The Perils of a Bad Water Heater Install

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I see so many bad water heater installs on a weekly basis it is unbelievable that  more people don’t get hurt. There are some basic things to know when you call a plumber and ask what the cost will be to install a certain size heater.

It is important to remember if you hire a plumber based only upon a price quote, you will most probably be asking for trouble. Some of the businesses you call will quote you the cheapest price possible. The work will include NOTHING that is  up to code. They get in, throw the heater in place and get paid, period!

I’m going to educate you on the questions you should be asking and things to know for the future:

  1.  Will the installation of the new water heater be done in accordance with current plumbing codes?
  2. Permits are supposed to be pulled. Some counties are stricter than others but remember it could come back to haunt you if you’re going to sell your house soon.
  3. If the installer who comes to your home  breaks out sharkbite or flex tube fittings, don’t let them touch your heater. Run!! If you aren’t certain what those are, look them up in Google Images.
  4.  Expansion tanks are code but no one uses them due to keeping cost down. If it’s not properly installed, it can void warranty on your new heater. The  expansion tank, if installed properly, will  take off the extra pressure off your pipes and heater as the hot water expands.This will keep your water heater much safer. But, if the expansion tank is not set to the same pressure as your house  it will just fill with water.
  5.  Every water heater should have a pan under it just to keep the moisture from the concrete of the bottom of the heater protected, especially if the water heater is located in the garage. If the heater located within the home the drain pan is required by code and  a drain has to be run outside.
  6.  The ball valve should be replaced no matter what they say. Even if it “seems” fine why not change it and save a call later on.
  7.  The T and P valve can not be run underground like they did in the old days. It needs to be dropped straight in to the pan so if your heater is trying to tell you something is wrong you will see water in the pan and time to call someone.
  8.  If you have cpvc or pex  then the expansion tank needs to be hard piped so the weight of the tank doesn’t break the pipes.
  9. This is VERY Important: Temperature  on new water heaters is factory set 125 degrees. It’s fine to raise it a few degrees above the 125 number,  but never turn it up full blast like I saw today. It will burn kids and the elderly in seconds. Not to mention blow the older copper pipes out.
  10. Make sure your heater is sized right according to your house and family.

These are some of the basic rules. Don’t be afraid to do your homework and ask questions. Always make sure to hire a licensed contractor you might save now but it will cost you in the future.

I hope this little check list helps somebody make a better choice.

Lucien Rizio

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