8 Water Heater Installation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

8 Water Heater Installation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Water heater installation is a fairly complicated process. To make your life easier, you’ll want to avoid these water heater installation mistakes

The average American household uses over 60 gallons of hot water every day. Hot water is so important, it accounts for nearly 20% of each power bill.

Did you know water heaters only last about 10 years? Once your water heater is around 8 years old, it’s time to consider a replacement.

To make sure you don’t waste your money, you need to avoid water heater installation mistakes.

If this is your first time buying a new water heater, follow this guide. It’ll keep your water heater installation project on-track.

1. Underestimating Your Hot Water Needs

Buying an undersized water heater to save money raises your energy bill. Instead, take the time to calculate how much hot water your family uses. 

Your peak hour demand is how much hot water you use during the busiest time of the day. To calculate it, use this information:

  • Shower – Uses 10 gallons every 10 minutes
  • Hand-washing dishes – 2 gallons per minute
  • Dishwasher – 6 gallons per use
  • Washing machine – 7 gallons per use

When choosing your water heater, pick one within a gallon or 2 of your peak hour demand. Look for the information on the EnergyGuide label.

2. Ignoring New Technology

New water heating technology embraces renewable power resources. A perfect example of this is solar water heaters.

These heaters use the sun’s heat to warm water for your home. Installing a solar water heater cuts your water heating bill in half.

Certain types of solar water heaters don’t work in cold climates. For Michigan homeowners, closed-loop heater systems are the best choice.

3. Overlooking Energy Efficient Water Heaters

Tank water heater prices are at an all-time low. The downside is these heaters need a lot of servicing and replacement parts. Each repair visit costs about $600.

Energy-efficient tankless water heaters last twice as long as tank water heaters. They don’t have a water tank so there’s less sediment in the system to create rust.

Homeowners shy away from tankless systems because they’re twice as much as tank heaters. When you look at the long-term costs, tankless systems are a better deal.

4. Failing to Follow Installation Instructions

Installation guides and building codes exist to protect your home and family. Before you start a water heater installation project, read all the instructions. Take a few notes on what tools you’ll need for the project, as well.

Missing one step, like strapping down the water heater, leads to disastrous flooding. Floods encourage hazardous molds to grow in your home. Mold also eats porous materials like drywall.

Some counties require permits to install water heaters. The permits ensure the installer follows all the necessary safety and building codes. Check with your county before self-installing a water heater.

5. Installing the Water Heater in an Inaccessible Spot

Finding space for your water heater poses a problem in smaller homes. This sometimes leads to homeowners installing heaters anywhere with enough room. 

When the water heater is hard to reach, it isn’t serviced as often as it should. Neglect causes leaks from rust and sediment. 

Here are a few tips for water heater placement:

  • Keep your water heater within 20 feet of the doorway or crawlspace access
  • Make sure the crawlspace opening is large enough to enter comfortably
  • Install proper lighting at the entrance to make maintenance visits easier
  • Install a power switch for electric water heaters in case of flooding

Do not install a gas water heater in an enclosed space that isn’t designed for it. Gas heaters produce carbon monoxide. If the water heater is kept in a closet, it can poison your family.

6. The Drain Line is In the Wrong Position

On the side of a water heater tank is the TPR valve. This valve releases hot water when the tank is too hot or over-pressurized. 

During installation, you need to attach a drain line to the TPR valve to direct the water flow. The drain line should empty over the nearest floor drain. 

Never attach the drain line to a drain pipe. It can lead to contaminated water backing into the water heater.

Do not leave the drain line pointed straight down at the ground. If the heater vents during maintenance, the splashing water will burn you.

7. Don’t Dry Fire the New Water Heater

Never turn on an electric water heater when the tank is empty. This mistake is referred to as a dry fire.

A dry fired water heater will burn out the upper heating element. The replacement parts are pretty affordable. But the repair extends your family’s time without hot water.

To avoid a dry fire mishap, always run water through your electric water heater, first. Open the hot water tap in your kitchen all the way and let it run for 3-4 minutes.

The noises you’ll hear are air bubbles in the pipe. Don’t worry about them unless they last longer than a few minutes.

8. Refusing to Ask For Help with Your Water Heater Installation

It is okay to admit that you do not have the skills to complete a home repair project. Installing water heaters requires extensive knowledge about plumbing, electrics, and gas. Professionals need years to learn all those skills.

Bringing in a professional who knows how to install a water heater will save you money. They’re less likely to make mistakes like a dry fire. 

They also know how to address any surprise problems during installation. Would you know how to replace the supply lines if they’re corroded? Most likely you don’t have the necessary tools to take care of any unforeseen issue.

Ready for a New Hot Water Heater Installation?

Hot water allows you to sanitize your home and dishes. It makes shower time more relaxing. Without hot water, life is uncomfortable and full of bacteria.

Water heater installation is a complicated task but a necessary one. If you’re up to the challenge, remember to avoid these costly mistakes.

Would you like help installing your water heater, instead? Our highly-trained plumbers are ready to lend a hand. No matter what type of water heater you choose, our plumbers know how to install it.

Contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing today to schedule an appointment.