How to Install Electric Hot Water Heater | Expert Guide

Trust me, how to install an electric hot water heater is not as daunting as it seems! However, in the beginning, it seemed hard to me but I had to do it since I didn’t have enough money to hire a professional! That being said, I had a little bit of experience on some electric and plumbing work!

However, if you are afraid of doing it all by yourself, then you can hire a professional to fix that! But if you want to do it by yourself, then go no further than this article. I have designed a step by step guide on how to install an electric hot water heater, go through the article and the installation process will become easy as water!

Shall we get started then?

Needed Tools and Supplies to Install Electric Hot Water Heater:

Before you get started with the installing process you should gather the items you would need during the installing and removing process!

  • Voltage Detector.
  • Pipe cutter.
  • Plumbers Tape
  • Screwdriver.
  • Wrench.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Flexible hoses.
  • Solder wire and soldering flux with a torch.
  • Dielectric connectors.

How to Remove the Old Water Heater?

You must have a water heater installed and to install the new one it is obvious that you would want to remove the old one. So before I guide you to the installing process, let me guide you through the removing process first!

Disconnect Heater from Electricity Connection

This is the very first thing you would want to do. Turn the heater electricity off from the circuit breaker. And with the voltage detector check the wiring in order to make sure that no electricity is being transferred to the heater.

Drain the Water

You have to drain the water and for that first open the hot water faucet and let it run until the water is cold. In this way, you will able to drain hot water without being burnt.

Now, shut down the heater cold water supply, the switch should at the top of the heater.

Remember we have only drained the hot water and what about the cold water that is stored in there? Let’s manage that. Connect a hose to the drain valve and put the other end of the hose in a place where you want to drain the water.

Then just open the valve and wait for it to become empty fully. For faster drain, you can open the hot water faucet and the T&P valve.

Remove all Electrical Wiring

Check again and make sure you turned the circuit breaker off, otherwise, you might meet a dangerous accident. So you turned the circuit breaker off? Great! Now slowly remove all the electrical wires from the top of the heater! You should not damage the wires since you have to use them in the new heater.

And before you mix all the wires up make sure you label or cap the wires, that will help you avoid confusions when installing the new water heater.

Remove the Plumbing

Remove both the hot and cold water supply pipes from the heater. If you have plumbing of copper pipes, then you would need to cut the pipes off using a tubing cutter (pipe cutter). But try to cut pipes as less as possible, so that you can use that on the new water heater.

You will have to disconnect the T&P valve discharge pipe as well and do it very carefully, if that is not damaged, you can save some money by using the old discharge pipe on the new heater.

Remove the Heater

So now the tank is empty, all the wiring and plumbing is removed, you can easily remove the old water heater!

Process of How to Install Electric Water Heater

Do not even touch the electric water heater until you understand completely the entire process! There is no complexity, I have tried to keep it as simple as possible. Here you go!

Set the Heater On place

Set the new water heater at a place from where the old one is removed. And it is advisable to set the new water tank into a drain pan.

 When placing the heater, make sure that the electric wirings will easily reach the heater. And also ensure that you will have enough room to access the drain valve and panels for maintenance.

Prepare the Removed Pipes

If your old water heater had normal pipe plumbing, then you would have to remove them properly. But if that had copper pipe plumbing, then you might have cut the pipes off! In that case, you will have to prepare the pipes for attaching into the new heater. Use a sandpaper cloth and rub the end of the pipe until they shine.

Connect the Electric Wires

Time to connect the electric wires that have been removed when removing the old heater. You have removed the junction box cover in order to get access to the electric wires.

And here you got to be very careful, you cannot mistake in attaching the wires. Doing so will either damage the heater or make an accident.

Set the ground wire with the green ground screw and connect the rest wires as you removed from the old heater.

 You have labeled or caped the wires, check them and attach them from where you removed them. Once you have attached all the electric wires, close the junction box!

Connect the Supply Lines

Now connect both the hot and cold supply lines. And ensure you have attached the cold water pipe to the cold water inlet. If your previous heater had copper plumbing, then you might want to use copper pipes again.

That being said, it is highly recommended to use flexible hoses. They are affordable, can be removed easily and top of all, they won’t break during earthquakes.

However, if you are using flexible hoses, attach them to the nipples on the heater and in order to line the threads, you can use plumbers tape.

Professionals recommend using dielectric fittings when setting the flexible hoses to cold and hot water pipes. And one major reason behind is, they will reduce the corrosion between different metals.

Turn on the Heater

Wait a bit! Once you have attached all the flexible hoses to their places now it’s time to check if the connection leaks. For that, you would want to turn on the cold water supply line and the hot water tap.

If you see there is no leak, then you are all set to start the heater. Fill the water tank with cold water and turn the heater on, after a while hot water will begin to flow!

Setting the Temperature and Pressure Discharge Hose

Set a discharge pipe to the T&P valve and the pipe have to be extended at least under 6 inches of the ground.

To set the pipe you can use a ¾ inch male copper fitting and attach the pipe to the fitting. You can use solder with flux and a torch in order to connect the pipe.

How to Clean Hot Water Heater?

Cold water enters and runs at the bottom of the tank. And hot water flows from the top of the tank. This is how the electric water heater works. During this process, a lot of rust, sediment, and other contaminants accumulate at the bottom of the tank over time.

And this can result in low heating power, clogged pipes and health diseases. That is why it is mandatory to always keep the water heater clean. If you don’t know how to clean hot water heater, spare a few minutes in this section, you will learn.

Let’s begin!

Things You Will Need

  • A long garden hose for draining water.
  • Narrow long brush (Refrigerator brush).
  • A Teflon tape.
  • Plier and Wrench.
  • Nipple.

Empty the Tank

In order to clean any water tank, first, you have to empty it. Set a garden hose at the drain valve and extend the hose where you want to drain the water.

Now, open the drain valve and the hot water faucet as well for faster draining. If you have a large water tank, then draining will take a long time that’s obvious.

Make the tank completely empty before you move forward. Once the tank in completely empty, remove the hose from the drain valve.

Do you tank a have a low-quality plastic drain valve? Then it is high time you replace that with a top-notch one.

Flushing and Cleaning the Tank

You will need a narrow long brush to clean the tank. Check the near hardware store, there are some brushes designed for refrigerator coils, they will work prefect for cleaning the water tank.

Insert the brush from where the drain valve was removed and wise to move or roll the brush to scrape the dirty bottom of the tank.

You might have a very hard time if the tank has been dirty for a long time since the accumulated dirt forms a strong bond with time.

However, try to clean the tank as much as possible, the more of accumulation you will break the better your heater will work.

After a while, you would want to check how much sediments you have a break. And to do so, you will have to screw a small plumbing nipple of the drain opening. The reason you would add a nipple is that the drain valve will get clogged easily when the tank will flush out the broken sediments.

Once you have attached the nipple, turn the cold water inlet valve on and set a drain pan below the nipple, so when the water will be drained into the pan, you will get to see how much sediments you have managed to break. Keep repeating the entire process, until you see clean water coming from the nipple.

Frequently Asked Questions


How long does a hot water heater last?

How do I know if I need a new water heater?

What is the difference between gas and electric water heater?

Can I install a water heater by myself?

Is a 30-gallon water heater enough for 2 people?

Final Note

I am hoping by now you know how to install electric hot water heater all by yourself. I have attached some more information’s as well such as how to remove the heater and how to clean the tank. Hope everything helped!