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Can I install a water heater myself?


Mar 18, 2021

Learning how to tackle basic home maintenance is a great idea for any homeowner, but is a DIY water heater installation a realistic task to add to the list? 

 

While it’s not usually a good idea to handle a DIY water heater installation yourself, especially if you don’t have the skills and certifications of most technicians, knowing the early signs that your water heater needs replacing and how to respond to those signs can help you save money in the long run. 

Signs Your Water Heater May Need Replacing

If you notice any of the following signs, your hot water heater is in need of repair, possibly even replacement:

1. There Isn’t Enough Hot Water

One of the most obvious signs that your water heater isn’t working as it should is if you don’t have enough hot water to meet daily needs. 

2. Your Water Heater is Leaking

A leaking water heater is a clear sign of a serious internal issue and could either mean a repair or a full replacement is needed. Shut off the water supply and power to your water heater, and call a professional technician to inspect the issue.

3. Strange Sounds or Odors Coming from Your Water Heater

Loud cracking, popping, bubbling, banging, or whining sounds coming from your water heater indicate malfunction that should be addressed. Bubbling or boiling sounds are perhaps the most concerning as these sounds are typically caused by overheating and pressure buildup inside your water heater.

 

In addition to sounds, odors can also indicate whether or not your water heater is functioning properly. Smells such as rotten eggs or musk could mean some type of bacteria has entered your water system. In this situation, it’s not safe to continue using your hot water heater since your water supply could be contaminated. Contact a professional technician at once.

4. Your Water Heater is Old

If your water heater is acting strangely and it’s over 10 years old, it could be time to consider replacing your unit. While some hot water heaters made today can last even longer, many units start to deteriorate after about a decade. 

Tips for Diagnosing and Troubleshooting Water Heater Problems

While some hot water heater issues can be fixed with a quick repair, others may be severe enough that a full replacement is more efficient and affordable. Here are some tips to help you diagnose and troubleshoot your hot water heater problems:

 

  • Always turn off the power to your hot water heater when performing maintenance on your unit. This will help protect both you and your unit from electric shock.
  • If you’re not getting any hot water, check to see if you’ve tripped a circuit breaker, cutting the power to your hot water heater.
  • If you’re having issues with your hot water supply, check the thermostat settings on your hot water heater to see if the high-temperature limit is too low. Conversely, if your hot water is too hot, check your thermostat settings and adjust the high-temperature limit to be sure it’s at a reasonable temperature for your preferences.
  • If you’re not getting enough hot water, your hot water heater could be too small for your needs. You may need to choose a different hot water heater for your home. 

How to Replace a Water Heater

Most homeowners interested in a DIY water heater installation are hoping to save money by doing so, but it could end up costing you more in the end than if you’d simply called in a pro at the start of the project. 

 

When replacing a hot water heater, you’re working with potentially hazardous systems that are easy to damage and can cause physical harm. Most homeowners aren’t aware of current housing codes and proper installation methods, and therefore might not have the skills necessary to be sure a water heater is properly installed.

 

While you technically can install a hot water heater yourself as a homeowner, the likelihood that this is a good or safe idea is very slim. Trust the professionals with your hot water heater installation to make sure it’s done correctly. You wouldn’t want to cause yourself or your family any harm. 

 

If you’re absolutely set on installing a hot water heater yourself, you’ll need to shut off the power to your system, drain the existing tank, disconnect all water lines and power or fuel lines, then disconnect the vent. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to remove the old tank and replace it with the new one, install all the appropriate fittings and valves, reconnect all the lines and vents, and complete your installation. It’s a complicated process, so we always recommend working with experienced professionals. 

Save Time and Stress 

Need help with your water heater installation? CroppMetcalfe’s licensed 5-Star Technicians get the job done right. Call or contact us online to schedule hot water heater service today. 

 

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