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4 Water Heater Installation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Water Heater Installation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

If you’re a DIY type of person who likes to tackle home projects on your own, the idea of installing your own water heater might not be a daunting one. However, there are many opportunities for heater installation mistakes to take place for those who lack the right skills or expertise to get the job done right.

For the majority of people, installing a water heater themselves isn’t the best idea. The water heater unit is precarious and utilizes flammable gas, high temperatures, and an open flame. The production of combustible gases such as deadly carbon monoxide is always a possibility. The job should be done by someone who is both qualified and careful, not those looking to just give it a try.

If you have proper knowledge about installing a water heater and you’re planning to do the job yourself, take care. Here we’ll discuss 4 common water heater installation mistakes and how you can avoid them:

1. Common Heater Installation Mistakes Include Improper Soldering of Pipes

One of the most common mistakes that homeowners make when installing their own water heater occurs during the soldering of pipes. The pipes need to be soldered to the tank and water line to establish a connection, but many people have a habit of soldering the pipes too close to the tank.

Why is this a problem? Well, the water tanks have many plastic fittings as part of the whole ensemble. When a propane torch gets too close to these plastic pieces, they can get melted and destroyed and render the tank ineffective.

Make sure that you first unscrew the pipe nipples from the tank before you solder pipes. Create an extension segment that will then be soldered to the nipples while keeping it as far away from the tank as possible. Then wait for the pipes to cool down before you reattach them. Doing this should prevent the plastic fittings from being melted.

2. Using Metal Connections That Aren’t Compatible

Installing a water heater with incompatible metal connections is another problem that many people make. Some people think that incompatible metal connections aren’t a big deal, but when you join incompatible metals in one single connection, you end up with a join that has a high risk of failure. Corrosion of the metals will occur at a much faster rate. When corrosion occurs, you’ll have much more serious problems on your hands.

To avoid corrosion, use connectors that match the metal of your pipes. If you have copper water pipes then you should use copper connectors (brass connectors are compatible with copper as well).

If you use galvanized steel nipples with copper pipes instead, this will create a dielectric union fitting because the metals aren’t compatible. The inevitable corrosion will shorten the lifespan of your water heater which will lead to water leaks. The resulting damage will be much more expensive to your heater and your property than the cost of getting the right fittings to begin with.

3. Improper Installation of the Relief Valve

With the standard water heater, the relief valve is a safety feature that controls the pressure and temperature of the water. If this essential piece isn’t installed properly, your water tank can explode, drenching anyone within a few feet with scalding hot water. This is why installing the relief valve correctly is so important!

You’ll notice that the relief valve is located about 6 inches above the floor on the side of the tank which allows it to automatically open and relieve the pressure within. To ensure your protection, connect a threaded drain tube to the valve outlet. This tube should then be routed to the floor to divert any unexpected discharge away from you and the tank.

4. Not Adhering to Standard Safety Precautions

Another of the many heater installation mistakes that people commonly make is neglecting important safety precautions. An example of this is the tendency to dry fire the tank. This is the practice of turning the water heater on before waiting for the tank to be completely filled with water. The danger in doing this is you’re putting the electric heating elements at risk of burn out. If you have a gas-fired heater, dry firing the tank can cause it to crack.

How can you avoid dry firing your tank? Open the water faucets in your home and wait for uninterrupted water flow before you start up the tank.

Another safety precaution that is commonly neglected is failing to secure the water heater properly after it’s been installed. A tank that isn’t strapped into the framing securely can tip over or fall, especially during an earthquake or other accident.

Make sure that you secure your water heater in place and don’t assume that it won’t get knocked over.

Skip the Trouble and Go Straight to the Professionals

Though some handy homeowners are capable of safely installing their water heater themselves, it’s a job that can quickly go awry without the expertise to back up the effort. Why not save yourself time and risk and allow us to do the job for you?

Our water heater experts have installed and repaired countless water heaters over many years and know what it takes to get the job done without any heater installation mistakes.

Contact us today to set up an appointment for water heater installation and repair. And be sure to check out our website to see the many other plumbing services that we offer. We look forward to serving you!

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