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Install & Replace

Replacing a hot water heater

I'm replacing a faulty hot water heater with one that is similar, capacity, size, voltage, etc.  Is there any "gotcha" I need to be aware of?  Do I need to turn the water off to the house?  I can still get a small stream of water from the hot water spigots after 2 days, even with the cold water supply shut off to the water heater. Any general help hints will help sense I haven't replaced one before.

Thanks  James

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Posted 2010-12-05T20:16:39+0000  by James James

Hi James this is ChrisFixit from the Atlanta Home Depot. Since you’re replacing your water heater with one of a similar size you should be looking at a pretty straight forward replacement.  You didn't mention whether or not you’re replacing a gas or electric water heater so I’m including a couple of links to walk you through the installation of either.  The best prep you can do is read through the guides a few times before you dive in. It’s always better to familiarize yourself with a project before diving in.


Gas Water Heater

Electric Water Heater


Here are a few of my personal tips that apply to both gas and electric.


  • Make sure you turn off the water to the house. I typically will turn on a tub somewhere in the house to drain any remaining water in the lines.
  • If you’re replacing a gas heater make sure you turn off the gas supply to the water heater at the gas supply valve.  If it is an electric water heater cut power to the water heater from the main circuit in your breaker box BEFORE you do anything else.
  • Have your tools on hand and ready. The project guides include a list of tools you most likely will need for the install. The adjustable wrench is going to be your best friend.
  • Recognize the power of knee-pads. They will save the rest of your day!
  • If you’re wary of using a torch have a look at our line of Sharkbite products. They allow you to make connections without the need for a torch or for any sort of glue. I’ve used them in the past and have been very satisfied.
  • In locations where Teflon tape will be used two wraps is usually enough.
  • Another thing to look into is whether or not its code in your area to have an expansion tank.  These are becoming a requirement more and more so better to add it while you’re already working than have to go back in later.

Remember take your time and double check your work and you’ll have this knocked out before you know it. Any other questions you have we’re here and happy and help. Welcome aboard!



Posted 2010-12-06T16:08:03+0000  by Chris_HD_ATL

Hey, Chris, An excellent reply. You get a' Nailed It' from me!



Posted 2010-12-06T18:19:38+0000  by Mike_HD_OC


I replaced the water heater in my house some years ago.  In addition to the excellent advice Chris provided, this may also prove helpful. 


In my case I had copper run to my water heater.  The new heater joints didn't line up all that well to my existing cold intake and hot output pipes.  I never worked with copper piping before, so I knew I had some work cut out for me.  Instead of trying to cut pipes and line them up EXACTLY as they needed to be in a tight space, the guy I talked to at Home Depot hooked me up with screw connectors that I soldered into the existing pipes.  Then I installed flexible connectors to the water heater which just screwed onto the pipes.  This probably saved me an hour or two (or three or four) of my installation time.  Ask the guy in the plumbing aisle for the parts you'll need.  I'm sure they can help you out.

Posted 2010-12-13T23:45:31+0000  by dsp01
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