How to Install an Electric Rheem Hot Water Tank

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Installing an electric Rheem hot water tank is a challenging project, but one that can be accomplished by a determined DIYer. It helps to have the heavy electrical work for installing the electric water heater circuit at the main circuit breaker done by a professional. Once that's out of the way, hooking up the electric Rheem hot water tank is mainly a process of extending water supply lines to the heater body.

Things You'll Need

  • Drain pan
  • PVC pipe
  • Hacksaw
  • Sandpaper
  • PVC glue
  • PVC primer
  • Copper pipe
  • Copper pipe saw
  • Solder
  • Flux
  • Plumber's torch
  • Wire strippers
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Install a drip pan for the Rheem water heater, if needed. These may be required in some municipalities, depending on the installation point in your home. Water heaters installed on the second floor, in most cases require a drip pan. These pans are approximately 2-by-2-feet square and feature a drain in the bottom or the side. Install a center aligned drain pan over the drain opening and secure by screwing the drain grating through the drain pan bottom into the drain opening. Connect a side opening drain with PVC pipe to the nearest drainage point. Dry fit the PVC together first, then cut as needed with a hacksaw. Sand down edges with sandpaper. Glue PVC pieces together by first applying PVC primer and then glue.

  • Have an assistant help you place the Rheem water heater in the drain pan.

  • Turn off the main water supply valve if there is no cold water supply valve adjacent to the heater. Install a cold water supply valve between the cold water supply line and the heater supply pipe. This will allow you to cut the heater water supply without effecting the rest of the household.

  • Connect the cold water supply line to the inlet on the water heater. If needed, run additional water line to reach the heater. Saw copper pipe apart with a pipe saw, then clean the edges with steel wool. Apply flux to the inside and outside connections of the pipe and fit together. Heat the connection with a plumber's torch, then seal the joint by applying solder until it melts. Repeat this process for as many pipe connections as needed.

  • Connect the outlet on the heater to the hot water supply line. Extend the hot water supply line as you did with additional pipe on the cold water supply side as needed.

  • Turn off the electric supply for the water heater at the main circuit breaker.

  • Use a screwdriver to loosen the electrical panel for the Rheem heater. Thread the electrical supply line through the side opening of the electrical box. Strip off the last inch of the circuit wires with wire strippers. Loosen the terminals inside the water heater electrical box with a screwdriver. Connect the black wire from the house to the terminal marked "hot" or "live," the white wire to the terminal marked "neutral" and the copper wire to the green terminal. Use needle-nose pliers to squeeze the wires around the terminal screw and then tighten with a screwdriver. Replace the electrical cover and secure.

  • Restore the main water supply if it was turned off. Open up the cold water supply valve and allow the tank time to fill. Check for leaks and tighten any couplings or add solder, if needed.

  • Restore the electrical supply to the hot water heater circuit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Obtain any building codes for water heater installation requirements from your local municipality or county office before starting construction.
  • Always use caution when working with electricity. If in doubt, consult a professional.

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