If you're looking to replace your old water heater, it's essential to know how to remove it safely and effectively. This can be a satisfying DIY project, and it can save you money on professional installation.
Whether you're upgrading to a newer model or simply need to replace a faulty unit, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to get the job done right.
In addition to step-by-step instructions on how to remove a water heater, you'll also find helpful tips on how to avoid common water heater installation mistakes. We'll also cover how to change parts such as the drain valve, relief valve, heating elements, anode rod, and more.
By following this guide, you'll be able to remove and install your water heater like a pro and avoid costly mistakes.
Removing a water heater doesn't have to be challenging or require a licensed plumber. It's an easy DIY home project for handymen and homeowners with the right tools and some knowledge of gas, electric, and plumbing systems.
However, water heater installation, especially gas types, can be more complicated and may require additional expertise.
The time required to remove a water heater is approximately 2-4 hours, depending on your skills and the tank size, as it takes longer to drain water.
To uninstall a water heater, follow these steps:
To begin the water heater removal process, make sure to turn off the burner and pilot on the gas valve and shut off the gas supply to the unit. To close the gas supply to the unit, turn the gas valve handle so it is perpendicular to the gas line. This will ensure that no gas is flowing to the water heater during the removal process, which is important for your safety.
If you have an electric water heater, it's essential to turn off the electricity on the circuit breaker that controls the unit. This will prevent electrical shock and ensure your safety during the removal process. After turning off the circuit breaker, use a multimeter to make sure the power is off. Simply touch one end of the multimeter to the hot wire and the other end to the ground wire. If the multimeter reads zero, the power is off, and it's safe to proceed with the removal process.
Next, turn off the cold water supply on the shut-off valve that is connected to the water heater. This will prevent any additional water from entering the tank during the removal process. If necessary, close the main water valve (the one that controls water delivery to the entire house) to ensure that no water is flowing through the pipes. This step will help to prevent any water damage to your home during the removal process.
Disconnecting the gas line from the water heater is a critical step in the removal process. Make sure that the gas supply is turned off and verified with a gas detector or smell. Once you've confirmed that the gas supply is off, disconnect the gas line at the gas control valve found at the bottom of the unit. Use a pipe wrench or an adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts that connect the gas line to the gas control valve. Be sure to support the gas control valve while you loosen the nuts to avoid damaging the valve. Once the nuts are loose, carefully remove the gas line from the valve and set it aside.
The next step is to drain the water heater. Open a nearby hot tap and leave it open to allow easier draining. Be aware of a burn hazard when water temperatures are above 120 F.
Before draining the tank, make sure that the outgoing hot water is below 100 F to avoid any risk of injury. Once the temperature is safe, connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater and put the other end outside if possible or to an adequate drain such as a sump pump pit.
Open the drain valve and wait for the water to empty from the tank. For larger tank sizes, it can take several hours to drain completely. Once the tank is empty, close the drain valve and remove the hose.
Once the gas line is closed and the water is drained out, the next step is to disconnect the vent pipe from the draft hood found at the top of the unit. For a conventional vented water heater, simply loosen the screws and lift the vent pipe up to disconnect it from the draft hood. For power vent models, remove the clamp that connects the vent pipe to the draft hood and carefully remove the vent pipe from the unit. Be sure to support the draft hood and vent pipe as you remove them to avoid any damage.
Once all the water is drained, the next step is to disconnect the water supply pipes from the water heater. If your gas heater is connected to the plumbing with galvanized pipes, use a pipe wrench to uninstall the unions that connect the pipes to the heater. If copper pipes are used, use a hacksaw to cut the pipes approximately 4-8 inches before the connection. Leave the stubs in place, and use them as handles to remove the old unit. Be sure to place a bucket under the pipes to catch any remaining water that may come out during the disconnection.
Keep in mind that mineral buildup can make a water heater very heavy and difficult to remove. Be prepared for the extra weight.
Also, don't forget to disconnect the TPR (temperature and pressure relief) valve and its discharge pipe from the side of the water tank. Use a wrench to loosen the connection and gently pull the pipe away from the valve. Be careful not to damage the valve or the pipe during the disconnection process.
If your water heater has earthquake anchor straps installed, it may be necessary to remove them before attempting to lift the unit. Keep in mind that some building codes require these straps to be installed, so make sure to check local regulations before removing them.
Once you have disconnected the water heater from the gas, plumbing system, and electrical wires, it's time to remove the unit. Since water heaters can be quite heavy, it's recommended to ask someone to help you with this task. You can use a hand truck or a dolly to move the heater safely and with minimal effort.
When it comes to removing a water heater safely, sometimes it's best to leave it to the professionals. Here are some situations when you should call a licensed technician to help you with the process:
Remember, safety is paramount when removing a water heater, and if you have any doubts, it's always better to err on the side of caution and call a licensed technician for assistance.
Note that after you remove a water heater, you cannot just throw it away. Check with the building code department as you might need to obtain a permit for proper disposal.
We suggest getting familiar with the recycling program, if there is any in your city, or call your local waste management company and see where you can drop it off. Or, try to get some ideas online to repurpose it.
And remember, if you run into problems while removing your old water heater, contact the licensed technician.