Replacing a hot water tank isn’t an easy project, but it’s not impossible. The key to the job is planning ahead and having the right materials on hand.
The size of your water heater will determine the amount of labour you’ll need to do the job. If it’s too big to be lifted, you’ll need to get the installation done by a professional.
A new you can replace your hot water tank is also an excellent opportunity to update your home with a more energy-efficient model that’s built to last. Look for a tank with a long life cycle and a good warranty.
Your new tank should be made of high-grade porcelain that will resist rust and corrosion better than steel. It’s also less likely to leak, which means you’ll save money on repairs in the future.
It’s a good idea to buy a model with an expanded tank that allows water’s thermal expansion without causing excessive pressure in your home’s plumbing system. These tanks can range in price from $40 to $150.
Depending on the type of tank you choose, you may have to install a temperature and pressure relief valve (Photo 4). This safety device limits the pressure in the tank and keeps it from bursting in the event that the water heater fails.
If you have to re-connect your old lines, it’s a good idea to recut the tubing to fit the new tank, and solder the ends with copper slip couplings. Solder short, plastic-lined nipples over the copper fittings to protect the connections from galvanic corrosion. If your existing lines don’t line up with the inlets and outlets on the tank, you can offset each line by screwing in a pair of 45-degree fittings.
Reconnect the gas line, too. Coat the threaded ends with pipe joint compound and screw the first nipple into the gas valve (Photo 2). Repeat for all the other nipples, using two pipe wrenches to avoid stressing the gas valve.
Once you’ve connected the gas line, close the shutoff valve on the new tank. Then open a nearby faucet to release the hot water pressure in the tank and fill it with water.
When you’re ready to turn the power back on, flip the circuit breaker. Be sure to check the wiring with a volt meter to make sure you don’t have any melted wires.
Your water heater element can short out or even break completely if you’ve let sediment build up inside it. It’s important to replace your heating element when it’s nearing the end of its lifespan or when the unit’s wattage and voltage are no longer appropriate.
Replacement heating elements typically cost more than the old one, but the extra expense pays off when the new element lasts longer. To reduce the cost, consider installing the least expensive watt density rated element available.
The water heater element is the heart of the hot water heater. The wattage and voltage should match the older element to maximize its service life.