an Electric Water Heater
you buy a new electric water heater, choose one with the same voltage
as the old model, and remember that pressure-relief valves usually
must be purchased separately. Make sure the valve you buy matches
the working pressure rating of the tank. Water heaters are available
with tank sizes ranging from 30 to 65 gallons. A 40-gallon tank
typically is large enough for a family of four.
off the power to the water heater by switching off the circuit breaker
(or removing the fuse) at the main service panel (photo A).
one of the access panels on the side of the tank (photo B). Wearing
protective gloves, fold back the insulation to expose the thermostat
(photo C). Do not touch the bare wires until you have tested them
make sure there is no power to the unit, test for current by touching
the probes of a neon circuit tester to the top pair of terminal
screws on the thermostat (photo D). If the tester lights, the wires
are not safe to work on; turn off the main power switch and retest
the hose bib on the side of the tank to empty the tank. Drain the
water into buckets or attach a hose and run it to a floor drain.
the hot and cold water pipes above the water heater. If the pipes
are soldered copper, use a hacksaw or tubing cutter to cut through
them, just below the shutoff valves. It's important to make straight
cuts so the fittings will be watertight when you connect the new
the cover plate on the electrical box, located at the side or top
of the water heater (photo E). Label all wires with masking tape
for reference, then disconnect them. Loosen the cable clamp, then
remove the wires by pulling them through the clamp. Using an appliance
dolly, remove the old unit, then put the new one in place.
Teflon tape around the threads of a new pressure-relief valve. Using
a pipe wrench, screw the new valve into the tank opening.
the distance between the pressure-relief valve and the floor. Cut
a length of copper or CPVC drain pipe that will reach to within
3" of the floor. Attach the pipe to the pressure-relief valve,
using a threaded male adapter.
a threaded male adapter to each of the water supply pipes. Let the
pipes cool, then wrap Teflon tape around the threads of the adapters.
Teflon tape around the threads of the two heat-saver nipples. Look
closely at the nipples—they're color coded and have directional
arrows to help you install them properly.
Attach the blue-coded nipple fitting to the cold water inlet and
the red-coded fitting to the hot water outlet, using a pipe wrench.
Install the cold water nipple with the water direction arrow facing
down; install the hot water nipple with the arrow facing up.
the water supply pipes to the heat-saver nipples with flexible water
connectors (photo F). Tighten the fittings with an adjustable wrench.
To restore the water supply, open the hot water taps at faucets
throughout the house, then open the water heater inlet and outlet
shutoff valves. When the water runs steadily from all the faucets,
Remove the electrical box cover plate on the new water heater (photo
G). Thread the circuit wires through the clamp, then through the
cable opening on top of the water heater. Attach the clamp to the
the circuit wires to the water heater wires, using wire connectors
Attach the bare copper or ground wire to the ground screw on the
unit (photo I). Replace the cover plate
a screwdriver to set the thermostat to the desired water temperature,
120° to 125°F (photo J). If the unit has two elements, set
the reset button on each thermostat (photo K). Replace the insulation
and access panels, and restore power to the unit.