Electric Water Heaters

Is an electric water heater installation something you can do? First you need to make sure you really need a new one. Are you sure your water heater needs to be replaced? Have you checked on possibly fixing it? Water heaters can last ten to fifteen years. Is yours older than that? Installing a new electric hot heater is a big job for a homeowner. Yes it can be done in a day if things go well.

Before you decide on a new electric water heater installation you want to make sure you can't repair the one you have. See the article Electric Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting for things you can check on.

This article covers the installation of a standard electric hot water heater. These are the lowest cost to purchase and the easiest to install. Energy star rated heat pump hot water heaters cost a lot more and are more work to install. We are going with the, 'you are in a jam' reasoning and assuming that you need to get it replaced as economically as possible.

Electric Hot Water Heater Installation - Information

What Can You Save? - A standard 40 gallon electric hot water heater installation should run between $800 and $1,000. Size matters and so does the age of your current installation. An installer may tell you need other parts and this will drive the cost up. Sometimes another $200 to $500 of up selling can take place. A new electric water heater will cost you between $250 to $400 to purchase plus another $25 to $50 in misc parts.

How Hard Could It Be? - An electric water heater installation is a fairly difficult job and will take most of a day if nothing goes wrong. These repairs will have a Difficulty Level of: Difficult. These repairs require a Skill Level of: Determined Handyman. For and explanation of the terms in this section, see 'How to Use This Site'.

Check the Simple Things! - There is nothing simple about installing a new water heater. Check out the article 'Electric Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting', to make sure the water heater is really a goner.

What Can Go Wrong? - An electric water heater installation is a big job. It involves some serious electrical current. Current that is strong enough to cause serious injury, even death. Make sure the power is off before you do anything. The water in your tank will be hot if the heater is working. Cool it down before you try and drain it. Size does matter, and getting a water heater that is a different size that the one you had will require that the hook ups be modified. Not getting the job done will leave you without hot water. Not a savory thought.

Selecting a New Hot Water Heater

Electric hot water heaters come in different sizes. Getting one with that is the same height will make a huge differences on how hard the hook ups are going to be. A key dimension is the height of the top of the water tank from the floor. It is not the end of the world if you can't find an exact match. It just means that you will have to modify the piping.

The next concern is the cost. Gas hot water heaters can range in cost from around $250 on up to $1,800 for a high efficiency model. In this article we will make the assumption that you are going for a less expensive standard model. These should be in the $250 to $600 range.

Watch where you buy your hot water tank. Some online vendors and specialty stores have disclaimers that void the warranty if you install the hot water heater yourself. The home supply stores that cater to do it yourself customers, have warranties without this disclaimer. Obviously they exclude improper installation and incorrect usage.

Water heaters are a big item and will not fit in the trunk of a car. In addition they are glass lined and should be handled with caution.

Some ancillary items that you might need would be: (1) Dielectric unions or nipples. Some water tanks come with these installed. You will have to check with your building department to find out if these are required. (2) Pressure relief valve. Some new water heaters have them pre-installed, others do not. A drip pan, these are suggested and required in some places. You may also need misc. fittings to make the connections.

WARNING!! Electric Hot Water Heaters Use Strong Current That Can Cause Injury or Death!!! Make Sure the POWER IS OFF!!! The Hot Water Can Be VERY HOT!!! WARNING!!!

Removing an Old Electric Water Heater

Removing your old hot water heater is part of an electric water heater installation. The first thing you want to do is turn off the power to the water heater. Shut off the breaker to the hot water heater. Put some tape over the breaker to notify anyone that you are working on it. Next run some hot water in a sink nearby until the water cools down (if the water heater is not working you can skip this step).

Shut off the cold water inlet valve and leave the hot water faucet open in sink nearby. Hook a garden hose up to the drain valve near the bottom of the tank. Run the hose to a floor drain or outside and open the valve. After it has drained down a little way, you can open the pressure relief valve and shut off the faucet.

At this point you can unhook the electric lines. There is a cover plate on top of the water heater where the electric line comes in. Remove the plate. Use a non contact voltage tester to make sure the power is off. You should have three wires that are connected. A black, white and ground. Unhook them after you are sure the power is off. You will want to save the connector that attached the flexible cable to the water heater. Loosen the lock nut and remove the plate. Put the wire nuts back on the bare wires for now.

Next would be the water lines. The cold water inlet and the hot water outlet. Again you should have unions not to far above the tank. Loosen the unions with two pipe wrenches. You should remove the fittings and nipples at the top of the tank as long as they are in good condition. One more item you will want to salvage is the drain tube that extends down from the pressure relief valve.

This is where you need the helper. Get some help to remove the old tank. Disposing of it might be a chore in itself. For now you want to get it out of the way.

Setting a New Water Tank

The next step in an electric water heater installation is unpacking the new unit. It is best to do this out away from the area it is being installed. There should be some instructions that come with it. Read through the instructions and look for any special items that need to be attended to. Be aware of any temporary plugs or shipping braces that need to be removed.

Are you installing a drip pan. Put in place before you try to set the water tank. Using some help again carry the new water tank into the location and set it in position. Turn the tank so that it is oriented the same as the old one. The hot and cold water lines need to line up.

At this point you find out how much trouble you are going to have with the fittings. Check the water line nipples. Are adjustments needed. For a tank that has dielectric nipples installed you will need a coupler and possibly a reducer. The nipple length may be off. Measure from the inlet and outlet on the water tank up to the bottom of the union. Make yourself a little sketch with the dimensions. You may have flexible connections here. Some building departments allow it. If you do that is a lot easier.

Mark your sketch with the fitting types, male, female and union and to what point on the fitting you are measuring to. Oh, almost forgot, size of pipe, either 1/2" or 3/4" or a combination of the two. I know this is a little tedious, but it is a necessary step in an electric water heater installation.

Are you ready for a trip to the supply house? Take your sketches with you and go to a home supply store that does pipe threading and has a plumbing department. Ask for help and explain your situation. They should be able to cut and thread the pipe for a nominal sum. In addition they can get you the right fittings to make the connections. Get some suitable joint compound while you are there.

Installing the Wiring

Hooking up the wiring is pretty much the reverse of what you did to unhook it. As long as your new unit is approximately the same size as the old unit. You will attach the flexible cable connector to the knock out in the cover plate. Use a screwdriver to remove the 'knock out' from the plate.

Remove the cover plate from the new electric water heater. you should have two hot leads and a ground lug inside the cavity. Use wire nuts to hook up the hot leads. Check the wiring diagram in the instructions. There will likely be a grounding lug to hook the ground wire to. Check the diagram. With the wires secure you can put the cover plate on.

Hooking up the Water Lines

Water line hook up in an electric water heater installation is e lot easier when you have the right fittings. Again you should use pipe joint compound on the threaded connections. Be sure to remove the plastic caps. Work from the water tank up toward the unions when tightening things. Make sure the connections are tight. Hook up the unions and that should be it.

Then last item would be the pressure relief valve. Again use some pipe joint compound on the threaded connections. Tighten the relief valve with the outlet turned down. Install the outlet tube that you took off the old unit.

Starting it Up

You have to fill the hot water tank before you can turn on the electricity. Open a hot water faucet nearby and turn on the water. Let the tank fill until all of the air is bled out of the tank.

Check for leaks and tighten anything that is leaking. When the hot water tank is full you can turn on the breaker.

The tank is cold so you will get some condensation. This should stop after a day or so. It will be some small drips of water that may make it to the floor.

Electric Hot Water Heater Installation Summary

Now that was a big job. You might be a little tired, but you likely saved $300 to $500 doing the work yourself. Was it worth it? You will have to be the judge of that. I have heard horror stories of homeowners that were sold hundreds of dollars of additional parts when the plumber came out to actually install the heater. You may have saved even more.

With this experience under your belt you are ready to tackle just about any home repair project. What will you do now? For today a little rest is in order. Tomorrow, who knows.

Are you having trouble with your Electric Hot Water Heater? Can you repair it yourself? How Hard could it be? follow this link to find out if it is something you could repair yourself.This article on electric hot water heater troubleshooting will help you to locate your 'no hot water' problem quickly and direct you to a solution to the issue. See below for guidelines on how to track down your problem. See the article on 'Gas Hot Water Heaters' if you don't have an electric heater. Not sure which kind you have, see 'Identifying Water Heater Types', for a description of each type.

Common electric water heater problems are 'Replacing Bad Heating Elements', and 'Checking Electric Water Heater Thermostats'. Some common problems for all Hot Water Heaters are, 'Pressure Relief Valves', 'Leaking Water Heaters' and the 'Water Heater Drain Valve'.

It could be if you do not have any hot water and you have an electric hot water heater. Sometimes the problem is too little hot water. There are a handful of items that can malfunction or wear out on an electric water heater. See if you can locate your problem and whether it is practical for you to fix it.

Electric hot water heater troubleshooting involves checking wiring that has a significant amount of current. In fact the combination of volts and amps in an electric water heater can be lethal. Be Careful!! See 'Electrical Safety Tips' for information on working safely around electricity.

That does not mean that this type of repair is impossible. It just means you need to have the right skills and take the right precautions. At the very minimum you want to have an understanding of what it is that needs fixed.

Electric Hot Water Heater Repair Costs

We are in the whitewater of cost potential here. A new hot water heating unit can run anywhere from $250 to $3,500. Installation costs can run from $200 to $1,600. This is all for a new system. Yes, you may only need a $20 part. Add that to a service call and you should be looking at $100, more or less. Just keep in mind that with the potential above you might get some serious selling when you try to get someone to fix your hot water heater.

Electric hot water troubleshooting starts out at a fairly difficult level. You need some testers to track down your problem. To make it worse, the testers are not that easy to use. Add to that the significant danger involved with the 240 volt power that is feeding your electric hot water tank.

Has the breaker tripped on your Electric Hot Water Heater? What do I do?Check the breaker, has it tripped for some reason. The next easy thing would be the Reset button on the heating elements. Unfortunately, when the water heater is making either of these things trip, there is usually another problem.

We are talking about serious electricity here. 240 volts at thirty amps. Have people been killed from that kind of current? Yes they have. Don't even look at anything unless the power is off. No hot water is a bummer and you may not have a quick fix. Assuming it is not something simple like a tripped breaker you could be looking at minimal or no hot water until you can get the problem resolved.

 Electric Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting Information

Take a look at the possible problems below. Try to find a match for your situation. Follow the links to get to the right information

I don't have any hot water. What is wrong with my Electric Hot Water Heater. Is it something I can fix? Could it be the element?  How hard would it be to find out? Can I do it myself?No Hot Water

Check the circuit breaker first. Has it tripped? The breaker for the hot water heater should be a two pole breaker in your panel.

The next possibility would be an issue with the thermostat, limit switch or element. See the article 'Hot Water Heater Element Testing' and 'Electric Water Heater Thermostats' for the information on tracking down this kind of problem. Another possibility would be loose wires. Go to the article 'Electric Hot Water Heater Wiring', for direction on the wiring issues you might face.

adjusting the electric water heater thermostat thmbNot Enough Hot Water

The first thing to check is the thermostat. Go to 'Adjusting the Thermostat' for a discussion. There might be problems with the heating elements, see 'Hot Water Heater Element Testing' to check and see if one or both of them are bad.

Loose wiring could also cause this problem, check out 'Electric Hot Water Heater Wiring' for answers.

The dip tube is another possibility. The article 'Hot Water Heater Dip Tube' addresses this problem.

It is taking too long for my water from my Electric Hot water Heater to warm up. Is it something I can fix? How hard is it?Takes Too Long to Reheat

It could be as simple as adjusting the thermostat, see 'Electric Hot Water Heater Thermostats' for instruction.

It could also be an issue with the lower thermostat or the lower element. Check out the article 'Hot Water Heater Element Testing' for more information.

Another possibility would be sediment build up in the bottom of the tank. See 'Flushing a Water Heater' for information on cleaning out your tank.

I need to lower the temperature of my water from my Electric Hot Water Heater. It's too Hot! Can I do it my self? How hard is it?Water Too Hot

The top candidate for is that the thermostat is set too high. Electric water heater thermostats are not readily accessible and take a bit of work to locate. The article 'Electric Hot Water Heater Thermostats' provides instructions on locating the thermostats and how to change the settings.

You might also want to review the article on 'Hot Water Heater Temperature Settings', this article provides information on how to safely set the temperature for your water heater.

Next would be a malfunctioning thermostat. Another possibility would be a thermostat that is not seated properly. The articles 'Hot Water Heater Element Testing' andcover these issues.

Do you need to replace the Heat Element on your Electric Hot Water Heater?  Is it hard to do? Can I replace it myself? Do I Need to replace it?Noisy Heating Elements

This is caused by scale build up on the elements or having the wrong elements. The elements can be cleaned or replaced. Although this cleaning them may not be worth the effort.

Electric water heater elements are not that expensive, so replacing them may be the wise course. See the articles 'How To Purchase a Water Heater Element' and 'How To Replace Electric Water Heater Elements' before you decide on what to do.

Low density elements are preferred and it may be a good idea just to change them when you have things apart. See 'Hot Water Heater Elements' for info on what to do.

 Do You have black or rusty colored water coming from your electric hot water tank? Is it something you can fix yourself? How hard can it be? Black or Rusty Colored Water

This is caused by scale build up on the elements or a dissolved anode. See 'Hot Water Heater Elements' for dealing with the elements and 'Hot Water Heater Anode Rods' for the anode rod.

The water heater anode rod keeps the tank from rusting. A dissolved rod means your tank has started to rust. Replacing or cleaning the elements may also be a solution.

 The Water in my Electric Hot Water Heater SmellsFoul! Can I fix it? How hard will it be? How much will it cost?Foul Odor

This is caused by a build up of bacteria in the tank. Flushing the tank may help. Replacing the anode rod with a different type of metal will also help. See the article 'Flushing a Water Heater' or 'Hot Water Heater Anode Rods' to deal with bacteria in the tank or a bad anode.


My Hot Water Tank is leaking at the Pressure Relief Valve. There is two main reasons that this can happen. This article tells you if this is something you can fix yourself, and how hard it is to do.Pressure Relief Valve Leaking

As the name implies, this valves releases excess pressure before it gets dangerous. When it goes bad it releases before the danger point. Issues with this item are found in ' Checking & Testing Water Heater Pressure Relief Valves'.

Just because you see water on your floor does not necesarily mean that your Hot Water Heater needs tobe replaced. It may be something on your water heater that is the problem, and would be less costly to fix. Hot Water Tank is Leaking

Depending on the location of the leak, this might be a big problem. Go to the article 'Repairing a Leaking Hot Water Heater' to track down your problem.

WARNING!! HOT Water, Dangerous Electrical Current and Natural Gas are used for Hot Water Heaters. BE CAREFUL!!! WARNING!!!

Electric Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting - Article Topics

hot water heater element thmb2Repairing a Hot Water Heater Element

The hot water heater elements can go bad over time and stop working. Most hot water heaters have two of them. It is possible for just one to go bad or both of them. The elements cost between ten and twenty dollars. Can you change one yourself? How do you know if it is bad?

Follow the above link to get to an article that discusses the elements in detail. Find out if this is the type of repair you can do yourself?

Electric water heater thermostats keep your water temperature at a constant level. It may need adjustment, or if it goes bad is it something that you can fix yourself?Repairing an Electric Water Heater Thermostat

Each heating element has a thermostat that controls it. When the thermostat quits working it will not allow power to go to the heating element. The result is that you will not have hot water. How can you tell if the thermostat is bad? Is it something you can repair? Can an electric hot water heater troubleshooting exercise, identify this type of a problem?

Follow the above link to get to an article that discusses hot water heater thermostats in depth. Find out if this is the type of repair you can make?

Most Electric Water Heaters have elements which potentially can go bad. If they do you will not have any hot water. If you can fix this yourself it can save you alot of money.Hot Water Heater Element Testing

How can you tell when the hot water heater element or thermostat is bad? Unfortunately, they don't have a color indicator that tells you when they are bad. Find you out what you need to test this type of device. It may be a little intimidating at first, but after you get the idea, it's not that hard.

For all the latest facts on testing the components in your water heater, you can follow the above link. Don't be afraid, others have gone this way and been able to tell their stories.

Wiring an electric water heater can be done by a homeowner if they are willing to abide by very stringent safety rules. That having been said this is something that can be done to save alot of money.Wiring an Electric Water Heater

It is possible that your problem is in the wiring that powers your electric water heater. Troubleshooting an electric water heater can include taking a look at the wiring that feeds it. Caution and a healthy respect for electricity is needed. After you take a look at the information, you can decide if you want to try this. No shame in calling in the pros at this point.

Learn what there is to know about electric water heater wiring by following this link. It is actually pretty simple, it's just a lot of electricity.

Electric Water heaters last up to 15 years. Are you sure you need a new Water Heater? Maybe you can fix your old one. If not, we can walk you thru the steps to Install a new Electric Water Heater. Can you do it yourself? How hard will it be? Lets find out.Installing an Electric Water Heater

This is a last resort when all other options fail. Or you just want to get a new electric water heater. Newer water heaters are more efficient and have fewer problems than older ones.

It will take several hours and you will need some help to accomplish this task. You can save a considerable amount of money if you do the work yourself.

Problems Common to All Water Heaters

Sediment build up in your water heater can cost you time and money. The more sediment that builds up in your hot water tank, the less hot water you will have. What can you do about it? Follow this picture link to find out.Dealing With Hot Water Heater Sediment

Sediment can build up in the bottom of your hot water heater over time. This can affect the amount of hot water you have and potentially damage other components. The lower elements of electric hot water heaters can burn out due to sediment. There are steps you can take to remove the sediment. Learn what they are by following this link.



Flushing your hot water tank can get rid of the sediment in the tank that can cut down on how much hot water your water heater can produce. It is not hard to do, and takes little time. Flushing a Hot Water Tank

Learn what you need to do to get rid of the sediment inside your hot water tank. It can be a little messy, but it will get you hot water tank working the way it is supposed to. A garden hose and a pair of pliers is all you need. Click on the link above to get to the information.



When you see water near your Hot Water Heater it doesnot always mean you need to buy a new one. Other things may cause leaking that can be fixed for much less than buying a new Water Heater. Repairing a Leaking Hot Water Heater

How serious is it when a hot water heater is leaking? That depends a lot on where it is leaking and how much. Some things can be tightened to stop the leaks. A tank that is leaking is not good news.

Find out if you need to look through your papers for the warranty. See if this is something you can fix. Click this link to get the good or not so good news.


The water heater dip tube is crucial to maintaining constant hot water in your hot water heater. It is a long plastic tube which cycles the cold water to the bottom of your hot water tank to maintain constant hot water.Repairing a Water Heater Dip Tube

What's a dip tube anyway? Believe it or not, it is an important feature of your hot water tank. Find out what can go wrong with this part and what you need to do to fix it. Just take my word for it, it is important. The amount of hot water you have will be affected by it, when it is broken. Follow this link for information.

 A pressure relief valve does just what its name says. It is a safety mechanism on your hot water heater which will relieve the pressure in the heater if the pressure gets too high. Usually you need to replace this valve if it should start to leak.Repairing a Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve

The name tells you everything. When pressure builds up inside your hot water tank, this valve releases. This is a safety feature. A defective valve will release when the pressure is still within safe limits. How to you know when it is bad? How hard is it to fix?

Click on the link above to find answers to these questions. Can you replace this valve if you need to? How hard is it? More questions that this article answers.

Electric Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting Summary

There are several possible problems you can be having with your electric hot water tank. Sorry, but there are more issues than one article can cover. We have tried to point you in the right direction for finding the answer to your problem. Some of the answers to your problem may be more than you want to tackle.

On the other hand, some repairs are not that hard. You be the judge. Electric hot water heater troubleshooting involves some problems that are fairly simple. Hopefully, even if you wind up calling a technician, you will be able to discuss the problem with him intelligently. Asking the right question will often save you money.

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