up and stores the energy to provide warmth when it's needed. A gas burner or solar panels which use either natural or man-made gas create just enough heat to keep the water at a set temperature.
The right water heater for each household depends on several factors such as climate, average electricity and gas prices in your area, how often you use hot water, and the size of your home.
Why should I replace my water heater?
There are a few reasons why you might want to consider replacing your water heater:
- If it is more than 10 years old
- If it has a leak
- If your water heater is making noises.
- If you are experiencing water pressure problems
- If the tank is rusty or damaged
- If you are not getting enough hot water
The most common reason for needing to replace a water heater is that it is old and past its prime. The average lifespan of a water heater is around 10-12 years, so if your water heater is older than that, it might be time for a replacement.
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Another reason to replace your water heater is if it leaks. If there is a hole in the tank, it could potentially cause extensive damage to your home. A leaky water heater can also lead to high utility bills as you will be using more energy to heat the same amount of water.
If you are experiencing water pressure problems, this is a sign that your tank needs to be replaced. This can be caused by sediment build-up which usually happens over time. Sediment buildup will eventually reduce the amount of hot water your tank can supply and it could also affect the efficiency of its heating system as well as the thermostat control.
Finally, if you find yourself not having enough hot water for an entire household, this is another sure-fire sign that you need to have a replacement unit installed. A new tank should increase your flow rate so each person in your home won't have to wait forever for a warm shower.
How do I replace my water heater?
There are several steps involved with replacing a water heater, and if you did not purchase the new unit yourself, you should check with your home insurance company before starting work.
You will need to shut off the gas supply or turn the power off at the breaker box.
Before disconnecting anything, you must do a few things:
Take photos of all the connections (this is an easy way to make sure they get reconnected properly) and mark them with a piece of painter's tape so there isn't any confusion while reassembling everything later on.
Write out a list detailing which connection is for what and where each one goes. Once everything has been marked and recorded, you can start disconnecting and collecting tools and supplies needed for installation.
Tools needed for installation:
- Breaker bar
- Tape measure
- Flat tip screwdriver
- Big wrench or channel locks for gas supply
- Phillips head screwdriver
The first step is to drain out all the water in your tank. This can be done safely with a small pump, but if you want to do it the old school way, shrimp nets are great for catching all that yucky sediment. Once you've drained out most of the water (and possibly all of the sediment), remove any panels on your tank and disconnect anything connected to it such as new water lines or pipes leading from your home's plumbing system.
When everything has been disconnected, disconnect any electrical connections by turning off breakers and pulling them apart. You should also remove the temperature and pressure relief valves. This will give you a bit more room to work with while removing your unit's insulation.
Now that your tank is ready, lift the water heater out of its place and carry it outside where you can begin removing it from its casing. Use a flat-head screwdriver if you encounter any stubborn screws on the way down. After all the screws have been removed, pry off whatever pieces might still be holding your old tank together. You'll notice that most tanks are made up of different-sized sections – some larger than others which makes for an easy breakdown later on during reassembly.
Once all of the pieces have been separated, clean them thoroughly so they look new again before putting in your new water heater. You might also want to consider purchasing a new gasket kit – these tend to wear down over time and can cause water leakage.
Now it's time to start putting everything back together.
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Start by reassembling the tank using the photos and list you took before starting disassembly. It's important that each pipe is reconnected properly and that nothing leaks when you turn on the water again. If you do encounter any leaks, stop and troubleshoot before continuing. It could be something as simple as a tightened screw or an improperly connected pipe.
Once the tank has been reassembled, connect the pipes leading from your home's plumbing system and then reconnect the electrical connections. If you're having trouble remembering where each pipe goes, you can always use the photos you took as a reference.
Turn on the gas supply (or flip the breaker box back on) and check for any leaks. Once everything has been checked and double-checked, it's time to turn on your water and give it a test run. Take a shower, run the dishwasher – just make sure everything is working properly before calling it a day.
Replacing a water heater can be an intimidating task, but with a little bit of preparation and careful following of instructions, you'll be able to do it like a pro. Not only will you save money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs or replacements, but you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself. So before you call a professional, give it a try. You might be surprised at just how easy it is.
Other things you need
Heavy-duty work gloves – You will have to touch the tank once it's been removed from your home so be sure that you have a good pair of protective gloves.
Scouring pads – These are necessary for removing surface rust from the outside of the tank. Make sure that you use one that is free of harsh chemicals as they can seep into your water.
Heavy-duty work boots – The ground will get wet and slippery when you drain your tank so make sure you have a good pair of boots on to keep yourself from falling. If possible, avoid wearing other types of shoes as they will not keep you dry or safe.
Shrimp nets – These are great for removing sediment if you decide to do it the old-school way.
Flashlight – You might need light once everything has been disconnected inside of your home so make sure that you bring your flashlight along with already charged batteries (extra batteries wouldn't hurt either). It's also helpful if you decide to do any troubleshooting that might arise while reassembling your tank. Trust me; nothing is more frustrating than being in the dark.
Once you have all of these items, you're ready to start your replacement project. Just be sure to take your time and follow the instructions closely – it'll save you a lot of headache (and maybe even a little bit of money) in the long run.
Final thoughts on replacing a water heater
In conclusion, replacing a water heater is a big job but it's one that most homeowners can do themselves with a little bit of instruction and preparation.
Make sure to have all of the necessary tools and supplies on hand before you start and be sure to take your time while following the step-by-step instructions. If you run into any problems, don't be afraid to stop and troubleshoot – it might just save you some time (and hassle) in the long run. Good luck.
Further reading: Check out this article if you want to learn what the best water heater brands in the market are.