While you might not think about it a lot, a hot water heater is one of the best household inventions of all time. Imagine the days when you had to put pots of water on a stove to heat up. Talk about inconvenient! These days, however, you just turn your tap to the “hot” side, wait a few seconds, and viola; you have hot water for dishes, showers, washing clothes, or anything else you need it for. Though, as many people find out, this convenient appliance that’s tucked away in a closet or basement somewhere is a finite convenience. Over time, hot water heaters corrode, build up sediment, and just ultimately fail. Are there things you should know about replacing a hot water heater? Yes, there are four major things of which to be aware.
1. It’s an Actual Real Job
The first thing you should know about replacing a hot water heater is that it’s a legitimate plumbing job, with some electrical components. It’s not as if you just lug the old one out and put a new one in. Sure, you were probably busy Googling phrases like “replace water heater” to see if it was time to get a new one but knowing you need a new appliance and installing that new appliance are different monsters entirely. A typical hot water heater, for instance, needs to be electrically installed by screwing hot and ground wires into the appliance. It doesn’t just have a plug. You will also have to flush the old heater out and install the new one by securing the hot and cold lines out, and the mainline. This is more difficult than a stove or fridge replacement, so be aware of that fact.
2. Size Definitely Matters
The heading is not some pun to sound clever; it’s a legitimate factor when shopping for a new hot water heater. A lot of people have made the mistake of logging onto the Internet to find a cheap appliance, and they purchase it without measuring the size or finding out how many gallons the heater is. This is a huge mistake. It’s very likely the case that your specific hot water heater fits neatly into a particular frame in a closet, under a counter, etc. Purchasing one too large means you won’t be able to install it while purchasing one too small means you won’t have enough hot water for your home. So make sure you get the exact size of your existing bad water heater so that you can get a new one that fits.
3. The Quality Matters
When it’s time to replace a hot water heater, the quality of a hot water heater also greatly matters. Sure, any make and model you buy is probably going to run like gangbusters for the first few years. But what happens after 5 years, after 10? Some cheaper models don’t release sediment well at all, which can cause hot water to go cold in a hurry. Cheaper models erode and spring leaks much quicker. Shoddy models also have a very limited range of temperature controls, so you might get water that’s way too hot or not hot enough. You get what you pay for with water heaters, so that’s something to keep in mind. The quality of the appliances will also come into play during a home inspection.
4. It May Not be a DIY Job
Last on the list: You might not be able to do this job by yourself. DIY jobs are a point of pride for a lot of people. This might end up being a job that you cannot do alone, given the size of a hot water heater, the plumbing and electrical components, and the fact you have to take the old one out. At the very least, you will need to procure a helper or two to assist you. If you don’t know how to work with the breaker box to shut your power off, or if you don’t know how to control your water supply, then it may be a job you need to hire someone to do. This is something to take into account here.
Millions of homes have to replace a hot water heater every year, so it’s a very common job. Just remember that it’s not always the easiest job. There are a few things you need to be aware of before changing out your appliance.