May 18, 2023
Water Heater Installation in Sacramento, CA

If you’re in the market for a new water heater, it is important to think about installation. Unlike smaller appliances, your work isn’t over once you pick out the right model. You also need to choose between a DIY and a professional replacement. Which option is right for you tends to depend on your skills and preferences. Here are some essential things to know about water heater replacements.

Water Heater Replacements Often Take a Full Day

The typical water heater replacement involves removing the old water heater and connecting the new one in the same location. This might sound straightforward, but it actually involves quite a lot of work. At the very least, replacing a water heater takes around three to four hours. If the new system isn’t exactly identical to the old system, replacement takes even longer. Many plumbers report that it takes them a full day of labor to replace a water heater.

This means that doing a water heater replacement on your own can be quite time-consuming. And if you don’t have the knowledge of a trained professional, replacing it can take even longer. Therefore, this definitely isn’t a DIY task for those without a lot of free time. When you consider the time investment involved in this project, it often makes sense to hire someone else to do it for you.

Replacing a Water Heater Involves Plumbing and Electrical Skills

Installing a water heater isn’t as simple as twisting and screwing a few tubes together to complete the project. Instead, most water heaters are connected directly to your home’s plumbing and electrical systems. Installing all the necessary plumbing fittings can be quite complex. In some cases, you might have to do things like assemble adapters, connect new lengths of pipes, or even solder fittings together. On both gas and electric water heaters, you might also need to attach electrical wires together to provide power to the heater. If you’re replacing your water heater with a different type, the old connections you had in place might need to be entirely replaced before you proceed.

All of these tasks can be a little tricky. Unless you are a trained professional, it’s easy to use the wrong materials, attach things in the wrong direction, or mix up your electrical wires. This is the main reason that people choose to hire an expert to replace their water heater. Not only can it be dangerous to work with your home’s electrical grid, but you also risk damaging your new heater or your home if you connect things improperly.

Many Water Heater Replacements Also Require Knowledge of Gas

A lot of homeowners like gas because it can be more affordable than electricity, but if you have a gas water heater, installations become far more complicated. In addition to connecting the water heater to a gas line, you also have to connect it to a vent. This involves carefully following safety requirements and attaching the heater to a draft hood that vents all combustion products outside. When your heater is shorter or taller than your previous heater, you might have to adjust the length of the vent as well.

Working with gas is never a project for a casual DIYer. Gas is a great source of power, but it can be quite dangerous. Not only is it toxic to breathe, but it’s also highly flammable. If you make a mistake during installation, it could be deadly. Even smaller slip-ups like ignoring a crack in the vent pipe can end up leaking toxic gas into your home.

All Water Heater Installations Must Be Up-to-Code

Keep in mind that installing a new water heater isn’t like hanging up a shelf. Because an improperly installed water heater can be a threat to both the home’s occupants and your neighbors, California carefully regulates all water heater installations. Some of the many code requirements you’ll need to follow include:

  • Placing gas heaters a certain distance from windows and other access points
  • Installing drip pains to help with draining
  • Ensuring the water heater has a proper pressure and temperature relief valve
  • Including the correct combination of pressure regulators and expansion tanks
  • Strapping the heater with earthquake straps to keep it from tipping
  • Adding shutoff valves to all water and gas lines

If you fail to follow the code, you might face fines, find it difficult to sell your house, or face legal action in the event of an injury. Since most homeowners don’t spend a lot of time studying California water heater codes, choosing a professional is often a more effective choice. Since all plumbers are required to remain up to date on building codes, you can be confident they’ll follow all guidelines.

You’ll Need Specialized Equipment to Handle Water Heater Installations

If you want to install a water heater yourself, you will need quite a lot of specialized equipment and materials. Because these appliances are so complex, they aren’t something you can install with just a basic set of screwdrivers. Instead, you need things like soldering supplies, voltage testers, channel-lock pliers, and tubing cutters. Since professionals already have these tools, hiring them can be easier than paying for a bunch of equipment you’ll only use once.

Another thing to keep in mind is that water heaters are fairly heavy. Maneuvering them into place often requires an appliance dolly and lifting straps. Even if you have these items, you might not necessarily have the strength to manage the water heater. The average water heater weighs around 100 to 200 pounds, so people who aren’t in good shape can’t safely install a new heater.

Water Heater Replacements Also Involve Some Regulatory Details

Water heater replacements aren’t just about being able to handle plumbing and electrical work yourself. Because they’re essentially a mini-construction project, you may also need permits. This is true for gas-powered heater replacements and jobs with changes to style, capacity, plumbing connections or electrical connections. To stay compliant with California law, you have to get a permit from your building and safety planning office before you begin. As part of the permitting process, you’ll also need to schedule an inspection to approve the work after it finishes.

Most homeowners find it easier to let someone else handle these tasks for them. Water heater installers bundle the permitting work into the rest of the project. Not only will they pull the permit for you, but they’ll also often help you schedule your inspection. This makes the whole process a lot easier and less stressful.

As you can see, a lot of work and specialized knowledge goes into replacing a water heater. Unless you’re a trained professional who has a lot of experience with plumbing, electricity, and gas, this is not a DIY job. Most people are better off paying an expert and getting things done the right way. At Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, our team is fully up-to-date on all of California’s building codes. We’ll make sure your water heater is installed safely and correctly. Our team also helps Sacramento residents with a variety of other home services including HVAC repairs, HVAC maintenance, and plumbing installations. Contact Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today to learn more.

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