Traditional water heaters typically have a maximum lifespan somewhere between 7 and 15 years. If your water heater is approaching the end of its lifespan, it is always best to replace it before it completely fails. Older water heaters tend to suffer from many more issues and are often prone to major leaks. To prevent this, you should always inspect your water heater regularly for any signs of a leak and as soon as you suspect it is beginning to fail.
At McCrea Plumbing Heating Air, we specialize in water heater installation. Whether you need a new gas or electric traditional unit or a higher-efficiency tankless water heater, we are here to help. We’ll now take a look at how our plumbers replace and install a new water heater.
Removing the Old Water Heater
Installing a new water heater is a time-consuming process that requires quite a bit of technical knowledge to ensure the new unit works correctly and doesn’t leak. A professional plumber can usually install a new unit in four hours, but it could take as long as a day in some situations. The process is essentially the same for both gas and electric water heaters except for the last few steps.
The first step is obviously disconnecting and removing the old unit. When you schedule an appointment to have a new water heater installed, we always recommend that you turn the old unit off the night before the appointment or at least a few hours before. This helps us by ensuring that the water inside the tank isn’t still scalding hot, which can cause issues when we go to drain the unit.
After making sure that the gas or electricity to the unit is off, we shut off the water supply so the tank doesn’t refill as we drain it. We then attach a garden hose and open up the valve to let the tank fully drain. If there is a nearby floor drain, we use that for draining the tank. If not, we have to run the hose outside.
Once the tank is empty, we cut the water lines to free up the unit so it can be removed from your home.
Attaching the New Relief Valve
Once we have the old unit out and the new unit where it needs to go, the first step is to install the new temperature and pressure relief valve. The T&P valve is an important safety feature that vents a small amount of water out of the tank if the pressure or temperature ever gets too high. Without this feature, there is a chance that high pressure could cause the tank to explode.
Installing the valve involves wrapping it with Teflon tape and screwing it into the hole on the tank. After that, we attach a copper pipe to the valve so that the water coming from it is directed to the floor drain. If there is no floor drain, we will leave the pipe shorter so that you can place a bucket under it to catch any water.
Attaching and Soldering the Water Lines
The next step is to attach the water lines. First, we wrap the threads on the pipes that extend from the tank and then screw on the copper pipe fittings. Then we move the tank into place so we can attach it to the existing hot and cold water lines. This involves sliding a copper slip coupling down onto the copper pipes that we just attached to the tank. With the tank in place, we can now slide the coupling over the existing water lines. We then solder the coupling to the two copper pipes, ensuring a leak-free connection.
Connecting a Gas Water Heater
For gas water heaters, the next step is to attach the vent pipe. This is an essential part of the unit as it ensures that all of the carbon monoxide and combustion fumes are vented out of the building to prevent safety and health hazards.
Once the vent is in place, we reattach the gas lines. Depending on how the old unit was when it was installed, there may be a solid gas line that connects to the unit, or it may use a flex tube. In either case, we use a wrench to fully tighten the pipe fittings.
After we connect the gas lines, we turn the gas on to make sure that there are no leaks at any of the pipe fittings. This is done using soapy water. After covering all of the connections with soap, we carefully look to see if there is any bubbling. Bubbles indicate that gas is leaking, which means we need to retighten the connection and check it again.
Wiring an Electric Water Heater
Electric water heaters do not need a vent since they don’t produce any dangerous fumes. This means that all we need to do now is wire the unit to the existing electrical supply. Electric units are always hard-wired, which means they are connected directly to a dedicated 240-volt circuit that only powers the heater. Once the unit is wired, we can turn it on and test it to make sure everything is working properly.
Testing the Unit
To test an electric water heater, we turn it on and make sure that the heating elements work. If the unit immediately starts heating as it should, then the job is done, and all that is left is to clean up.
With gas water heaters, we first need to ignite the pilot light. If the unit uses an intermittent pilot or any other ignition system, we need to turn the gas on and set the temperature. Once the unit is on and the gas has ignited the burner, there is one important final safety check.
We need to make sure that the unit isn’t backdrafting, which means that the gas fumes aren’t venting back into the house. This involves closing all doors and windows. With the unit on and the burner ignited, we use a smoking match to test whether the vent pipe is working.
If you hold a smoking match around the edges of the vent hood while the burner is lit, the smoke should be sucked into the hood. If so, this indicates that the gases are venting as they should. If the smoke isn’t drawn into the hood, we adjust the vent pipe until it works correctly. In some cases, it may be necessary to replace the vent pipe if the old one wasn’t installed or designed correctly. After this test, the unit is ready to go.
Water Heater Installation and Repair Services
When your water heater needs to be replaced, you can count on the team at McCrea Plumbing Heating Air to get the job done right. We’ve been providing expert home services to residents of Payette and the Treasure Valley since 1945, and our team is ready to make sure your plumbing system and appliances work as they should. To have your water heater replaced, serviced or repaired, give us a call today.