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. Replacing a water heater will require choosing between hiring a professional, or doing it yourself.
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 a 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.
Therefore, this definitely isn’t a DIY task for those without a lot of free time. Since an installation is so time-consuming, it often makes sense to just hire an expert.
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. Water heaters are usually 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 need to assemble adapters, connect new lengths of pipes, or even solder fittings together.
Whether your new heater is electric or gas, you will still need to attach it to new wiring. This is particularly difficult if you’re replacing your heater with a new type. In this case, you will have to completely replace the old wiring.
All of these tasks can be a little tricky. It’s easy to use the wrong materials, attach things in the wrong direction, or mix up your electrical wires. Of course, a trained professional will have none of these problems. This is the main reason that people choose to hire an expert to replace their water heater.
You risk damaging your new heater, your home, or even the electrical grid if you connect things improperly.
MANY WATER HEATER REPLACEMENTS ALSO REQUIRE KNOWLEDGE OF GAS
Gas heaters are often the cheaper option, but are even more complicated than electrical heaters to install.
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 out fumes. Your vent will also need to be adjusted for the height of your new heater.
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.
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 of the danger they pose, California imposes a strict code. 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
Failing to follow the code results in fines, finding it difficult to sell your house, or even facing legal action! Professionals have the knowledge needed to ensure your water heater is up to code.
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.
Why pay for a bunch of tools you’ll only need once? Hiring a professional often makes more sense than such an investment.
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.
In California law, you have to get a permit from the correct 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.
At Gallagher’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, our team is fully up-to-date on all of the California 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.