Common Mistakes in Hot Water Heater Installation

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There are a number of common installation mistakes when it comes to a hot water heater that you're going to want to do your best to avoid. Find out about common mistakes in hot water heater installation with help from an area manager for Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service's Independent Contractors Division in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Hot Water Heaters
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Video Transcript

Your water heater's designed to make a steady and reliable supply of hot water for your home but many do-it-yourselfers make common mistakes during an installation which prevent the water heater from working safely and reliably. I'm Dave Jones Master Plumber for Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service. I'm gonna show you the most common mistakes people make when installing a new water heater. First of all many home owners buy water heaters that just aren't the right model for their needs. Make sure the water is sized properly for your house. A typical 2 1/2 bath house needs at least a 50 gallon water heater to meet the needs of the occupants but if you take a lot of baths you might want to jump up to a 60 or 80 gallon model to ensure you don't run out of hot water when you need it most. When doing the installation you should not solder the fittings directly on top of the water heater, this is a common do-it-yourselfer mistake but if you're applying heat directly to the top of the appliance you could melt what they call the dip tube or other plastic parts and cause serious damage to the water heater. Instead of soldering on top prep your pipes and solder your fittings on the floor or on a fireproof level surface. Make sure you allow the pipe assembly some time to cool before making your remaining solder connections above the water heater. Wrap a cool wet rag around the copper pipe you're soldering to prevent the heat from passing down to the unit. Make sure you attach a discharge tube to the relief valve and run the tube down the side of the water heater to within 6 inches of the floor. The temperature and pressure relief valve also known as the T&P valve is a safety valve that kicks open if the water reaches 210 degrees fahrenheit or the pressure inside the tank exceeds 150 pounds per square inch. The discharge tube needs to be installed so that when the water is dejected down the pipe it lands safely on the ground and will prevents bystanders from being sprayed by hot water if the T&P valve should open unexpectedly. If you have an electric water heater it's very important not to turn the circuit breakers on until the water heater is completely filled with water. Electric water heater elements need to be submerged in the water to prevent them from dry firing. If the power is turned on prematurely the elements will be damaged and they'll need to be replaced. So when you finish your installation make sure that all the air is purged out of the tank by opening up a hot water faucet on the upper floor of the house, wait until you get an uninterrupted flow of water coming from the hot water faucet before you turn the water back on and a gas water heater if there's no water in the tank when you turn it on it can overheat and crack the tank. So regardless if your water heater is electric or gas make sure you don't dry fire the heater after it has been installed. If you're installing a standard gas water heater make sure the water heater's flue pipe has a slight pitch going up towards the chimney and that the flue pipe is not blocked. You can do this through just a visual inspection or smoke test. This will ensure that toxic gases such as carbon monoxide are vetting to the outside and not into the house. If replacing the water heater most plumbing codes now require an expansion tank to be installed. An expansion tank is a device that is installed on the cold water line above the water heater to help relieve excessive pressure in the plumbing system when the water is being heated. Without it the T&P valve could discharge excessively and you could have premature tank failure. On an electric water heater you need to make sure that the wire carrying power to unit is the right size and is a heavier gauge capable of handing the electrical demands of your water heater and don't reuse really old wire either. A vacuum breaker should be installed if the water heater is located above the highest plumbing fixture in the building. In certain situation a siphon could be created causing the water heater to drain resulting in a dry fire condition. If this occurs the vacuum breaker will open up letting air in to break the siphon. I hope this information helps you to avoid common mistakes people make when installing a water heater. I'm Dave Jones Master Plumber with Roto-Rooter, thanks for watching.

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