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Hooking up a hot water heater is one of the most common home repair jobs there is. However if you don't know what you are doing, or don't know the first thing about hot water heaters, well then you could be in hot water…quite literally. But installing a hot water heater can actually be a rather easy thing to learn. You just have to make sure you read all the directions before you start so you don't get in over your head before you even start. The last thing you want to do is realize you can't do this and then be stuck without any hot water!

The first thing you have to do is the most obvious. You have to disconnect and remove your old hot water heater. Doing this is pretty easy. You just have to be careful. Remember it is full of hot water still. So, first turn off your gas or electricity that is connected to that water heater. You will then need to drain the water from the old unit. There should be a drain valve located on it. On a gas heater, separate the vent pipe from the draft hood. The hood should lift off after you remove the sheet metal screw that holds it. After checking that the pilot light is out, disconnect the gas line at the heater and cap it.

Next remove the water heater from the water pipes. Be careful when doing this because the pipes may still have hot water in them. This water is hot enough to burn you if you are not careful. You may need some pipe wrenches to get some of them off, but there should not be many connected so this step should not take too much time or effort. You may now take out the old hot water heater and throw it away. Many local and state laws have certain restrictions on the disposal of these, so check with the local authorities on the disposal requirements.

Now that you have the old unit out, it is time to install the new unit. Move your new hot water heater to its new home by using a dolly. You don't want to "walk" it or drag it. There are delicate parts inside that can be damaged if it is jolted or subjected to too much shock. Position your new heater so that the pipes will easily reach it. If you are using gas, you want to be especially careful that the gas pipe can reach easily to avoid any potentially dangerous gas leaks.

Next connect the hot and cold water. This is usually a simple process of connecting the new water heater to the same connections as the old water heater. Then you connect the third pipe to the main water line that distributes the water to the rest of the house. Refer to the user manual if there are no connections, or if you are confused as to which pipe goes where. This is the most common mistake made in installing a hot water heater. If you turn on the water and your cold water turns hot, and your hot water never heats up, go and switch the pipes.

Next you need to locate the relief valve on your newly connected hot water heater. The temperature and pressure relief valve is a very important part of your hot water system. The relief system releases excess heat and pressure automatically so that your hot water heater does not explode. It is a very important and a valuable safety feature that comes standard on all hot water heaters.

The last step in connecting your new hot water heater is connecting it to the power. You have to connect it either to the gas line or the electricity for it to heat the water. Refer to the instruction manual on how to do this.

If you follow the directions there is no reason that you can not successfully connect your new hot water heater. It is a fairly easy job. It just takes a little time and patience and anyone can do it. It is simply a matter of reconnecting to the new hot water heater, everything that you disconnected from the old one

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